The Nacilbupera Guzzle

Whoever examines with attention the history of the dearths and famines … will find, I believe, that a dearth never has arisen from any combination among the inland dealers in corn, nor from any other cause but a real scarcity, occasioned sometimes perhaps, and in some particular places, by the waste of war, but in by far the greatest number of cases by the fault of the seasons; and that a famine has never arisen from any other cause but the violence of government attempting, by improper means, to remedy the inconveniences of a dearth. (Adam Smith, The Wealth of Nations IV.5.44)

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Hatch Proposes UTOPIA Bailout Earmark for 2 Towns (Updated)

It is no secret that UTOPIA, Utah's 11-city1 fiber optic services consortium is struggling to compete against private sector internet providers. In its eight-year life despite inclusion of the 2nd and 6th largest cities in Utah, the consortium has only 10,000 subscribers (SL Tribune) and has extensive annual losses. What has remained uncovered in the media is Sen. Orrin Hatch's plan to bail out two of the smallest member cities--Tremonton (pop. 7K) and Perry (pop. 3K)--with a $1M earmark to help cover these cities' UTOPIA buildout costs.

From Hatch's website Hatch proposed for FY 2011 $272K in help for Tremonton while Perry City gets $750K. That's $250 of redistribution of wealth from the hardworking taxpayers of America to every man, woman, child, and babe in Perry for a fiber optic system that only a handful of residents will use.

The earmark is contained as part of a $18M undistributed grant [taxpayer] money [I think of it as unspent money against a credit card limit as we have no money] found on page 55 of the $132B S. 3606 which has not been voted on in the Senate; the Democrats having voted to leave town October [Utah's Matheson to blame here] in hopes of campaigning to save their political lives leaving Congress to run under a "continuing resolution" fiasco. The specifics of the earmark are found on page 76 of Senate report 111-221 (pdf version), under the section "DISTANCE LEARNING, TELEMEDICINE, AND BROADBAND PROGRAM LOANS AND GRANTS" where the "Appropriations Subcommittee on Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies" [Wow. Maybe we could acronym it the A.S.A.R.D.F.D.A.R.A.!!!] lead by Sen Kohl (D-WI) recommended its expenditure alongside a bunch of other pork from other states, many having Senate representation on the subcommittee.

Unfortunately this $1M bailout is only one bite of the porkulous hog Hatch has proposed for FY 2011. The website WashingtonWatch.com lists 13 pages of earmarks numbering in the hundreds Hatch has proposed. The website is interactive and one can sound off by voting for or against individual earmarks and leaving comments.

Did Hatch not get the message as to what voters want? The $18M in its entirety should be cut from the bill. No pork-barrel earmarks. Slash spending and no bailouts. A fiscal conservative is supposed to do what I'm doing and identify pork and to try and stop it. I don't know what Hatch is fiscally, but away from the spotlight he's doing the opposite of what a fiscal conservative would do: adding to the pork when he should be cutting.

1 UTOPIA lists membership as 16 cities on their website. Wikipedia defines the additional 5 cities as "non-pledging."


+++++ Update 12/13 8pm

To my pleasant surprise, Holly on the Hill and Free UTOPIA! had wonderful write-ups on this story today. Holly pointed to the Hatch's press release statement:
"...I have always said I have an obligation as your Senator to make sure our state, our communities and our people get back the hard-earned tax dollars we contribute to the federal treasury." (emphasis mine)
The problem with Hatch's press release is that it is the antithesis of fiscal conservatism and gives reason to why he is not acting like a fiscal conservative. From this statement I extract three egregious points:

(1) The "hard-earned tax dollars" are supposed to be paying for constitutionally-defined vital federal services such as national defense and the post office and flow one-way to the government to pay for these services. That one could "get back" the money means that constitutionally the government has no place in misappropriating private property in the first place.

(2) If Hatch indeed has authority to give back money to Utah, then he must accept that all other 534 members of Congress do as well. This results in protracted bickering among equals as to who gets what share of the pie and is resolved only by everyone getting everything which does further damage to the deficit.

(3) Hatch's statement thus defines him as a believer in "redistribution of wealth," a tenant of socialism. Hatch believes it is his job, indeed his "obligation" to take money the government has coerced from the people and decide who the winners and losers are in the state of Utah to receive back the distribution.

Contrast Hatch's press release with what a fiscal conservative such as myself would say regarding earmarks:
I have always said I have an obligation as your Senator to make sure our state, our communities and our people do not pay a single excessive dime of the hard-earned tax dollars we contribute beyond what is vitally necessary and Constitutionally permitted to the federal treasury.

12 comments:

rmwarnick said...

THIS voter wants municipal fiber optic services ASAP. Unfortunately, I live in Draper, which will probably be the last place on earth to get service.

nacilbupera said...

RM:

Could I order you some municipal movies on demand too while we're at it?

Is there no end to liberal's wishlist in coveting thy poor neighbor's money?

RD said...

This isn't so cut and dry as it would seem, Utopia has faced farsical illegal attacks from incumbent telco's hell bent on its utter annihilation.

In Tremonton, The local phone company was illegally refusing to port telephone numbers to peoples new lawfully obtained fiber optic service.

While at the same time the Bush USRDA was illegally withholding RUS development funds from Utopia, Their is on going litigation on this matter and the funny bit isn't that the USRDA is trying to cope out of paying for the damages they cause, note that the grants where setup to pay back costs after the work had been done so Utopia has done somewhere in the range of $60 million dollars worth of awarded grants worth of work that was never repayed back to Utopia.

All the white Qwest was suing Utopia over access to Pacificorps Utility poles, of which Utopia had obtained legal access to use, and the poles are not even Qwests in the first place so who the **** knows how that works.

To say nothing of the political malfeaces that has been perpetuated by the likes of Howard Stevens, Sitting State Senator who also receives a paycheck from Qwest and Comcast and others via the lobbying group he chairs The Utah Tax Payers Association, WHILE he is a SITTING STATE SENATOR.

nacilbupera said...

RD:

I concede that your points may indeed impact UTOPIAs bottom line, yet this does not warrant bailing out municipalities UTOPIA costs by the federal government.

Sen. Howard Stephenson (not Stevens) is indeed a registered lobbyist, yet a search of Utah Lobbyist Online shows Stephenson has had no expenditures for many years.

I have seen acusations of lobbying activity but unless you can provide documentation, I am discounting your assertion regarding Stephenson.

Jesse Harris said...

I think the deeper question is if you oppose UTOPIA getting the money or anyone getting the money. If UTOPIA wasn't there, you can bet your sweet bippy that it'd probably end up in Qwest coffers.

nacilbupera said...

Jesse:

Not a big Qwest fan here: too many issues with slow connections in various cities. I use I-Provo because they are roughly equal in price to private sector and if I don't as a Provoan, I'm still stuck with the bill. Catch 22.

RD said...

"Sen. Howard Stephenson (not Stevens) is indeed a registered lobbyist, yet a search of Utah Lobbyist Online shows Stephenson has had no expenditures for many years."

That is the neat bit about how is gig at the UTA works, he doesn't have to report pay from his job with them, no politician in Utah has to report the pay they receive from their normal jobs.

Normally this is fine, but in this case it is being taken advantage of.

I am kind of surprised to some extent of Hatch doing this, Utopia doesn't really need any bailout at this point having just picked up 18 million in stimulus funds, and having a business model for subscriber connection sales that should keep the network busy connecting people for a while via their new UIA money $60 million of it.

RightKlik said...

Primary Hatch!

LinkToTwilight said...

As a citizen of Perry I really want Utopia to be successful. We are too small for Qwest and Comcast to invest in. We were ignored entirely for decades. We have seen investment since we signed on to Utopia, however. The last thing they want is for this to be successful.

I am, however, against this. The residents of Perry should pay for it. We are willing to pay for it. If only the incumbent companies would stop with the lawsuits and give us a fair chance.

rmwarnick said...

I'm not just concerned about my own household, but about the big picture. In 2005, the U.S. still ranked as the most networked country in the world. The World Economic Forum's Global Information Technology Report says we now rank 22nd in broadband adoption.

According to a new report by the Federal Communications Commission, 68 percent of Internet connections in the U.S. that are called "broadband" by their service providers fail to meet the minimum technical requirements that define "broadband."

nacilbupera said...

LinkToTwilight:

You have my respect for standing up to a big government handout. That is a true sign of political courage. Some of our best citizens in the country live in rural and small-town America.

I'm rather suprised Perry doesn't have any wireless internet options; we must literally have dozens here in Utah County and the rates are competitive for high-speed.

Interestingly enough, our neighborhood in Provo is a new build within the past several years and Comcast refused to build out the lines so for TV even here in our neighborhood in Utah's #3 largest city its either DirectTV/Dish or I-Provo fiber.

Keep up the fight against the telcoms; fair competition is the cornerstone of successful captialism.

RK:

There certainly is talk about removing Hatch and at least one website devoted to that purpose: dethronehatch.com. The consensus is we could do worse and yet we could do a lot better, so why not try to improve our political lot? We have a convention in May 2012 before our primary where our inter-party candidates are heavily vetted. For example, incumbant Bennett never made it out of convention to a primary which is what we prefer as the challengers typically have nowhere the money the incumbants do from all their lobbyist donations.

The Cook Political report has Hatch listed as a possible retirement, but Hatch just snagged Dave Hansen, the leader of Utah's Republican Party as campaign manager. Looks like he wants to try and make it 42 years in the Senate. He is, btw, tied with Lugar for most seniority. With Utah's average age at 27, most cannot remember life without Hatch as Senator.

nacilbupera said...

RM:

In response to your 12/13 comment, first of all the Blogger spam filter caught it (I have no idea why) and I didn't catch it until now so my apologies your post didn't get put up timely. Though we seem to agree on little politically, you always make me think and if nothing else see things from a different perspective.

Your concerns are certainly valid and I for one want to see high broadband adoption rates. Where we differ is I believe that private enterprise can more readily adapt to technology than when we tie up precious public funds.

An example of this is when government got out of the telephone industry and the immediate explosion of phones and services is all history now.