The “Socialist” Internet Peril

Remember the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC)? Yes, the billionaire Koch Bros./Corporate America shadowy group feeding Right-wing boilerplate bill language to “help” write legislative bills. In their favor, of course. For all their money, they still aren’t omnipotent.

Last week, in Georgia, far from being a bastion of liberalism, a bill fronted by ALEC shill state Rep. Mark Hamilton (R-Cumming) attempting to ban municipalities from implementing their own public broadband Internet services failed in the Georgia House of Representatives in a 70 to 94 vote. Needless to say, large telecommunications corporate interests saw communities providing affordable, fast Internet access to their residents as a threat to their bloated bottom lines.

Public wifiOf course, “government” by and for the people is supposedly bad at everything. We just “need” to see “free enterprise” fill the bill. “At a price, Ugarte” went Humphrey Bogart’s line in Casablanca (1942). Actor Peter Lorre’s character promised much sought after exit visas for half of what the delightfully crooked Casablanca Prefect of Police Paul Reynaud (Claude Rains) charged.  Free enterprise at work.

Normally, such a state legislature vote would go largely unnoticed. Conservatism has long held an extreme sway over Georgia, right along with that government check.

The state might have given us former President Jimmy Carter (D), but these days, they’re sending guys such as Tea Party politicoquack Rep. Paul Broun (R-Athens) to Congress. Broun was the politician who, in short order, would swear off years of medical school science and decades of medical practice to tell a fundamentalist group that science was “a bunch of lies from the pit of hell.”  Broun “hates” Washington so much, he is now trying to toss his hat in the ring to stay there in the U.S. Senate. The evolution they decry didn’t mean they couldn’t adapt to the despised Washington political swamp.

In the Republican push to privatize everything, we need to remember what government did for largely rural Red states such as Georgia over the years. It took President Roosevelt’s Rural Electrification Administration (now Rural Utilities Service) to bring reliable electricity to many underserved parts of the state. Some are even still called “cooperatives.” (Gasp! “Socialism!”) That broadband Internet to keep up to date on the latest conspiracy theories and Glenny Beck clips wouldn’t be there without the U.S. Department of Agriculture taking the lead over the past several decades to bring connectivity there. Ma Bell certainly didn’t do it on their own. Better grab the scattergun, Jeb, the “gob’mint” is a-comin’ to swipe your “freedom.” Stick to the back roads, not those Interstate highways paid for in Federal dollars.

I remember in the not too distant past, a private water company wanted my little Appalachian mountain community to “save money” by privatizing our city-run water and sewer systems. Turned out it wasn’t such a great deal, and the proposal died in obscurity. Hard working and not well paid city employees did a better job for less in a myriad of local services. When it snowed several inches here last week, city and state snow plows kept streets clear, and commerce flowing. In the uncivilized early hours of morning darkness. Government “bad?”

Those comically oft-misspelled Tea Party rally signs oxymoronically demanded to keep “gov’mint” hands off “their” Medicare and Social Security. Too many times have conservatives screamed to slash “welfare” and “entitlements,” but don’t dare touch my corporate and agribusiness subsidies. The inviolability of Defense spending. North Korea’s Kim Jong Un  is surely scheming to take Dennis Rodman out for some Kim Chee and cheap buffet sushi at one of those Korean restaurants in Northern Virginia’s Annandale. P.S.: The signs and menus are in Korean.

There is a happy medium where private enterprise and public government services best combine. The last time I looked, other than scientific expeditions, there isn’t much life at the earth’s extreme poles.