June 21, 2008

The Sweet Simplicity of Progressivism

Justin Katz

If only progressives' plans were always this straightforward:

Statewide Wifi available everywhere to everyone... for free .

And let the cable/telephone companies bid on the right to be the State's sole provider. How would it be paid for? The company winning the bid to provide the service will maintain sole rights to sell advertising space on the statewide network.

So, we take a centralized power with tax and police powers and invest it with the authority to determine the single corporate provider of Internet services in the state, and that provider wouldn't charge a penny because it would reap its rewards by selling advertising targeting its monopolized captive audience. No chance of corruption and ossification there!

Where would the ads appear, again?

Comments, although monitored, are not necessarily representative of the views Anchor Rising's contributors or approved by them. We reserve the right to delete or modify comments for any reason.


This is old news revisited.

Saul Kaplan, Director of RIEDC wanted to build the same network and have RI become the first state in nation boarder-to-boarder to accomplish free Wifi but also to use it to transfer personal medical, school grade information, disaster information, police, fire, Coast Guard and other very sensitive information.

Medical and government personal identifiable information (such as SSN) must be protected by federal law to federal dictated standards and all items and software must be approved end-to-end by the federal government for electronic transfer. Security costs for Mr. Saul Kaplan was beyond his comprehension.

If you child’s medical information was transmitted over Mr. Saul Kaplan’s State of RI sponsored Wifi network to a hospital during an emergency and became altered resulting in improper medical administration by first responders resulting in death, who would be responsible?

Eight states have already tried and found it cost prohibitive to even provide a city or town -wide free Wifi solution. Their projects were shut down due to escalating costs and just basic security requirements.

Even the US military refuses to create a wireless open base-wide-only unclassified computing solution because of the enormous cost and security problems.

Wifi does not belong in a computing environment where sensitive information is required to be transmitted and exchanged (medical, finical, SSN, law enforcement, education, etc ;.)

Posted by: Ken at June 22, 2008 12:43 AM

I too was wondering where the ads would appear. Would they be pop-up ads?

My other concern is filtering. What types of ads would be allowed on a network sanctioned by the state. And would children, using school computers, have unlimited access to the Internet? Currently our computers are filtered via the district's network.

Didn't we already try this in the 80s with cable television? How'd that work out?

Posted by: mikeinRI at June 22, 2008 1:18 AM

FDR said this to Congress in 1938: "[fascism is] ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling power."

This almost perfectly describes 'progressivism' and the wicked web of absolute control exercised by the one party RI Dems, the public sector unions, the poverty pimps, etc..

Also, it is a historical fact that 'progress' and 'progressive' were very pervasive terms in 1920s-onward Soviet ideology.

Posted by: Citizen Critic at June 22, 2008 2:34 AM

This is even worse than what Ken describes in that, as far as I know, all municipal attempts at free wifi thus far have at least allowed for private competition.This isn't even just a single internet service provider (which alone would make no sense), this is a monopoly on wifi. So, presumably, if you have set up your own home network, you would now be breaking the law. Of course, no business or individual would want a faster, more secure network than the government would provide, so that's not really a problem. I wonder if this would also ban microwaves, since they frequently broadcast on the same frequency (for a non-sarcastic point, interference is usually a major obstacle to setting up a huge network like this because the frequency range it uses is still unregulated. Banning private wifi hotspots, of course, would go a long way to solving that particular problem. Not that we should do that).

As for ads, I guess they could divert all users to a proprietary start page (usually you see those when you have to log in to a business-provided wifi network, like at an airport or hotel). OF course, that, on its own, isn't a particularly large source of potential revenue, and would be exceedingly unpopular.

I resisted the urge to post over there because I can't think of a way to respond without sounding mean, but this is truly an orgy of bad ideas.

Posted by: Mario at June 22, 2008 3:23 AM

"And let the cable/telephone companies bid on the right to be the State's sole provider. How would it be paid for? The company winning the bid to provide the service will maintain sole rights to sell advertising space on the statewide network."

I second all of the philosophic and logistical problems cited.

In addition, does the person who is proposing this arrangement promise no interference with content? If so, that means that that person does not agree with the proposed return of the Fairness Doctrine for radio and television, right?

Because the above, as I understand, is how radio and tv access was/is sold. How tempting to demand "balance" (which, even more than beauty, is in the eye of the beholder) when you're the government and you control a spectrum this way. Certain groups have not been able to resist the temptation when it comes to radio and tv. What's to stop them from trying to bring "balance" to the web if they become guardian of access as proposed above?

Posted by: Monique at June 22, 2008 7:54 AM

My company has enough trouble keeping solid signals inside a building with dozens of access points. I'm curious how Duck Boy, in his infinite understanding of all things Wi-Fi, thinks the signal is going to penetrate deep into every office building in the state.

Once again, they are pushing an idea they simply don't understand. It SOUNDS good but the current technology just won't allow them to do what they want to do. Period.

Posted by: Greg at June 22, 2008 10:29 AM

Amen to everything just said ... the idea sounds great on the surface, but so did the Titanic (which of course, is no longer on the surface). You'd think that if they were going to come up with yet another half-quacked idea, that they'd at least have a few examples to show were it actually worked well somewhere!

Everything I've ever read about experiments with municipal Wifi have been a dismal failure on a number of different levels. Now they want to expand it statewide, and better yet, they don't want people to have to pay for it! It sounds like they are proposing the Providence Phoenix model of advertising (sorry, Ian) for the Wifi system. Yeah, explain that one to the kids...

PS Since what they are proposing is to create a state regulated monopoly, what incentive would they provide in order to keep innovating and improving the technology? When AT&T had a monopoly on phone service, how many choices of phones and plans did we have? Government coercion will only get you so far. Do they think that Wifi as it current is, is all that will ever be available? They don't seem to think very far ahead.

Posted by: Will at June 22, 2008 2:06 PM

It does not go unnoticed that Pat "I struggle with basic math" Crowley starts 4 out 5 paragraphs with the word "Imagine".

Indeed, a strong imagination is required to create and sustain the Fantasy land that the Unions have created for themselves.

No doubt Pat "I struggle with basic math" Crowley (and his mentor, Bob Walsh) would love another Monopoly in the State to go along with the Monopoly that is Public Schools employing Union teachers.

This is just another example of how the fools that gravitate to that Stink Tank, RI Futureless, fear sustained Competition and the Free Market. How they promise a "chicken in every pot" without ever thinking past their noses.

Posted by: George Elbow at June 22, 2008 2:10 PM

Philadelphia a;ready tried this, and it was a disaster. The ISPs pulled out.

Posted by: EMT at June 22, 2008 8:59 PM

"Philadelphia already tried this, it was a disaster."

Are you suggesting that Pat "I struggle with basic math" Crowley and his ilk learn from past mistakes?

Look at the sorry state of Public Education in RI? The solution that Pat "I struggle with basic math" Crowley and his mentor, Bob Walsh, bring us is more of the same crap that got us here, fighting competition, school choice and common sense changes at every turn.

These are the same fools that are bringing us the concept of "selling equity" in the lottery (i.e. borrowing against future cash flows to mask a structural problem with a short term fix rather than dealing with the real issue ...overly generous and unsustainable benefits doled out to Union hacks).

Posted by: George Elbow at June 22, 2008 9:54 PM
Post a comment

Remember personal info?

Important note: The text "http:" cannot appear anywhere in your comment.