Sunday, October 9, 2011

When the Air (Waves) Were Free

I wonder how it happened, back in the olden days, that we ended up with television networks that were free.  I can imagine the Congressional hearings that would go on today, with some hee-haw from the south whining something like, "Do you think it's fay-ure that folks is gointa be able to make those teevee people pay all that money to put on those shows on thay-yure teevees for free?

Of course, it's not free, and never has been, because sponsors have always sponsored television and radio in this country, and sponsored it so that they could profit from it.  And not too long after those wonderful days when Congress decided to give us public radio and television, so we would have a non-commercial source of information and entertainment, those folks that we elected to Congress and the White House decided that it wasn't fair that we should have that for free.  And of course that wasn't free either, because we paid for it with our tax dollars.

But all that did was make us vulnerable, by virtue of our greed and gullibility, to the accusation that we are paying for services we don't use, and why should we?  Always works.  Now we have commercial "public radio" as well as fund-raisers that make us pay for the privilege by having to listen to the fundraisers as well as cough up the bucks.

And of course now we have a different battle for the airwaves, that of internet accessibility.

Those of us who have, of course, just assume everyone has, and if they don't, they should just go buy it.  But once again, those who have cannot fathom those of us without.

When my daughter was a teen, and wanted a car, I had her and her brother sit at the kitchen table with pencil and paper, and I recited the monthly bills.  Then I gave them the monthly income.

My daughter leapt from the table in a rage.

The facts were hard.

And those of us who are still fortunate enough to be truly in the "middle class" just can't imagine that some of us live on $20,000 a year or less, don't have health insurance.  Too many of us live on the edge of the precipice, and yet we pay a criminal amount for our cable television because they figured out how to take away our free t.v. and we need that connection, and yes, that escape.

The haves can't fathom then that so many of us cannot affort that $60 a month to hook up to the internet.  Sure we can buy, many of us, a cheap laptop.  It is the connection to the world that we just cannot afford.

And now we have our members of Congress accusing our President of all kinds of nasty business because he is attempting to provide free wireless internet access to the American people.

They are going to scare us by convincing us that the cost will be prohibitive, like it isn't when it's private, and that the actual wi-fi will -- I swear -- interfere with our GPS.

Could we please smarten up?  Can we stop acting like the great unwashed listening to a snake-oil salesman at a carnival?  Can't we see, just this one time, that these clowns (not to mix the metaphors too badly) are afraid that we will get something for nothing.

What actually happens, just as free t.v. did back in the olden days, is that free connectivity would open up a whole lot of business for those weasels that pay Congress to keep our hands off their stuff.

But, I fear, the appetite for greater wealth and power has gotten so voracious in this new millennium that even that penny to pay the poor in order that they may serve the wealthy cannot be pried from our masters' hands. 

No comments:

Post a Comment