A new post from Tea Party Nation founder, Judson Phillips, was just posted. In it Phillips shows the kind of archaic thinking the Tea Party has and why it is the kind of thinking that will keep America behind in a 21st century economy: (subscription required).
The remaining roughly $27 million was used to connect 150,000 new subscribers in “underserved communities.” Why is the government out spreading broadband? This is something the private sector needs to be doing.
I live right next to one of these "underserved" communities. Just a couple of miles from me there is no broadband internet, unless you are willing to pay the outrageous prices for satellite internet.
The area I'm talking about is farm land. They have phone and cable, but no broadband. For the "private sector" that already has lines running there, adding the service would be a lot cheaper than someone creating a new service, yet they don't want to. Why? Because the cost per home would be much higher than in denser communities. I guess America's farmers are supposed to be left off the internet. No checking seed prices, weather forecasts or getting trade reports for them.
Now this area I'm talking about was going to get broadband internet a few years ago and it was the private sector doing it. They were going to have fiber optics, as was the rest of our county. Of course with the private sector comes local ties and friendships, which can easily lead to some bad things. That was exposed here in Butler County, Ohio, when the Dynus Corporation and a bunch of county officials decided to bilk the people and local banks for millions of dollars.
This scandal was so big that the FBI got involved. We have seen lots of county officials indicted over it, including the county treasurer. Oh, and since Phillips is blaming Democrats for all of this, might I point out that every single county official indicted in this is a Republican. Some are even close allies of John Boehner.
There's a place for private sector and a place for government. Public utilities, which the internet should be included in, is a government role. The internet is a vital part of today's economy and yet the U.S. has some of the worst speed, coverage and prices in the world:
In South Korea, the average broadband download speed is 20.4 megabits per second. In Japan, it is 15.8 mbps. In Sweden, it’s 12.8 mbps. In The Netherlands, it’s 11 mbps.
And in the United States, the country that invented the Internet? It’s 5.1.
This according to a new study by the Communications Workers of America, which found that broadband speeds in the States are among the slowest of the 29 countries it surveyed. “Between 2007 and 2009, the average download speed in the United States has increased by only 1.6 megabits per second (mbps), from 3.5 mbps in 2007 to 5.1 mbps in 2009,” the CWA explains in its report. “At this rate, it will take the United States 15 years to catch up with current Internet speeds in South Korea, the country with the fastest average Internet connections.”
We used to be on top of the world in internet coverage, but during the Bush years the rest of the world played catch up and now we are down in the bottom percentile. Sure this isn't the reason the economy collapsed, but it sure didn't help.
But there is something else important to note here. While we were losing out, the internet was handled by the private sector.
And here is the problem. What motivation does the private sector have to increase service, coverage and offer better prices? It's not like I can sit here in Ohio and get Japanese internet that costs 1/4 the price and has speeds 5 times faster.
The internet should be classified a public utility and managed by the government. If not the whole thing, then just the infrastructure. Lease off the lines and hardware to the private sector with strict rules. Then we might be able to get ourselves out of this hole and become competitive in a 21st century economy. That or we could stick with the thinking of the Tea Party, let the private sector keep raping the American people for substandard internet and put us on the fast track to becoming a third world nation. That's something I sure as hell don't want to see.