It is gratifying to see many countries, such as Australia, Canada, the U.S., and the U.K. plan to spend money on expanding their broadband networks.
The Canadian Parliament passed that country's 2009 budget on Tuesday with C$225 million to be spent over three years to develop and implement a strategy on extending broadband coverage to unserved rural and remote communities.
Public assistance is needed, says the government, which is controlled by the Conservative party led by Prime Minister Stephen Harper, because companies cannot turn a profit on the investments needed to reach out to these individuals and businesses owing to density and distance from major hubs.
Only with broadband can consumers and businesses effectively access information, goods and services, and yes work i.e. telework via the information highway by riding on the equivalent of paved roads to and from their homes, storefronts, and factories as compared with the dirt tracks of dial-up and plank roads of satellite.
Yet it would be nice for governments also to offer tax incentives, either tax deductions to corporations or grants-in-lieu of taxes to nonprofits, to nudge these organizations to provide teleworking i.e. 'GreenWorking'. The Telework Coalition
has called for just that, pointing that there are parking and transit deductions but none for telework
One of the factors holding telework back has been less-than-competent managers who are unable to supervise others without seeing them Victorian-style. Tax deductions/grants may be just what the C-suite needs to finally crack the whip on theses individuals: go home or go home, for good.
In fairness to office building landlords there should also be grants or deductions available to them to compensate for their losses. These can go to conversions to other uses, like apartments for the swelling numbers of people who can no longer afford owning single family homes, for schools, or to plowsharing: tearing down buildings and restoring the land to productive greenspace.
The money would be well-spent from a public policy perspective. It costs far less to transport a worker over broadband than over an expressway or in an express train, bus, or ferry from the direct i.e. infrastructure and indirect i.e. healthcare through accidents and illnesses perspectives. Telework also makes infrastructure investments last longer through reducing demand and congestion, which also avoids emissions incurred in maintenance and upgrades.
Compared with the tens to hundreds of billions of dollars being poured into what is becoming obsolete modes of getting around, the actual amounts to be allocated in these incentives would be a clear, clean, drop in the bucket.