Social Question

submariner's avatar

Should Internet access be a public good, like roads?

Asked by submariner (4145 points ) May 4th, 2012

In the US, most people get Internet access through private providers, but some US communities or neighborhoods and some other countries provide it at public expense. I’m dissatisfied with private providers, but have no experience with public providers. The service on college/university campuses seems to be the best—is that public or private? Which way works better—public or private?

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119 Answers

marinelife's avatar

I like what we have now: a mix.

gailcalled's avatar

My roads are paid for out of my local township’s property taxes. We elect the head of the highway department and he allocates the funds (never enough) for the 57 miles of dirt roads in the town.

This way there are records and accountability. I cannot imagine having this controlled by the state, and unthinkable for the federal gov’t.

Roads are a necessity; internet almost one now but still not used by many. When I cannot pay my phone bill over the web, when my server is down, I can still drive to the provider’s office.

The highways and interstate maintenance already have a system in place.

SpatzieLover's avatar

We just had this conversation over tea the other day. Yes, it should be available to all. Public.

funkdaddy's avatar

I think part of the problem is that it’s very hard to define where the responsibility would end. I think the closest parallel you’d find would be phone service, which is not publicly provided.

Some questions that would come to mind.

Would people who do not have computers still be provided an internet connection? Does everyone receive the same speed and bandwidth? What about businesses that need more, how would private providers compete with a free public offering?

Would the government be responsible for delivering internet to new neighborhoods? How about rural areas? Are they responsible for the infrastructure from sea to shining sea? Who do you call when it goes down?

That doesn’t even get into privacy concerns and the effects of the government having immediate access and control to the flow of information.

I think the government should stay out of the technology business. They simply move too slowly and would limit offerings rather than improve them. I don’t want to wait for people who have no idea what’s involved with a technology to decide it’s important enough to build.

wundayatta's avatar

I’m not sure whether it is necessary to have the public sector get involved. There is already a lot of free internet access all over the world. My city tried to build a free wifi network all over the city, but that has failed. Too costly, I think.

Should it be a guaranteed public good? Probably. But we already provide it at libraries, and there are many other places where you can get free internet access, so I am not sure it is necessary for the government to get involved any more than it already is.

I guess I think the internet should be free and it should be a public good, and that, to some extent, it already is. No action required.

tedd's avatar

I like the idea of making it 100% available to the public in every home… but practically that is an impossibility. It would cost wayyyyy too much.

I am in favor of expanding access to the internet via free access at libraries, and the like though.

Charles's avatar

I think all the people richer than Charles and poorer than Charles should pay for my internet.

Jaxk's avatar

First, nothing is free. It’s either paid for by the user or paid for through taxes. Second there are few things that are actually provided directly by government. Even roads are built by private contractors but paid for by government.

Technology is moving way too fast for government to keep up. It is only the competition of private enterprise that keeps us moving as quickly as we are. The Internet we have today is a far cry from the government ARPAnet of old. Technologies like Frame Relay and Cell Switching have provided the capacity for VoIP, video on demand, and others. If we had government control, we would see a dramatic slowdown in the advancements we’ve come to expect. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

CWOTUS's avatar

I don’t think roads should be paid for as they are; I’d argue against them as “public good”.

(And just because you might want to think that means that toll gates would be required on everyone’s driveway, and at every intersection, etc., that doesn’t have to be the case. Please don’t make that silly straw man argument against the idea of privatization.)

The internet works as well as it does (when it does) because it is funded and built out by those who want to profit from it. Roads would be a lot better if they were not only built but maintained the same way.

digitalimpression's avatar

It pretty much is available to everyone.. provided you go to a spot with an open connection. =)

Very interesting question.

Dr_Lawrence's avatar

Every community should be connected to the Internet and individuals should then be able to pay for access from local companies as was done with telephone service in the 20th century.

JLeslie's avatar

The city a friend of mine lives in was discussing doing this several years ago, I don’t know what the town decided. I like the idea personally. Being able to get wi-fi almost anywhere in the city, assuming it would be the same price or less. Across the US even better.

rooeytoo's avatar

Why is it different than electricity or telephone. No one expects a free ride there. And there is no such thing as “free” those who work and pay taxes would be providing it.

woodcutter's avatar

What services would be cut in order to finance this? None? oh boy

Trillian's avatar

No. Who do you suggest finance “free” internet access? Who should administer it? Who maintains it? Who do people call to complain that their free access isn’t fast enough? Or when it goes down?

Judi's avatar

I would like to se medical care make that list first.

ETpro's avatar

Yes it should be a public works project for the exact same reason roads are. It is now critical infrastructure, the availability of which enriches the entire community. No, it isn’t going to happen in today’s USA. The GOP either had to change or get out of the way before we move forward with ideas like this. Right now, they are launching a propaganda assualt to “prove” that Obama adopting the very word, “Forward” as a campaign slogan is a secret sign he plans to launch a communist revolution.

The GOP of today on Forward.

Other examples of this dastardly Commie plot. Ronald Reagan was apparently a secret commie. The Wisconsin State Seal reveals that the sate is secretly commie as well. Presumably, Republican Governor Scott Walker is in bed with the secret commie plot to flip Wisconsin to Marxism. There are tons more. Apparently we need to dig Joe McCarthy out of the grave to deal with this resurgence of the Soviet Empire (even though it’s as dead as McCarthy). But I won’t bore you with links. You get the point, or more accurately the paranoid fear-mongering.

Espiritus_Corvus's avatar

There are cities and towns that are just one big wireless hotspot. Per capita, it costs next to nothing, promotes business and a higher standard of living at very little cost, and it is a draw to their towns. I’m for it. It costs mere pennies per taxpayer, but service providers don’t like it at all. The city of St. Petersburg, Florida was going in this direction until the powerful providers convinced them otherwise during this economic downturn. The university town of Fayetteville, Arkansas (nice, up in the hills, forests, etc.) is one big wireless hotspot. They also have free city busing. Freaking Commies. A 2 bedroom apartment runs about $350/mo. In St. Pete, the same costs $900/mo.

jerv's avatar

@Jaxk I don’t know; I kind of like the tiered access we have in Downtown Seattle. The entire downtown area is one huge government-provided wifi hotspot, but it’s unencrypted (I wouldn’t do my banking on it), and not nearly as fast or steady as my 7Mbps DSL line that I pay for. The government gives enough internet to check your e-mail or Craigslist, but if you want to stream porn in HD, you’re going to have to pony up a few bucks for that luxury.

@Espiritus_Corvus I haven’t seen rents of $350/month in any of the places I’ve lived since before Reagan :p

ETpro's avatar

@jerv That’s exactly the model I’d advocate for. Basic connectivity for legal and non-encrypted activity on the public network. Want privacy or high bandwidth? Buy it.

augustlan's avatar

Yes, basic wi-fi available pretty much everywhere.

@rooeytoo Not having internet access is a huge detriment in getting an education these days. That’s why I’d classify it differently than, say, phone service.

jerv's avatar

@rooeytoo I take it that you have not looked for a job in the last few years either.

Try to E-mail a resume or fill in an online application without internet access and tell me how far that gets you. Many employers these days only advertise online (so you won’t know about the opening without internet access), and do not accept walk-in/mail-in applications and resumes, nor do they take phone calls.

Try to work when you cannot find most of the available jobs and cannot apply for those that you can find.

@Trillian What part of “basic” do you not understand? Too slow? Buy your own! As for the others, who do you complain to when the roads go out? I think it safe to assume that anything that is run by the government is supported/maintained by somebody, either the government themselves or (more often) a contractor.

rooeytoo's avatar

I couldn’t live without internet access, preferably fast broadband. My problem is that the older I get the more difficult it is to support myself much less the rest of the population. I think if I couldn’t afford internet in my house, I would go to the library. Is that a problem for others, do they have to have it in their house? I accept that it is society’s obligation to support those who cannot support themselves but they don’t have to live better than I do.

When I was in school, the library was full of up to date reference books I didn’t have in my home, so I went there to use them. And if someone else was using the book I wanted, I waited until they were finished. So I ask again, must I supply broadband to your house for you when it is available to you in public places?

PurpleClouds's avatar

No. Private is better most of the time. The access on a college campus is private.

funkdaddy's avatar

Attempts at widespread public internet access generally don’t go well. They cover a small area which is usually downtown and the business district, are complicated by legal matters and security issues, and can’t really be relied on.

Austin has had a couple of projects that I know of. One was a “City of Austin Mesh” network that was set up publicly throughout the downtown area. I believe it may have just been an attempt to get City of Austin employees internet access while they were out and about in the city that was used by others because it was there.

I tried to use it a few times and it was constantly dropping your connection, so you’d have to reconnect, accept the legal agreement, and then you were on for 5 minutes or so just to be dropped again. There was no one to call, no support, and no troubleshooting. It either worked or it didn’t. In my experience it didn’t.

I tried to look for something on our city page, or google and didn’t find much, so I believe the program has ended. The places I used it, it’s no longer available.

More successful programs have been things like Free Austin Wifi which has business donated routers available to businesses who want to share their existing internet connection. Not really a public service, but intended as a perk.

The Seattle project mentioned above was also only for downtown and a few parks, it has been cancelled due to costs

None of these tried to cover any large residential areas for people to use in their homes. For something like that Wifi would be unrealistic due to the short range so you’d have to go with either a cellular network (like those made by AT&T, Verizon, etc) or something like WiMax that providers like Clear use.

Austin got Clear a while back and initially there was a lot of excitement about the possibilities. I wanted to get it and so talked to several folks about it on some local forums. The reviews were pretty rough and apparently haven’t gotten much better. Yelp

Put that store’s address (1011 W Anderson Ln in 78757) into the Clear Coverage Map and you’ll see the problem with the technology. Even with dozens of towers, the coverage is spotty throughout the city.

Cellular coverage is better, but the costs are huge and that’s why cell phone data plans are so expensive for any amount you’d use a primary connection.

So my primary problem with the idea would be if you jump in with the noble goal to bring an internet connection to everyone; you spend the millions of dollars for the infrastructure, create a whole new government entity at some level (city/state/federal) to manage, repair, and support the network; launch to great fanfare and then the product isn’t very reliable or useful, what have you really built?

Clear charges $35/mo with additional sign up costs and has never turned a profit, so we have to assume actual costs to provide something similar would be higher than $35/mo per account.

Do you want to pay an additional $500+/yr in taxes for a spotty internet connection with no choice in the matter?

jerv's avatar

@rooeytoo You’ve never been to the library either, at least not any place full of people. Many of the people who cannot afford internet access (or a home to wire it in) already do that, so wait times can get pretty long, often far longer than you have access for. As for it getting tougher to support yourself, 90% of Americans have the same problem despite r rising GDP and all. Point?

@funkdaddy Businesses can do many things better. Let’s disband the military and hire Blackwater too.
Also note that Clear generally sucks. However, I have to say that cell coverage has never been an issue in the Seattle area, unlike NH where they barely got broadband; I was using 28.8k dialup in 2009 because that was all that was available!

funkdaddy's avatar

@jerv – I never advocated a private military. I’m not arguing with you.

I am trying to put a realistic cost on the goal of internet as a public service so people can make a decision as to whether or not it’s worth advocating. I’ve stated my position and backed it up with what I think are examples in the real world. You seem to have taken it personally. That wasn’t my intent.

jerv's avatar

Cost is an issue, but why does it have to use wireless? For that matter, why does wireless have to be expensive? But before we get into cost-effectiveness, lets see if it should even be done… or is cost your entire argument against it?

I’ll be less cranky after breakfast.

submariner's avatar

Thanks, all, especially those of you who have provided concrete examples for comparison.

I had Comcast, but they kept upping the rates and trying to make me buy services I didn’t want or need, so I dumped ‘em and bought a $327 laptop, which allows me to use wifi at various businesses and use the library wifi without having to wait for the library computers. I figure the $ I’m not spending on Comcast will pay for the laptop, but I guess I also have to take into account the money I’m spending on coffee, pastries, cheeseburgers, and gas that I would not otherwise have spent, and the time, hassle, and weight gain involved.

I would gladly pay higher taxes for home internet service if the taxes were lower than the private fee and not subject to capricious increases. Maybe the town could contract with a service provider to provide broadband for every residence or business. I presume that the town could bargain for better rates than individuals could get. This might work out for everybody: individuals would get lower rates fixed for longer periods, and the provider (a cable co., I presume) would get more customers, and would have the cable connections in place if those customers wanted to buy cable tv or other premium services. The greater number of customers and lower marketing costs would make up for the lower basic fee per customer.

jerv's avatar

DSL (where available) uses existing phone lines. It does require some special equipment, and you must be within about two miles of a repeater, but for densely populated areas, it’s fairly feasible. Hell, of there were basic sites without all the Flash, even dialup aces would work with existing infrastructure. The main reason things cost so much is broadband is an emerging technology here, though other parts of the world have had better, faster broadband for cheaper for years. If we wanted to make it happen, we could, and if we wanted it to be cheap, we could make it so, but there is no desire to, so we won’t.

This, sad to say, is part of why I think the US is gradually sliding towards Third World status. When remote villages in Africa have better connectivity than parts of the United States, something is wrong.

gailcalled's avatar

I use a medium speed DSL here in rural America because I am, unlike many of my friends, within the three miles of the magical whatever.

It is problematical, particularly at night in rain, snow, sleet, hail and lightening storms. I have to recycle the modem all the time…which is doable, but annoying. Branches fall on the phone lines and rodents eat through them; the phone company crews are always out trying to repair the cables and wires.

If I lose service after 5:00PM on Friday, tough beans until Monday morning and then I join the very long queue.

CWOTUS's avatar

It’s not entirely fair – or accurate in the least – to say that “there is no desire, so we won’t” provide more and better broadband, @jerv.

The fact is that since we led the world in telephones – with telephone poles and wires from coast to coast – we had that infrastructure to support the initial use of internet via telephone wire (and now, as you mention, DSL as well).

For a lot of the world they never had telephone hard-wire infrastructure, such as much of Asia and most of Africa, the advent of cell phones means that for a time it was probably more common to find people in Africa and Asia with cell phones than in the USA and Europe.

For those countries to have any internet access, they had to install something, and what was available for them to install was up-to-the-minute modern. No one would deliberately install DSL, for example, from a standing start. That’s a technology that only serves to utilize an existing investment in hard telephone wiring.

Of course we want – consumers want – high speed broadband. But we have one problem in the USA that is common among people in much of Africa and central Asia: it’s very, very expensive to run cabling in the hinterlands. Cities are another matter entirely. Cities are relatively easy – and cheap, on a per capita basis – to provide the latest and greatest technology.

JLeslie's avatar

How far can wifi send a signal? If we have technology to send signals long distances (I have no idea if we do) then you only need wires to the place the signal is coming from, much like cell sites. For that matter I can get some sort of Sprint card to get internet, is that actually 3g? Anyway, it does not mean I need wires to my house.

When I lived in FL several of the communities I lived in had cable TV included in the maintanence fee. The plus was it was cheaper, the negative was if you wanted satelite you would be basically paying twice. Also, a lot of the cable companies have special triple play packages now, and so that would not apply if you already have TV. Also, when we wanted upgraded service like HBO, they smacked us with a higher fee than other people payed.

The problem I find with cable companies is there is almost never any competition. I have never had a choice of two cable providers where I have lived. I don’t even have the choice of DSL where I live, and my house barely holds a signal for my cell phone so I can’t effectively hot spot, and I assume if I tries the Sprint service for computers it probably would not work well either. I am kind of at the mercy of my cable company being reasonable in fees if I want decent internet. Monopolies usually don’t work well for the consumer.

Comparing to other services, another example I have is my town does not have a fire department. We pay the county for services on our utility bill (remember some of those reports in TN of the fire department watching a house burn down because the owner did not pay for services? That was not my city, but I see how that can happen). I pay about $500 a year! That is crazy high to me. I don’t know anyone else who pays that much a year through taxes, and if I was paying it in my property taxes I could itemize it off my federal income taxes. I think we are getting suckered, I think it would be lower if it were in my property taxes. I do know my town is looking for other options, including building our own fire department. There is actually a county fire department located within my city limits.

submariner's avatar

I guess a 3rd option would be private nonprofit. I think that’s what I had in mind when I mentioned colleges and universities. I’m assuming that they either contract with a private provider or set up their own systems. Either way, they pass costs along to students but don’t make a profit from Internet access.

bkcunningham's avatar

Who personally knows someone who can’t afford Internet service and doesn’t currently have it?

bkcunningham's avatar

What are their circumstances, @SavoirFaire?

jerv's avatar

@CWOTUS It depends on where one is talking about, but there are cities abroad where they won’t run a landline because it’s all cellular now. Running wires where there are none is inefficient, especially if that “wire” is actually a fiber optic cable, but my point stands that there are ways; probably different ways for different areas. Rural NH was rolling out radio-based solutions because even satellite isn’t an option for many homes.

Or we could just add more public access terminals. My buddy runs a non-profit organization that recycled computers and gives them to those who can’t afford one. Nothing fancy; a couple of generations behind and unable to run modern games, but more than enough to run Internet Explorer. Less rural areas could provide internet access merely by expanding a bit with stuff that would otherwise be in the landfill.

There are ways.

@JLeslie Wifi is generally unreliable much past 100 feet for older 802.11g, and 802.11n only gets about 400 under normal conditions, though I cannot use my 802.11n more than ~100 feet from my apartment because the brick walls interfere with the signal. But 3G is available in most populated areas, and 4G is in select markets. 3G is more cost effective if for no reason other than we already have more infrastructure already in place.
You are correct about monopolies though, and that is why I say there is no desire to roll out what we would need to to make internet for all happen. Competition would spur development, allowing better service cheaper, but why bother when you have no competition?

rooeytoo's avatar

@jerv- you have more sad little stories to tell than anyone I know. My feelings are that I have to take care of myself first as does everyone else in this world. After I pay my taxes there is little enough left for me to pay for my own internet not to mention food, shelter, etc.. I can’t afford to give much more to the poor or I will be joining them. Maybe you should volunteer to pay more taxes and stop telling me about how hard life is for someone else.

submariner's avatar

But rooey, what if instead of paying $# to your internet provider, you paid $# more in taxes, and got the same level of service, and everyone had access? You’d be no worse off.

On monopoly: ATT&T used to be a heavily regulated monopoly. Customer service was not so good (remember Lily Tomlin’s bit: “We don’t care. We don’t have to. We’re the phone company.”?), but innovation did not suffer. On the contrary, Bell Labs was a center of innovation.

Dutchess_III's avatar

I know several too, @bkcunningham. People making less than $13,000 a year…and there are a LOT of them. They don’t have cable, either.

bkcunningham's avatar

I’m just curious about the people you know without Internet. Are they single, a couple, a family? Have they talked to you and you know they have a computer but can’t afford Internet service? Did they have Internet and then made an budgetary decision to no longer pay for Internet? Do they just have no interest or desire to be “connected?”

augustlan's avatar

I have several acquaintances who have either been given a computer or saved every dime in order to buy one, but still don’t have internet access because they can’t afford the monthly fees. Some are young families, some are single.

bkcunningham's avatar

How much is the monthly Internet fee in that area, @augustlan?

Dutchess_III's avatar

I will refer to myself, @bkcunningham. up until 2006, I did not have either a home computer or internet access. A computer with Word would have been nice, since I like to write, but internet access or cable was an absolute non-necessity. I was a single Mom raising 4 kids. I could not afford any kind of ridiculous luxury like that.

My daughter is a college student. She has online classes, but goes to the library, or comes here, to work on them because she can’t afford internet access.

@bkcunningham to your question up above, which just appeared…it wouldn’t matter if it was $5.00 a month. I couldn’t have afforded it on $13,000 a year. Lots of people are in that income bracket, believe it or not. They’ll spend money on a cell phone way before they’ll spend it on something as frivolous as internet. And half the time they have to let their phone go for months at a time.

augustlan's avatar

@bkcunningham I can’t speak to what others pay for internet in my area, but mine costs almost $70 per month. I do have high speed internet, though. I’m sure dial up is much cheaper.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Mine is $19.99 a month. What in the world do you get for $70 a month, girl?? Does it do the dishes and change diapers too??!! :)

bkcunningham's avatar

I admire you for having your priorities in order, @Dutchess_III. My daughter is working and going to college too. She doesn’t have Internet and goes to the library when necessary. I know lots of people without Internet for all sorts of reasons. I know many people who are in low income brackets, believe it or not.

@augustlan, holy cow. That is insanity. That is just for high speed Internet and nothing else?

Dutchess_III's avatar

Well, then, you answered your own question @bkcunningham!

augustlan's avatar

@bkcunningham and @Dutchess_III It’s through my cable company, and includes a monthly modem fee, which I think is $7. So, yeah. Expensive! Without high speed internet, though, I couldn’t do my job. Gotta’ have it.

bkcunningham's avatar

I don’t know why you have to be a smartass, @Dutchess_III. I was curious if other’s experiences are like my own.

Dutchess_III's avatar

…You can buy your modem outright, @augustlan. In fact, when I went with Cox, I got their modem for $75, then sent in rebate information so I get that back. You better do some checking around!

augustlan's avatar

@Dutchess_III Yeah, I know I could buy my own, and probably should. Just haven’t gotten around to it yet.

Dutchess_III's avatar

But…what all do you get for $70 a month? When I was going with Cox they were trying to talk me into this and that and that and this…I kept saying, “The cheapest service you have.” It’s plenty, plenty fast. No lags, nothing.

augustlan's avatar

The absolute cheapest cable internet option here is $30/month, and isn’t fast enough for my purposes. My service (for internet only, no modem or taxes) is $59.00, and has download speeds over 4 times as fast as the cheapest option.

Dutchess_III's avatar

OIC. Well, shoot. Move to Kansas!

bkcunningham's avatar

I’m sorry, @Dutchess_III. I’ve had a really rough week. I apologize for what I said above. It was ugly and I shouldn’t have taken out my bad mood on you and said that.

Dutchess_III's avatar

‘S all good @bkcunningham. We’s’b family. ;)

SavoirFaire's avatar

@bkcunningham My wife and I have given up internet access several times in the years we’ve lived together. We didn’t have it at all in our first apartment, were able to manage in our second apartment, gave it up again for our third and fourth apartments, and now have it again in our fifth apartment. We were both going to school and working part-time jobs when we first moved in together. We could barely afford food each night and never had more than two meals a day.

Of the people I know now who cannot afford internet, two are homeless. They lost their homes, and then later lost their jobs because they could not reliably shower or wash their clothes. This is a problem because virtually all job opportunities in this city require online applications, and our local non-university libraries restrict internet access (it’s a weird system that hasn’t quite caught up with other changes the city is going through right now).

Four of the people live together in an apartment that they can just barely afford. They are university students, so they have access on campus. This means they cannot do work at home, however, and thus are slaves to the hours when university buildings are open. (University housing is not available to them because they are graduate students.)

The last person I know cannot afford internet access because he was stupid with his money and can’t afford much of anything right now. We can set him aside, though, since it’s not really his situation so much as general foolishness that his father refused to fix for him that keeps him offline at home.

jerv's avatar

@rooeytoo I apologize for not having lived a life of privilege and prosperity my entire life, or having both clawed my way barely out of it and having the humanity to have compassion for others who are where I have been. Mea culpa.

@ All others – For those who cannot figure out why pay more than $20/month for internet access, I can think of a few reasons.

1) Speed. Dialup may be well and good for doing a job search or submitting a resume/application, and most public access terminals (like libraries, job agencies, etcetera) divide the bandwidth between all computers connected to it to the point where many of them are no faster than dialup. That is sufficient for basic surfing, but not for gaming, and don’t even think about streaming video.
Back in NH, my connection took ~8 minutes to download 1MB. That meant that the daily update for my anti-virus software alone took at 5–20 minutes. My current DSL connection costs me about twice as much (around $60/month instead of $28) but averages about 1MB every 10 seconds; almost fifty times as fast. My old connection could barely stream low-quality audio; my current connection can stream video well enough that I use it instead of buying cable (which costs more than I pay for internet).

2) I am not old. Don’t take this the wrong way, but most of the people I know that cannot understand why the internet is so important are over the age of 50. They grew up in a world of corded phones and postage stamps, and often have not fully accepted that this is no longer 1979. It’s not a bad thing, but it demonstrates a generation gap that leaves many older folks at a disadvantage at times given the practical uses of the internet. Oddly, many of them like television and think nothing of spending mad $$$ on cable :/

3) Priorities. As mentioned above, I do not have cable. No need since the ‘net has more to offer. Everybody has their little luxuries, and for many of us, the internet is a higher priority than a new car or a Grande Latte every day. The lack of car payments and not having an addiction to overpriced coffee leaves me with enough discretionary money to afford the luxury of 7 Mbps DSL.

4) Because we can. First, see #3. Second, see what I said above about having clawed my way up to where I can afford a smartphone with a data plan, broadband internet, and still make rent. Maybe that is because I drive a $300 Toyota, maybe it’s because I work long and hard enough at a job that, despite underpaying me by almost half compared to others in my field, still pays me enough that my household income is considerably higher than the average starving student or single slacker, I don’t know.
What I do know is that I am luckier than many millions of Americans, that I was in their shoes not long enough ago to have forgotten how it is, and that despite still being barely above that (probably lower on the food chain than @rooeytoo ) and paying for the luxuries I enjoy, even I can afford to pay it forward.

rooeytoo's avatar

@jerv – Did you read my last response??? I keep telling you I am 67 and still working because I don’t want my savings to run out before I buy the farm. I am not sure why you keep insulting me and assuming that I have led a life of privilege. I have been poor and I have been prosperous. All because of my own actions. But I have never expected the government to educate (beyond year 12), clothe me, feed me, house me, give me internet etc. for free! I do not have a sense of entitlement. I think that is the difference between you and a 50 year old. You seem to want everything handed to you. I prefer the feeling of satisfaction I derive from working for what I want, be it cable tv or expensive internet.

Now @jerv, get the hell off my back. I am too old and little to be carrying your bitterness around. It should also be noted that when I was young and I went to the library to read reference books, I too could only go when the library was open, what is the problem with that. If you have your own computer and can’t afford internet go to MacDonalds, they are usually open all night and you can research til the wee hours. I didn’t have that advantage. Now I have to go soak my feet in hot water, they are frozen from working at an outdoor market all morning and it is Sunday, wonder who I can complain to about these hellish working conditions! Maybe I can get the government to pay me for not working???

jerv's avatar

@rooeytoo Thing is, this is the 21st century. I expect to be handed only the absolute bare minimums required to function in society, all other luxuries (like cable TV) to be earned, and the same standard applied to all. I also expected to be accused of having a sense of entitlement because it takes more to function in society than it did when you were my age, and it will probably take even more when I am your age.

The thing you don’t seem to get is the first six words of the preceding sentence. Education itself often requires internet access nowadays. The libraries are going away; many of them replaced by a medium that has far more information available with greater speed and ease of use. Times change, and if you don’t change with them then you will be left behind.

As for soaking frozen feet in hot water, that often causes more problems than it solves; thermal shock and all. I find warm water just as effective and less painful; it doesn’t make my joints do bad things. Take it from someone who is used to spending hours shoveling snow. I had to work today too, and almost every joint in my body aches (even worse than usual) so I know where you are coming from. But it’s a small price to pay to live in an apartment without roaches, eating something other than government cheese, and having broadband internet to stream video on my 32” flatscreen; the pain is what buys me those luxuries, but there is no sense making the pain worse with the wrong water temperature.

rooeytoo's avatar

I give up, you are the master of sad little stories and one upsmanship!

jerv's avatar

@rooeytoo Good night to you too.

funkdaddy's avatar

No mas por favor.

jerv's avatar

@funkdaddy Agreed.

However, I think that this does show how divisive and politicized just about any issue can be. And that is why it is unlikely that we will ever have internet access be considered a public good or a utility in the foreseeable future regardless of how many people think it should be.

jerv's avatar

@funkdaddy BTW, Seattlewireless.net is still providing free wifi in the downtown area, in their free time with no payment expected.

JLeslie's avatar

Almost every high speed provider I have been with charges minimum $49 a month for internet access plus taxes, or you get a package of phone, interet, and TV for a slightly less amount each, but not much less. Usually minimum $120 plus taxes, and it is taxed heavily. I think my totals around $160 where I live now, and I do not have any movie channels, but I do have the upgrade that includes station like Speed channel. That is a lot of money. I think about switching all the time, get it all cheaper somehow, and I can afford it, I just find it to be such a huge expense. If my husband was not in love with Speed, I would consider going back to antenna and a cheaper phone line, and maybe pay for the internet separately. Are these cable companies making gobs of money? Or, are they struggling to make a profit?

@jerv Thanks. 100 feet is nothing.

@augustlan Threaten to leave and they will probably knock $10 a month off your bill.

jerv's avatar

@JLeslie If the cable companies are anything like they were when/where I grew up, you have already been billed for June. But you are correct about the bill reduction when you threaten to leave; why do you think my buddy kept the “introductory” rate on his Comcast for years?

gailcalled's avatar

As I’ve said before (many times), I love my flat screen, blue ray and 1986 roof antenna.

Cost…nothing. I take DVDs from the library. I get three PBS channels, which takes care of history, Nova, Nature, Neil de Grasse Tyson, Masterpiece Theater, cooking, travel, and The Antiques Road Show.

My land line and medium speed DSL internet bundle costs $100/month (including big taxes) and my cell $25/month. I keep it only for emergencies and rarely use the thing…almost no signals at home and in most parts of town. So that’s $300/year for the possibly of a flat tire or an ice storm.

Dutchess_III's avatar

I just thought of something…they have ”“universal access funds””:http://www.fcc.gov/guides/understanding-your-telephone-bill on your internet and phone bill. It’s supposed to “provides support to promote access to telecommunications services at reasonable rates for those living in rural and high-cost areas, income-eligible consumers, rural health care facilities, and schools and libraries.” I remember first hearing about that on cell phone bills, and wondering why it didn’t seem to be available to me. I was most definitely “Income-eligible”
Anyway, in theory then, everyone should have internet access, paid for by taxpayers on their bill, just like everyone has access to roads and 911, all paid for by tax payers.

SavoirFaire's avatar

@Dutchess_III My understanding of those charges is that they are used to build telecommunications infrastructure and subsidize telecommunications service carriers, not to actually provide services directly to people. They are aimed at making it so that anyone who wants to pay for service can get it, not at making sure everyone that everyone actually has service.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Well, I was mainly looking at the section that reads “provides…services at reasonable rates…(for) income-eligible consumers… I think of food stamps and stuff when I see that.

SavoirFaire's avatar

@Dutchess_III It’s a sensible assumption, but I don’t think that’s how it actually plays out. As far as I know, the fees are used to offset the expense of building towers and burying lines to serve sparsely populated areas so that companies won’t charge rural customers extra for their service.

Hopefully, someone will correct me if this impression is mistaken.

Dutchess_III's avatar

I’m sure you’re right. I wonder why they even put that business about “income-eligible” in there when they have no intention of providing it. Probably some obscure government regulation that says you have to at least say that, even if you have no intention of following through.

CWOTUS's avatar

The Universal Service Fund may not do what it is purported to (hard to imagine a government program that doesn’t work as advertised; is such a thing even possible?) but it appears to be as far-reaching in scope (including “broadband internet expansion”) as it claims to be on your phone bill.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Why wasn’t I ever availed of the service when I was “income eligible”?

bkcunningham's avatar

FYI, Comcast offers Internet access “for $10 per month to families who have children enrolled in the National School Lunch Program (NSLP).” There are other ISPs who offer free or reduced rates:

http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,2391024,00.asp

Check here http://www.all-free-isp.com/ to see if cheap or free service is offered in your area.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Honestly, even if I could have gotten it for free, I wouldn’t have..not while my kids were still living in the house. I had free cable for a while (thanks to my upstairs neighbor,) but after about 3 months I saw something that came on after 10:00 and said, “Nope. It’s out of here!” Summer was coming on and during the summer the kids were always up later than me, and I didn’t want to have to worry about what shite they might see when I wasn’t looking.

jerv's avatar

@Dutchess_III I can guess that you were not notified because you were not in an are where that service was available at the time, nor would it be in the foreseeable future. Where I lived, Verizon told me in 2001 that we were slated to get DSL to my little rural area in about a year. In 2008 when they sold their landline holdings in the tri-state area to Fairpoint, it still had not happened, and that sale was such a fiasco that I don’t want to get into it beyond saying that Fairpoint could not even manage to survive there, let alone expand. I assume your area is similarly low-priority, especially since the only people laying lines right now are the same people that decide whether an area is profitable enough to bother.

You should have worried more about what they saw when not at home, especially when they start taking every opportunity to be out of the house.

Dutchess_III's avatar

@jerv As I said, I wouldn’t have had it even if it had been available.

As for your last comment, You should have worried more about what they saw when not at home, especially when they start taking every opportunity to be out of the house. First, what makes you think I wasn’t concerned? Exactly how would you have handled the teens? Grilled them down every time they came home? With the exception of bad behavior that’s REALLY bad and is going to be brought to their attention, parents don’t really have any way of knowing what their kids are being exposed to out there. I set the best example I could in MY house, and could only hope that they assimilated the sense of values that I tried to instill in them. I could only hope that they could recognize a bad situation developing and decide to get out, based on what I taught them.
When they were about 13 I told each of them, and reminded them now and again, that they got one free phone call, any time, night or day and they could say, “Mom. Come get me and please don’t ask any questions.” Got any better ideas?

jerv's avatar

@Dutchess_III This is a thread about the internet, not about parenting. My apologies for going after you like that with such a digression.

Regarding the technology, I know what is possible, what is being done elsewhere, what is being worked on, etcetera. I even detailed some of this in my earlier responses but. In fact, I am collaborating with others in order to help design a mesh network made of low-cost nodes, but the dogged insistence of some to continue using IPv4 (which was designed to have already gone obsolete years ago) instead of going to IPv6 (which has been around for many years) makes dealing with the address tables a non-trivial problem; that mean that, for the moment, we are kind of stuck with out current overly-centralized system which can have large areas of it knocked out by the loss of a single node.

Regarding the implementation of the technology, I have already addressed that as well; we already have the ability to do better than we have done in a cost-effective manner, but lack the will to do so, which annoys me to no end. If nothing else the fact that we refuse to provide affordable/free internet to all places us at a disadvantage compared to other industrialized nations. Even our for-profit network is inferior to what is offered elsewhere, which is sad and annoying.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Oh hail, @jerv! I don’t care if a discussion goes off on a tangent! You know that!

jerv's avatar

@Dutchess_III No, but if somebody (in this case me) starts getting nasty, it’s best to stop.)

rooeytoo's avatar

Isn’t it a bit strange that you buy a computer knowing you want to use it on the internet but can’t afford the cost of dial up which is minimal? Isn’t that like buying a car but not being able to afford gas and insurance, what is the point? Should someone provide you with gas and insurance so you don’t have to use public transportation which is possibly not available at the times you need it?

SavoirFaire's avatar

@rooeytoo There are other ways to use a computer than for internet access, and there are other ways to get internet access than to pay for home service. It should not be surprising, then, that one might purchase a computer even if one cannot afford to purchase internet service at home.

rooeytoo's avatar

Read my first sentence, “Isn’t it a bit strange that you buy a computer knowing you want to use it on the internet but can’t afford the cost of dial up.” I should have added “at home,” if you want to use it at home.

SavoirFaire's avatar

@rooeytoo Still, wanting is different than doing. I wanted to use my computer on the internet at home while living in my first apartment, but I couldn’t actually do so because I couldn’t afford it. I still needed the computer for other reasons, though, and then I had it when I finally could afford internet at home.

SpatzieLover's avatar

My husband uses a laptop from work. Many jobs give out iPhones to use @rooeytoo. Many people use devices they didn’t purchase.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Well, yes. If you buy a computer knowing you want to use it on the internet but can’t afford internet, yes, that would be a strange waste of money. It would be like buying an electric typewriter when you can’t afford electricity. I can’t think of anyone who spent money on a computer for that reason, but couldn’t afford internet.

As a person who has been using PC’s since long before the internet happened along (my husband and I met at Boeing Computer Services in 1979, and got one of the first PCs on the market,) I wanted one for the word processing, database, spreadsheet and graphics programs in it. It was a typewriter from hell! But at the poor point in my life (after the divorce in the 90’s) I couldn’t even afford a computer so I didn’t get one. Although…actually, I had a second hand one, for a while, that worked for my purposes. With no internet. Of course.

rooeytoo's avatar

I made that comment because many are saying internet should be provided free of cost to all. So it stands, if you know you can’t afford internet and you want to use your computer on the internet and you know you have to pay for it, they why buy one and complain later!

Seems strange to me, and the car analogy is the same situation.

If you receive the internet device free of charge, you are lucky. That has nothing to do with free internet.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Well, it’s like this. Roads are free. Doesn’t mean everyone should be provided with a car, right?

gailcalled's avatar

Roads are not free where I live. See my real estate taxes.

SavoirFaire's avatar

But surely if we are going to make an analogy between cars and computers, then computer : car :: internet : road :: electricity : gasoline. The argument being made by some here is that internet access should be like road access. If you can acquire a computer and the electricity to run it, you should be able to access the internet (just as those who can acquire a car and the gasoline to run have access to the roads). No one is yet making the argument that anyone should be provided with a computer and electricity (though there are programs for that kind of thing, as there are for cars and gasoline).

rooeytoo's avatar

@gailcalled – yep it’s always the taxpayer who provides.

And I think the analogy I made is legitimate, but I am not saying another word because if I do the disagreement will surely be described as my acting like an infantile whiner which is technically not a personal attack.

bkcunningham's avatar

I agree with your logic, @rooeytoo. I can understand the situation where someone has a computer, by whatever means, and can afford supplying it with Internet services and something happens that they can not afford the service. Thus, they have a computer and no Internet. But to be able to purchase a computer and not to be able to afford Internet would make no sense to me. That is what I call having the cart before the horse.

jerv's avatar

@rooeytoo You raise valid questions, but let me see if I can explain it to you;

Many places that have public access terminals have a shortage of terminals, but if you provide your own terminal, you can use it without waiting for a seat or being pushed out so the next person can get their 15 minutes.

With that in mind, is it still strange to buy a low-cost portable computer that can be taken to, say, the library so you can use their connection (via wifi) without taking up a computer that they may not have? Personally, I think it’s no stranger than buying a swimsuit despite not having a pool in your back yard, but that may be because I actually did that; I had a cheap netbook and used it on the library’s wifi to get my ‘net access.

Also note that even used laptops in working condition generally cost at least a couple of hundred dollars, but working desktop systems can be free. As mentioned above, the same buddy who I am helping with the wireless mesh network also runs a non-profit that recycles old computers and gives them away to worthy people/organizations. Even without such a charitable organization, I personally paid $0.00 for my first six PCs by a combination of gifts and dumpster-diving. No need to buy a computer! Basically we only need to provide the internet access… and we already have non-profit organizations doing that as well just out of charity.

To recap, as it stands, you can either have a free computer with no internet, or free internet that you have to buy your own computer to use. This question boils down to whether we should combine those to allow free internet on free computers for those of limited means. We are not talking good computers or a fast connection here either; I’m talking just enough to do a job search, send in some applications, let your kid do their homework, etcetera. If you want more than the basic bare minimum, you have to open your wallet just like us working stiffs do.

Do you see where I am coming from on that? Does that make sense now?

rooeytoo's avatar

@jerv – you just restated what I said in the first place and you argued about, go to the library to use the bloody internet!

jerv's avatar

@rooeytoo No, you missed a very important detail, and that is where I think your confusion comes in.

You missed the part about using your own laptop. You said it made no sense to buy a computer when you could not afford internet access at home, but the biggest part of the problem with using the internet at the library is the limited amount of computers. I am saying that it makes sense to buy a computer if you have an access point to use it at. And that access point doesn’t have to be the library either.

However, I also maintain that that is a less-than-ideal solution since it is often easier to send a 3G signal to a persons home to use with a cheap wireless modem in a recycled PC than it is to go miles to a place full of homeless people each waiting their turn for their 15 minutes of surfing for porn. Another argument against the library, even if you bring your own computer The hardware is cheap, and the infrastructure is in place in most areas.

I almost forgot; the Raspberry Pi is a full computer with a retail cost of $25, so you could even get a new computer for cheap to put on the ‘net. I imagine that the actual cost (or even a bulk discount deal) would make handing out computers more cost-effective than even recycling old ones.

augustlan's avatar

And what about people who live in an area without access to a library in the first place? If you live in a city, chances are good that you can get to a library either on foot or by taking public transportation. If you’re poor and live in a rural area, though, and you don’t have a car… you’re shit out of luck.

jerv's avatar

@augustlan Good point. Three years ago, I lived in the woods >15 miles from a library or a supermarket in an area where there wasn’t public transportation within 50 miles. There are many millions of people that still live outside of cities. That is why I think that if we do do this thing, it would have to be wireless; the cost of wiring would be prohibitive.

rooeytoo's avatar

omg another sad little story

So you would rather that tax payers supply porn directly to people’s houses, yep makes sense to me. I hate going to the library to watch my porn.

I guess the answer to this all is it depends on your perspective. The older I get the less inclined I am to put more on the shoulders of tax payers which includes myself. I will most likely not be around long enough to collect what I have already paid in for social security so I hate the idea of parting with even more. I would prefer to take the money that is going to come out of my pocket to fund free anything and put it into my savings account so that I can live a reasonably comfortable life when I reach the point where I can no longer work. To me that is more important than giving free internet to anyone’s house. Now if you want to pass a bill that will increase my social security payment to a figure that I could actually live on, I will consider that.

augustlan's avatar

Where does porn come into this, @rooeytoo? We’re talking about educations and jobs, here. And yes, I would be willing to pay a little more in my tax bill so that everyone has access.

rooeytoo's avatar

@augustlan – I was just remarking on what @jerv said, “However, I also maintain that that is a less-than-ideal solution since it is often easier to send a 3G signal to a persons home to use with a cheap wireless modem in a recycled PC than it is to go miles to a place full of homeless people each waiting their turn for their 15 minutes of surfing for porn.” He apparently has disdain for homeless people who access porn in the library. He would rather that it be sent directly to their, wherever they live so they could watch their porn there.

As I said, it must depend on your perspective. I would rather see those who have worked and paid taxes their entire lives and are now trying to exist on a weekly amount less than most welfare payments, get a little extra instead. In the Melbourne daily papers there are still many jobs that one can call or walk into and apply. So I don’t think that is an absolute necessity, also Centerlink is a government employment agency with computers for people to use to hunt for jobs, as well as numerous private employment agencies. If you are young and have incentive, jobs are available. As for kids and education, they have access to free internet at school. libraries and other places. And interestingly enough I was just talking to a guy whose full time job is to go into school at night and remove porn related material from the computers. Despite filters, the little darlings manage to get a broad (pardon the pun) education.

But hey you are younger and have kids so you see it differently. I accept that and certainly you are entitled to have your opinion. It doesn’t change my opinion of you, and I hope it doesn’t change yours for me. Well assuming you have a good opinion of me to start with, I just see life from a 67 year old who worked for everything perspective.

augustlan's avatar

@rooeytoo I missed that line in @jerv‘s response, sorry. I’m sure he was just being a bit facetious.

Now, I know you don’t have kids in school, so you may not be aware of the fact that the internet is needed for a lot of homework these days. Just having it available in school isn’t enough. Getting to the library isn’t always an option, either, as I mentioned above, and even if you can… there are far more people in need than there are library computers. Kids who don’t have internet access at home are at a distinct disadvantage.

In my area, there are job centers, too. Again, though, if you can’t get there what good are they to you? They don’t exist everywhere, either. I’m sure there are laborer and some retail/restaurant jobs that hire people who walk in, but that’s about it. Most any other field is going to be heavily slanted towards people applying online.

In any event, I’m 44, have worked since I was 14 years old, stayed home with my kids for 14 years, work again now and will continue to have to for the foreseeable future. I’ve been dirt poor, extremely well off, and am now just barely above dirt poor again. I still know that I have it better than a lot of other people, and am more than willing to contribute to efforts to give those people a better shot. Including the people who have worked their whole lives and are now trying to exist on a weekly amount less than most welfare payments. I am all about the greater good, and really can’t wrap my head around the fact that so many people aren’t. Making it better for the least of us makes it better for all of us.

JLeslie's avatar

@rooeytoo If your social security will be that low, I doubt you will be paying taxes when that is your income? The burden of a public infrastructure will be on the people making higher incomes. I am on the fence about the whole thing as I read many of the answers, even though I had started in a position of being in favor of the government helping tosupply internet access. Are you really sure you will never get all the money back you paid in? I am pretty sure the money I paid in compared to what I am likely get out, depending on how long I live of course, is much lower. That doesn’t inlude interest I could have earned on the money though, so the math isn’t perfectly neat and clean.

jerv's avatar

@rooeytoo I see you as a well-intentioned person who is merely financially Conservative and less altruistic than I am. I am also a realist, as that it’s how I survived lean times and how I keep from returning to where I came from. That realism makes me a little cynical at times, but it does allow me to spot potential issues before they become actual problems.

I want to help people that want to help themselves. I want willing, able-bodied people that need a job to have the means to get one, and for children who want to become smarter to have access to all educational tools available. If that means that some wino gets free porn, I consider that a small price to pay compared to the cost (both financial and karmic) of screwing over good people. As vindictive as I am, even I am not that spiteful. It’s one thing to be anti-handout, but another to actively tell people you don’t want them to have a chance.

Also, you said it yourself; you red the Melbourne paper. Try Seattle; different ballgame over here. Internet and cellphone are required since walkins are unwelcome and potential employers don’t leave messages; answer the phone immediately, or they pass you over, go to the next guy, and leave you unemployed. Also, try walking 15+ miles; NH has it’s own issues, as not all people live in cities.

Maybe the divide between you and I here is because of our vastly different life experiences. Maybe it’s just that I get a little cranky when others fail to admit that that is the case.

@JLeslie in that respect, it’s no different than health insurance.

JLeslie's avatar

I might have written that wrong, I meant it is likely I have paid in less than I will get out of SS, so I kind of come out ahead I think. Just figuring those who pay in the maximum to SS security every year in America, what is that now? Maybe $10,000 a year? And, those same people will get over $24k a year in SS when it is paid out. Check my math, I am not 100% sure of the money, and I certainly rounded a lot. Plus, for many, what is paid in, half of it is paid by an employer.

jerv's avatar

@JLeslie I have no blood relatives that lived to age 67, so I probably will never see a dime of what I paid into SS. I think it safe to assume that many others also pay in and never get anything back while others get more than they put in. By the same token, I have paid thousands in car insurance, but never gotten a dime back because I tend to not get into accidents.

JLeslie's avatar

@jerv I am sort if in a similar circumstance actually. My relatives only recently started living past their mid 50’s, and we are not car accident prone. But, there are relatives now living past 65 and starting to use government services which helps me not have to pay for them to live or my parents having to pay, which might help my inheritance. I also have had to use my homeowners insurance, and still have paid in more over time than I have had paid out to me.

Jaxk's avatar

@jerv

Sounds like the solution is to have more accidents. Get your money’s worth.

jerv's avatar

@Jaxk The irony is that one year of car insurance costs me almost double what I paid for the car :D

Dutchess_III's avatar

@gailcalled I pay for roads too. By “free” I meant available to all, including those who don’t pay. For them, the roads are free. But it doesn’t mean we should provide them with a car to drive on those free roads.

rooeytoo's avatar

I will say my point again, when there are no people with empty stomachs, when everyone who wants one has a roof over their head, when old folks don’t have to be afraid of outliving their savings or losing their house because taxes (@jleslie – do you mean when one goes on ss they no longer pay re taxes, sales taxes, gps etc?) are going up and their pension isn’t, when everyone has heat in their house in the winter…..

then internet can be provided free. Until then, it really isn’t very high on my list of priorities. And I am not only thinking of my own taxes, there are many who are barely getting by, more tax increases to pay and they will go under. Is that lack of altruism or reality?

jerv's avatar

@rooeytoo We kind of agree on that actually. The main reason I want internet for all is as a hand up; to give them the means to educate their kids for a brighter future, and to get a job so that they can pay their own rent. And isn’t it better to have a person working and paying taxes instead of not working and being supported by those who do pay taxes? I like to think of it as an investment. I would rather have the money I give Uncle Sam help people improve their lives than just pay them so sit around eating Twinkies.

Of course, Australia seems to do things differently so I can see how it may not be an issue where you are, but in many parts of the US, like the tech-heavy Seattle area, it is.

JLeslie's avatar

@rooeytoo I was actually thinking federal income tax. But, you make a good point that the internet could be a sales tax. I think it more likely to be a property tax, which is even worse for the retired.

submariner's avatar

rooeytoo, we get that you don’t want to pay extra to support other people’s net access. But, again, it’s not clear that you would be paying anything extra if next access were publicly funded. You might be paying the same amount, and just be sending your payment to a different entity.

Another possible comparison might be trash service. This is handled differently in different US cities. In my town, there is no public trash pickup. Each household has to contract for it separately. There are three companies to choose from in the area. This means that the same block will have trash trucks picking up trash on three different days in a week. I understand that local gov’ts want to privatize whatever services they can instead of having gov’t depts. do them, and that private enterprises are usually more efficient than gov’ts, but I don’t see why my town doesn’t just contract with one of these private sanitation companies for the whole community and then tax residents to pay for it. Having three trucks go up and down the street on different days skipping some houses and serving others can’t possibly be the best way to pick up trash. Likewise for net access, mutatis mutandis.

Also, if it were funded through taxes, you might end up paying less, if the relevant taxes were appropriately progressive.

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