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United States Businesses Crime Government The Internet

Louisville's Fiber Internet Expansion Opposed By Koch Brothers Group (usatoday.com) 230

Slashdot reader simkel shared an article from the Courier-Journal: A group affiliated with the Koch brothers' powerful political network is leading an online campaign against Mayor Greg Fischer's $5.4 million proposal to expand Louisville's ultra-fast internet access... Critics argue that building roughly 96 miles of fiber optic cabling is an unnecessary taxpayer giveaway to internet service providers, such as Google Fiber, which recently announced plans to begin building its high-speed network in the city. "Fundamentally, we don't believe that taxpayers should be funding broadband or internet systems," said David Williams, president of the taxpayers alliance, which is part of industrialists Charles and David Koch's political donor network... The group says $5.4 million is a misuse of taxpayer funds when the city has other needs, such as infrastructure and public safety.
To shore up public support, the mayor has begun arguing that high-speed connectivity would make it cheaper to install crime-monitoring cameras in violent neighborhoods.

Louisville's Fiber Internet Expansion Opposed By Koch Brothers Group

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  • by Anonymous Coward

    US really need ban all "political donations" which comes out of constant election costs. Have the government pay for the election funding where each candidates will get fixed amount for their campaigns.

    • by TWX ( 665546 ) on Sunday June 18, 2017 @03:21PM (#54643319)

      I don't think we'll ever get there so long as the ability to spend money is legally considered protected speech.

      What we can do though, is to work to roll-back changes that basically defined corporations as entities entitled to spending this kind of money as freedom-of-speech.

      Unfortunately that means we have to play their game, form our own legal entities to do the speaking, to push for that change, and as we've seen they're a lot better than we are at organizing these kinds of things.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Kohath ( 38547 )

        ...roll-back changes that basically defined corporations as entities entitled to spending this kind of money as freedom-of-speech.

        Here's why you will fail [reason.com]:

        On March 24, 2009, Deputy Solicitor General Malcolm Stewart told the U.S. Supreme Court that the federal government had the lawful power to ban books if those books happened to mention the name of a candidate for federal office and were published in the run-up to the federal election in which that candidate was competing.

        "It's a 500-page book, and at the end it says, so vote for X, the government could ban that?" asked an incredulous Chief Justice John Roberts. Yes, the deputy soli

        • by msauve ( 701917 ) on Sunday June 18, 2017 @08:29PM (#54644415)
          The problem with Citizens United, and the claimed free speech rights, is that corporations are a special legal case. Corporations are not people, they are an artificial legal construct which provides special privileges to an organization of people - tax and liability benefits, mostly.

          There should be no issue with laws restricting corporate speech. Such laws don't remove any right to free speech. People can still speak collectively, just without the special benefits given to corporations. To answer your specific claim, "It doesn't mention people at all in regards to free speech," I'll note that the Constitution also doesn't mention corporations at all, so they have no right to exist. The law which allows them to be created simply needs to say that speech is not an allowed purpose of a corporation. Organizations of people can then make their choice - free speech rights, or the legal benefits of incorporation. The Declaration of Independence wasn't published by a corporation. As I said, they're entirely a figment of the law, and there's no reason they should have any rights at all, only the privileges and benefits defined by law.

          And yes, the above includes for-profit media.
          • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

            by Kohath ( 38547 )

            There should be no issue with laws restricting corporate speech. Such laws don't remove any right to free speech.

            But they do abridge those rights.

            The law which allows them to be created simply needs to say that speech is not an allowed purpose of a corporation.

            That's not how rights work. Governments can't make people give up their basic human rights in exchange for some exemptions from some laws. If they could, then "everyone's salary is taxed at 97%, but it's only 10% if you give up the right to due process" would be permissible. It's clearly not. Courts aren't generally that easily fooled. Rights are rights, they're not some minor inconvenience for the government to easily work around.

            As I said, they're entirely a figment of the law, and there's no reason they should have any rights at all, only the privileges and benefits defined by law.

            The individual people have the rights.

            • by msauve ( 701917 )
              "But they do abridge those rights."

              You say that as if it were true. It isn't.

              "Governments can't make people give up their basic human rights in exchange for some exemptions from some laws."

              Really? Really?? Are you claiming that exemption from law should come at no cost? Be specific, and provide examples of how that law would be effective if everyone were exempt.
              • by Kohath ( 38547 )

                Are you claiming that exemption from law should come at no cost?

                It can have a cost. But that cost can't be the abridgement of free speech or the loss of other fundamental human rights.

          • by Kohath ( 38547 )

            Put it a different way: Can Congress prohibit corporations from performing or arranging abortions? Why not?

      • by ShanghaiBill ( 739463 ) on Sunday June 18, 2017 @06:18PM (#54643969)

        I don't think we'll ever get there so long as the ability to spend money is legally considered protected speech.

        The Koch Brothers opposed Donald Trump and opposed Obama. Their track record of buying election isn't so good. There are many many examples of the best funded candidate losing. Perhaps the voters are not as dumb as you think they are.

        • Indeed, smart money donates to the campaign of the candidate that is already likely to win.
          • by Shatrat ( 855151 )

            That's why Hillary raised almost double what Donald did. I bet those people are kicking themselves for having bought someone who isn't even in office.

        • The Koch brothers also didn't spend a single penny in 2016. After Trump won the primary they stopped all spending because they felt it would not be a worthwhile investment.

          This tells you a few things:
          1) They normally get a good return on their investment -they wouldn't usually spend money if they didn't
          2) You can't use the 2016 election as a measure of how much their money influences outcomes since it wasn't a factor - while it was a big factor in 2000 and 2004 (both of which the democrats lost).

          More import

    • each candidates will get fixed amount for their campaigns.

      Then you would have thousands of people filing for every elective office, just to get the free cash. Or will the cash only go to "established parties"?

      • Same way Austria solved it. To get your campaign money back, you need (IIRC) 0.5% of the general vote. That ensures that pretty much everyone who really means it has a chance to recover his expenses while at the same time excluding people who just want some "free" advertising time.

        They also have a cap on how much you may spend on your campaign based on the amount of voters that you can reach (i.e. for general elections you can spend more than on elections for mayor or governor, simply because there's fewer

  • by RotateLeftByte ( 797477 ) on Sunday June 18, 2017 @02:45PM (#54643205)

    But money will talk and the Koch Brothers will 'own' another bit of the USA.

  • Because (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Greyfox ( 87712 ) on Sunday June 18, 2017 @02:47PM (#54643209) Homepage Journal
    We've seen how well private industry does it. In the places where taxpayers fund the internet, you get gigabit speeds at rates around a quarter of what private industry offers for any internet service at all. Private industry might complain that it isn't "fair", but private industry won't step up and do it, either. And if life were "fair", you'd die penniless in the gutter after spending a lifetime enriching yourself by destroying the planet. So I'm not going to worry about that too much.
    • by jsrjsr ( 658966 )
      Like happened near me (Jackson, WI), the municipality spends a fortune setting up an internet utility and is quickly out-competed by private companies.
      • by Anonymous Coward

        ... But regardless the internet connectivity got better, so isn't that mission accomplished?

        • by Anonymous Coward

          ... But regardless the internet connectivity got better, so isn't that mission accomplished?

          Only if it stays better.

      • by tricorn ( 199664 )

        It's certainly possible for a project to go wrong, that doesn't mean it's a bad idea. It means there needs to be better support for small munipalities to do it well. From an interesting article [dailyunion.com] about how it works in Wisconsin:

        The Village of Jackson, she said, also sold its system for pennies on the dollar because it did not keep up with the advances in the technology required for the utility; in short, the system was nearly obsolete within five years.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Anonymous Coward

          It means there needs to be better support for small munipalities to do it well.

          Or more generally:
          The Ayn Randians have defined the debate about government involvement for the last 40 years. They've made it about small government versus big government. But that's a misdirection. What really matters is good governance versus bad governance It turns out that one of the surest ways to get bad governance is to capriciously hamstring government. "Starve the beast" is a surefire recipe for ineffective and often counterproductive government.

    • By definition we should see governments creating better services than any private corporation ever would. Simply due to logic. Corporations provide services as a means to an end, the service is the necessary evil for their actual goal, profit, while governments' primary concern is to actually provide a service, with the fees for it being often just an afterthought and way to direct demand rather than an actual attempt to generate revenue.

      So why is it we don't observe this in reality, too?

      Well, most of the t

  • by by (1706743) ( 1706744 ) on Sunday June 18, 2017 @02:54PM (#54643227)
    ...I think most people here on /. agree that fast internet access *is* vital infrastructure. We may disagree on how best to pay for this, of course, but it's essential.
    • by Anonymous Coward

      Lets look at some words:

      "... misuse of taxpayer funds when the city has other needs, such as infrastructure and public safety."

      Todays word is infrastructure, fibre is infrastructure, which can also be used for public safety.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    The last portion of this article stood out the most.
    Basically put:

    The only way we can truly be a big brother society is by installing high speed internet everywhere to connect the devices.
    We feel you should pay for it because this will make you feel safer.

  • Fuck you. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by DogDude ( 805747 ) on Sunday June 18, 2017 @02:56PM (#54643237)
    Fundamentally, we don't believe that taxpayers should be funding broadband or internet systems

    What a stupid fucking asshole. We're struggling to keep our business afloat because neither of our two ISP's (TWC and AT&T) can provide us with stable Internet connections at one of our locations. Everybody needs government funded, government regulated Internet access ASAP.
    • by Anonymous Coward

      We need dependable internet infrastructure just as much as roads and sidewalks. If we can use the internet for services, then we use other infrastructure less, which means the roads will last longer, less pollution from driving and maintaining infrastructure, less demand for gasoline and so on. Oh, wait, less demand for gasoline? maybe that is one of the Koch Bros concerns right there?
      If the Koch bros think other things should be funded, then they should be doing the funding. They certainly have the money t

    • You know, if Trump didn't increase the Military spending the way he wants, and puts all those tens of Billions into broadband, within 2-3 years the US would STILL be spending about 50% of the entire worlds budget on things to kill people with, but you would then be able to watch it streamed live on decent broadband. Priorities...
  • by Anonymous Coward

    "Old monopolies are the only free market you deserve"

  • Kentukywired (Score:5, Informative)

    by Tailhook ( 98486 ) on Sunday June 18, 2017 @03:01PM (#54643255)

    Kentukywired [ky.gov] intends to wire the whole state. The Kochs have strategically chosen to pick this fight in Louisville, a classic (D) run bed of corruption.

  • Excuse me (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Lirodon ( 2847623 ) on Sunday June 18, 2017 @03:02PM (#54643259)
    Fiberoptic is infrastructure.
  • by rsilvergun ( 571051 ) on Sunday June 18, 2017 @03:02PM (#54643263)
    I saw on Youtube when my local power company was working to get the law changed so they wouldn't have to pay for the extra power solar installations put back into the grid. It was a bunch of old people sitting around talking about something scary that was gonna happen and it ended with "Vote No on Prop such and such". The law passed, no problem

    The gov't's been paying for expanding broadband for decades. The Koch bros own companies continue to suck up subsidies left and right. They couldn't be any more transparently hypocritical if they tried. But old people vote. They're easily frightened because they're brains go in old age and this stuff works.
  • by rundgong ( 1575963 ) on Sunday June 18, 2017 @03:06PM (#54643273)
    And treating it as such is the only way to get decent competition among ISPs.
  • Instead of Kockblocking this; just try to remember that a fiber buildout is basically dumping chemically doped glass fibers into populated areas. Doesn't that feel so much better? Don't think about the service, think about the emissions.
  • Fundamentally (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward

    "Fundamentally, we don't believe that taxpayers should be funding broadband or internet systems,"

    Translation: Fundamentally, instead you should let us rake hundreds of millions per year from these same taxpayers with our inferior service.

    Ang that for those lucky enough to get anything reasonable at all.

  • New Rule (Score:1, Funny)

    by boulat ( 216724 )

    Perhaps we should start having public executions for enemies of the people and progress?

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Tailhook ( 98486 )

      Worked for Stalin and Pol Pot.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Broadband providers already recieve federal grants to subsidize the expansion of service. This is part of a federal mandate to ensure that information can be swiftly communicated across the country. An argument that is based on the proposition that the use of tax revenue to subsidize the expansion of a service provider is an unfair burden to taxpayers is an argument that has cosmetic appeal but no legitimatimacy based on current and ongoing practices. The conclusion is that the true reason for opposing th

  • by Anonymous Coward

    The Internet is a utility. It may not have started that way, but today, it is as necessary a public utility as water or electricity.

    To that end, governments everywhere gave telecoms huge tax abatements to bring internet to everyone, and they basically stole that money.

    So, I have no sympathy for the AT&Ts and Comcasts when they collectively steal billions of dollars from taxpayers.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Tax payers have already been funding it federally and it hasn't moved for shit.
    At least if it's done locally, it will get things moving.
    These are the type of people who probably still claim Coal and Oil is the way of the future. Out with the old generation filled with morons stuck in their old ways, in with the new generation that knows what it wants instead of letting the old generation tell them what they should want. (ie nothing because it's all going to the old gen's pockets)

  • The group says $5.4 million is a misuse of taxpayer funds when the city has other needs, such as infrastructure and public safety.

    I'd think that building a publicly accessible fiber optic network does in fact meet the definition of infrastructure. I'd also think that providing a means for communication for the public does add to public safety.

    Not the best argument in my estimation.

  • Arguing over nickels (Score:5, Interesting)

    by rbrander ( 73222 ) on Sunday June 18, 2017 @04:39PM (#54643615) Homepage

    >The group says $5.4 million is a misuse of taxpayer funds

    Louisville is apparently 3/4 of a million people, so this comes to seven dollars per person. Surely less than 1% of anybody's property taxes. Louisville undoubtedly spends that on road maintenance every couple of weeks.
    But that's just operating, this is capital. If they're spending less than $54M replacing pavement and wires and pipes every year, the city would be a shambles. This is probably about a 2% hit on one year of capital spending.

    • This is probably about a 2% hit on one year of capital spending.

      Exactly! Because we all know that you can just plop various bits of technology somewhere and it'll be good forever!

      I mean, I'm sure the current ISP's don't spend anything whatsoever in maintenance and upgrades and are still using the same routers that ARPAnet did!

      • by Anonymous Coward

        That would certainly explain why it's so slow and shitty. Thanks for the info!

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 18, 2017 @05:43PM (#54643815)

    So, by this logic, building highways and city streets was just the government giving away taxpayer dollars as a gift to the likes of Ford, Chrysler and GM?

    • by rbrander ( 73222 )

      Ummmm...yeah.

      Without heavy government investment in roads that started as soon as the car was invented, the industry would never have taken off.

      And speaking of taking off, they also expended vast taxpayer dollars making airports available everywhere so that rich people who owned aircraft (and, they hoped, middle-class people that could rent a seat on one) would have someplace to go.

      To this day, federal taxpayer dollars are expended on small rural airports that could never support themselves through user fee

  • If "Google Fiber, which recently announced plans to begin building its high-speed network in the city" let them pay for all of it they have billions and billions of dollars!!! OMG why would the city pay for them to make even more money. That is beyond stupid!
  • by buss_error ( 142273 ) on Sunday June 18, 2017 @11:30PM (#54645087) Homepage Journal

    Fundamentally, we don't believe that taxpayers should be funding broadband or internet systems,

    MhmmmKay. Let's whip that around a bit, shall we?

    Fundamentally, we don't believe that taxpayers should be funding fire departments,
    Fundamentally, we don't believe that taxpayers should be funding police departments,
    Fundamentally, we don't believe that taxpayers should be funding Public water & sewer systems,
    Fundamentally, we don't believe that taxpayers should be funding Hospital systems,
    Fundamentally, we don't believe that taxpayers should be funding streets and highways,

    Because, fundamentally, internet access isn't about browsing porn anymore. It's about scheduling medical appointments, getting prescription refills, it's about having a job, or looking for a job. It's about paying your bills, taxes, and doing your banking. It's about ordering things on line you simply can't get at your local brick and mortar store even if you wanted to take the trouble.

    Because, fundamentally, if a person doesn't understand how all pervasive and simply necessary internet access is, they are either planning to rip off the public, or they are thinking with their fundament.

    Fundamentally.

    You can discern the hypocrisy in their statement by observing how fast they get on board if it's building (with tax dollars!) a billion dollar sports stadium or for a multi-billion dollar air port expansion, or a new freeway. Better watch out then, because they will leave hoof prints (like all jack asses do) across your back.

  • Affiliated with their network. In plain English, at two degrees of separation from them.

    This is just clickbait.

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