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.
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February 26 was a particularly terrible day – in a six-plus year history of terrible Barack Obama Administration days.
That is the day the Obama Federal Communications Commission (FCC) – without benefit of Congress – unilaterally imposed on the free Internet the uber-heinous regulatory nightmare mess that is Title-II-Reclassification-Network Neutrality.
But that’s not all the FCC – without any actual authority – did to the Web.
How very authoritarian of them. Federalism, anyone?
When you hear “municipal broadband” – think “government broadband.” It’s governments attempting to be in the broadband business.
Which means governments tax private broadband companies – and use the money they’ve taken from private broadband companies to fund government competitors to private broadband companies.
Which means governments are umpires – and playing for the opposing team. To do business, private broadband companies must every day play “Mother May I” with governments and their many, many regulations. If the government regulator is also a competitor – how amenable to its private competition is it going to be?
President Obama steamrolled nineteen states’ laws – to clear the way to again ramp up federal spending on government broadband. Again – because the 2009 $787 billion “Stimulus” had $7.2 billion for government broadband. How’d that go?
How good are governments at providing broadband? ObamaCare good. Post office good. Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) good.
UTOPIA has been a failure and a thorn in the side of Utah taxpayers from the beginning. Since 2004, UTOPIA was running operating losses for nine years straight. According to UTOPIA’s own financial reports, at the end of FY 2013 UTOPIA had net assets of negative $146 million.
Despite asking local governments for $13 million in sales taxes annually, UTOPIA has struggled to stay alive over the past decade. As if that wasn’t bad enough, UTOPIA has accrued more than $500 million in debt for Utah taxpayers with no path to success in sight.
How good is the federal government at handling the money for government broadband?
What caught my eye was the default rate for an Agriculture Department program called Broadband Treasury Rate Loans: 116.37 percent.
A default rate above 100%? Was that a typo?
It was not a typo.
The crazy number was apparently produced by flawed execution of a flawed model of a flawed program….
Administration officials couldn’t pinpoint the actual default rate….
Last year, a Government Accountability Office review of the broadband program’s first 100 loans, totaling almost $2 billion, revealed serious problems; 18 had already defaulted….
The feds had lost $78 million on a single 2008 loan to Open Range Communications, a wireless provider that went bankrupt in 2011.
And the GAO found that the Agriculture Department had no idea why its loans were going bad or which kind of loans were likely to go bad in the future; it didn’t even have performance measures to determine whether the program was achieving its goals.
Hmmm – I wonder why nineteen states would pass laws to prevent more of this?
In reality – one has to wonder why it was only nineteen.
And at this point, sadly, we need not wonder why – despite this all-encompassing mega-failure – President Obama’s FCC just unilaterally steamrolled these states so as to force feed them more government broadband.
It’s what authoritarian, government-does-everything regimes do.