NEWS BLOG: Here’s a quote from a story on our newswire today:
“The Legislature's budget committee has approved spending near 23 million dollars to extend fiber optic connections to 82 state schools and libraries. Wisconsin leaders say people in the state should have equal access to the Internet, regardless of where they live or how much money they have.”
The “state official” isn’t named in the story. Whoever it is needs a lesson in Civics 101. You do not have a right to high speed internet.
I remember the debate at our house about adding high speed internet. We'd just moved to Wisconsin, and we were new homeowners. My family was juggling a lot of new expenses and we didn’t know for sure how our family budget would play out in our new home. I was hesitant to add $40 a month to our costs. (We had the same debate with cable tv… did we really need HBO or Showtime?) The decision was ‘yes’ on high speed internet, ‘no’ on the cable premium package. To this day I cringe when I see the bill, wishing it would be lower. But I also know after enjoying the convenience of high speed internet at my home office, I’d be reluctant to do without it. Dial-up seems painfully slow.
Do people have a right to good roads? What about people who have a dirt road outside their home instead of a paved one? Are their rights being violated?
What about phones? Do we have a right to cell phone service?
Do you have a right to having roads plowed and trash collection? These may services we expect, but do they rise to the level of rights?
Do we have a right to police and fire protection? Be careful if your reflexive answer is ‘yes’. There are many people who live in rural areas, far away from the nearest patrol car or fire hydrant. Are their rights being violated if they live in the backwoods and I live in town?
We all know the debate over health care, and deciding whether it is a right. If it is, it isn’t written down where our rights are enumerated, the Constitution.
Be wary of state officials who use the word “rights” when they really mean “in a perfect world”. Governments are obligated to make sure our rights are met. Sometimes that’s very expensive, especially if those things aren’t rights at all. In the case of high speed internet, the price tag is $23-million.
Operations Manager, Midwest Communications-Wausau