Tuesday, July 05, 2005

At last, I am an answer!

Last night, Nick Pittman of The Times of Acadiana (a one-time classmate of mine and a great writer) solicited my opinion on the ongoing fiber debate raging here. What's going on is, our local public utility system (LUS) wants to wire a network of fiber optics directly into Lafayette homes and businesses. Currently, few businesses and no homes in Lafayette have a direct fiber-optic connection. This initiative, which would cost nothing in new tax dollars (it's financed via loan), would break up the virtual monopoly Cox Communications has on cable/internet services here. At last, a choice in service providers!

Alas, a lot of people are freaking out, because this new service is being offered by the dastardly government! At least, that's the main reason the loudest voices are giving. Much to the chagrin of those who wanted the issue to never even be brought up, a referendum will be held on July 16. Can you imagine if we had to vote every time a new business wanted to set up shop? But that's Louisiana for you.

For what it's worth, here's my response to Nick's question:

Nick,

I am fully in favor of allowing LUS to get into fiber.

LUS stands to wire every home and business with fiber optics, which nobody--Cox or anyone else--has brought to Lafayette homes. And if I read correctly, no tax money is going to be used on this project; it is expected to pay for itself. As far as government services go, one could do far worse. If LUS getting involved with fiber is what it takes to bolster the quality of telecommunications in Lafayette Parish, then why not do it? Given the pro-business climate here, you'd think they would roll out the red carpet for a newer, faster communications service.

I suspect a lot of people are nervous about this only because it involves the government, thinking that such pursuits should be left to private business. The anti-LUS position consists mainly of the mentality that anything government does is automatically suspect. I don't doubt, however, that you could find the same amount of people with gripes against the private companies.

Many people rarely bat an eye over private boondoggles that have far-costlier tax implications (honestly, do we really need another Superdome?); but when it involves the government, far-better deals suddenly have a stigma. They'd rather see a private business run unabated over the people than to give a government service a chance at offering a decent alternative.

Allowing LUS to get into fiber isn't necessarily a jab against Cox; like with anything else, consumers will have a choice. And ultimately, that's what it's all about. If you like Cox, stay with them. But why not allow those who want options to have them? The fiber initiative can only make quality of service better for everyone involved.

Check out some great pro-fiber PSAs made by friends of friends here. Probably the best use of a toilet I've ever seen on a commercial!

26 comments:

Phillip said...

the whole privatization dogma really irritates me. all this "private competition will yield the best results for consumer" rhetoric is horseshit. perfect examle is the medical industry, that is only profitable if people are sick. very deep subject for another day.

Ian McGibboney said...

Who wouldn't trust people with blatant profit motivations over elected officials who are addressing a need?

Nick said...

Last summer, the "Advertiser" published my Letter to the Editor where I took a pro-LUS fiber stance. I think the letter might still be on the LUS website. I also worked on the legal issues for a class project and presented, in front of Terry Huval and the pro-fiber people, the options for LUS's entry into the telecommunications business. I also think much of my pro-fiber stance is because I'm tired of Cox Communications being the only cable TV provider in Lafayette. If they actually already had competition in that field, then I probably wouldn't be supportive of the LUS idea.

However, I left something out of my letter that I should have stated. We're being promised by Joey Durel, Huval, and company that taxes in Lafayette will NOT increase as a result of this deal. And, if they in fact do, the people of Lafayette should have the right to throw them out of their offices. I'm just starting to get this erie feeling that this will turn out like the Stelly Plan. We were promised no tax increases and even tax decreases, yet look what happened. Almost everyone is now paying hire taxes in LA as a result.

Ian McGibboney said...

More taxes! Oh no! We don't want to drive away college graduates, do we?

Nick said...

Exactlly..."Stelly Shock" is the #1 thing driving away college grads.

Ian McGibboney said...

It might also have to do with the fact that that there isn't a goddamn job in the state that doesn't involve nursing, truck driving or sales.

Nick said...

I don't do either of the 3 jobs you just listed...and I'm about to move back to LA. Also, all the tax money going towards building "lakes and resevoirs" in North LA is pretty F-ed up as well. I bet we could have used that money for teacher pay raises, and we should have.

Ian McGibboney said...

You're right, Nick--I almost forgot about the oil bidness and its by-products. Still 0 for 4 in my skills.

Nick said...

But Icon, why can't you be happy that for once I might agree with you. But then again, I only researched the legal side (my expertise) of this project. I don't know much about the marketing side. All I know is that unlike some states, LA's telecommunications laws have not been defined enought to keep LUS out of the business. Therefore, legally, LUS has every right to enter the telecommunications market here in Lafayette.

Ian McGibboney said...

Oh, I'm with you on the LUS issue, Nick. Though I differ in that I would allow LUS to enter the market in any circumstance, even if there was real competition here. Which there isn't.

What makes me angry (and, yes, bitter) is that months of scouring dozens of job engines and thousands of job ads in Louisiana has led me to the conclusion that Louisiana does not exactly value an educated job force outside of its core industries. Our state has one of the worst brain-drain rates in the country (brain drain referring to how many college graduates leave after finishing college). So it's not merely my observation.

Nick said...

You are right. We have way too many college grads leaving this state. However...look at the reasons. Such as...St. Martinville had a chance to bring a brand spanking new Mercedes Benz dealership to their town. However, our great RINO governor, Mike Foster, had too many taxes in place, therefore, now Mississipi!!!! of all places has that dealership.

I love the fact that we have an NFL team here. NFL football and college football run my life. However, I think it's sad that we can find money for Benson, yet not find money for our teachers and can't give our businesses tax breaks.

We tax new state businesses way too much. We won't see economic growth until we ease off of that crap.

Ian McGibboney said...

It's not just about taxes, though. It's about quality of life. Louisiana ranks near the bottom in child poverty, teen pregnancies and illiteracy rates, just to name a few. We're so busy trying to kiss the ass of industry--a futile attempt in this age of outsorced sweatshop labor--that anyone not wanting to build a smokestack is basically bereft of options. Between the alienation of certain business and the people, I can't figure out who the hell is being catered to here. Tom Benson, maybe? As much as I love the Saints, if Benson is going to be an extortionist than he can leave.

Nick said...

The fact that LA taxes the hell out of businesses proves that "big business" is not the cause for our societal problems. "Big Business" is getting the hell out of our state. I like to point the finger at the most powerful person in our state, Mr. Bob Odem. He has no reigns on his power and influence what-so-ever.

Ian McGibboney said...

I can't figure out this state. It seems to be trying to get everyone to leave. I wish they would.

Nick said...

By the way, I pay NO state income tax here in TX and my car insurance in lower. LA is notorius for taxes and lawsuits. That's why I can make more money doing work for a TX oil brokerage. They don't have all these suits in TX. Therefore, they have more money to pay me for my services.

Ian McGibboney said...

Fewer lawsuits means fewer avenues for the common person to fight reckless corporations. For that and too many other reasons to count, I could never live in Texas. But I'm glad you like it there.

Nick said...

Don't get me wrong, I love LA, at least south LA, I hate north of Ville Plat. That's why I will be moving back here. It's just that our politics are so f-ed up. It doesn't matter if I vote R or D, both parties here love new taxes, even if it's rediculous. It's too bad I'm not governor. All slush funds would be gone.

Ian McGibboney said...

You can take my place. I can't wait to get the hell out of here. Sad, but true.

And yeah, I do prefer south Louisiana to north LA. I recently had the "privilege" of traveling through north LA, and it reminded me how little there really is to do there.

Nick said...

No, it's absurd lawsuits that keep businesses away. For example, in my business, if I'm an oil company that buys an oil and gas lease from someone who has an existing well on their property, and that existing well blows out and causes damage before I even step foot on their property, I am liable in that law suit. How in the hell should I be liable? I did nothing. Yet, I have to pay attorney fees and such.

And, contrary to popular belief, not all oil companies have money to fight off these suits. Hell, all I need to do is buy one oil lease for myself, and I could consider myself an oil company.

Ian McGibboney said...

Until big companies cease getting disproportionate tax breaks and deregulation as they wish, thus hurting little guys like you, you won't convince me that it's "frivolous lawsuits" that hurt the economy the most.

Nick said...

Yes, but not every "oil company" that gets sued has the money to survive. Just immagine if I went and purchased a lease for myself (which I've thought of doing) instead of for the client I'm working for. Then, something out of my control happens, yet I'm to blame in Louisiana courts. That is wrong.
But hey, I'm not going to complain for the moment b/c I'm working for a TX client paying me TX money while I work in LA. I have the best of both worlds. However, my situation is rare, too rare in this state.

Nick said...

And, I, being a "little guy" am not being hurt by the big corporations. Actually, I'm being hurt by the fact that I have to seek out Texas clients to get more money, and I get taxes double b/c I'm self employed.

Ian McGibboney said...

Your situation is rare indeed. Savor it. I wouldn't wish anything bad on you. In fact, I wish more people could be like you.

Last night I was with two friends, and the subject turned to employment. With my part-time reporting job, I was the one with the most work. It's a good thing we all have parents, because we can't rely on the LA job market.

Your last comment illustrates exactly why I favor progressive taxation and why you should too. The Bush tax cut does nothing to address your payroll taxes, which is exactly what needs to be cut to get this economy rolling.

Nick said...

A progressive tax plan would fuck me royally. I have too many expenses to write off. I've already looked into it. As of write now, I'll probably net 60-65k for the yr., but will get taxed as if I netted 85-100k, and a progressive tasx would be worse for me. Personally, I'd prefer a consumption tax plan. Those who buy more crap pay more taxes. It would tax the rich people who take exravagant vacations and such, but leave people like me to fair taxation.

My dad makes alot of money, didn't make much when I was in high schooo, but alot now. Why should he be taxed to death if he doesn't buy much? He's still like me. We live simple and don't need much.

Nick said...

Also, if we can't rely on the LA job market, then we have to...MOVE. Any company worth their salt will help in a relocation process.

Ian McGibboney said...

That's more prevalent in your field than in mine, I'm afraid.