Swing and a Miss
The Burlington Free Press, despite its historical track record in defending Burlington Telecom, has just acknowledged what most Vermonters (and especially Burlingtonians) already knew: BT was at best an enormous financial risk at conception, and that taxpayers are the ones left with cleaning up this mess left by the Kiss administration, and particularly the actions of Jonathan Leopold while he was Chief Administrative Officer for the city.
Still, there are those who defend the city’s foray into providing services that were already being provided by the private sector, because, magically, the good intentions of Progressive politics would ensure blowback-free outcomes. To wit:
Laren-Glenn Davitian, representing various public-access media groups, in testimony filed with the PSB raised another possible consequence of Burlington Telecom going private.
Davitian fears, as the Free Press reported, “a corporate owner would be less likely to attend to the needs of nonprofit media outlet than a public owned utility.”
I guess the needs of the for-profit world, and more importantly, the actual consumers of digital media are to go unmentioned here. Instead, we get the paean for “nonprofit media outlet(s)”, which, one assumes, is a critical media requirement for every Burlingtonian to receive. For anyone who’s watched cable access, I don’t think anything more need be said. If this is the best argument for defending the misappropriation of taxpayer dollars – regardless of the get out of jail free card issued by a judge – then virtually any spending by any public entity is not only above scrutiny or criticism, but is essentially unassailable.
In other words, under the guise of public interest, you cannot question the emperor’s decisions – period. Until, of course, you discover that the public’s interest isn’t being served when the organization the political class has willed into being is failing massively, and to fix it, you take their earned dollars out of a cash “pool”, and decide that neither the Mayor, the City Council, nor the taxpayer needs to know about it. After all, it’s not their money anymore, is it? It’s the city’s. Oh, and a Certificate of Public Good? That’s just not germane to making sure the progressive experimenting in telecoms succeeds. Why do you need to bother with regulations when you can just go around them?
And why is Davitian is concerned about a nonprofit media outlet? If there’s so much concern, go right ahead and build one your own – and if you build it, they will come, if enough Burlingtonians decide they want to pay for it. That’s how a market works. It can also be noted that one of the reasons Burlington Telecom has failed is because their pricing structure was no cheaper than private-sector offerings, and in some cases, was more
expensive that already-available offerings.
But that’s progressivism in a nutshell: Higher costs, worse service, and it’s always publicly-funded – these three outcomes form the inevitable underpinnings of incompetence. Which means that other such efforts, like single-payer health care, should turn out just perfectly. After all, there’s a long-standing track record of progressive success to stand on. What’s disappointing is that the Free Press has taken years to come to the same conclusion, and only well after the obvious became indisputably true.