Government Watch / Politics

Government Broadband Is Government Cheese


“Government Cheese” is free cheese of suspicious quality produced for those on the dole.  It is usually rated grade “B” or “C” by the USDA, and therefore unfit to sell at market.  It is made from milk that is near to being out-of-date and the result is a very hard, funky cheese of totally unnatural color.  

That’s how the Urban Dictionary defines “government cheese,” but it also describes Joe Biden’s government-owned broadband proposal that’s part of an “infrastructure” bill Nancy Pelosi can’t seem to force-feed her own caucus.  

That bill proposes $65 billion toward the worthy goal of expanding broadband infrastructure across the nation.  Much like Biden’s Afghanistan withdrawal debacle, however, superficial claims of noble purpose conceal deep strategic and tactical defects that would make matters worse, not better.   

Most notably, two-thirds of the proposed spending, or $42.5 billion, would go to state and local governments to create government-owned networks.  That would in turn crowd out a private broadband sector that continues to perform incredibly well amid difficult circumstances.  As former Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Michael Powell rightfully noted, Biden’s government broadband plan is “surprisingly Soviet.”  

The issue in question isn’t whether broadband expansion is a worthy goal, because on that question Americans of all political persuasions agree.  Rather, the issue is whether government itself should be in the business of operating broadband networks, competing with private investment and creating even more debt for which struggling taxpayers will ultimately be liable. That’s because the history of government-run broadband is one of uninterrupted failure.  Both domestically within the U.S. and overseas, public broadband advocates are hard-pressed to identify instances in which public broadband projects have even managed to break even financially.  

In contrast, consider how remarkably well the private broadband sector has performed since the Covid pandemic hit.  

In 2020, when most people would’ve expected slower speeds and outages as American workers and students suddenly flooded the internet, U.S. broadband speeds actually increased 91%.  By way of comparison, Europeans who rely on more heavily regulated and state-run broadband suffered.  For example, regulators in Europe actually asked content providers like Netflix to slow their content because of internet service bottlenecks and overload.  

Further illustrating private broadband sector’s achievements in recent years, U.S. internet providers built over 46,000 new cell sites in 2019, up from 708 in 2016.  Simply put, the U.S. private broadband sector continues to flourish.  

In ominous contrast, Biden’s broadband plan, “prioritizes support for broadband networks owned, operated by, or affiliated with local governments, non-profits, and co-operatives.”  

The problem is that government broadband networks wouldn’t peacefully coexist alongside private sector broadband.  Instead, they would undermine the private sector.  Private investors will obviously become less likely to commit their vulnerable resources if the end result is that they must compete directly against government, which not only creates regulations to its own competitive advantage, but which can also access taxpayer dollars to cover failures and suffocate private competition.  

That creates an unbalanced playing field and ultimately harms consumers, who end up with fewer choices and inferior performance.  And unlike the private sector where failures get penalized, nobody in the labyrinth of government bureaucracy would be held accountable for those failures.  When government networks fail, moreover, the same taxpayers whose internet service was undermined by government broadband are forced to pay the cost.  

Making matters worse, as Adam Andrzejewski uncovers in Forbes, the Biden Administration continues its habit of employing false premises in pitching its government broadband plan:  

Since, the White House claimed, “more than 30 million Americans live in areas where there is no broadband infrastructure that provides minimally acceptable speeds,” the government now, they argue, needs to step in.  But that figure is incorrect. The FCC says in 2020 about 14 million Americans, living in 4.3 million households, didn’t have access to broadband internet with acceptable speeds.  And that 4.3 million household number dropped 20% from the previous year’s numbers.  While the “digital divide” is still a problem, presumably that divide will continue to shrink without the government’s “help.”  

Using false numbers, the Biden Administration thus hopes to impose a government broadband plan that would threaten investment, innovation and employment in our thriving private broadband sector. To advance broadband expansion and sustain continuing advancements, the federal government must instead promote private investment and reduce bureaucratic obstruction.  

In its current form, the Biden government broadband plan is just government cheese.  

Reprinted with Permission from - Center For Individual Freedom by - Timothy H. Lee

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14 days ago

If the Dems do get the chance to tax us further to death to fund this scheme, I wonder who and how much more their relatives and cronies will make. Like they already haven’t stolen enough.

Kyle Buy you some guns,and learn how to shoot
14 days ago

Just cant waite for GBS. Turn it on at 8 am and hear the Govt. warehouse 302 is open at 8. Come on down and get your rationed free food for the week. Be sure to braing your shot card shot gard showing you have been vacanated against Bat Dun Dropings, Muss keeters, and gnat bites. Have a good day. Brought to you by GBS your friend always. Kyle L.

14 days ago

Actual facts and reality never stopped a democrat wanting to sell big spending to the American populace by playing on its sympathies. It’s sort of similar to hiring child actors to look astonished and enthusiastic for a political ad by the current VP.

Mark E Falco
15 days ago

Urban Dictionary is about as dumb if not similar to those in DC…i lived on it as a kid, being on the dole, large family, long story, its not what is described. Hard to support a point of view when its starts with what is basically bullshit…lets just be adults. No need to perpetrate false facts.

15 days ago

SURPRISINGLY SOVIET??? . . . Since when is that a SURPRISE?. . . The Progressively Communist wannabe Democratic Party HAS BEEN PROMOTING COMMUNIST AGENDAS FOR DECADES! . . . I, personally, saw it and professed it to someone from the Democratic Party who phoned me at election time 2 years after registering as “Democratic” out of respect for my dying Mother. They called to ask me if I was going to vote, of course I said “yes”. Then she asked if I need a ride to the polls, I replied “No”. Then she said she hoped I would vote for their candidates, that’s when I answered, “well, I can tell you this: I’m not voting for any Communists!” . . .
They NEVER CALLED AGAIN! . . . Geez, I wonder why?

15 days ago
Reply to  Rik

And this was in 1992.

15 days ago

More failure and attempts to have government control everything from the useless democrats!
These self serving , anti freedom swamp creatures, sicken my stomach!!
They ALL must be removed!
They have violated their oaths,The Constitution and the will of the Citizens.
The democrats are dishonest, corrupt, power hungry and divisive.
Their same old 50 year policy exhibits their incompetence and self serving intentions.

Stephen Russell
15 days ago

Need competiton for Broadband nationwide, competitve rates can Help alone
Or we lose to Poor Govt Service ( see AmTrak since 1971)

15 days ago

Biden wants this broadband so he and the other assholes in Washington can infringe on you right to privacy. They will have all of our banking information health information ETC. I’m not a fool since when is the government intrested in broadband. You can’t trust any of them.

15 days ago
Reply to  pcz

Pcz ,
You’ve figured out the democrat party perfectly.
EVERYTHING they do benefits ONLY them!!!

Stephen Lykins
13 days ago
Reply to  pcz

Couldn’t agree more, wonder why the author didn’t even MENTION that aspect of this proposal?

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