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Thursday, Feb. 13, 2014 10:30 am

Public utility, private monopoly

 Since David Atkins asked the right questions about the wisdom of the recent purchase of Time Warner Cable by Comcast, I won’t have to.

 . . . the taxpayers funded much if not most of the actual wiring infrastructure that makes up the Internet for which these companies charge. Moreover, the Internet is an absolutely essential commodity for doing business, no less important in many ways than water and electricity. No matter what the law says, it's functionally a utility and public good at this point, and since taxpayers funded both its creation and most of its subsequent development, we deserve to reap the rewards. We don't deserve one monopolistic behemoth seeking rents on all of us, particularly now that the courts have eliminated net neutrality.

A society that allows its taxpayer-funded public goods to be privatized, monopolized and vertically integrated is crazy, corrupt or both. It's long past time to nationalize Internet services.

 I’m not sure I’d go that far. I prefer Atkins’ next favorite option. As I argued in a March column, the next best option is for states and municipalities to enact their own taxpayer-funded Wifi and broadband services.

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