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United States Government Networking The Almighty Buck The Internet Politics

WSJ Says Gov't Money Injection Won't Help Broadband 647

Posted by timothy
from the at-least-they-can-pay-with-free-money dept.
olddotter writes "According to the WSJ, The US government is about to spend $10 Billion to make little difference in US broadband services: 'More fundamentally, nothing in the legislation would address the key reason that the US lags so far behind other countries. This is that there is an effective broadband duopoly in the US, with most communities able to choose only between one cable company and one telecom carrier. It's this lack of competition, blessed by national, state and local politicians, that keeps prices up and services down.' Get ready for USDA certified Grade A broadband."
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WSJ Says Gov't Money Injection Won't Help Broadband

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  • by R2.0 (532027) on Tuesday February 10, 2009 @01:10PM (#26799191)

    So the WSJ, viewed by slashdotters as a heavily conservative news source, is advocating a position that most slashdotters agree with?

    Head explosions commencing in 3...2...1...

    • by Who Is The Drizzle (1470385) on Tuesday February 10, 2009 @01:17PM (#26799327)
      Actually the article had an anti-net neutrality bent which would put it against many slashdotters.

      The House bill also calls for "open access." This phrase can include hugely controversial topics such as net neutrality, which in its most radical version would bar providers from charging different amounts for different kinds of broadband content. Now that video, conferencing and other heavy-bandwidth applications are growing in popularity, price needs to be one tool for allocating scarce resources. Analysts at Medley Global Advisors warn that if these provisions remain in the bill, "it will keep most broadband providers out of the applicant pool" for the funds intended specifically for them.

      • by CodeBuster (516420) on Tuesday February 10, 2009 @01:34PM (#26799603)
        And yet in other countries, as TFA also points out, it is competition and NOT regulation which has delivered high speeds at low prices or 13 cents in Japan and 33 cents in France as opposed to $3 in the United States per million bits/second. We have seen our ranking slip to 15th in the world for broadband quality and penetration with regulation, why not give competition a chance? If there was lots of competition for your Internet connection dollars would you select an ISP that didn't respect Net Neutrality? Perhaps there is a way to get what most Slashdotters want (i.e. Net Neutrality) without having the government force it down everyone's collective throats with more regulation.
        • by timeOday (582209) on Tuesday February 10, 2009 @02:03PM (#26800047)

          And yet in other countries, as TFA also points out, it is competition and NOT regulation which has delivered high speeds at low prices

          The article claims such a thing, but does nothing to support that claim. I will quote the claim in full: "In contrast, most other advanced countries have numerous providers, using many technologies, competing for consumers."

          The obvious and unanswered question is, why do countries like Japan and France have more and better options for bandwidth? It is because the telecom industries there are controlled by libertarians? I doubt it. My guess is the opposite.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by hrieke (126185)

          Actually, the major problem with the US is distance.
          Japan is the size of California, France is 4/5th the size of Texas (size of France / size of Texas).
          We've spread out- look at the cities of Asia and Europe- fairly tight; but they too have the same problem of broadband out in the country side.

          That said, there still is no excuse for the crappy service that we live with, and the competition should be encouraged by ending excursively.

          • by commodore64_love (1445365) on Tuesday February 10, 2009 @02:43PM (#26800825) Journal

            >>>Actually, the major problem with the US is distance. Japan is the size of California, France is 4/5th the size of Texas

            And population. When you compare the U.S. states versus the EU states, we're not being bad at all. We have states that every bit as fast as Europe's fastest:

            FASTEST STATES (avg Mbps)
            ---------------
            Sweden(11)
            Delaware(10)
            Washington(9)
            Netherlands, Rhode Island, New Jersey, Massachusetts(8)
            Virginia, New York ,Colorado, Connecticut, Arizona, Germany(7)

            So if you want speeds faster than France, move to the one of the places listed above. It's that simple. Of course at this point, various readers will ignore this data, the same way a christian ignores 1 million-year-old rocks with fossilized animals. It's easier to cling to religion than think.

          • Bogus argument (Score:3, Insightful)

            by tanveer1979 (530624)
            Okay, if you wanted broadband in a village, I would understand. But how would distance affect a densly populated downtown area. Densly populated area in US are no better off than sparsly populated areas
        • by ultranova (717540) on Tuesday February 10, 2009 @03:05PM (#26801251)

          And yet in other countries, as TFA also points out, it is competition and NOT regulation which has delivered high speeds at low prices or 13 cents in Japan and 33 cents in France as opposed to $3 in the United States per million bits/second.

          Dunno about those countries, but here in Finland we have regulation which forces the company which owns my telephone line to let other companies offer Internet connectivity over it. That has led to healthy competition and drop in prices.

          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by raddan (519638)
            We have that in the US, too, but the result has been that if you don't go with the main carrier, support for your line is virtually nonexistent, and for this, you pay a premium. Speakeasy is the perfect example-- they are a great company; very receptive support, have all of the speed and features I want (symmetric DSL, fixed IPs, etc). But if something goes wrong with the line, you wait *weeks* for Verizon or Covad (or whoever) to get around to fixing it. All Speakeasy can do is wring their hands. And i
        • by Saffaya (702234) on Tuesday February 10, 2009 @03:26PM (#26801703)

          You are absolutely and totally wrong in both your examples.

          Japan was lagging behind the US, France, germany and a lot of countries concerning internet access.
          Then one particular member of their government (his name eludes me for now) declared that internet access should be a priority, and the big companies followed the impulse up to today's situation.

          France has successfully reached a healthy competitive market for internet access, all thanks to proper regulation that FORCED the previously state-owned monopolistic operator, whose lines were paid by french citizen's taxes, to provide access to the last mile to competitors.
          Said historical monopolistic operator, france telecom (now orange) had to be pulled into this screaming and kicking, and was using all its weight and dirty tricks to hinder and slow any other company.
          If not for the ART (Telecoms Regulation Authority) kicking France Telecom's nuts so they would obey the LAW that opened the market and allowed competition, there would not be such an excellent internet access for citizens today.
          Morevover, everyone is impatient to see the arrival of a new operator in the cell phone business. French government wants a 4th cell phone carrier to operate, as the current triopoly has been comdemned in justice already for their pricefixing (colluding to keep prices artificially high).

          The US needs proper regulation. Not abscence of regulation nor bailout/incentive/whatever billions of $.

      • by pin0chet (963774)
        The bill doesn't define the term "open access"--it leaves that up to federal regulators. This means that if the FCC or NTIA decides to define open access as application-neutral network management, then ISPs wouldn't be allowed to give time-sensitive applications priority over non-time-sensitive ones.
  • WSJ says (Score:4, Informative)

    by M. Baranczak (726671) on Tuesday February 10, 2009 @01:15PM (#26799283)

    Of course they do. The Wall Street Journal is a temple of supply-side economics. According to them, the government can't do anything right, except cut capital gains taxes. I would have been very surprised if they'd had anything good to say about this bill.

    • Doesn't matter though, assuming TFS is correct, the WSJ is absolutely right.

    • by MikeRT (947531) on Tuesday February 10, 2009 @01:55PM (#26799913) Homepage

      You may not agree with their economic policies, but they have a point here. There has been a lot of fraud, waste and abuse in the use of the funds from the universal service fund that was set up to subsidize rural communications. Chances are, this $10B would just go into the money pit and end up padding the pockets of the major telecoms rather than being pumped directly into infrastructure development.

      If you want to see a real change, then get rid of the franchising laws. If the federal government could help the railroads deal with local and state laws in the 19th century, it can do so today with franchising laws that restrict access to these markets.

      There, I'll bet you never thought a conservative-libertarian would champion federal intervention.

    • And they'd be right (Score:5, Interesting)

      by DesScorp (410532) <DesScorpNO@SPAMGmail.com> on Tuesday February 10, 2009 @02:29PM (#26800547) Homepage Journal

      Of course they do. The Wall Street Journal is a temple of supply-side economics. According to them, the government can't do anything right, except cut capital gains taxes. I would have been very surprised if they'd had anything good to say about this bill.

      So the WSJ is pro-market... that doesn't invalidate their argument. This bill still stinks. Stimulus spending doesn't work the way it's being advertised... it has little to no effect on short term job preservation or creation. While we all need things like roads and bridges, spending tax dollars on roads and bridges does not stimulate the economy in the short term... that money takes too long to percolate through the economy.

      Stimlus spending didn't cure the Great Depression, nor did it shake Japan out of it's 90's doldrums. Admirers of the New Deal take great offense at the notion that the New Deal was a failure in reversing the Depression, but even left-leaning historians and economists agree that it was WWII production, not the New Deal, that finally brought us out of the depression. Shouldn't the metric of whether an anti-depression program worked be the elimination of the depression?

      • by dkleinsc (563838) on Tuesday February 10, 2009 @03:46PM (#26802161) Homepage

        Stimlus spending didn't cure the Great Depression. Admirers of the New Deal take great offense at the notion that the New Deal was a failure in reversing the Depression, but even left-leaning historians and economists agree that it was WWII production, not the New Deal, that finally brought us out of the depression.

        The main difference between the New Deal spending and the WWII spending is that the WWII spending was even more massive and with much greater government control. For example, wages and benefits for a large proportion of workers were set by government regulators. What could be produced was set by government bureaucrats. During WWII, the domestic economy was something approaching a Communist command economy.

        So if WWII-style spending is what gets us out of a Depression, then expect more government control than you have in the current stimulus bill, not less.

  • Ha ! I laugh outrageously at your assertion that the USDA would be rolling out Grade A broadband. ...

    Everyone knows its the USCG (Coastguard) who have responsibility for broadband delivery!

  • But broadband, once thought to be in line for $100 billion as part of the stimulus legislation, ended up a low priority, set to get well under $10 billion in the package of over $800 billion.

    Even $10 billion is a mind-numbing overwhelming fucking shitload of money. I don't really believe that what Congress and the President are doing right now is going to help many people (except maybe their campaign contributors) and it's fine to talk about how those 10 gigabucks aren't going to be spent wisely. But don'

  • WTF? (Score:2, Offtopic)

    by mcgrew (92797) *

    How is helping broadband going to stimulate the economy? The way to stimulate the economy is to get the banks lending [slashdot.org] again and get consumers spending again. Cutting taxes on the poor and middle class does the latter, but I have no idea how to get the banks lending.

    I do think that the banks need to be reregulated, and heavily. They have shown themselves to be thieves and need to be kept on a short leash. What happened to that $800b they already were handed?

    Why are CEOs getting "performance bonuses" when the

    • Re:WTF? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Shakrai (717556) on Tuesday February 10, 2009 @01:24PM (#26799439) Journal

      The way to stimulate the economy is to get the banks lending [slashdot.org] again and get consumers spending again.

      Ah, the hair of the dog. Wasn't it poor lending standards and people living beyond their means (i.e: greed on everyone's part) that got us into this mess? Just once I'd like to hear somebody talking about people needing to save in addition to talking about them needing to spend....

      • Re:WTF? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by AioKits (1235070) on Tuesday February 10, 2009 @01:40PM (#26799699)
        I am unsure about the rest of /. but for me 2009 is the year of 'No Debt'. I've made it my goal to obliterate as much of my personal credit debt as possible. No more use of the magic plastic, and by the end of February, I'm gonna pay off one card entirely and possibly have the second card near paid by the end of May. I'm not going to list specifics of my debt as it is embarassing that I let it happen to me. No more though, if I can't buy it with cash (or debit card as I am a small guy and carrying cash makes me paranoid), then I don't need it now and can do without for a while.

        Sorry for getting off topic, but I figure if I kill off my debt, save up my cash to give an emergency buffer and can still once a paycheck afford a nice steak dinner, I should be happy. The 'I need it now' mentality, almost killed me here.

        I guess what I'm getting at is this 'Gotta have it now!' mentality and the illusion of easy money got more than just me into trouble with money.
      • Savings (Score:3, Interesting)

        by snspdaarf (1314399)
        Ok, people need to save more instead of spending everything they earn. That's been true for a long time. However, savings accounts earn such a low rate of return that with any inflation at all it costs money to have it in savings.
    • by El Torico (732160)

      Why are CEOs getting "performance bonuses" when they're doing a piss-poor job?

      Because none of them have been lynched yet. OK, extrajudicial capital punishment is illegal, but a lot of these guys need to have ALL of their assets seized and exiled to a desert island (which is much cheaper than jail).

    • Re:WTF? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by DaveV1.0 (203135) on Tuesday February 10, 2009 @01:34PM (#26799613) Journal

      The way to stimulate the economy is to get the banks lending again and get consumers spending again.

      Yes, because the way to get out of a 10 foot deep hole that is filling with water is to dig deeper.

  • Actually? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by girlintraining (1395911) on Tuesday February 10, 2009 @01:21PM (#26799399)

    The problem is that local governments (municipalities, primarily) have signed exclusive agreements with these companies. Because laying wires requires approval of each municipality, installing new infrastructure literally requires tens of thousands of permits, applications, meetings, etc., to get anything worthwhile installed. Our "marble cake" form of government, creates a tangled mess of conflicting rules and legislation that create such a high cost to enter the market that $10 billion could easily be spent just negotiating. That money will largely dissipate the same way it vanished in Iraq -- because everyone believes they deserve part of the pie.

    If you want options, two things need to happen. First, the infrastructure -- that is, the wires that carry the data, need to be owned and operated by an entity separate from the users of that system, and that exclusive contracts be ended immediately. Secondly, we need to eliminate municipality-level and move it to at least the county level. The fewer people that have a voice in the process, the less resources wasted dealing with them. Because city-level employees are amongst the most petty, corrupt, and difficult to work with of any class of government official in the Union.

  • HA! (Score:3, Informative)

    by DavidTC (10147) <slas45dxsvadiv...vadiv@@@neverbox...com> on Tuesday February 10, 2009 @01:22PM (#26799405) Homepage

    ...one cable company and one telecom carrier...

    Man, that would be so awesome, to have a separate phone and cable company. I would have two places I could get internet service from, instead of one!

  • by Mystery00 (1100379) on Tuesday February 10, 2009 @01:27PM (#26799495)

    I wish Australia would "lag behind" like the US, maybe then we could get almost unlimited download quotas too.

    Sure compared to technology heaven like Japan it might seem like you're lagging behind, most of the world is probably lagging right there with you.

    But you're far from the worst off.

  • ridiculous (Score:4, Insightful)

    by circletimessquare (444983) <circletimessquare@NoSpaM.gmail.com> on Tuesday February 10, 2009 @01:28PM (#26799509) Homepage Journal

    the reason the usa lags behind other countries is that the other countries are small, compact and densely populated. like korea, or any european country

    if you were to examine say, new york and new england, alone, or california, alone, the usa does fine in broadbrand penetration. but the usa is still sparsely populated in vast rural areas in the middle

    want proof? look at canada. canada obviously has different governmental mechanisms, but it has virtually the same digital access ratings as the usa:

    http://www.internetworldstats.com/list3.htm#dai [internetworldstats.com]

    broadband penetration has to do with only two factors:

    1. how rich the country is
    2. population density

    all other factors, including government policy, are neglible in comparison

    • by abigor (540274)

      Canada is a geographically larger country with ten times fewer people. Consequently, it has a much lower population density. For it to keep up with the US in terms of digital access, even in its most rural areas, only validates this story's premise.

      In other words, comparing Canada to the US is like comparing the US to one of those densely populated countries you named.

    • Re:ridiculous (Score:4, Informative)

      by pipatron (966506) <pipatron@gmail.com> on Tuesday February 10, 2009 @02:04PM (#26800073) Homepage

      the reason the usa lags behind other countries is that the other countries are small, compact and densely populated.

      Ok, so let's check the first country on your list: Sweden. The fourth largest country in Europe by area, and a population density 2/3rds of the whole United States, and that's including all your rural areas.

      Somewhat the reference list you used contradicts your argument.

    • Re:ridiculous (Score:4, Insightful)

      by The Moof (859402) on Tuesday February 10, 2009 @02:19PM (#26800359)
      I live in a suburb of Chicago, in a somewhat densely populated are. My options for broadband are very limited and pretty much crap across the board.

      So what's their excuse here. It's too densely populated?
    • Re:ridiculous (Score:4, Informative)

      by nine-times (778537) <nine.times@gmail.com> on Tuesday February 10, 2009 @02:56PM (#26801073) Homepage

      I live in NYC in an expensive neighborhood, and though I suppose I have broadband, the highest upload rate I can get is 512k. That's kind of stupid. And there's no sign that it's going to get any better anytime soon.

      Now, you might argue that it's because of too little regulation or too much regulation, but obviously someone is doing something wrong.

  • by Spatial (1235392) on Tuesday February 10, 2009 @01:31PM (#26799555)
    ...years ago? It didn't work out too well from what I hear.

    I'm sure they got some nice jets, and while they can hold a tremendous amount of data, the latency on the things is terrible.
  • by DaveV1.0 (203135) on Tuesday February 10, 2009 @01:32PM (#26799583) Journal

    This massive injection of money, which is being obtained through printing money and borrowing, will not fix the core problems that caused this mess, namely:

    • the budget deficit
    • the trade deficit
    • the massive consumer debt
    • low wages, which causes the above ( when inflation is factored in the average worker make less now than 10 years ago)
    • the sending of manufacturing over seas, which exported wealth creation and good paying job, leaving low paying service jobs resulting in the above

    All this talk about need more credit and more lending is a red herring. Over-consumption and over-spending is what got us into this mess in the first place. The US$1.5 trillion would be better spent buying up bad mortgages or just giving an equal share to every legal resident in the U.S. than what they are doing with it.

    This will only put off the inevitable correction (crash), and it when it does happen, and it will, it will be even worse.

  • Wow. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by The Cisco Kid (31490) on Tuesday February 10, 2009 @01:37PM (#26799655)

    A mainstream media property actually "gets" something technical related to the Internet. Assuming the summary is right, they've got it dead-on.

    The stimulus money should only be permitted to go to non-incumbent providers.

    Alternatively, it should only be permitted to be used by a given provider to extend full wired (or fiber) service to geographic areas currently completely unserved by that provider (Eg AT&T would have to extend into non AT&T areas currently serviced by other telecoms, etc, ditto for cable)

  • by sexconker (1179573) on Tuesday February 10, 2009 @01:48PM (#26799811)

    Bad juju.
    No likey series of tubes.
    Broadband not truck. Can't fill up.
    Bad juju cause bad thing happen.

    Paper good juju.
    Old ways best.
    Good juju make good thing happen.

  • Typical WSJ Bias (Score:3, Insightful)

    by dcollins (135727) on Tuesday February 10, 2009 @02:03PM (#26800037) Homepage

    The WSJ is one of the most predictably biased editorial pages I've ever seen. Their very raison d'être is to beat the drum of laissez-faire capitalism. This allows consolidation/ buyouts and produces monopolies and higher prices to consumers.

    We need to regulate and provide broadband as a utility like all the countries ahead of us do.

  • Two Extremes (Score:3, Insightful)

    by LordKaT (619540) on Tuesday February 10, 2009 @02:08PM (#26800147) Homepage Journal

    The current national duopoly is the result of two extremes screaming at each other for the past 70 years or so.

    One said screams that we need to regulate everything and have the government put everything in order so that everything works one way.

    The other side screams that we need to degregulate everything and let companies do what they want to do in order to make more money.

    Well, we've got both right now. These companies - cable and copper providers - are both regulated and deregulated and we have, in effect, a system that simply looks at numbers and says "this is good" or "this is bad" - and now both sides are screaming even louder to regulate or deregulate.

    You know what we really need? More options. It's not about regulating or deregulating an industry, it's about competition.

    You can regulate the shit out of an industry so long as there is enough momentum to allow new players to move in and drive down prices. Without competition, over regulation becomes a burden on the business and the consumer - by forcing a business to comply with a standard of practice, they (the monopoly/duopoly/*opoly) will pass costs associated with regulation to the consumer, either in direct billing costs, reduced support overhead, or poor infrastructure maintenance.

    You can have a completely deregulated industry as well, but you still need that competitive momentum in order to keep the consumer from being raped in the ass. In a completely deregulated environment, the *opoly turn into the local Barrons of the community and become the almighty gatekeepers of the industry.

    In either environment, if you have real competition, consumers become valuable again (as opposed to the business commodity they are in the telco and entertainment industries).

    In the end, I think the best fit for America is a mixture of deregulation and dynamic "as needed" regulation (as opposed to the blanket industry-wide regulation that's currently enforced), and a breakup of local monopolies.

    • Re:Two Extremes (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Catbeller (118204) on Tuesday February 10, 2009 @03:15PM (#26801483) Homepage

      "One said screams that we need to regulate everything and have the government put everything in order so that everything works one way.

      The other side screams that we need to degregulate everything and let companies do what they want to do in order to make more money."

      Straw man.

      One side says deregulate everything, that government is incapable of doing good, that only business, unencumbered by anything other than the profit motive, can solve problems. That is the right, who call themselves conservative. That truly IS the definition of the right, of Bushism, of Reaganism, of Limbaughism.

      And there is everyone else, whom the conservatives call "liberals". And not a one, not a solitary, single, identifiable human-unit of those "liberals" has ever said the government needs to control everything so that everything works one way. Not even communists, should you find the odd one in a coffee shop, would say such a thing.

      Your other points are well made. The problem with the argument is the above, because you are letting the right define the terms. No such opponent to the right exists. Our "left" is so far to the right that we can barely find money to buy textbooks. We won't even build schools anymore, for such activity is socialistic. Such cash was cut from the stimulus fund because Republicans find it so.

      We had - emphasis *had* - government licensed monopoly in cable TV franchises for two simple reasons. First, it was damned expensive to drop cable to American homes, and no company wanted to do it if another company were to drop cable down as well, causing competition. They impressed upon localities to regulate things so they could make a nice profit by making sure individual companies were gifted with exclusive zones of coverage. Some gimmes like public access and a standard package of broadcast TV was included, and we were off. I was there, I remember.

      Secondly, because of *deregulation*, NOT regulation, the cable companies started to absorb each other and formed powerful monopolies of their own design. The few real competing cable companies were ruthlessly forced out of business by underpriced services or being bought outright.

      We have a duopoly because, after we collectively decided to open the business up to competition, over the EXTREMELY VOCIFEROUS objections, both vocal and campaign-contribution-wise of the cable companies, we let the telcos in to play. And then let AT&T reform after so agonizingly breaking them up. So now, thanks to dereg, we have two real players left. And they are cutting up the pie according to their own internal profit lines, making enough money to buy god.

      Can you imagine how much roads would cost if we had built them up this way, rather than competitive contracts according to government (ie people-driven) specs? Ever tote up how much our "free" market internet has cost us as consumers? Vs. how much it would have cost had a federal plan simply dropped the fiber to every house - once and for all, and let a price controlled, competitive bid system decide who provided the internet access itself?

  • by Joe U (443617) on Tuesday February 10, 2009 @02:09PM (#26800165) Homepage Journal

    Here's a wild idea.

    We need a decent rail system in the US, we have trackbeds all over the place in bad shape. Railroads ran through almost every major town. Take the trackbeds, fix them up for a new rail system. While that's being done, since you're digging up anyway, lay new commuinication cables to each town alongside the rail bed. Now you've pretty much addressed broadband and rail transportation at the same time.

    Last mile can be handled either through local cables that the town can build out, OR wireless broadcasts at the railroad stations and using the local post offices as repeaters.

    There, federal rail, and unified communication. Oh, and don't let the NRPC or the USPS run this, they have enough problems.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by TheSync (5291)

      Take the trackbeds, fix them up for a new rail system.

      Would you like to do the environmental impact study? We're talking years.

      The other challenge is that the few places that actually have high-quality rails for Amtrak barely breaks even. Amtrak as a whole has never turned a profit. It is likely that even an improved passenger rail system would need a larger permanent subsidy to survive.

      • by Joe U (443617) on Tuesday February 10, 2009 @02:32PM (#26800603) Homepage Journal

        Would you like to do the environmental impact study? We're talking years.

        You don't build anything great in a week.

        The other challenge is that the few places that actually have high-quality rails for Amtrak barely breaks even. Amtrak as a whole has never turned a profit. It is likely that even an improved passenger rail system would need a larger permanent subsidy to survive.

        The Interstate highway system doesn't turn a profit either, what's your point?

        I never said this should make money, this is a public works project to improve the country. Improving transportation and communication improves business and education.

        (Also, I said keep the NRPC out of this, the rails don't have to be all-passenger all the time, you can move express when there's no passenger trains running)

  • by sneakyimp (1161443) on Tuesday February 10, 2009 @02:20PM (#26800365)

    To beat the dead horse of the 'Information Superhighway' analogy, let us compare the Internet as infrastructure to our roads as infrastructure. The Interstate Highway system was planned and funded by the federal government and has done more to enhance the economic growth of the United States than probably any other public investment in our history. Without the federal government feeling envy about Hitler's autobahn, the Interstate highway system would NEVER EVER have been built by private investment and we would likely be much less wealthy as a nation than we are today.

    Let's also take a look at the list of 'most wired' countries. What strikes me immediately is that nearly all of them are much more socialist-leaning than the United States. Denmark, Netherlands, Switzerland, Sweden, Finland, etc. South Korea's dramatic improvements lately have been attributed to that nation's deliberate subsidies and investements. They are also geographically quite small.

    I'll be the first to complain about wasteful government programs (I LOATHE the California DMV more than nearly any agency on earth) but, having dealt with Adelphia, Time Warner, and AT&T in the past, I seriously doubt that the so-called 'competition' we have in the ISP industry is going to accomplish anything except higher prices and bandwidth caps. One might recall that the 700Mhz spectrum auction -- supposedly a panacea for lack of competition -- resulted in the incumbents buying everything up.

    Let's face it. There is really no competition. I live in Los Angeles and my only option is Time Warner. This is some serious bullshit.

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