Free Internet access for some, not for others

Friends looking at internet

As part of the stimulus package, $7.2 billion has been set aside for cities and states whose Internet access is considered to be not fast enough. Today we discover that DeKalb County has won $13.2 million, the first of the $400 million for which Illinois eligible,

Chicago wants $100 million of that to create free public
wireless networks across the city.
Which raises the question: why should taxpayers pay for free public access for some? Why subsidize those in Chicago who can afford access? Why free access for Chicago and not, say, Lake Forest, or Harvey? 
And this: Why is this a government function at all? We're each responsible for our own phone service, aren't we? And why is it stimulus money? Is it "shovel ready?"
Just asking. 


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  • As far as Chicago, if Clear is commercially providing Wi-Max in the city, the city should not be competing with it, unless it is willing to condemn and pay for the privilege it is taking away from the private operator.

    However, in this country, there has always been the policy that since at least some rural areas are not adequately served by electric or telephone utilities, the government helps.

    As for other questions, asking for a grant and getting it are two different things. Pace asked for two stimulus grants it did not get, one for a hybrid 30 foot bus that Pace argued was not otherwise economically feasible, and one, in conjunction with the Tollway, to set aside a newly constructed lane for high occupancy vehicles and Hungarian built plastic buses. (I think that Ray LaHood showed good judgment in denying the second, given that the Tribune reported that few if any passengers were riding Pace route 889). Similarly, the Tollway lost on that application and on one to build the I-57 interchange (and, in the latter situation, again that seems to be the right decision, as the Tollway is generating enough revenue from tolls).

    I also think that the "shovel ready" referred to the first group of grants, not to the initiatives for high speed rail, smart grid, and this. Hence, I would agree that the latter types of items are not stimulus, in the sense we discussed a couple of days ago in generating jobs quickly, but are in the ARRA.

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