Now that President Obama has signed the $787 billion economic stimulus package into law, the real hard work begins: using that money to create jobs. If spent wisely, this package has a chance at fundamentally reforming the U.S. health-care system, making our economy energy efficient and providing Americans with the training and skills required to succeed in a 21st century global marketplace.
But the country can't accomplish these goals unless it has the infrastructure to support them. That's why the funding for broadband was so vital. Broadband is the ticket for entry to participate in the world economy. It is a fundamental technology upon which other things are built. It enables collaboration, innovation and operational excellence, and positions the U.S. to compete on a global basis.
Well, you probably already know my thoughts on Obama's broadband stimulus. I hate it! It's not that I wouldn't like 100% of Americans to all have high-speed broadband. I just don't think broadband is that vital that we need to spend billions of tax payer dollars when we are a fiscal crisis, the stock market is imploding, and the deficit is shooting through the roof. The "pie in the sky" idea that the government can just magically produce more money (and spend it) to do just about anything is partly what got us into this economic mess. What happened to fiscal responsibility? What happened to only spending what you have? Why are we mortgaging our children's future by throwing money around?
I support an economic stimulus to help spark the economy, but spending billions on broadband today when we won't actually reap the rewards for years... it just seems to me like the money could be better spent elsewhere for a more immediate economic impact. Believe me, I love my broadband and feel sorry for those that can't get it, but those billions of dollars could be better spent to help the economy in the near future.
And don't forget to factor in 'compound interest' and government waste. The government has never been good at investing money wisely, because it isn't their money. It's your money. It's so much easier to spend other people's money foolishly. So if it's a $40 billion broadband package, then expect it to cost the tax payer more like $120 billion.
I can see why John Chambers, the CEO of Cisco supports the broadband stimulus. It gives Cisco a HUGE windfall of revenue to help build out this high-speed broadband network. Cisco is obviously a huge benficiary of this broadband stimulus.
John ends his guest blog post with this:
As our policymakers work on maintaining U.S. competitiveness, they should keep in mind that broadband is the vehicle by which our citizens can be more productive, health care can be modernized, our economy can become more efficient and innovation can flourish. To continue our nation's growth, add jobs and drive innovation, we must invest in broadband.
I agree investments must be made in broadband. My beef is with who the "we" is. Is it the "we" tax payer or is it "we" the employees at Verizon, AT&T, Level3, and other ISPs that should 'invest' in building broadband networks. The web has only existing for about 14 years and in that time, U.S. companies themselves have brought high-speed broadband to 80-90% of Americans without a government (aka tax payer) handout.
We Americans complain about the banks needing billions of dollars in government bailout money to stay afloat, yet we're willing to hand over billions to corporations to "help" them build high-speed broadband without complaint? It doesn't make any sense. I guess because we all love our broadband so much and we want to "share the broadband love", we're willing to look the other way when the government gives OUR money to broadband providers.
If we had a budget surplus, I'd me more apt to say go ahead and give the ISPs money to build out their networks. But to me with all this spending on programs that won't stimulate the economy today, President Obama is being penny-wise, pound-foolish. Make that penny-foolish, pound foolish.