The Free Utopia blog out of Utah posts a note that rings familiarly in the ears of Lafayette’s citizens. That complaint concerns a flyer mailed to the residents of Brigham City by their local astroturf/disinformation group, the Utah Taxpayers Association. It goes out at the last minute in advance of a city-council vote that seems destined to approve a way to allow any citizen in the city who wants to take advantage of the quality and savings of a community-owned fiber optic network to do so.
That’s gotta remind us locally of the last-minute disinformation flyer mailed to every household in Lafayette by our own disinformation group just before the fiber referendum. It too was filled with FUD—Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt. And the cherry on top of that was what was perhaps the most egregious bit of “lying by taking out of context” that I’ve ever seen in a published piece.
In some ways the issue in Brigham City is even more outrageous than it was here…in Lafayette the disinformation flyer was timed to confuse the community throw sand in the process of approval that by that points seemed to all reasonable observers to be already over — Lafayette was clearly going to approve fiber and, shortly thereafter, did. In Brigham City the idea is to confuse the citizens and to give the council members grief about a different foregone conclusion. To wit: Brigham City the city has already committed to funding the basic infrastructure buildout for the regional community network “UTOPIA”—the financial obligation had been taken on years ago. (Keep that firmly in mind: The city is already fully committed to supporting the network, nothing that happens now can undo that.) All that is going on now is that 30% of the citizens, who want fiber NOW rather than sometime down the line when UTOPIA gets to them have asked to plunk down $3000 of their own money to get fiber from the community-owned alternative NOW. This does absolutely nothing to increase the indebtedness of Brigham City and, in fact, it takes a big potential burden off the rest of the citizenry by taking most of the city’s indebtedness and passing it on to that subset of users…the $3000 dollars will be used finance most of the city’s debt.
So what is the “Utah Taxpapers Association” up to? FUD: Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt. Why? Why should a “taxpayer” group complain if most of the burden of paying for a community resource is shifted from the whole community to 30% of it who willingly, eagerly take it on? What could possibly be wrong from the taxpayers point of view? The answer is that it just doesn’t make sense. When something makes so little sense a reasonable person looks beyond the FUD an asks more the more fundamental question: Who benefits from this kind of misleading fear-mongering, who would pay the expense of such a flyer? And the answer is, as it was here in Lafayette, to follow the money: it is the incumbents, who would initially lose 30% of their installed base and in the end no doubt many more. In Brigham City those incumbents are Comcast cable and Qwest telephone.