It’s a sad axiom of government that once a program is started it will forever grow, eventually moving far beyond its intended purpose and scope.
While we are replete with thousands examples, I shall apprise you of a recent one that has come to my attention.
Ronald Reagan, bless his heart, had a blindspot for Rooseveltian social claptrap. It was a left over from his days as a Democrat. One of Reagan’s leftovers was a program called “Lifeline,” aimed at maintaining basic phone service for isolated senior citizens.
This was back in the early days of phone deregulation, the 1980s. Telephones were still sort of new back then, or at least not taken for granted. There were senior citizens who remembered having their first phone installed at their home. It was still a luxury to have more than one phone in the house, though that was changing. Long distance calling was still expensive, though thanks to Craig McCaw it was coming down. Cellphones had not been invented yet.
Lifeline was to be a small program, paid for by those nickle & dime “fees” that you read about on the back of your phone bill (like the one instituted to pay for the Spanish-American War but was only finally removed more than a century after the war ended). No one thought much of it because no one wanted Grandma to be without a phone and it was just a few pennies a month, right? Besides, back then even grandmas scrimped and saved to pay their bills. Nobody was going to call them deadbeats!
Fast forward 30 years to now. That cute little puppy of a program has grown into mangy adult coyote, complete with its own Washington lobby, army of rentseekers and disingenuous activist supporters.
Lifeline, in the eyes of the FCC, is now morphing into a broadband Internet entitlement that people of “low-income” are, well, entitled to. In fact, the cable television industry lobby group, National Cable & Telecommunications Association, wants to add in more than just basic services, because, as it says, consumers want choice (especially when other people are footing the bill).
There’s no such thing as “beggars can’t be choosers,” in this day and age. I’d surmise that many liberals would insist that it is those very beggars who should be given the most choice. That’s how they think in their upside down world.
The Democrats at the FCC are pushing to fatten it up as well.
Adding fuel to the fire — Sen. Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut (a Democrat, of course), has written a letter to the FCC (and the Veterans Administration) insisting that Lifeline be expanded to cover all military personal and veterans.
I guess that would make a new recruiting tool — Join the Army, get free broadband for life. If that doesn’t raise the patriotic fervor of today’s kids and older couch potatoes, I don’t know what will.
Laugh now that some think broadband Internet should be considered a basic of daily life. In a few more years you’ll be paying for it (assuming you’re one of the 50% that actually pays taxes and for your Internet – which will be deemed a ‘human right’ by some.).