One of America's leading authorities on technology and telecom policy, Motley is a writer, television and radio commentator, political and policy strategist, lecturer, debater, activist, and policy advisor to The Heartland Institute.
Latest posts by Seton Motley (see all)
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Every private sector company spends every waking second (and many sleeping ones) trying to get new customers. It’s a relentless pursuit of improvement. Of their goods and services, customer service, marketing – whatever angles they can find to gain a better market share.
Then there’s the government – which stinks on ice at just about everything it tries to do. And perhaps nothing better demonstrates this all-encompassing incompetence than the instances when the Feds complain about getting more customers. What the private sector tirelessly seeks – the government looks to avoid like the plague. For whom the private sector seeks always to do more – the government always angles to do less.
The examples of this government-customer-aversion are myriad. We’ll look at just two – Social Security and Medicare.
The government has for both programs dedicated, conscripted revenue streams. Every American with a job has grafted from every paycheck 12.4% for Social Security and 2.9% for Medicare. But (for the most part) only Americans age 65 and over can collect on either program. Which should mean they both will be flush with cash in perpetuity. Instead:
The Baby Boomers – from whom the government has been collecting money for decades – are retiring. The Feds are woefully unequipped to handle it – because they have all along been woefully unequipped to handle it.
The government has had more than sixty years to build equity in Social Security, and forty-plus to do so in Medicare – and they are both instead on the verge of cataclysmic insolvency. So the government is looking to:
Cut payments to their customers – us:
Make it harder for us to get our money:
And say that if you actually made some real money (and thus paid more into Social Security and Medicare) – the government won’t give you back the coin it took:
Social Security and Medicare are (really pathetic) retirement programs. How does the private sector do with retirement programs?
There are, of course, a wide array of companies offering a wide array of retirement plans – versus the government monopoly model. These companies aren’t each hundreds of trillions of dollars in debt – almost all are instead doing extraordinarily well.
They aren’t looking for ways to shirk and shed customers – they are looking to add them. By offering better plans, rates and services. (And running great ads – who doesn’t love the E*Trade baby?)
All so that when you retire, these private companies can return to you much, much more – not less. And let you choose when you hang it up – not have the government decide for you, then keep moving the finish line further and further away. And let you have your money – plus decades of dividends and compound interest – no matter how much other money you’ve made.
In almost all things, the government “business” model is a Social Security-Medicare-esque unmitigated disaster. So of course the Feds are now expanding into the Internet.
And how’s that going?
Has the government learned its lesson? What do you think?
In 2010, the Universal Service Fund (USF) provided communities with close to $8 billion in telecommunications funding. Since 1999, the fund has distributed $71.7 billion dollars.
The government utterly imploded with $7 billion in Internet coin – and rather than bowing out gracefully, is looking to spend tens of billions more in the same failed fashion.
And when the money dries up – we’re $17 trillion is debt, after all – you and your Internet access will get the Social Security-Medicare treatment.
Your service will drastically and inexorably diminish – and the government will look for any way possible to be rid of you.
When it comes to the Web – let’s not become yet another ridiculously underserved forced-government-customer class.
[First published at Red State]