There is an interesting discussion in Matt Ridley's new book, The Rational Optimist about some cultures losing technology over time. One of the reasons he gave was that their society was too small -- not enough individual members and they were cut off from others by geopgraphy so they couldn't trade with a wider circle of people. He posits that you need enough members in your society so that you have enough people to specialize in all the needed arts. You also need more than one person practicing each art. You wouldn't want your only knowledgable glass blower to die by accident and leave you with no one who knew how to blow glass.
I'm not sure if a "few thousand" individuals would be enough to support even a radio-level of technology. Remember, you need people to grow food, make shoes, sew clothes, prepare meals, collect trash, raise the next generation, and hundreds of other activities that aren't considered high-tech but are needed to support the circuit designers, light bulb makers, wire drawers, and other high-tech practitioners.
But guess what? If you don't sell it, it isn't commerce.
You would think that, but you'd be wrong. The landmark case on the topic is Wickard v. Filburn, where the SC ruled that Filburn's wheat he had grown and consumed on his own land was subject to regulation under the Commerce Clause.
It's a horrible and illogical ruling because, according to the Court's logic, any activity can be classified as interstate commerce. Yet it is clear that the framers meant that only certain kinds of commerce fell into congressional jurisdiction. That's why they added the adjective "interstate" in front of the word "commerce".
The overreaching interpretation of the commerce clause is probably one of the SC decisions that it most obviously far from the framers intentions.
The beginning of the evil was Wickard v. Filburn, a most logically twisted ruling. Every Commerce Cluase case since then cites this grand daddy of all Commerce Clause cases. Thanks for packing the court with your patsey judges FDR.
It's not like the right isn't offering any positive ideas, they're just being ignored by the left. Senator Baucus's panel took up 61 amendments this week. They accepted 4 from Republicans and rejected 28. They accepted 20 from Democrats and rejected 1. source
The reason you don't hear much about this is obvious to me. If you're a news director or editor, which do you think will play better among your news consumers -- "DEATH PANELS" or a list of 28 rejected Republican amendments?