Government To Provide Free WiFi For Everybody?

Government To Provide Free WiFi For Everybody?


That’s the plan proposed by FCC Chairman Kevin Martin and if costs would come down as a result, all the better.

It makes sense to at least offer a basic connection to the information superhighway. Because the new economy will never be fully realized without everybody having access.

Me, I’ll stick with my fast internet connection and gladly pay the premium.

  • Chris

    isn’t this the “porn-free” internet? meaning the government controlled medium that is provided by buddy-buddy telecomms?

    no thanks.

  • kranky kritter

    There’s no such thing as a free lunch, and there’s no such thing as as free wifi. Someone is paying for it.

    I’ll cheerfully agree that from a purely selfish point of view, free wifi sounds like a desirable thing. But from a a taxpayer perspective, this looks like a new entitlement. Please note that I don’t use the term “entitlement” as a pejorative, merely a descriptor.

    When it comes to new entitlements for Americans, I think it’s virtually always a given that they are, in the abstract, desirable. In other words, they sound like nice things for the government to provide for all Americans without any visible cost. But since we know that there really is a cost somewhere and that someone is paying that cost, the relevant first question is “who is paying that cost?” And if the answer is largely “the taxpayer,” then we must ask how much it will cost and whether such an expenditure is both affordable and wise. Right?

    And all that I’ve said above seems fairly uncontroversial and obvious. Yet I know from experience that many Americans, especially progressives, have a tendency to dismiss the notion of cost when they perceive a clear public good, such as in this case. I also know that if cost is acknowledged, the usual progressive fallback position is to suggest that the enterprise be financed via a tax that is paid not by everyday American income tax payers, but by a related industry.

    The problem with this position is that generally the cost is still passed on to everyday Americans. Folks that pay their own electric and phone bills are generally familiar with extra taxes and fees on their bill. These extra costs turn a promise like $39 per month into $46, or a price like $0.11 per kilowatt-hour into more like $$0.14 per kilowatt hour.

    And I hope folks will take care to notice that I am absolutely not arguing against a new entitlement for public wifi. America is a democracy, and if, via our gov’t reps, we decide to do this, then that’s how the system works, and I am fine with that.

    Rather, what I AM arguing against is pretending that it will really be “free.” Anyone who is concerned about our nation’s swelling deficit in these difficult economic times must look serious askance at expenditures. Whenever someone comes up with a great idea for some new government provision, it’s awfully easy to rubber stamp it if you are operating under the pretense that it will be “free.” No such thing.