Wednesday, February 02, 2005

local controversy

The city-owned utility in Lafayette wants to build a fiber-optic network to every utility customer in Lafayette. This would place them in direct competition with the cable company and the phone company. The price-tag is $100 million plus.

Some concerned citizens have organized an attempt to put it to a parish-wide vote. I commend the effort to force the fiber issue to a vote and I hope it succeeds; however, this question is best settled in the marketplace, not by a democratic vote, which can be used as a tool of coercion, especially in cases such as this.

It doesn't matter if it's approved by the voters of the parish, or by the parish council, the coercive power of civil government should not be used by some to force others to guarantee that, if this project is not 100% successful, they can be taxed to bail it out. Neither should the civil government with it's coercive power enter into competition against those who have no such power.

Those who think this is such a good idea should invest their own money and personally sign the loan guarantees, unless they don't really believe their own rhetoric. Bottom line, like so many other government programs, this is about people wanting something, but wanting others to pay for it.

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