By Adam Bitely -
As the federal debt approaches $15 trillion in 2011, and Obama himself admits (even though his rhetoric does not match his action) that Washington can’t afford to spend money on everything it wants to do, an idea is floating around D.C. to provide Internet access across the entire nation.
This is not a joke. Some in Washington, including Obama, believe that the government should now be in the business of providing Internet access to all Americans.
We’re not sure if these folks are aware that Internet is already available to all Americans. Obama himself admits that two-thirds of all Americans have Internet access in their homes. Those that don’t have Internet directly at home have various options to obtain it. If Americans don’t want to pay for access at home, they can go to Starbucks, McDonald’s, Panera Bread, as well as a host of other locations including public libraries, where Internet is readily available.
If anything, there is no deficit of Internet access points, but rather, a surplus.
In an era where bloated government budgets are in dire need of a trim, ideas such as the one to use taxpayer funds to deliver Internet to everyone’s homes are ridiculous — and should be treated as such.
Why do we need government to use our money to deliver Internet to us?
Internet Service Providers (ISP’s) have done a great job at providing a widely demanded service to willing customers. The private sector has met and continues to meet the needs of those in the marketplace.
But in a town like Marquette, Michigan, the city provides Internet throughout its borders. Government offices and students can access the net for free, while city residents can get access for a fee. While Obama might think the system in Marquette is the future, the notion that the government is needed to provide a service that the private sector can do much more efficiently is a notion of the past.
It was not the government that suggested that Panera, McDonald’s, or Starbucks should provide Internet to customers; it was the private sector being innovative, seeking to provide willing customers with a service that they demanded. No government intervention was needed to force private companies like Verizon or Comcast to connect two-thirds of Americans to the Internet. And no government intervention is needed to deliver Internet access to the remaining third of Americans without it.
Contrary to what your elementary teacher may have taught you, there is such thing as a bad idea. And the idea that the government is needed to deliver Internet access to Americans is an example of a very bad idea.
If the market for Internet is left unmolested by the Federal Government, willing customers will eventually get the services that they demand. If the government is capable of leaving Internet access alone, that will ensure that the other two-thirds of the nation doesn’t have to unwillingly subsidize everyone else’s access to the Internet.