“There they go again.” You’d think after more than a century of proof to the contrary, the advocates of unlimited “freebies” would admit that their ideas are failures, and that to give something away is to condemn it to a future of limited innovation and ultimate implosion. There can be nothing worth having that everybody is given without charge, but the facts of life and nature have never caused advocates of these ideas to submit to reason. Now come the geniuses who told us a free education at taxpayers’ expense should be a “right,” and that health-care on the dole should be a “right,” to tell us one more thing that should now be a “right:” High-speed or broadband internet service should be a “right.”
If it’s their intent to make the Internet useless, or to make it unsustainable on the basis of cost, one sure way to do that is to begin giving it away to every person who demands it. The moment you take a good or a service that others must provide, and give it away, you condemn that service to death. No good can come of meeting political demands of people who are not making a market demand. A demand in the market is accompanied by an ability and willingness to pay. A political demand is accompanied by a gun, usually with the idea to compel some other people to pay.
While the moral and philosophical premises of this issue should be clear to all right-thinking people, what may be somewhat less obvious is the effects such ideas have on the development of infrastructure and technology. Companies have spent countless billions, perhaps more than an aggregate trillion dollars to create broadband networks and to make them available to paying customers. Now that the networks have been built, the moochers and looters will descend upon the market making political demands for free Internet Service. Yet who pays to make the Internet operate? Who replaces the billions of miles of fiber and copper? Who will pay to repair it? Who will pay the network architects and engineers who maintain it? Well, of course, initially you, the paying consumer, will continue to do so.
What happens when some business announces it’s giving something away? Lines form and people devour the “freebies” whether they have the ability to pay or not. Oh, but we’re told this should be a means-tested “entitlement.” Ladies and gentlemen, are you prepared for more of that? Are you ready to pay for it? Are you ready to suffer its many tragic consequences?
Under such a program, you can expect service quality to plummet, and the value of the service delivered to diminish. This is what has happened each time, in our own naive generosity that we have consented to pay for something people claim to need. The technology will cease to improve, and in fact, you may see it regress. Dial-up modems might come back into vogue as they wind up offering more bandwidth than the alleged “broadband” filled up with a glut of traffic for which no payment has been made. What pushes the technology along at present is the profit to be derived from providing this service at ever greater levels of reliability, speed, and quality. Under such a system as these moochers propose, just as you’ve been subsidizing medicare patients in the emergency room through your higher and higher tax burdens along with your own growing share of the ballooning national debt, your costs will go up while the quality of that for which you’ve paid so dearly begins to regress.
It’s time to take a stand against more hand-outs. If you want the Internet to become the electronic version of Section 8 housing, go ahead and support this crass idea. If you want the Internet to continue to expand and improve, you’re going to need to stand against this, as well as related notions. It’s simply not possible for some people to pay for the unlimited whims and wishes of a multitude of non-payers. This movement began almost as soon as broadband first arrived, and it needs to be quashed. Just as money does not grow on trees, and does not fall in the form of pennies from Heaven, there can be no “freebies” anywhere. We’re now confronted with a culture that seems hooked on the addictive, dependency-creating hand-outs, but we must put a stop to it somewhere, and eventually, we must walk it back. We can do it now of our own accord, or the laws of nature will eventually do it for us. It’s your choice. It’s your Internet. It is the aggregate of all the dollars you have paid that maintain, grow, and improve it, and you shouldn’t surrender it so easily.