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Wednesday, September 22, 2004

I have seen the light -- why Randy is wrong
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Randy May chides USA Today for their glowing account of Danville, Virginia's municipally-owned broadband network. I used to think that way too. It seemed to me a dubious proposition that local governments could run a broadband company.

But I have seen the light and think the model should proliferate. I think now that all industries should be entered by governments, particularly industries where there may only be one or two providers in the local market.

Newspapers, for instance. Too many towns are only served by one newspaper, thus limiting the views and vitality available to towns that don't have private newpapers of sufficient quality and quantity. Towns with more newspapers can create more jobs, and have a more robust, vibrant local economy. It's a matter of economic survival. And Gannett, Knight-Ridder, Tribune and other chains are just too slow in getting these communities the newspapers they need. Like Danville, towns with municipal-owned electric utilities should use their reserves to start newspapers. Good things will follow, because goverments will have a great business sense for running newspapers. What's worse, those monetary reserves from the electric company otherwise would just go back to consumers or into necessary electric projects.

And restaurants, I think too many small towns don't have good enough restaurants. Municipalities should look into this business. And hardware stores. I love Home Depot, but many communities don't have one. Municipalities should open their own competitors to Home Depot to bring the benefits of "Big Hardware" to their communities. And bowling alleys...we are worried today about becoming a nation that "bowls alone," but with more bowling alleys and a concerted local government effort to promote bowling at the government bowling alley, we could recapture that golden age of bowling leagues, just as was portrayed on The Flintstones.

Only with this entry, will these communities get that which seemed so unlikely just a few years ago: hope.

posted by Ray Gifford @ 7:10 PM | General

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