Fiber to the People

I’m not sure if Lawrence Lessig, the author of this Wired article, “gets it,” or not, but it’s worth pointing out anyway.

Group ownership is not Marxism, nor any flavor of socialism/communism/statism. It makes perfect sense with a residential street, or a fiber network, or insurance company, for the customers to be the owners. It only becomes a statist program if people are forced to pay for it whether or not they want to use it, if others are prevented from setting up a competing system using their own common property, or if the owners are forced to provide the service to others or accept new members against their will.

Unfortunately, the case documented in this article appears to be poisoned in this way, but there’s no reason for libertarians or non-libertarians to conflate group ownership with non-ownership or “public” ownership.

3 thoughts on “Fiber to the People”

  1. Lawrence Lessig:
    The sticking point, however, comes whenever governments get involved. And no doubt, this is skepticism with good reason. But city council members are not stringing AFNs; nor is fiber being manufactured in local communes. Instead, global firms such as Black & Veatch string the fiber and set up the networks. These companies don’t own the networks they build, any more than highway contractors own the highways they build. Yet because they operate in a competitive market, the service they provide is efficiently priced.

    The Charlotte Oberver, on government contracting efficiency:
    Both Charlotte and the state had laws that encouraged white-owned contracting companies to subcontract as much as 10 percent of their business from government contracts to minority-owned firms. The state law also asks for 5 percent of business to go to female-owned firms. Charlotte ended its program and agreed to pay $300,000 to a bidder for a city contract last year after Southeastern Legal sued.
    http://www.bayarea.com/mld/charlotte/business/5643107.htm

  2. Some people do labor under the misconception that it is possible, even in theory, for the State to act non-coercively.

    It’s the State’s fault people have to lay all of this cable in the first place. Without the FCC bullying people into thinking that it is necessary to maintain monopolies on portions of the electromagnetic spectrum (how wierd is that, when you really look at it?), we could have all the bandwidth we could eat using packet radio.

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