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Right-wing ideology trumps job creation once again

Conservatives are ramming another bill through committee this morning that would sacrifice jobs and economic development on the altar of right-wing, market fundamentalist ideology.

The legislation is a bill advanced by corporate cable giants to prevent local community broadband Internet networks from developing in areas not served by the cable giants. In a meeting full of complex parliamentary moves clearly orchestrated ahead of time, Republicans have even been moving to reconsider decent amendments adopted last week — apparently before the companies and GOP leadership got their marching orders down. 

Amazingly (or maybe not so amazingly given the level of debate on Jones Street these days), the public comments at the meeting included rants from extreme right ideologues/corporate shills at Americans for Prosperity and a D.C. group called the Center for Individual Freedom. The two attempted to argue that it was better to leave the provision of broadband up to giant companies (who have left vast swaths of the state un-served and thus unable to compete for jobs and economic development) than to have community networks that have proven extremely successful.

Rep. Weiss said it best when she said the bill was “not about creating jobs but protecting monopolies.”

14 Comments


  1. Jack

    March 23, 2011 at 11:16 am

    Years ago business had no regulations placed on it. Today we’re seeing the same happening with the creation of dot-com start up companies. The start ups are given pretty much a free-hand on the internet to experiment, create and populate it. But there will come a time when the it too will be regulated. That’s what happens when a territory needs to be developed and populated. Once things are established regulations are set in place for the health and well-being of the people.

    Business will run amok when given a chance. The most resent event of business running amock is the world wide financial break-down created right here in river-city along the Hudson.

    Business cares about one thing and one thing only – the bottom line. That would be fine if business also cared equally about the employees.

    Perhaps we need to be reminded about the Hamlet NC chicken processing plant fire back in 1991 when 25 people were killed in a fire because business locked and exit door.

    Within two years of the accident insurance companies and the North Carolina business lobby collaboratively introduced legislation to severely limit the compensation available to injured workers and relatives of killed workers.

    The actions of business and insurance companies speaks volumes.

  2. Dallas Woodhouse

    March 23, 2011 at 1:52 pm

    Broadband Internet access is a an overwhelming free market success story. The vast majority of North Carolina households have at least two choices from the phone and cable companies, wit wireless options becoming increasingly competitive for broadband as the next generation rolls out. There is no market failure that requires government to step in.

    With strapped local government budgets, municipalities should be focused on providing core government services, not operating commercial businesses in competition with the private sector.

    Mooresville and Davidson’s government-run Internet services have been failures. A report from the Free State Foundation on January 6, 2011 found that both towns face looming multi-million dollar debts thanks to their joint purchase and operation of MI-Connection Communications System.

    They have spent over $90 million to date acquiring and upgrading the systems,and this year their budgets call for another $6.46 million from taxpayers — $4.44 million from Mooresville and $2.02 million from Davidson.

    According to the Lake Norman Citizen report: “[i]n Davidson, one-fourth of the town’s operating budget for this year is going to prop up the cable company, as is a new trash pickup fee of more than $200 per home.”

    Advocates of municipal broadband have long pointed to BUrlington, Vermont as a model. But an Associated Press report on December 6, 2010 found:

    “City-owned Burlington Telecom offers Cadillac service – fiber-optic broadband – to nearly every home and business in the city. But it has signed up far fewer customers than hoped, it’s $50 million in debt, its main creditor is threatening to repossess equipment and it is under state and federal criminal investigations.”

    As Americans for Prosperity Foundation’s March 2009 report,

    http://www.americansforprosperity.org/files/Municipal_Broadband_Policy_Paper.pdf

    which I submitting for the record, shows: municipal broadband has a remarkable record of failure all over the country.

    The free-market Internet works. Government Internet doesn’t. Let’s get our cities and towns out of the business of Internet so they can serve taxpayers effectively at legitimate governmental responsibilities.

    Dallas Woodhouse
    Americans for Prosperity-North Carolina State Director
    200 West Morgan Street, Suite 100
    Raleigh NC 27601
    919 839 1011 ext 3
    919 671 1050 cell
    [email protected]

  3. Rob Schofield

    March 23, 2011 at 2:00 pm

    Like I said…

  4. NC politics

    March 23, 2011 at 2:52 pm

    Free internet broadband is a government service when the private sector has decided that it isn’t profitable.

  5. Dallas Woodhouse

    March 23, 2011 at 3:50 pm

    I really wonder if you think it is ok to force some low wage worker who does not want or have cable tv or high speed internet to pay more for their garbage collection.

    and FWIW, no city will be banned from starting these operations, they just have to play under a fair set of rules

  6. Dallas Woodhouse

    March 23, 2011 at 4:11 pm

    In Wilson, the city already had cable TV, phone, and broadband services, provided by private providers. Yet the city thought it should compete with these businesses. Greenlight, the city’s public cable company, has been bleeding red ink since it began service in 2008. It lost more than $1 million in 2009 and nearly $1.5 million in 2010. According to its financial statements, Wilson has taken more than $11 million from its electric and gas funds to subsidize its competitive foray into the cable business. No wonder Wilson’s electric rates are 50% higher than that of Progress Energy and its gas rates are 30% more than PSNC Energy rates.

  7. Shel Anderson

    March 23, 2011 at 4:12 pm

    As I understand the proposed legislation, it severely hampers municipalities in setting up internet services. Is there some reason that the corporations can’t compete on a level field with government?

  8. Dallas Woodhouse

    March 23, 2011 at 5:00 pm

    It is not level because governemtm can use general tax dollars to support the internet service when their fees can’t support it and that is what we are trying to stop.

    It violates the sprit of the Unstead Act.

  9. Bubat3

    March 23, 2011 at 6:27 pm

    Don’t instigate Dallas folks. Dallas what is going on with the Voter ID Bill?

  10. Frances

    March 23, 2011 at 7:59 pm

    We can only hope. I think it is Mr. Chris from Progressive Pulse out there digging up ballot boxes thrown in the river filled with ballots.
    Never, never, never voter problems in NC, it is like saying Mr Chris understands poverty. Now that is a joke.

  11. Chris Campion

    March 23, 2011 at 8:27 pm

    Gov’t doesn’t create jobs. It spends the wealth earned in the private sector on whatever re-election-seeking politicians deem it in their interests to promote.

    Burlington, VT, created a municipal broadband enterprise (Burlington Telecom) to provide phone, cable, and internet service to the city – in a city that was teeming with all three service options already. Burlington Telecom’s price for its services, contrary to the political arguments made at its inception, were at or higher than market prices. It “borrowed” 17 million from the city’s coffers that it has since failed to pay back in direct contravention to its certificate of public good – the certificate that allows it to operate. It has defaulted on a 33 million dollar lease to CitiCapital that it used to finance its network, so that equipment now belongs to CitiCapital, should it decide to pull up a truck and take it home, which it might have a fiduciary responsibility to do, considering its shareholders.

    All this to say – there’s nothing in the city’s charter that states it can, it should, or it “oughtta” run a business. Gov’t is not a business, it’s not designed to be one, and it shouldn’t get into the business of picking winners and losers by introducing enterprises entire into a market with a clear lack of understanding of markets, capital, and competition. The failure of gov’t is always a burden to be placed on taxpayers – and in this instance, again, the Burlington taxpayer will be required to shoulder the rampant adventurism that defines the publicly-funded enterprise.

  12. Christopher Mitchell

    March 25, 2011 at 11:43 am

    Gov’t does create jobs? I sure wouldn’t eat in a restaurant without inspections, or the threat of inspections. And I wouldn’t buy any food from supermarkets without the FDA doing its best to keep the suppliers honest.

    One wonders how much commerce would work if you had to pay a toll on every road, it sure would be slower.

    Burlington Telecom is one of over 100 citywide wired networks and it is the worst example. They don’t talk so much about Chattanooga, which offers the best broadband in the country. They don’t talk about BVU, Reedsburg, or Cedar Falls, which are running in the black. They don’t talk about the $1million+ saved even in a tiny community like Kutztown because of the competition introduced by the muni network.

    Video on Wilson’s superiority: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aMGdZD9qQxo&feature=player_embedded

    Community Broadband Map: http://www.muninetworks.org/communitymap

  13. DigDeeper

    March 28, 2011 at 2:20 pm

    Hey Dallas – You show yourself as totally uninformed on building infrastructure. Even if TWC built a new bbnd system today, it would be in the “red” for a number of years — you have to build a network before you can get subscribers. In 2008, before Wilson had one customer, but when TWC had a monopoly, TWC told Wilson residents the reason they weren’t subscribing to their services was because they were too poor to afford them. Actually, they were priced at monopoly rates – too high. Since Greenlight, and since TWC has real competition, TWC has dramatically dropped their rates and improved their technology as GL continues to attract customers with better service and lower rates. TWC’s rates in Greenlight for its customers are 20% lower than what they charge the rest of the Raleigh area — same headend – same programming –same backbone–but in Wilson they have competition. A word you guys have dropped from your vocabulary since you helped the incumbents become deregulated 4 years ago in NC….Competition was in every other word in your sentence then – what happened?

  14. Erik Soderstrom

    April 2, 2011 at 12:28 am

    “The legislation is a bill advanced by corporate cable giants to prevent local community broadband Internet networks from developing in areas not served by the cable giants.”

    That is a lie.

    The following is a direct quote from the bill:

    “The provisions of G.S. 160A?340.1, 160A?340.4, and 160A?340.5 do not apply to the provision of communications service in an unserved area.”

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