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Providing information to unwitting victims on a "don't-need-to-know" basis since 1974.

Thursday, June 09, 2005

Circle of Protection: Corporate
Tap (1) to prevent target government from furnishing its citizenry with useful services with taxpayer funds.

Republican Congressmen Pete Sessions (R-TX) has recently proposed legislation designed to pre-empt localities and states from establishing municipal mobile networks. It has the Orwellian name Preserving Innovation in Telecom Act of 2005.

This legislation comes at a time when it has become apparent that more and more employment opportunities at all levels will depend on access to high-speed internet facilities. The "digitial divide" problem is of great concern to municipalities and their future; it's unquestionably not about whether the inner-city or rural poor can join in on insular discussions of the relative merits of Captain Kirk and Captain Picard on the taxpayers' dime. It's serious business now.

The telecom firms have been cherrypicking yuppie enclaves and upscale suburban areas and redlining large parts of many of the cities that either have set up or are considering setting up municipal wi-fi for years. And now they have the chutzpah to have one of their biggest lackies in Congress try to stop the cities from taking their own initiative to do anything about it.

Conservatives like Sessions were all about local control - until they got control of the entire federal government apparatus.

This little bit of rent-seeking behavior has a parallel in Sen. Rick Santorum's attempt to stop the National Weather Service from distributing its reports, provided with taxpayer money, to the public. Why? Because AccuWeather, a benefactor of Santorum, would like to have an easier time selling the same information it obtains from the National Weather Service at a profit.

My favorite sentence from the linked article has to be this one:
"It is not an easy prospect for a business to attract advertisers, subscribers or investors when the government is providing similar products and services for free," Santorum said.

Of course it is, Rick; if I've already paid for something with my tax dollars, I can't say I'd be too interested in paying someone for the same product again - or in a Senator who thinks I should be forced to pay twice, just so some theoretical investor or advertiser can then grab a few extra bucks in the deal.

Their next step might well be trying to ban municipal water supplies - after all, aren't they interfering with the ability of the bottled water industry to make a profit?

Do people still play Magic: The Gathering?


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