Another article in this “choices” section of the Utne (2003, May/June) was Life is a Smorgasbord which describes the differences between our culture and Sweden in regard to freedom of choice and access. The author writes that for an American, Sweden can be a type of prison because the choices are limited to the most quality items. He describes as an example, that in American we have a liquor store on every corner but can’t get a decent bottle of wine. In Sweden, “the System” as it is called is the world’s single largest wine buyer and its wine selection is literally (according to the author) second to none. This is probably not as telling an example as the fact that Sweden only sells two kinds of cars. There, again, quality is the determinant.
Anyway, all of this reminds me of the FCC issues I was reading about last week from a book called Media diversity : economics, ownership, and the FCC by Maria Einstein. She is arguing that conglomeration of power isn’t necessarily the defining force (or at least not the only one) behind lack of diversity in programming. Posing the social theory side against the economic theory side, she shows that both are equally capable of stifling diversity. The America/Sweden distinction describes the socialist/economic debate Einstein presents. Proposing most Americans think about economic power at play (whether they are for or against), what she made me see was that the social theory side is not possible without regulation of content. This is the key issue in the freedom of access to information and a perfect example of the predicament we find ourselves in surfing the net or the channels of our television, at the grocery store cereal aisle, in the job market, and even when facing presidential elections and decisions of international importance.
Utne, L. (2003, May/June). Life is a smorgasbord. Utne (117), 64-65. Retrieved November 1, 2009 from Proquest Research Library (Document ID: 333748581).
Also available on Utne.com: http://www.utne.com/2003-05-01/life-is-a-smorgasbord.aspx