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North Carolina citizens have banded together to create municipal internet projects in a market where there is only one cable internet provider.  (Source: Capitol Broadcasting Company)

Time Warner, who owns that monopoly has convinced state Republicans to try to ban municipal Wi-Fi efforts, in effect. The move would ensure that Time Warner enjoys years more of monopoly profits, deliver low service at a high price.  (Source: Travel Webshots)

Critics claim that Republican Representatives like bill sponsor Marilyn Avila have been "paid off" by Time Warner lobbyists.  (Source: Stop the Cap!)
If they get in the way of business, take away power from local governments, say top state Republicans

Politics is seldom black and white as issues overlap producing shades of gray.  In the 2008 and 2010 election "Tea Party" Republicans like Sarah Palin vocally advocated reducing the size of the federal government and putting more power in the hands of state and municipal governments.  Now Republicans in North Carolina are pushing a contrary position -- robbing municipal governments of power.

I.  Bill H129 -- "Bill-y the Municipal Internet Slayer"

At stake is the issue of whether elected officials can use their city's budget money to offer public cable internet and Wi-Fi offerings to make up for lack of competition on the market.

House Bill 129, a pending piece of legislation, looks to block municipalities from being able to do that, though it partially excludes a few municipalities with established systems.

This is a complex issue, so we feel it's worth looking at the pros in cons in depth.  So what is this crazy idea of municipal internet?

II. The Good -- Competition at Last

To start, it's important to make clear how these municipal internet projects are born.  Every year, local residents vote in city council members.  It is typically these city council members that vote to create municipal internet projects (though in rare cases citizens may directly vote on the issue).  

While some would argue that this takes power out of the hands of citizens, that point is more of a criticism of elected officials on all levels in general.  After all, if the citizens didn't want the service, they could vote for council candidates who would repeal funding.

The idea of municipal utilities isn't exactly a foreign concept in America.  Much of America is served by municipal water utilities. 

In North Carolina, the problem is lack of competition.  Customers across much of North Carolina have one choice if they wanted fast (cable) internet -- Time Warner.  If they're willing to settle for slower speeds they have slower alternatives like AT&T (DSL) or Embarq (DSL).  Time Warner and Embarq have taken advantage of this situation raising prices to exorbitant levels and offer lower-than-promised speeds.

Those high prices caused cities to begin to step in and propose a new system of "pipes" to go with their municipal water -- fiber optic internet.  The results have largely been a success, with communities like Wilson, North Carolina (Greenlight, Inc.), Salisbury (Fibrant), Davidson (MI-Connection), and Morganton (CoMPAS Cable TV & Internet).

Borrowing $25M USD to $40M USD in private sector loans up front, cities are able to install super-fast fiber optic lines, connect citizens, and connect these lines to the external outgoing lines.  Federal laws mandate that telephone and internet cables must enjoy equal access, so there's little that Time Warner and Embarq can do to prevent cities from plugging into the system.

Once operational, these networks have generally been embraced by many citizens due to high speed and low costs.  For example, Wilson citizens last year paid $35/month to get a 10 Mbps internet connection, while they would have to pay as much as $57/month to get an equivalent connection from Time Warner.  Faced with the prospect of paying up to $264 USD less a year, most customers are opting out of Time Warner as fast as possible.

Other advantages include that the service offers its lowest price as a set rate, not a promotion (so customers don't have to worry about an unpleasant bump) and they clearly post all their pricing information on their website, without the need to enter personal information (Time Warner requires personal information to get pricing on its website).

Given that appeal, the services are quickly able to make the transition to positive tax flow.  For example after about two years Wilson's Greenlight project is now tax-flow positive, allowing it to pay back the loans it took to lay down the infrastructure.  In other words, at the end of the day citizens voted for this system, get lower prices, keep their money local, and don't pay more in taxes.

The services also are a boon for businesses, offering connection speeds that Time Warner has refused to offer like a 1 Gbps line.  Without the municipal line, no business would be able to buy a connection this fast.

Why is this deal so sweet?  Well the biggest factor is simply that the lack of competition was allowing the prices to be kept artificially high.

And since the introduction, Time Warner has actually been forced to respond by lowering prices.  The result, according to research funded by the City of Wilson, is that Wilson residents have saved $1M USD over the past couple years on internet versus citizens in Raleigh, thanks to the lower priced city service and local-only price cuts from Time Warner to try to stay competitive.

II.  So What's the Downside?

Republican lawmakers in the state government have been trying unsuccessfully to kill these services almost since they started.  States State Representative Ruth Samuelson, R-Mecklenburg in a recent interview, "I don't believe that providing service isn't a core part of government.  They don’t deliver my newspaper. They don’t buy my groceries. I don’t see what they should be in there providing my Internet service."

Initially the lawmakers contended that the municipalities were too inept to implement successful services.  That argument was essentially killed when the efforts quickly showed strong signs of success, saving citizens money, gaining large subscriber numbers, and entering positive cash flow.

Subsequently Republicans switched their tactic to complaining that the services were unfair and created a government competitor to private business (though they have failed to attack similar "government competitors" in the water industry).

GOP Rep. Marilyn Avila of Raleigh, a chief sponsor of Bill H129 states, "We have our local governments in direct competition with private industry."

Time Warner enthusiastically voiced its support, with a company statement that remarked, "The bill is intended to create a level playing field so, If local governments want to provide commercial retail services in direct competition with private business, they can't use their considerable advantages unfairly."

III.  Allegations of Lobbyist Influence

In our discussions with state and local officials we've heard lots of rumors of lobbyist pressure from Time Warner and Embarq on Republicans to push this bill in its current form.  

The local site "Stop the Cap!" claims that one of the bill's key sponsors -- Rep. Julia Howard -- received direct campaign contributions from Time Warner and other groups opposing the municipal services.  As the city of Wilson also offers cheap municipal phone service, Ms. Howard received $4,000 from CenturyLink, who supplies a large share of the local phone service.  She received $750 from TimeWarner and $1,500 from AT&T (who took issue with the municipal cable offerings).

It is possible other reps, including Rep. Avila received similar cash donations.  It's also possible they received even more money from these companies funneled through private donors.

There's plenty of opposition against the bill on principal alone. States Rep. Bill Faison, D-Caswell, "What this is Time Warner Cable's efforts to cut out municipalities as a potential competitor, and it is a monopolistic bill from the word go. We still have people who are largely under-served throughout many areas in our state."

The bill would prevent new municipal internet projects unless they partnered with a "private firm" and there were restrictions on what kind of private firm would be eligible.  Further, it prevents current and new projects from seeking private loans to finance their projects (presumably the business partner would have to seek such loans).

The bill narrow passed the House Finance Committee.

But sufficient public debate was not held, so the measure must be revoted on, on March 23 after there's sufficient time for public comment.  

A passing vote would clear the measure to go to vote before the broader House.  If it passes again, from there it would go on to the State Senate and to the governor to sign into law.

UPDATED: Friday March 18, 2011 2:25 p.m. --

Our sources have given us one local news story on the lobbying accusations.  It is now embedded at the start of section III.  To summarize, one of the key reps supporting this bill was paid campaign contributions by Time Warner and other corporate interests.



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This article is over a month old, voting and posting comments is disabled

There's a name for these people
By FITCamaro on 3/18/2011 1:17:52 PM , Rating: 4
RHINOs

While I do not support FEDERALLY sponsored broadband, if a local government wants to offer it, that's within their power. And given that said governments are elected often with just 50-100 votes being the margin of victory, if locals are not happy with what the officials are doing, they can easily get rid of them.

I am not a fan of these people calling themselves Republicans.




RE: There's a name for these people
By gamerk2 on 3/18/2011 1:50:45 PM , Rating: 4
Really? I find their stance in NC perfectly in line with current Republican policy. Why are people suddenly calling them RHINO's, when this has basically been their party stance for the past 30 years?


RE: There's a name for these people
By FITCamaro on 3/18/2011 2:07:27 PM , Rating: 3
And people like me want people like that gone. I'm not interested in what people have done in the past. I'm interested in tomorrow.

All powers not given to the federal government are reserved to state and local governments. The federal government (should) have no power over how internet service is offered in states because it isn't given to them as a power.

If a local areas citizens want to essentially form their own ISP, that's their decision.


RE: There's a name for these people
By JasonMick (blog) on 3/18/2011 2:53:23 PM , Rating: 5
At least one of the bill's sponsors reportedly accepted direct campaign donations from Time Warner.

In my mind that is no different than accepting a bribe as she used the contribution to secure a paying position.

Arguably she should be impeached for that misconduct, if it is substantiated.


By FITCamaro on 3/18/2011 3:03:31 PM , Rating: 4
I agree.


RE: There's a name for these people
By Solandri on 3/18/2011 3:21:12 PM , Rating: 2
I'm not sure how the local campaign finance laws work. But at the federal level you're limited to a very small amount ($2500?) per individual. Corporations are not allowed to donate. The problem is all the ways to run around that. You can set up a PAC and funnel money to a candidate that way. You can give money to a party and they will divert millions to a candidate. And there is no restriction on corporate donations to those.

IMHO you should only be able to donate to any political campaign or organization if you can vote. No corporations, but also no unions. If something political is really important to a company, they should be able to convince their workers that it's important enough to contribute to campaign candidates. Likewise if something is really important to a union, they should be able to convince their members to donate.

Donations to a PAC should be earmarked to count against your individual contribution limit ($2500 for Pres. candidate, $2500 for each Senate candidate, $2500 for House representative, $2500 for governor, etc.). The logistical difficulty of this has got me thinking public financing of campaigns (and banning private contribution) may be the only way to isolate the system from corruption.

But that's not how the system works right now. Under the current system, if those donations Time Warner made were legal, then it's legal. Singling out a single person because you don't like his or her politics or donor is just wrong. If you don't like the way things work now, you need to be targeting the system, not a person apparently playing by the same rules as everyone else.

If they were illegal, then the article should at least mention that.


RE: There's a name for these people
By viewwin on 3/18/2011 3:30:23 PM , Rating: 3
Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission the US Supreme court ruled that the McCain-Feingold Act of 2002, the US federal law that regulates the financing of political campaigns, was in violation of corporations' and unions' First Amendment rights. Under the January 2010 ruling, corporations and unions are no longer barred from promoting the election of one candidate over another candidate.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Citizens_United_v._Fe...


RE: There's a name for these people
By FITCamaro on 3/18/2011 3:36:35 PM , Rating: 2
Wrong. That case said corporations or unions can sponsor ads expressing their opinion about a candidate or elected politician. They cannot say "don't elect this guy, elect this guy instead".

The video in question during the case was a criticism of Hillary Clinton, not an ad for someone else.


RE: There's a name for these people
By Jeffk464 on 3/18/11, Rating: -1
RE: There's a name for these people
By FITCamaro on 3/18/11, Rating: 0
RE: There's a name for these people
By wiz220 on 3/18/2011 6:54:48 PM , Rating: 3
You might be correct as far as the letter of the law, but negative campaigning works, which is why it's done. If company XYZ puts out negative attack ads against every candidate but the one the are supporting it might as well be supporting one candidate. If they do this in the presidential election, in the final few months they can spend whatever amount of money they'd like bashing just one individual. In that case there really isn't much of a difference between supporting one candidate and attacking another.


By FITCamaro on 3/19/2011 9:51:03 AM , Rating: 1
Yes because a business shouldn't be allowed to tell the public about the bad things politicians do to their business.

Only unions should be allowed to support candidates right? Nevermind that many times they border on illegality with giving members dues to candidates.


RE: There's a name for these people
By Belard on 3/18/2011 8:51:51 PM , Rating: 4
Uh Wrongo.

It means what happened in the 2010 election cycle.

It was about 90%+ of the funding into the Democrate party by Americans (like you and me). vs. over 90% of the republican/teabaggers from a handful of billionaires and a few companies. (Koch Industries is a big one).

The Koch brothers do NOT represent thousands, much less millions of Americans.

Through their actions with having LIMITLESS funding, they can dictate political power.

Worse, it means FOREIGNERS have more direct ability in effecting how people vote!


RE: There's a name for these people
By kyleb2112 on 3/19/2011 10:03:01 AM , Rating: 2
You forgot to mention the bit about the Koch Brothers being the biggest polluters OF ALL TIME...or like a decade or something. If you didn't get that talking point, you will soon.

The Koch brothers are die hard libertarians who oppose Republicans on everything but a few fiscal issues. They'd be funding Democrats if that meant supporting actual LIBERALS instead of the fiscally suicidal statists Democrats have turned into these days.


RE: There's a name for these people
By sorry dog on 3/20/2011 2:33:30 PM , Rating: 5
While I am most definitely for a smaller federal government, allowing corporations to free reign to influence politics is extremely dangerous. The Koch brothers, Charles especially, are the poster children of why this is so.

Corporations are not democracies and a few individuals at the top can spend the corporations influence they way that they want even if it is completely to the contrary to smaller stakeholders in the company. These smaller stakeholders (employees, bondholders, smaller shareholders) then have their contributions used against their will. My mother worked for Koch Industries for several years and that company has a corporate culture that has more in common with the ideals of Stalin rather than Adam Smith. If you made your political view known that didn't coincide with the corp view then you ran the risk of punishment. The management at Koch had the nickname "Kochanuts".

The hypocrisy of the Kochs and other "libertarians" is that they want less government, but not for increased personal freedom like me. It's because they want less government intervention that can interfere with the growth and profitability of their companies... so that they can gain more power and influence in society.


RE: There's a name for these people
By JediJeb on 3/21/2011 11:50:49 AM , Rating: 2
I don't like the Koch brothers, but I also don't like George Soros, and you can't say he isn't dumping a lot of money into the Democrat side. Both sides are just as bad when it comes to this.


RE: There's a name for these people
By Jeffk464 on 3/18/2011 5:02:39 PM , Rating: 4
Our entire political system is determined by big money, when are people going to notice? The supreme court really put another nail in the coffin of democracy when they said its legal for corporations to spend unlimited funds on campaigns.


RE: There's a name for these people
By FITCamaro on 3/18/11, Rating: -1
RE: There's a name for these people
By mcnabney on 3/18/2011 5:56:31 PM , Rating: 5
Actually, you have no idea what you are talking about FITCamaro. You are just spouting the GOP talking points.

These facts are now the law of the land.
Corporations are people.
Corporations can give any amount of money to political action groups.
Those donations can be anonymous.
Those action groups can now support a candidate by name instead of just talking about issues.
So really, as long as businesses control the PAC a candidate can actually receive no contributions (which are not anonymous), but have an army of anonymous groups saying anything they want about their adversary.

We essentially gave up all transparency in the political process.


RE: There's a name for these people
By Jeffk464 on 3/18/2011 6:04:59 PM , Rating: 2
you said it better than I could.


RE: There's a name for these people
By mcnabney on 3/18/2011 6:31:13 PM , Rating: 3
To be fair, either side can make use of this ability to donate unlimited amounts of money anonymously.

But apparently bribery is now enshrined under Federal Law now. Maybe the Tea Party got something right. Maybe we should hold a new Constitutional Congress and start over? We slid slow gradually into an oligarchy, hardly anyone has noticed.


By tastyratz on 3/18/2011 10:56:34 PM , Rating: 1
incorrect,
Everyone noticed, they just didn't have the balls to do more than bitch or turn a blind eye.


By inperfectdarkness on 3/31/2011 10:19:45 AM , Rating: 1
i favor execution. fuck impeachment.


RE: There's a name for these people
By Ammohunt on 3/18/11, Rating: -1
By FITCamaro on 3/18/2011 3:45:03 PM , Rating: 1
Already know it.


RE: There's a name for these people
By MadMan007 on 3/18/2011 11:22:21 PM , Rating: 4
lol, Reagan, the Republican demi-god about whom so few facts are known. People who claim they are 'real, old-school Republicans' and then praise Reagan are clueless as to the facts. Ever seen a chart of the deficit and how it goes apeshit under Reagan? His administration was not old-school Republican, it was Neocon through and through.


By Ammohunt on 3/21/2011 3:06:21 PM , Rating: 2
Every republican is jostling to define themselves as a conservative. You highlight the internal fight between establishment party types such as yourself and the true conservative american spirit.


RE: There's a name for these people
By morphologia on 3/18/2011 2:44:59 PM , Rating: 4
The point being that it is just a "stance," or in other words, lip service to their chosen crusaders' motto that just so happens to coincide with benefitting those who line their pockets. Pretty convenient that they can justify their kickbacks while looking good to their constituents, so long as they spin it right that is.

And FYI, it's RINOs. Republicans In Name Only.


RE: There's a name for these people
By PaterPelligrino on 3/18/2011 11:47:00 PM , Rating: 4
I'm a very wealthy guy and don't give a sh't about anyone but myself, so naturally I'm a Republican. That's because the core concern of the powers behind my party has always been 'more money for me' - me, of course, meaning the mega rich. Now, we realize that the lower classes aren't going to get all pumped up to vote Republican if we come out and tell them we don't give a rat's ass about anybody but the rich, so we keep the political spot-light on gay marriage, abortion, that cute little Baby Jesus, guns, small government, immigrants and the uppity coloreds - all the things we've hoodwinked small-town America into believing are central to its well being.

Obviously, we don't give a steaming cowflop about any of these issues. My homes and townhouses are guarded and my children go to exclusive private schools where brain-dead nonsense like creationism is definitely not on the curriculum. But the end justifies the means, and if dumbing down the message is what it takes to get Joe 6pack to vote the very candidates into office who work tirelessly to make life easier for me and more difficult for him, so be it. (thumbs up smiley)

Let's face it, these people are hopeless anyway; remember this is a country where half the population thinks Jesus is coming back sometime in the next 50 years to smite the sinners and carry the righteous white folk off to heaven. The undeserving wage-slaves should consider themselves lucky to get the trickle-down slops we toss their way. Isn't the fact they're not rich proof that they're inferior?

So while our Republican gofers in Congress work to lower income taxes for the top tenth of a percent of Americans who already own everything, see to it that big business gets what it wants, fight raising the minimum wage for the coloreds and white trash, and strive to do away with odious inheritance taxes so that my descendants get to enjoy the sweet life of the new American aristocrat, we need guys like Glenn and Rush to blow smoke in the eyes of the dumb and gullible so that John Q doesn't catch on that he's being butt-fk'd by the very people he votes for.

Thank Jesus I'm a billionaire!


RE: There's a name for these people
By rdawise on 3/18/2011 6:11:42 PM , Rating: 3
quote:
Really? I find their stance in NC perfectly in line with current Republican policy. Why are people suddenly calling them RHINO's, when this has basically been their party stance for the past 30 years?


You are exactly right (pun intended). This is and always has been the Repubs stance. It's libertarians-in-hiding like FIT who started this whole "RINO" term. To quote a famous football coach "they are who we thought they are". Look at the chief argument the Repubs are making: government vs. private. That has been the Repubs hanging point for years. How are they RINOs now?

Anyway, this is the crap that's going on in NC now and unfortunately not enough people here are hearing about it. If you look at most news outlets here, you won't here about it...


RE: There's a name for these people
By Moishe on 3/18/2011 2:57:31 PM , Rating: 2
I'm not a fan of politicians.

Lots and lots of crooks in office. Lots of people getting paid for votes. Lots of agendas and back-room dealings.

Who loses? The average voter.


RE: There's a name for these people
By slyck on 3/18/2011 8:22:22 PM , Rating: 2
Too true. These people are damned traitors. I believe corrupt elected scumbags selling out to corporations is no different than treason. What's the punishment for that again?


By gorehound on 3/18/2011 4:43:13 PM , Rating: 2
JERKS !!!! that is the name of them.and they also are democrats.
reps and dems bend over in private to big corps screwing over the common man.


RE: There's a name for these people
By fearrun on 3/19/11, Rating: 0
By Shadowmaster625 on 3/21/2011 9:11:13 AM , Rating: 2
It is a simple equation. A Big Telecom is losing out on a bunch of money, so they grease the local politician to try and cement their monopoly. If that fails then they grease the state politicians. If that fails then they put in their own politicians. And we apparently love them for it, almost to the point of idol worship. (There is no other way to explain the amounts of money given to these corporations knowing damn well what they do with that money.)


RE: There's a name for these people
By mars2k on 3/24/2011 12:11:31 PM , Rating: 2
What a laugh, if the Republicans didn’t have situational ethics they would have no ethics at all. They are adamantly opposed to everything unless they want it, and they don’t want it unless they’ve been paid to want it.

They should change their party name to Prostitutiacans.

Look at what they did in Wisconsin and the northern tier of states. They made war on their political opponents and they have used the legislature to do it. They are well organized well funded and have fear and ignorance on their side.

In today’s world access to information is essential. If any place needed access to the internet it would be a small town in NC.

They are protecting corporate donors, Time Warner et al.


Hypocrisy clearly visible
By morphologia on 3/18/2011 2:33:28 PM , Rating: 3
I think it comes down once again to the idea that Republicans are all for local/state governments doing things they way they want...as long as that way doesn't compromise the interests of their favorite lobbyists.

Either party shows a clear and simplistic bias toward the most fundamental partisan interest; Republicans pander to guns, religion, racial prejudice and general fear, while Democrats pander to eco-fanatics, civil liberties, American apologism and a generally smug self-importance.

This particular debate is an offshoot of the whole business-vs-socialism faux crusade the Republicans have been flogging for the past couple of years now, and it serves a double purpose...it creates a false sense of the evil Liberal government killing businesses, while it directly serves the interests of the industry lobbyists in whose pocket the Republicans reside.

The fact that an effort is made to pretend that this is anything but standing up for the person who is paying for your 3rd home and 2nd boat is insulting...or it would be to anyone who isn't too blind to admit it.




RE: Hypocrisy clearly visible
By morphologia on 3/18/2011 3:14:56 PM , Rating: 2
It's pretty hard to admit to the bad side of your party's philosophy. Much easier to ignore it, I'll bet.


RE: Hypocrisy clearly visible
By FITCamaro on 3/18/2011 3:39:22 PM , Rating: 1
quote:
I think it comes down once again to the idea that most politicians are all for local/state governments doing things they way they want...as long as that way doesn't compromise the interests of their favorite lobbyists.


Fixed. Don't even try to say that Democrats are innocent.


RE: Hypocrisy clearly visible
By morphologia on 3/18/2011 5:51:13 PM , Rating: 3
I didn't say that Democrats are innocent. However, conservative spin doctors seem to think that equal guilt on both sides means there's no guilt. FYI, the whole "But he's doing it too!" thing wasn't a good excuse in kindergarten. Why would it work for grownups?

And regarding your "most politicians" whitewashing, Republicans in particular try to pulpit-pound the whole "less government, let the locals do what they want" tripe, yet here they are trying to PREVENT the locals from doing what they want, for the sake of their corporate sponsors.


RE: Hypocrisy clearly visible
By Jeffk464 on 3/18/2011 5:59:01 PM , Rating: 5
I hate the Republicans and I hate the Democrats. I call it a tie, any of you clowns that actually like one political party need to see a shrink.


typical poltics
By rika13 on 3/19/2011 9:39:52 AM , Rating: 3
Both parties have people who take campaign funds in exchange for dirty work. Obama got some trips from ADM (whom started making ethanol a few years ago) and in return, he pushed for 10% ethanol in our gas as a senator and slipped in a raise to 15% recently, with full knowledge that doing so would raise food prices. Democrats are famous for getting contributions from unions, funds for which are openly stolen by unions (as union dues) directly from the workers whom are not allowed in many states to chose to not be in the union.

Whilst there is a need for competition to lower prices, government intervention of this nature is both unwarranted and anti-competitive. The government service they are asking for would be similar or better products at lower prices, which would force others to leave the market as the government (or a large company which can increase other prices or eat the temporary loss) can provide services at a loss until all others are extinguished, then raise prices.

The most viable method would be to provide price controls in exchange for subsidies. FORCE internet companies to provide better prices, but pay them for lost profits from doing so.




RE: typical poltics
By Lerianis on 3/20/2011 12:34:01 AM , Rating: 2
Those funds are not stolen at all. The fact is that lobbying public officials is a KNOWN AND ACCEPTED part of the duties of a union official and they have to have some money to do that.


angry
By mudgiestylie on 3/18/2011 4:32:14 PM , Rating: 2
I live a few miles from wilson, nc. Their internet is fantastic for the money. We have municipal wireless in our town (greenville), which is free. I think this bill is a terrible idea... the whole purpose of competition is to provide a better product at a better price, and if a municipality can do that, why should it be excluded? I generally have a favorable view of the private sector over the public sector, but only because the private sector tends to offer better products and services. As a NC native and resident, I fail to see how this bill would benefit the people of our state...




RE: angry
By Jeffk464 on 3/18/2011 6:03:26 PM , Rating: 2
Usually municipalities have gone with their own wireless service because private industry wasn't providing decent service. The crappy part is they sew the municipalities even though they don't plan on providing service to the are because they want to stop the trend.


Racketeering
By slyck on 3/18/2011 8:26:45 PM , Rating: 4
This is government mandated racketeering. It's NOTHING to do with private vs public business. The only reason it happens is congresstraitors are paid off, BRIBED, and provide an unconstitutional racket to their masters. That is, the people that pay them UNDER the table, not us taxpayers. Traitors.




The political motivation
By Jaybus on 3/18/2011 3:09:45 PM , Rating: 2
This is all about one thing. Those politicians opposing the municipalities at the state level have taken bribes...err, I mean campaign donations....from Time-Warner. Their opposition has little to do with any other issue than trying not to bite the hand that feeds.




Go job Bill
By rdawise on 3/18/2011 6:13:45 PM , Rating: 2
I am a former resident of Caswell County and am glad that Bill Faison is standing against this. Kudos!




It's only matter of time...
By marraco on 3/20/2011 1:27:12 PM , Rating: 2
The lobbyists won the main battle large time ago, when they won this:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7qIhDdST27g

It’s only matter of time until they win the battle against municipal Internet.

Watch the picture “Inside Job”. The lobbyist tsunami already won. Nobody cares. Nobody will do anything.




Hard to justify
By Raiders12 on 3/21/2011 6:23:22 AM , Rating: 2
While on one hand, no one wants to expand the govt in any aspect, and in the other you dont want to allow the disgusting amount of profiteering Telecoms make off the consumer. These 3-4 major companies dictate the flow of information of our nation, and thats not how it should be. We live in the 21st century, and rank what 30-40 in the world in broadband? We should be experiencing yearly upgrades, as we do with CPUs,GPUs, and other tech components. We still have many rural areas without any sort of internet, if our coun try simply created a bill to restrict the monopolistic practices of Time Warner, Comcast, Cox, etc we would be better off, and included in that bill be the groundwork for laying down a critical Fiber Optic network. Saving consumers money with internet, faster speeds, more connections = more time and money for bills and savings. It should be a expansive effort as we did with the railroads going out west, and it would be such a benefit to our country. Whats $20-30 billion for fiber optic as opposed to 112 ($1 million apiece) cruise missles into Libya, or 100 F-35's at $97 million apiece? Our country needs to PRIORITIZE.




Stop changing your articles
By Conficio on 3/31/2011 9:17:56 PM , Rating: 2
I just had to realize that this "UPDATE" of the article has been a major revision of the text with all sorts of additions to the text and no attribution of the change.

In a world where people comment publically and now the comments do not match the original text anymore this is highly unethical.

Are other readers as upset as I am? Here is your chance to voice your opinion.




I'm no fan of Time Warner, but
By MeesterNid on 3/18/11, Rating: -1
RE: I'm no fan of Time Warner, but
By JasonMick (blog) on 3/18/2011 1:11:11 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
I agree with the premise that government should not compete with private business since it does have a huge advantage in the that it (the government) creates the laws that the business has to abide by.

Both sides do have a valid argument in this though. I think they should look at why there is so little competition rather than creating a new bureaucracy to oversee municipal broadband since it always ends up mismanaged, hemorrhaging cash, and corrupt


I understand that perspective, but are you consistent? Do you support abolishing municipal water services and public highway repairs?

And do you think local government has equivalent bureaucracy and inefficiency as the federal government?

You're essentially making a case in support of anarchy, if you say all government is inefficient and any government service (protection/police, education, roads, water, internet) would be better provided by private entities.


RE: I'm no fan of Time Warner, but
By MeesterNid on 3/18/11, Rating: -1
RE: I'm no fan of Time Warner, but
By JasonMick (blog) on 3/18/2011 1:26:34 PM , Rating: 1
quote:
What is that, some sort of new law of physics that you have to be all or nothing on what you agree or disagree with?


Well preferably you make your decisions on some sort of logical basis.

Consistency would obviously make life easy for you.

But if you want to pick and choose what utilities/public services the government provides, and don't believe yearly-elected local public officials/community proposals are the best ways to make that choice, what do you suggest?

How would you logically execute that decision, other than elected local officials and/or a community vote?


RE: I'm no fan of Time Warner, but
By MeesterNid on 3/18/11, Rating: -1
RE: I'm no fan of Time Warner, but
By JasonMick (blog) on 3/18/2011 1:42:21 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
How is that inconsistent or me "pick[ing] and choos[ing] what utilities/public services the government provides"!?


So you, and not the voting public as a whole should get to choose? Are you becoming King? :)

The public here voted, and they voted for city council officials who implemented this plan. It was executed over several years and every year they endorsed it by voting them back into office.


RE: I'm no fan of Time Warner, but
By trooper11 on 3/18/11, Rating: 0
RE: I'm no fan of Time Warner, but
By Jeffk464 on 3/18/2011 6:07:28 PM , Rating: 5
The republicans aren't interested in competition, they are interested in taking care of their corporate sponsors.


RE: I'm no fan of Time Warner, but
By mindless1 on 3/18/11, Rating: -1
By trooper11 on 3/18/2011 5:22:23 PM , Rating: 2
thats true, they cant cover every possible subject, but they will cover whatever important topics are being discussed in the community. I want to know if any of them ran on this issue and made a case for an alternative. we can discuss what voting 'means', but what im interested in is what the people there were expected from the people they voted in.

im trying to find out how the voters there feel, instead of arguing these points with other people that also dont live in that area and therefore have no real stake in it. its not impossible to think that during a recent election, this was a topic brought up there. if a candidate felt passionate enough about it, they would have brought it up.


RE: I'm no fan of Time Warner, but
By Xcpus on 3/19/2011 3:47:55 PM , Rating: 3
You're trying to reason with a person who is clearly brainwashed by Corporatism. There is no logical consistency to his positions (as you pointed out). It is like those protesters, during the Tea Parties, who asked the Government to take their hands off their Social Security or Medicare while claiming that Obamacare was "socialism" (when in fact it was neoliberalism a.k.a Milton Friedman).

Hilarious (because those are Government programs to start with).

I'll be frank... I am an anarchist (anarcho-syndicalist/Left-Libertarian) ideologically. However I am pragmatic and support Democratic means in the real world.

I think that if voters wanted this public access to Wifi/Cable/DSL Internet services then they should vote for it. As you pointed out they did just that.

I support your position. Odd no? You being on the political right and I on the political Libertarian-left yet we agree :)


RE: I'm no fan of Time Warner, but
By mcnabney on 3/18/2011 1:35:37 PM , Rating: 2
Internet to the premesis needs to be handled like a regular utility. That means either a private company that has rates approved by the government (usually cost plus) or a city service directly overseen by local government.

And I pay Time Warner $35/mo for 8M/512k which is really 4M/300k with 80ms latency.


RE: I'm no fan of Time Warner, but
By Kurz on 3/18/2011 1:36:06 PM , Rating: 2
Public roads is authorized as a governmental obligation.
Water services I don't have a big problem with teh government providing it because of the vast logistics of installing water lines. Though when water approaches scarcity Government has a hard time applying new prices to reflect the new scarcity which leads to the same levels of consumption and the water levels drop ever lower.

Internet lines on the other than hand is not essential for life. It can be easily laid to provide services. Internet technology changes constantly and it requires cotinual reinvestment to ensure an upto date service.

Government internet service has a higher risk of not being updated/upgraded to meet the changing market. It doesn't have the profit motive to keep itself upto date nor competitive motive. It can feed off of Tax payer dollars while a Private business has no such luxury.

Though I bet most of the lack of competition was caused by the regulations/beaurcracy/ of these local governments.


RE: I'm no fan of Time Warner, but
By gamerk2 on 3/18/2011 1:43:35 PM , Rating: 5
quote:
Public roads is authorized as a governmental obligation.


No, only "Post Roads" are mandated by the US Constitution.

quote:
Water services I don't have a big problem with teh government providing it because of the vast logistics of installing water lines.


You can replace every instance of "Water" with "Internet" in the quote and come to the same conclusion.

quote:
Government internet service has a higher risk of not being updated/upgraded to meet the changing market.


And on what premise would private business use their money [profits] to upgrade their utilities? Competition? Oh, wait, thats what this whole debate is about.

quote:
Though I bet most of the lack of competition was caused by the regulations/beaurcracy/ of these local governments.


I bet most of the lack of competition is due ot the high cost of infrastructure requirements of planting all the necessary lines, R&D, etc.


RE: I'm no fan of Time Warner, but
By Kurz on 3/18/11, Rating: -1
RE: I'm no fan of Time Warner, but
By mcnabney on 3/18/2011 6:02:01 PM , Rating: 2
In 95% of America there are two providers to choose from - DSL and Cable.

They provide different services and do not compete against each other. The only way the compete is with bundling - a source of competition which only serves to make the consumer more dependent on a single company. They only invest in high-income markets in order to lure the more lucrative business customers which pay much higher rates (my wife's office has the exact same connection I have, pays 3x the price, and has no guarantee of service or performance)


RE: I'm no fan of Time Warner, but
By Kurz on 3/19/2011 8:06:56 AM , Rating: 2
Ok... you didn't really address any of my post.
So what about your wife's business? How you know so much about what they pay for the line and the benefits of said line?

Sorry you don't come across as knowing what you are talking about.


RE: I'm no fan of Time Warner, but
By JasonMick (blog) on 3/18/2011 1:45:38 PM , Rating: 5
quote:
Internet lines on the other than hand is not essential for life. It can be easily laid to provide services. Internet technology changes constantly and it requires cotinual reinvestment to ensure an upto date service.


I disagree, the internet is essential in the modern world.

I do my work online and spend more time on the internet than I do on the roads.

My personal feelings on the topic (which I tried to keep out of the piece and provide objective coverage with both sides' claims) is that citizens should have the right to self governance.

If there's a monopoly on a service, they should have the right to band together get private sector loans and create a competitive service, which is what was done here.

Some sort of state level officials shouldn't get to come and tell them they can't do that.


RE: I'm no fan of Time Warner, but
By FITCamaro on 3/18/11, Rating: -1
RE: I'm no fan of Time Warner, but
By JasonMick (blog) on 3/18/2011 2:18:17 PM , Rating: 3
quote:
That you are fortunate enough to do all your work online does not make it a right or "essential". Essential things are those required to stay alive. Not ones that make your life and job easier.


Who says it's easy? I have to deal with you all day!

Just kidding.

But seriously, the internet is increasingly essential to modern society. Increasingly business, social interactions, and more are funneled through it.

I don't think people whose work involves heavy internet use (including myself) are any more or less fortunate than those who use the internet less frequently. I've worked at engineering firms that internet use is a negligible part of the job -- I would argue my job now is much more challenging from both a social and technical perspective (but more rewarding as well).

Beware making sweeping judgements, my friend.


RE: I'm no fan of Time Warner, but
By Solandri on 3/18/2011 2:58:14 PM , Rating: 2
Internet as a vital service is more analogous to phone lines, not water. You don't need a telephone to stay alive, but it's virtually required to function in modern society.

How is telephone service handled by the government? I know long distance is treated like a public service - your local phone company owns the lines, but is required to lease it out to any long distance company you choose. But local service seems to be locked in by the local phone monopoly.


By trooper11 on 3/18/2011 4:10:11 PM , Rating: 1
There is a slippery slope here.

If we are going to argue that internet access is a neccesity of life, then whats to stop stretching that to say that internet service in some form must be offered to those that cannot afford it? I mean if its a requirement for our 'modern' world, than doesnt it make sense to make sure everyone can use it, whether they can afford to pay or not?

The crappy thing about government intervention is that you have alot of people with thier hands in the pie, people that are elected by you but that often attempt to serve thier own interests instead.

Look, from all I can see, the local program is running well, which is something to be very happy about if your a local there, that means your tax dollars arent going to waste. If the people there want it, Im all for it, I also think they should have a right to do what they feel they should.

But if you were to ask me and I lived there, I would be more interested in solving whatever the problem is that keeps other companies from moving in and competeing. There are many other areas that dont have the problem of a lack of competition, so we should look there for answers.

I would prefer that my local government be focused on other issues instead of providing internet service.


RE: I'm no fan of Time Warner, but
By knutjb on 3/19/2011 3:22:01 PM , Rating: 1
There you go again. The irrational connection of luxury and conveniences as equally worthy to water and roads, water for health and roads for delivery of like essentials like food. This ridiculous socializing of business is socialism in every sense of the word.

Wherever we let government creep further into the realm business we do lose choice. The moronic idea that government does everything better is simply ludicrous. It was government that created the system that allowed the internet services in many locations to become sanctioned monopolies. To replace one sanction monopoly with another will not fix the problem but make it worse.

A company can easily be sued for restricting what you access. Government has a bad habit of censuring what you can access; regardless of party in power.

As to your comment:
quote:
Beware making sweeping judgements, my friend.
First please use spell check, i.e. judgments not judgements. Second you are implying a very broad, sweeping judgment as to the "essential" label of internet access. To elevate ANY service to the level of food, water, and sanitation is not logical by any stretch of the imagination. We lived without the internet for far longer than we have had it but our civilization has faltered everywhere we have failed to provide adequate levels of food, water, and sanitation. That cannot be said for the internet.

So Jason you should review your critical thinking skills for there are many holes in it.


RE: I'm no fan of Time Warner, but
By gcolefla on 3/18/2011 2:35:16 PM , Rating: 2
The same argument can be made that roads are a luxury. the transfer of goods or people on roads is just as important as the transformation of information online.

Local businesses in the communities mentioned were able to benefit by get a faster service that was not even offered by the company with a monopoly. It is possible that this business could not be as efficient with slower internet. If you think internet is not "essential" to staying alive, roads don't help you eat, have shelter, or cloth yourself. 99% of businesses use the internet for email communications, payroll, the ordering of supplies, and the presence of a web site. Its just as essential as roads


RE: I'm no fan of Time Warner, but
By Taft12 on 3/18/2011 3:04:37 PM , Rating: 2
The same can be said of electricity and public roads. Where is the bar set in terms of considering ourselves a first-world country?


RE: I'm no fan of Time Warner, but
By Lerianis on 3/20/2011 12:28:23 AM , Rating: 3
Very low in the minds of most Repukians and conservacreeps.


RE: I'm no fan of Time Warner, but
By RamarC on 3/18/2011 5:16:46 PM , Rating: 2
paved roads were a "luxury" also. you've just gotten accustomed to all roads being paved. even as late as the early-80s there were quite a few state-maintained gravel roads on state maps. and it was only last year that my GPS put me on a gravel road.

so the real question is "what makes up the infrastructure?" and the answer to that changes over time. in 1990, internet access wasn't part of it, but in 2011 the case can be made that it's just as valid as phone service.

(and before anyone says that municipalities don't provide phone service... a) some small towns in rural areas have provided it, and b) phone companies use right-of-way provided by the municipality.)


RE: I'm no fan of Time Warner, but
By theslug on 3/18/2011 5:36:54 PM , Rating: 2
The Internet is not a luxury anymore like it was in the 90s. It is a utility, like water and electricity.


RE: I'm no fan of Time Warner, but
By kfonda on 3/18/2011 2:23:00 PM , Rating: 1
What happens when the municipality drives out the competition and becomes the monopoly?

The municipal service has a huge advantage in that they don't have to make a profit to stay in business, they can just raise taxes in other areas to cover costs.

What happens when the police or fire or water budget runs short and they decide to raise the internet rates to make up the difference (after they have driven away all the competition)?

And most importantly, what happens when they decide that people should not have access to certain things on the internet for their own good?

There are a lot of reasons to support either side of this argument.


RE: I'm no fan of Time Warner, but
By DM0407 on 3/18/2011 2:33:57 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
What happens when the municipality drives out the competition and becomes the monopoly?


If the competition can't compete on costs then they shouldn't be in business. Isn't this what the Republicans believe in?

These projects are not being supported by the tax payers, they are not getting any kind of special deals. They are competing on an equal playing field, doing it better and big business doesn't like it.


RE: I'm no fan of Time Warner, but
By Taft12 on 3/18/2011 3:19:20 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
And most importantly, what happens when they decide that people should not have access to certain things on the internet for their own good?


Most importantly indeed, but private ISPs are already on-board with making these decisions for you (see: opposition to network neutrality)


RE: I'm no fan of Time Warner, but
By DM0407 on 3/18/2011 2:24:31 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Internet technology changes constantly and it requires cotinual reinvestment to ensure an upto date service.


Fiber optics was invented in the 60's, unfortunately most companies choose not to invest in infrastructure so to most this seems like a new and costly technology.


RE: I'm no fan of Time Warner, but
By Solandri on 3/18/2011 3:41:36 PM , Rating: 2
I'm sorry, no. Go to any place that sells networking/telephony equipment. Optical fiber costs a helluva lot more per foot than cat 3 unshielded twisted pair (telephone lines).

This was never about companies choosing not to invest in infrastructure. Until the last 5 years or so, a home simply didn't need the additional bandwidth optical fiber had over cat 3. When I set up an internal DSL system for a hotel 5 years ago, DSL variants could carry 11 Mbps over 1.5 km of cat 3. It's probably even higher now.

This is about technology and people's needs improving over time to make a different form of cabling preferable to an old one. If the phone company had run fiber to the home back in the 1960s like you're dreaming, your toll rates for a local phone call probably would've been something like $1/min. In fact, the only way the companies using fiber (FIOS, U-Verse) today are justifying the additional cost is by offering internet + TV + phone service over the newly installed optical line. If it were only used for internet or internet + phone, it would probably still not be cost effective to install.


By SirKronan on 3/20/2011 4:13:50 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
My personal feelings on the topic (which I tried to keep out of the piece and provide objective coverage with both sides' claims) is that citizens should have the right to self governance. If there's a monopoly on a service, they should have the right to band together get private sector loans and create a competitive service, which is what was done here. Some sort of state level officials shouldn't get to come and tell them they can't do that.


I agree with this 110%! The local government is much closer to the individual citizen. The citizen's voice carries more weight, and the individual's ideas and efforts can be put into practice and action much more quickly and easily.

You are exactly right. One of the most frustrating things is when thing are over-regulated. If a local government can come in and turn a "profit" by providing a valued and quality service, then so too can Time Warner if they decide to do so.

If this were a healthy capitalistic region, there would be more competition available to the people that live there. In this area, there is not a healthy capitalistic sampling of competition to choose from. A monopoly is the one thing that can turn capitalism upside down and make it more harmful than helpful.

And this is not the federal or even the state government stepping in and crushing the poor little businessman and his small company. This is a local region deciding they no longer want to support a monopoly and thereby providing COMPETITION OF THEIR OWN. This is what capitalism and a free market are all about. COMPETITION is what is supposed to keep businesses honest and consumers happy. It makes companies WORK for the business they get.

Imagine that. Having to EARN what you get.

Had Time Warner not continued to raise prices and even reduce service provided in some regards, despite their operating costs not increasing in direct relation, they wouldn't have bit themselves in the butt.


RE: I'm no fan of Time Warner, but
By semiconshawn on 3/18/2011 1:53:19 PM , Rating: 2
Water and power are utilities. Police and Fire protection are essential to the community. Internet is not. Nor is TV or phone service. These are luxuries no matter how used to them we are.


RE: I'm no fan of Time Warner, but
By mephit13 on 3/18/2011 2:07:04 PM , Rating: 2
Like Jason said, Internet service is essential in a modern world, at the very least it is commercially required. Water and power lines weren’t essential until we started relying on them so much. People lived for quite a while without them. Saying that we can’t add essential utilities to the list is very very short sited. If you want to live in a world without progress move to a stick and mud hut in the woods.


RE: I'm no fan of Time Warner, but
By FITCamaro on 3/18/11, Rating: 0
RE: I'm no fan of Time Warner, but
By JasonMick (blog) on 3/18/2011 2:14:35 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
If we cut off the water and power tomorrow, millions would die. If we cut off the internet tomorrow, people would be merely inconvenienced.


Speak for yourself. If they cut off the water tomorrow, I would go to the local lake and drink (I have a camping water purifier).

Or if everyone's water was cut off, I'd organize a band and find a neighbor who has a well and politely request water. If need be we would take the resource.

Having my internet cut off WOULD be damaging both to my finances and livelihood.

I wouldn't get paid. So I'd have to find alternative means of employment and try to scramble for food, water, and other essentials in the meantime.


RE: I'm no fan of Time Warner, but
By DM0407 on 3/18/2011 2:27:18 PM , Rating: 2
Clearly people shouldn't be responsible for their own needs and would rather die than fend for themselves.


By trooper11 on 3/18/2011 4:27:22 PM , Rating: 3
So your saying that while you can find a way around not being provided with water, you couldnt find a way around not being provided internet?

if we are talking survival here, i dont think money is going to be the worry if you say lose your job, its eating, drinking, and having good shelter.

Look, if we had some catastrophe and internet access was disabled, I think we could find a way to make it. Yes, it wouldnt be easy and it would mean you would lose the advantages of a connected world, but you could adapt.

Either way, this is a mental excercise, it doesnt really help to solve these problems.


RE: I'm no fan of Time Warner, but
By mephit13 on 3/18/2011 2:25:29 PM , Rating: 3
The same thing could have been said decades ago about power and water. I wonder if one of your ancestors was fighting against these conveniences a few generations back. Again, it’s called progress, and I’m for it.


RE: I'm no fan of Time Warner, but
By FITCamaro on 3/18/2011 3:44:26 PM , Rating: 2
People always need water to drink. Even back then. The difference was that back then, everyone lived close to sources of water. That's no longer true. Not everywhere has fresh water supplies nearby to go get water from.

As far as power, I only include that one because once again, people don't live near food sources. So if the power went out for a long period of time and no fresh food was brought in, all the food in an area these days would go bad.

If the internet goes out, no one goes hungry as a result of the internet going out. No one goes thirsty from it either. You can live without the internet. Maybe your occupation changes. But you can live. You can't live without food and water. And power is required to get that food and water to people today.


RE: I'm no fan of Time Warner, but
By JakLee on 3/18/2011 5:34:00 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
If the internet goes out, no one goes hungry as a result of the internet going out. No one goes thirsty from it either. You can live without the internet. Maybe your occupation changes. But you can live. You can't live without food and water. And power is required to get that food and water to people today.


Tell that to the government of Egypt!

Seriously though - the arguement can be made for either side; though I really think it is stretching thin in some areas. Each concern that is voiced can be adressed with proper planning (ie if the isp is not making a profit, you can pull from other services (you just ban the ability to do so for more than a certain preset amount if at all, or hold a portion of the cost of the service aside to cover this, or goodness, raise rates), or use the rates to supply other areas like fire/police (you could put a tax on this like anything else, but the actual "cost" could be protected as a seperate entity).

If you look for problems you will find them. That does not mean there are not solutions to those problems as well. I personally am impressed with these municipalities and their ingenuity. We can (potentially) have government side-by-side with private ventures and still have the private ventures suceed (see USPS vs Fedex or UPS). The key is to have smart advanced planning, which to be fair doesn't always happen in either government or private sectors.

I personally like this idea, and if done in an appropriate way see nothing wrong with other copying it to their local benefit.


By FITCamaro on 3/18/2011 5:39:59 PM , Rating: 2
The government of Egypt is eating and drinking just fine.

The people of Egypt started protesting largely in part because of high food prices. Having or not having internet was not going to get them more food or water at cheaper prices much less at all. Not matter how hard you try to spin it.


By InfinityzeN on 3/18/2011 2:16:33 PM , Rating: 2
Considering that the internet plays a large part in the economy, provides the primary means of communication for a raising majarity of people, and is rapidly advancing towards being the number one way to pay bills I have to disagree with you.

You are also failing to take into account how much other infrastructure depends on the internet to function. Telecommunications? All IP based after the first box now. FAA? Metro Traffic? Power Management? All use IP connection/control/monitoring systems.

The internet is not a luxury, but a key part of life today.


RE: I'm no fan of Time Warner, but
By rcc on 3/18/2011 2:13:08 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
You're essentially making a case in support of anarchy, if you say all government is inefficient and any government service (protection/police, education, roads, water, internet) would be better provided by private entities.


Hmm, we must define anarchy differently. Saying the government, in general, cannot profitably run a business is way different than saying there should be no laws and/or no government.


RE: I'm no fan of Time Warner, but
By DM0407 on 3/18/2011 2:40:56 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Hmm, we must define anarchy differently. Saying the government, in general, cannot profitably run a business is way different than saying there should be no laws and/or no government.


Please re read the article, they made a profit in under 2 years. If no one uses the service from this point on and it is left to rot, it still made money.


RE: I'm no fan of Time Warner, but
By rcc on 3/18/2011 4:56:00 PM , Rating: 2
Take it in context. I was replying to Jason's assertation to an OP that saying the government couldn't run a business effectively was akin to anarchy. It had nothing directly to do with the article.


RE: I'm no fan of Time Warner, but
By Moishe on 3/18/11, Rating: -1
RE: I'm no fan of Time Warner, but
By AEvangel on 3/18/2011 1:14:56 PM , Rating: 2
So by your logic we should allow private party vendors to provide water, Police, Fire and schooling.
quote:
since it always ends up mismanaged, hemorrhaging cash, and corrupt


RE: I'm no fan of Time Warner, but
By AEvangel on 3/18/2011 1:17:03 PM , Rating: 2
Which to be honest I agree with....I think we should allow private sector to bid on these services.


RE: I'm no fan of Time Warner, but
By FITCamaro on 3/18/2011 1:18:44 PM , Rating: 3
Absolutely. If a private entity can come in and do any of those things better and/or cheaper, it should absolutely be privatized.


RE: I'm no fan of Time Warner, but
By JasonMick (blog) on 3/18/2011 1:35:59 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Absolutely. If a private entity can come in and do any of those things better and/or cheaper, it should absolutely be privatized.


Agreed.

I think it is important to note though, that in this case what you're suggesting is almost precisely what happened.

The local council or the population basically voted on the issue.

Once passed, loans were taken out from the private sector, and an independent service provider was launched, with advising from private sector paid for with biddable contracts.

All construction contracting, as well, was done by the private sector, with competitive bidding, according to what Wilson, N.C. city officials told me.

The service then launched as an semi-independent, incorporated entity offering a second high speed choice in the market.

The issue here is that the bill would prevent people and their local elected officials from pursuing funding to hire private sector contractors for such a plan.

Ostensibly it's to fight the spread of government services, but it essentially serves as a mechanism to preserve the monopoly of Time Warner.


RE: I'm no fan of Time Warner, but
By therealnickdanger on 3/18/2011 1:46:12 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
The local council or the population basically voted on the issue.

In my mind, that's the beginning and end of the argument. If the citizens want to pay for it through taxes or fees, so be it!


RE: I'm no fan of Time Warner, but
By AEvangel on 3/18/2011 1:56:10 PM , Rating: 2
I would recommend checking out the writings of Hans Hermann Hoppe on the matter he makes a really good arguement for it.

http://www.hanshoppe.com/2011/02/23/%E2%80%9Cof-pr...


RE: I'm no fan of Time Warner, but
By JasonMick (blog) on 3/18/2011 2:08:20 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
I would recommend checking out the writings of Hans Hermann Hoppe on the matter he makes a really good arguement for it.


As I say in my various posts replying to various ops, that philosophy essentially leads to anarcho-capitalism.

That term means anarchy , in common terminology, backed by business.

That's precisely what Hans Hermann Hoppe stands for (read his bio blurb on his page it says precisely that).

If you support overthrowing all government and replacing it with private everything -- hired protection for security, toll roads for transportation, militia/mercenaries for an army, etc. then by all means I guess you would be ardently opposed to projects like municipal Wi-Fi.


RE: I'm no fan of Time Warner, but
By AEvangel on 3/18/2011 2:25:13 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
I guess you would be ardently opposed to projects like municipal Wi-Fi.


Not really, this is done on a local level this is exactly what some of his philosophy is advocating. If people in the City of Wilson don't like it they can either vote out the people in their local office whom created it or simply move to Raleigh.

This is completely different from the entire state deciding for everyone or for that matter the Federal Govt deciding.

While yes the standard anarcho-capitalist does prefer the freedom of choice that is provided by a true free market, but here you have a system that has been engineered to protect big corporate monopolies like TWC and Embarq, therefore it is almost impossible to have that in this system.

However in this case it only makes sense that the local city Govt came in through a loophole left in their by the State and Federal govt. This is simply the people taking back what is deprived to them by the larger Federal and State govt.


RE: I'm no fan of Time Warner, but
By JasonMick (blog) on 3/18/2011 2:42:27 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Not really, this is done on a local level this is exactly what some of his philosophy is advocating. If people in the City of Wilson don't like it they can either vote out the people in their local office whom created it or simply move to Raleigh.

This is completely different from the entire state deciding for everyone or for that matter the Federal Govt deciding.

While yes the standard anarcho-capitalist does prefer the freedom of choice that is provided by a true free market, but here you have a system that has been engineered to protect big corporate monopolies like TWC and Embarq, therefore it is almost impossible to have that in this system.

However in this case it only makes sense that the local city Govt came in through a loophole left in their by the State and Federal govt. This is simply the people taking back what is deprived to them by the larger Federal and State govt.


Yea I guess I misinterpreted what you were getting at.

I think we agree that local government is valuable whatever your views on state and federal government are.

I believe those entities have their purpose as well, but I can respect those who believe they do not.

But when the people on a local level band together to create a service that meets their needs and then state level officials, paid off by the local monopoly (see the update) try to stop them, that seems like clear cut abuse.

Hopefully they get to keep their service.


RE: I'm no fan of Time Warner, but
By trooper11 on 3/18/2011 5:37:48 PM , Rating: 2
Simply getting money from a group, even if it is a monoply player here, wouldnt discourage me from listening to their ideas. if they can back it up with a good alternative, i really dont care who is funding it.

if however, the choose to try and force something through using fear or slogans, than im going to question it.

something else i was wondering about. i wonder if some at the state level are worried that while some local governments are making this work well, if all of them try to do it, the results may not be the same, leading to budget issues down the road. im not convinced thats a good argument against letting the local groups decide, but it could be a reason.


RE: I'm no fan of Time Warner, but
By AEvangel on 3/18/2011 5:52:46 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
something else i was wondering about. i wonder if some at the state level are worried that while some local governments are making this work well, if all of them try to do it, the results may not be the same, leading to budget issues down the road. I'm not convinced that's a good argument against letting the local groups decide, but it could be a reason.


That is the same argument for all control, be it Gun, Drug or anything else. One person or group can't manage it then we have to ban it from everyone. People need to accept personal responsibility for their actions and or decisions. If one county fails that is on that county and it's citizens and I know that some will say well when they go bankrupt who will take care of basic services, well perhaps a better managed county will take over that city or everyone will just leave property value will decline, the city will fold up and some developer will buy it and rebuild.

Like that county in California that had a mayor making something like $800k a year in salary, just because they can't manage their budget doesn't mean that a county in Texas shouldn't be allowed to.


RE: I'm no fan of Time Warner, but
By Denigrate on 3/18/2011 1:50:13 PM , Rating: 3
Cable/Internet monopolies are essentially an evil created by local government. Often the cable company has negotiated to be the only player, and rake in huge amounts of profit for a bare minimum service.

Setting up competition is exactly the right thing to do.


RE: I'm no fan of Time Warner, but
By Solandri on 3/18/2011 3:54:28 PM , Rating: 3
^^^^
This

I'm amazed I had to scroll through 3/4ths of the replies to see the first mention of this. The real problem is that the municipality probably granted Time Warner a monopoly on cable/internet service in their town in exchange for TW guaranteeing to hook up a certain percentage of the homes (usually something like 95% or 98%).

If the government wants competition, don't grant a monopoly, then set up your own competitor. When I was living in Boston, my cable modem service and prices improved dramatically when my town allowed a second cable company to offer service. Apparently they were smart enough not to bind themselves to a monopoly by contract.


RE: I'm no fan of Time Warner, but
By rcc on 3/18/2011 2:24:11 PM , Rating: 2
I don't disagree, however, if a municipality can provide the service cheaply and profitably, I don't have a problem with it. However, it has to be profitable (or breakeven) while covering all costs, etc. Otherwise you have the case of all the taxpapers subsidizing the ones that use the service, and that sucks.

However, and it's a big however, is that a municipality providing these services will always use existing technology and isn't going to innovate or do R&D on new techologies. So if there aren't competing private companies driving new technologies, everyone will be very unhappy in a few years.


RE: I'm no fan of Time Warner, but
By TSS on 3/18/2011 7:27:03 PM , Rating: 2
Absolutely not. There are services where profit should never be the top goal. For those services the government exists, because the people have decided it's better to band together and pay a bit extra for the stuff everybody needs.

You definitly never want to have a situation where multiple fires break out, but you can't send trucks to all locations because the fire corperations thought they would be able to cover the same area with less trucks to generate more profit.

What services fall in this catagory is mostly up for debate but if there are 2 things that should be employed for the people by the people it's fire and police departments.


RE: I'm no fan of Time Warner, but
By mcnabney on 3/18/2011 1:38:29 PM , Rating: 2
It didn't work out that way.

They got free loan guarantees and appointed monopolies which allow them to charge whatever they want. A total giveaway.

This is why the US has lousy speeds and the highest prices for connectivity.


RE: I'm no fan of Time Warner, but
By gamerk2 on 3/18/2011 1:45:26 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
This is why the US has lousy speeds and the highest prices for connectivity.


Its also why the US has lousy outcomes and the highest prices for Healthcare. Its the same EXACT debate all over again, only this one is more visable to most consumers.


RE: I'm no fan of Time Warner, but
By TheDoc9 on 3/18/2011 1:23:21 PM , Rating: 2
Why not? Have laws in place to keep the businesses under control of course. As a result everyone would be paid their true value according to the market, and there wouldn't be cushy state jobs full of lazy people doing almost nothing and reaping massive benefits for it.

And the states wouldn't have to deal with the current school/public service discontent/strike. Noneffective people would simply be laid off, it would make it far easier to get rid of them.


RE: I'm no fan of Time Warner, but
By JasonMick (blog) on 3/18/2011 1:40:45 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Why not? Have laws in place to keep the businesses under control of course. As a result everyone would be paid their true value according to the market, and there wouldn't be cushy state jobs full of lazy people doing almost nothing and reaping massive benefits for it.

And the states wouldn't have to deal with the current school/public service discontent/strike. Noneffective people would simply be laid off, it would make it far easier to get rid of them.


Your basic argument is contingent that government bureaucracy on all levels is inefficient and should offer no services. If that is the case it is essentially unable to make and enforce laws effectively.

There's no need for government then. If people want to defend themselves, hire mercenaries, by/build weapons, or start a militia.

If you want to stop people from being murdered, hire protection.

I don't agree with that.

But if that is your perspective, you arguably think that the government would be dissolved and replaced by local tribes/councils that hire people and make decisions.


RE: I'm no fan of Time Warner, but
By Denigrate on 3/18/2011 1:54:15 PM , Rating: 2
Sure, jump to that conclusion when it's plainly obviuos that government run schools failed long ago to keep up with the times. Teaching unions keep bad teachers in their jobs because to do otherwise would weaken their grip on controlling their base. Unions should be abolished across the board. They are nothing more than money making machines for the Union itself, and the Union provides little of actual value that the employees themselves could do on their own.


RE: I'm no fan of Time Warner, but
By JasonMick (blog) on 3/18/2011 2:11:58 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Sure, jump to that conclusion when it's plainly obviuos that government run schools failed long ago to keep up with the times. Teaching unions keep bad teachers in their jobs because to do otherwise would weaken their grip on controlling their base. Unions should be abolished across the board. They are nothing more than money making machines for the Union itself, and the Union provides little of actual value that the employees themselves could do on their own.


Schools is a far different debate. There you essentially have a state/federal endorsed monopolistic government entity (for better or worse) -- municipalities have little to no impact on that entity and are powerless to do anything about it.

Here, by contrast, you have a municipality-backed small, local, essentially independent entity under attack by state-level interests backed by a large monopolistic private entity.

The situations are closer to being the opposite than be analogous.


RE: I'm no fan of Time Warner, but
By Etsp on 3/18/2011 4:37:14 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Schools is
I'm sorry, but seeing that within this thread is hilariously ironic.

On topic(sorta), the issue with public schools is more to do with standardized testing than anything else. For a large portion of the students (25% is probably a low number) they aren't trying to succeed, they are waiting to graduate. After graduation, they go and learn whatever skills they need to do the job they want (or can get). 80% of their high-school education ends up unused and forgotten. These kids hold back those making an effort to succeed and will utilize what they've learned.

The standardized testing model as it stands today causes our school systems to focus on the lowest common denominator when it comes to the subjects that standardized testing cares about.

There should be alternative metrics to measure the success of students that aren't suited to learning from a book, so that they can focus on classes more suitable towards their success. They sorta have that now with "elective" courses. But in the current system these elective courses have little value to the standardized tests.

Shop class is a good example. No standardized testing there. A kid could be terrible at algebra, history, science, and literature, but would be able to build anything he wanted with some wood and nails. Standardized testing would call him a failure, but he would be very suited to and would probably be happy to build houses for the rest of his life.

What subjects a student should be able to focus on in high school should meet two criteria: First, what is taught will help them to succeed and be productive in life. Second, what is taught suits things that interest them (Can you remember what you learned from a class that bored you out of your mind a year after the fact? Neither can I). I would love to see an expansion of vocational course, and provisions in standardized testing that allows those courses to serve as substitutes for some other subjects.


RE: I'm no fan of Time Warner, but
By MeesterNid on 3/18/2011 1:26:45 PM , Rating: 2
Yes, more competition is better.

Especially schooling. Have you seen the failure rates of the government-run schools these days? The only solution they have is more money. I would definitely rather have a choice in where my child (tax money) goes to be taught.


RE: I'm no fan of Time Warner, but
By zixin on 3/18/2011 1:31:23 PM , Rating: 2
so basically you are saying that it is alright for private industry to compete with government run agency but not the other way around. If the governement can do something cheaper and better than the private industry then shouldn't the government be allowed to do it?


RE: I'm no fan of Time Warner, but
By MeesterNid on 3/18/2011 1:46:59 PM , Rating: 2
Yes, on a level playing field. Btw, do you have any examples of the government doing something cheaper and/or better than private industry?


RE: I'm no fan of Time Warner, but
By mephit13 on 3/18/2011 2:15:46 PM , Rating: 2
Yes, providing Internet service.


RE: I'm no fan of Time Warner, but
By DM0407 on 3/18/2011 2:21:42 PM , Rating: 2
Did you read the article?

They did it fair, (private loans, contracted out the work)and they made a profit in two years all while offering service at a cheaper rate!


RE: I'm no fan of Time Warner, but
By JasonMick (blog) on 3/18/2011 2:51:20 PM , Rating: 2
Not to mention that the Reps opposing this appear to have enjoyed direct campaign contributions from Time Warner and other involved parties (see the update). They should be abstaining, not sponsoring the bill. That is clearly a conflict of interest and thus a perversion of the democratic process, if those claims are substantiated.

If I had my say reps who engage in that kind of activity would be impeached. That's really no different than taking bribes, as they're using the money to secure a paying position (make money).


RE: I'm no fan of Time Warner, but
By Lerianis on 3/20/2011 12:36:15 AM , Rating: 2
File a lawsuit, Mick... I happen to agree that these people should be abstaining from voting on this bill, but until we MAKE THEM with lawsuits against them for corruption..... they aren't going to abstain.


RE: I'm no fan of Time Warner, but
By mcnabney on 3/18/2011 1:44:24 PM , Rating: 2
In the midwest the Charter schools (private) actually get worse results than the plain old Public schools. This is based on graduation rates and required testing.

So private options don't always work.

Now that doesn't include the cherry-picked private schools that have always existed. I went to one and my parents made damn certain that I learned something when they were paying $10k/year to attend (that school now charges $19k/year). Those wealthy and white schools always do well.


RE: I'm no fan of Time Warner, but
By MeesterNid on 3/18/2011 1:54:19 PM , Rating: 2
"In the midwest the Charter schools (private) actually get worse results than the plain old Public schools."

Okay, but that's the choice of those people paying the tuition for their kids to go there. They don't mind their kids failing, hey it's their money. That's choice! I'm okay with that. Plus everybody can't be a doctor or an engineer we'll still need people doing the "less-qualified" jobs.


RE: I'm no fan of Time Warner, but
By mcnabney on 3/18/2011 6:27:39 PM , Rating: 2
Public and Charter schools both get money from the State.

The difference is that Charter schools are sponsored by and run as a private organization. They do exactly what they want and do not have to deal with any of the restrictions public schools do. No Unions. No pre-determined curriculum. No school board. They can even cherry-pick their kids.

It really is puzzling why they are doing WORSE than regular public schools.


RE: I'm no fan of Time Warner, but
By Lerianis on 3/20/2011 12:31:28 AM , Rating: 2
Failure rates of the government run schools? I hate to tell you, but the private run schools have a HIGHER failure rate.... or would if they didn't just give diplomas to students for their parents paying for 12+ years.

They recently did some non-biased studies with conservative and liberal people working together in equal measure that was posted on USAToday.com.... it was ASTOUNDING how many private school children couldn't pass basic math, reading, etc. tests.

Nearly 2 times the number that couldn't do that in public schools.


RE: I'm no fan of Time Warner, but
By damonlynch on 3/18/2011 1:27:25 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
I agree with the premise that government should not compete with private business since it does have a huge advantage in the that it (the government) creates the laws that the business has to abide by.


You don't seem to have much respect for democracy.

One of the most fundamental reasons we have a government is so we the people can make laws. That's the point. We get to make the rules -- not a corporation.

The pragmatist says, if we the people can do it better than that a corporate entity, then let's do it. And of course, in some situations we definitely can. This is certainly one of them.


RE: I'm no fan of Time Warner, but
By gamerk2 on 3/18/2011 1:48:06 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
The pragmatist says, if we the people can do it better than that a corporate entity, then let's do it. And of course, in some situations we definitely can


Congratulations; you just summed up the economic policy of the Democratic Party of the United States of America in just two sentences!

And I happen to agree with you. "Private Business" be damned; if its saves me money in the end, I'm all for it.


RE: I'm no fan of Time Warner, but
By djcameron on 3/18/2011 2:09:44 PM , Rating: 1
quote:
you just summed up the economic policy of the Democratic Party of the United States of America in just two sentences


lolwut? Hardly. The Democratic Party's economic policy would mandate the use of the city internet service, and declare competition to be illegal, or impose a penalty that was so high that it would make competition impractical.


RE: I'm no fan of Time Warner, but
By DM0407 on 3/18/2011 2:42:57 PM , Rating: 3
quote:
he Democratic Party's economic policy would mandate the use of the city internet service, and declare competition to be illegal, or impose a penalty that was so high that it would make competition impractical.


Glen Beck?


RE: I'm no fan of Time Warner, but
By rivercat on 3/19/2011 3:16:24 PM , Rating: 2
That's an asinine reply. Calling names is soooo 5th grade.


By morphologia on 3/18/2011 2:48:11 PM , Rating: 2
Whereas the Republican party would castrate regulatory efforts and defend the illegal actions of their CEO buddies, so long as they get their cut?

I'll believe Republicans are honest and genuine when they include a decrease in their own pay with their latest budget cuts.


RE: I'm no fan of Time Warner, but
By zixin on 3/18/2011 1:38:29 PM , Rating: 2
Governemnt should absolutely compete with private business. Of course it makes the rules but it makes rules that everybody, including the government itself, has to follow. If the private busines thinks that the government is being unfaire, it could sue them in court, just like a private industry can sue another private industry for anti-competition violations (remember microsoft getting sued over IE?). The only advantage that the government has is that it doesn't have to turn in a profit. People, this is the essence of the free market. Any player can play the game. Those who can do it better, cheaper, and faster wins the game.


RE: I'm no fan of Time Warner, but
By EJ257 on 3/18/2011 1:44:22 PM , Rating: 3
In some of the cases the local government created this problem in the first place by allowing a single company (like TWC) to have a monopoly. Some of these communities are so small the private companies would never come in to invest building the infrastructure unless they're given some guarantee of return on investment. Often times that comes in the form of restricting other broadband providers from coming in so now you have a de facto monopoly. So now that the government is stepping in to rectify this little mistake and TWC is calling foul.


RE: I'm no fan of Time Warner, but
By Moishe on 3/18/11, Rating: -1
By LowestCommon on 3/18/2011 1:46:51 PM , Rating: 2
I sympathize with the view that the government should not be competing with business. However, there are areas that are the domain of government, such as infrastructure. The internet is an essential part of the country's infrastructure.

You can argue that it's not as important as water or electricity and nobody would disagree with you, but you can't argue that it isn't apart of our infrastructure. As such, it is the government's responsibility to provide internet where business has failed to do so.


RE: I'm no fan of Time Warner, but
By djcameron on 3/18/2011 2:00:03 PM , Rating: 2
I have no problem with competition, either way. As long as the involved government entities don't mandate the use of their service, or hinder the free-market to bring in private competition, then this is a winning scenario.


RE: I'm no fan of Time Warner, but
By Belard on 3/19/2011 12:12:48 AM , Rating: 3
But obviously, TWC isn't providing the service.

And by overcharging the customers... they are a problem.

GOVT. is supposed to be FOR THE PEOPLE FIRST, not business for profit.


Very correct
By Ammohunt on 3/18/11, Rating: -1
RE: Very correct
By Moishe on 3/18/2011 2:59:05 PM , Rating: 2
Yep. Government needs to get out of the way and allow private businesses to rise and fall without government assistance.

Anytime there is a relationship between the government and business, there is potential (and likely) corruption.


RE: Very correct
By tdawg on 3/18/2011 3:42:40 PM , Rating: 5
The problem with broadband/cable internet is that one company lays the infrastructure and then makes it either cost prohibitive for competitors to use the infrastructure while being able to offer a competitive product at a competitive price, or they simply don't allow competitors to use the infrastructure.

Goverment regulation is a requirement here; the government should own the infrastructure and then provide it to all competitors. Without any regulation, we will be overrun with monopolies charging us $100 per month for dial-up internet speeds + $25 per minute of video streaming.

The private sector is not the answer to all our problems, since the private sector has no interest in the goodwill of their customers; they care primarily about increasing shareholder value.


RE: Very correct
By Moishe on 3/18/11, Rating: 0
RE: Very correct
By Ammohunt on 3/21/2011 3:03:31 PM , Rating: 2
I remember when the cable companies layed cable vision cables in my backyard growing up. They spent billions laying cables and equipment creating a network that didn't exist prior to that point in time. Nearly every company with the motivation has the same access to those same right of ways; let them build their own damn network! or pay to use what has already been created by other companies.


"Google fired a shot heard 'round the world, and now a second American company has answered the call to defend the rights of the Chinese people." -- Rep. Christopher H. Smith (R-N.J.)














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