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This is a sub-selection from It doesn't have to be FREE

reply to karlmarx

Re: It doesn't have to be FREE

said by karlmarx:

Do you honestly think a corporation would spend one freaking DIME to repair your road if they couldn't make a profit? Yah, that's right, your road would continue to degrade, they would raise the price every year, and you would just have to live with it. I, on the other hand, prefer to pay taxes to have ALL the roads repaired by the town, so EVERYONE can use it.
So you're saying that government-maintained roads are in pristine condition? You obviously don't live where I live. Taxes go up every year, but there are places on every block where the macadam has completely worn away and the original brick road (alas, not yellow) shows through. Let's not even talk about the sidewalks, where most of the concrete stills bears the imprint of having been poured 90 years ago -- and it shows because just walking a block is an adventure.

Here's a history lesson for the Marxists among us who will surely appreciate it:

I get your point that the roads and sidewalks here, no matter how bad they are, are available to everyone. And that's my point, too... if the government had been in charge of wiring this town for cable in 1965, they'd have built a state of art 13 channel system. And today, it would probably still be just that. It would be available to everyone, but it would still be a 13 channel system.

Because cable's in the hands of private enterprise, the entire cable infrastructure has been rebuilt 3 times over the last 50 years. Granted, they did it because they saw the potential for profit... but they still did it. Even so, those who are happy with a 13 channel system can still have it in the form of limited basic. Meanwhile, those who want more can have hundreds of channels, high-speed internet and telephone service. The power of choice is left squarely to the choices of individual consumers.

Now for the specific case of the internet... It's all well and good to say that the government could wire every home with fiber for xxx billion dollars. But that's today and ignores the previous 15+ years of the consumer internet. Without the history of the telcos providing dial-up access followed by DSL and cable, there wouldn't even be an internet as we know it.

And it's just not possible that the government could have wired everyone up around 1995 when the internet was first made available to the public. Imagine the government then saying, "We've got this thing we've been using we call the 'internet'. It ain't much now, but we're going to spend billions of dollars to connect everybody to it because we think it might become bigger than CB radio."

It would have never happened. It took a lot of visionaries and risk-takers, from the tiny 8 telephone line system I first used to connect to the net to AT&T to provide the infrastructure to make it work. (note: I know there were online services before the internet but that makes the story even more complicated.)

Anyway I've never seen a government with such foresight. I'd like to see one, but I don't suppose I ever will.