Blog Archive

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

ConnectKentucky Wants Your Tax Dollars

This is sort of a "rerun" post. I first commented on this topic back in August when I was first experimenting with the creation of this site. However, now it is on the front burner again because ConnectKentucky is trying to ram a piece of legislation through the next session of the Kentucky Legislature aimed at further enriching some of its members.

ConnectKentucky is simply a front for protecting the interests of incumbent telephone and cable companies. The very idea that they have some claim to the proliferation of broadband in Kentucky is laughable. Broadband, if one can even call DSL broadband, is available in Kentucky due to the vigorous lead exerted by several municipalities in Kentucky. The big telephone and cable companies have responded, as Adam Smith predicted in 1776 when Smith noted that: "It is not from the benevolence of the butcher, the brewer, or the baker, that we expect our dinner, but from their regard to their own interest.", by starting the process of upgrading their networks as competitive pressures have been brought to bear. Although Smith had no idea what a broadband network was, he was still accurately describing the perfect model for broadband deployment. If a community wants more bandwidth than the local telephone or cable company wants to deploy, then they should be totally free to deploy it themselves and attempt to interrupt the telephone or cable company's "interest."

Now ConnectKentucky wants to claim credit for what the marketplace hath wrought, and they also are determined to convince the Commonwealth of Kentucky to finance their efforts. They spend their time going around the state asking local decision-makers to participate in their sham "county planning" while their real mission is to wrap themselves in a false cloak of altruism so no one will notice when they try to annex our state legislature for their benefit. They would like for the Kentucky legislature to fund their snake oil wagon so the "poor" members of the coalition (the incumbent telephone companies and their stock holders) don't have to continue paying for their "groundbreaking" activity. Further, they see themselves as such geniuses that their model should be spread far and wide in other states. What a joke!

Even now they are planning a piece of legislation and seeking the support of the leadership of the Kentucky Legislature for this ridiculous legislation. They want tax breaks for their members (the big telephone companies like AT&T and WindStream and other similarly well heeled corporations) while shutting out any similar support for the real Kentucky innovators, the municipalities who have spent their own money building real broadband networks while the telecommunications giants simply look for ways to line their pockets at the expense of the people of Kentucky.

This bill attempts to allow the big telephone and cable companies to keep 15% of the tax revenue you pay on your telephone and cable bills each month. You see, they need this extra money to pay for the "huge" investments they are making in Kentucky to deliver broadband services to you and me. The bill then would have the State paying everyone who buys broadband services for the first time (from those same rich telephone and cable companies) a $250 reward. That's right, they want taxpayers to help them build their networks and then have the State pay folks to connect to that network and start paying the phone company charges for the services. I'm telling you, you cannot even make this stuff up!

Everyone should contact their state legislators and ask them to oppose ConnectKentucky's latest attempt to feather their own nest. If there are excess state funds to help build more broadband networks (and we really doubt that there are), at least make sure that the municipally owned, not-for-profit networks have an equal chance to benefit from those funds. In fact, why not let any incentives go directly to the consumers to help them pay for broadband services instead of sending the money to the telephone companies? The new ConnectKentucky bill would need to be radically altered to allow that to happen, but it sure would be a much better bill if it did.

1 comments:

Rhonda Trautman said...

Billy,

I read your blog entry about ConnnectKentucky with a great deal of interest. I have for some reason been receiving invitation to attend "community" meetings from ConKY for a couple of years never knowing how I got on their "list". I have never attended a meeting; as you say, they seem to promote their agenda as a "public good" while they are in fact promoting private interests and profits.

I have always been suspect of what this group was for so thank you for
taking the time to clarify it. Your description of this "tactic" should alarm everyone who reads it.

This is some of the most outrageous waste of
money I have ever seen. Thanks for bringing this to everyone's attention and I hope everyone will take your suggestion and email Rep. Bell (Johnny.Bell@lrc.ky.gov) and Sen. Sanders (Richie.Sanders@lrc.ky.gov) and voice opposition about this wasteful policy.