Beta
×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

FCC Rural Phone Subsidies Reach As High As $3,000 Per Line

timothy posted about a year ago | from the worth-it-any-price-if-you're-paying dept.

Communications 372

jfruh writes "The FCC's Universal Service Fund has a noble goal: using a small fee on all U.S. landlines to subsidize universal phone coverage throughout the country. But a recent report reveals that this early 20th centuryy program's design is wildly at odds with 21st century realities: Its main effect now is that poor people living in urban areas are subsidizing rich people living in the country. The FCC says that it's already enacted reforms to combat some of the worst abuses in the report — like subsidies to rural areas that add up to $24,000 per line — but even the $3,000 per line cap now in place seems absurd."

cancel ×

372 comments

Sorry! There are no comments related to the filter you selected.

clawbacks? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44251749)

If you or I claimed that sort of money falsely from the government they would claw it back and toss our sorry asses in jail if we didnt pay...Doubt this fait awaits the telcos.

Corpratisum For The Loss!

Re:clawbacks? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44252141)

It looks like my taxes paid in to education didn't go far.

Sigh.. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44251763)

Don't bother to fix typos before posting.

Re:Sigh.. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44251839)

...wildly at odds with 21st centaur realities:

THERE, ARE YOU HAPPY NOW?

-timothy

FCC (0, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44251773)

Start doing studies. It is simply not that expensive to run and maintain cable, not even in rural areas.

Re:FCC (4, Insightful)

jythie (914043) | about a year ago | (#44251811)

It depends on what they are including in that cost and how they are amortizing it. For instance setting up a local relay station for a small town including buying land, building the structure, outfitting it with equipment, etc, can represent a significant one time cost.

Re:FCC (2)

SJHillman (1966756) | about a year ago | (#44252021)

Also, if they're including manpower to actually run the cable. I know people who have the only house within 10 miles, and it's rugged terrain to boot. It's to the point where they had to sink telephone poles in the roadway itself (near the edge of the road) because there was no other way to run the lines through that area. I can easily see why it would take a lot of money to run cables in areas with mountainous or heavily forested terrain.

Re:FCC (1)

PPH (736903) | about a year ago | (#44252689)

So, put in fixed wireless. A tower every dozen miles or so on hilltops is cheaper than a hard line running along a road. And much less likely to get taken out by falling trees.

But then I suspect not doing so has more to do with the subsidy design and regulations. Universal Service was intended to fund POTS. Start putting in FTTH, 4G or broadband wireless and you'll get the city folk upset about running gigabit Internet to the hillbillies and not them. Once broadband access gains the same status as POTS had during the last century, this problem will go away. But then there's the status of broadband service itself. Along with access to subsidies comes regulation. And the telecoms are never going to let broadband become a utility or common carrier type service like telephones are without a fight.

Re:FCC (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44252191)

>buying land,
they put their DSLAM's in the public Right of Way, no cost here; or they could give a farmer $50/year and I'm sure he'd take it.

>building the structure,
I should take a picture, it's just 2 4x4's with a 4'x4' lockable cabinet; no UPS, just surge protection.

>outfitting it with equipment
Mikrotik is fairly cheap, but reliable; right now with DSL we're using ZyXel modems.

IMHO the biggest cost is running wire/fiber and purchasing bandwidth from upstream providers.

Re:FCC (1)

pete-classic (75983) | about a year ago | (#44252289)

From the FIRST PARAGRAPH of the article:

"some rich areas of the country receiving up to US$23,000 per line per year from the agency's Universal Service Fund"

Per line, per year. Not one-time.

Re:FCC (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44252407)

I call BS on the whole article, its more Rich VS Poor crap from the US and all you little socialists will buy into it.

Re:FCC (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44252553)

Darl, is that you?

Re:FCC (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44252343)

I was reading a case study where they did FTTH with an average density of 2 houses per square mile, and the average cost to hook up each house was around $5k. With an 80km range with out repeaters, that fiber can go a long way.

Re:FCC (0, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44252473)

It is simply not that expensive to run and maintain cable, not even in rural areas.

It is simply not necessary to run and maintain cable in rural areas. The active hardware for a point-to-point 24GHz Ubiquiti backhaul link costs a bit more than $3,000. That's good for 1.4Gbps over 8 miles (13km). The band is unlicensed, just like wifi. Coax and/or wifi to the houses and you're done.

With that technology most of the rural bandwidth problem should be solved. Certainly with as much USF money the FCC has sloshing around it should be.

The urban poor subsidized the rich for a while now (4, Interesting)

i kan reed (749298) | about a year ago | (#44251801)

That's not unique to phones. It also applies to highways, minor airports, housing tax incentives, and a number of other "American Dream" elements that really have nothing to do with having a successful society.

Re:The urban poor subsidized the rich for a while (4, Insightful)

nospam007 (722110) | about a year ago | (#44251855)

"That's not unique to phones. It also applies to highways, minor airports, housing tax incentives, and a number of other "American Dream" elements that really have nothing to do with having a successful society."

So it's not socialism? Damn!

Re:The urban poor subsidized the rich for a while (4, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44251893)

It's rural areas being a drain on the nation's resources. They're anti-tax but demand huge government spending, just for them.

Re:The urban poor subsidized the rich for a while (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44251911)

OK, you can keep your broadband. Us country folk will keep all the lumber, minerals, and produce.

Re:The urban poor subsidized the rich for a while (0, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44252041)

OK, you can keep your broadband. Us country folk will keep all the lumber, minerals, and produce.

We'll also keep the oil, natural gas, and energy produced from Wind & Solar Farms....because NONE of that exists in the city.

Re:The urban poor subsidized the rich for a while (4, Insightful)

i kan reed (749298) | about a year ago | (#44252195)

OK, you can keep your broadband. Us country folk will keep all the lumber, minerals, and produce.

Yeah yeah, and we'll keep all the money, finished goods, and medicine(or at least the intellectual backing thereof). Or... it could be we live in a complex interconnected society, and every discussion of fairness doesn't need to slide into "well our subculture is better than yours".

Re:The urban poor subsidized the rich for a while (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44252363)

I was responding to the implication that rural areas are a drain on resources, when clearly they provide substantial resources.

Re:The urban poor subsidized the rich for a while (3)

i kan reed (749298) | about a year ago | (#44252405)

There's a difference between an unfair burden to subsidize the wealthy(which doesn't describe all of the use of this program) and considering those living in a region to be worthless. I don't really think that anyone was leveling that accusation. I grew up rural, became urban, and that's life. At least we can all agree that suburbs are worthless, right?

Re:The urban poor subsidized the rich for a while (1)

Fuzzums (250400) | about a year ago | (#44252259)

Interesting. Let's see what will happen.

Re:The urban poor subsidized the rich for a while (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44252461)

City folk will keep the factory made chain saws, mining equipment and farm equipment. Well, sell them to other countries, really. And buy your stuff from Canada.

Re:The urban poor subsidized the rich for a while (1, Interesting)

Score Whore (32328) | about a year ago | (#44252655)

Yeah? How you going to do all the bustling economic activity in the dark? The bulk of the hydro electric dams are out in the rural areas, as are fossil fueled power plants. Not to mention all your fresh water comes from rivers and aquifers generally supplied by rainfall in rural areas and mountains. Every city has an area around it that supplies basic necessities to keep the city alive. The larger the city, the further its tendrils have to reach to keep it running and livable.

If the complaint here is that rural areas are being unfairly subsidized, well that's fine, but... HELLO FARM BILL! The only reason urban areas have any affordable food available is because the government subsidizes farms to keep the cost of produce down.

Re:The urban poor subsidized the rich for a while (2)

xxxJonBoyxxx (565205) | about a year ago | (#44251955)

To "subsidize" the government-provide items you listed, you need to pay taxes. By and large, the "urban poor" do not pay much in taxes (except perhaps local sales taxes or use fees). The only reason "subsidize" makes any sense in the original article is that many poor people pay for telecommunications services out of their own pockets.

Re:The urban poor subsidized the rich for a while (2)

i kan reed (749298) | about a year ago | (#44252039)

You say that, but you're only thinking of federal taxes. There's a huge poor tax in the form of things like sales tax, which hits basically every dollar poorer people see, but not the wealthier people in the world. I should also point out that while I'm an urban person, I'm not poor, and I pay quite typical income taxes.

Re: The urban poor subsidized the rich for a while (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44252185)

Sales taxes in many states exclude food and clothing. Rich people will tend to pay more sales tax, depending on how much they consume. That's what we care about, right? We'd rather they invest their money.

Re: The urban poor subsidized the rich for a while (1)

i kan reed (749298) | about a year ago | (#44252207)

Sales taxes in many states exclude food and clothing. Rich people will tend to pay more sales tax, depending on how much they consume. That's what we care about, right? We'd rather they invest their money.

In my state, it is half on food, and not reduced at all on clothing.

Re: The urban poor subsidized the rich for a while (3, Insightful)

hedwards (940851) | about a year ago | (#44252341)

Not true.

The rich do not become rich by spending. Sure it probably is true that a larger portion of expenditures are subject to sales tax for the wealthy. But, ultimately, a smaller portion of their income is spent rather than invested.

And no, I don't give a rat's ass about them investing their money. Especially given that there's no guarantee that the investments will benefit me or other Americans. And their tax rates are lower than they are for people that are less well off.

Re:The urban poor subsidized the rich for a while (1)

FlopEJoe (784551) | about a year ago | (#44252203)

Wealthy people don't pay sales tax?

Re:The urban poor subsidized the rich for a while (3, Insightful)

i kan reed (749298) | about a year ago | (#44252253)

Re:The urban poor subsidized the rich for a while (1)

ATestR (1060586) | about a year ago | (#44252691)

That article was specifically addressing Washington state. While other states will also have a tax burden on the poor, it will vary from place to place.

Of course the rich pay local and sales taxes as well. The main point your are trying to make is that they may not have to buy as much of the taxed items to live comfortably. But almost everyone I know spends all of their money on something, and it is fairly difficult to find places to buy things now were you don't pay taxes. I will tell you that when I buy stuff in is a lot more than 3%! Of course, I'm not in the highest-income class you mention. Maybe the folks who spend their money on big Yachts and private Jets do.

Should we subsidize country poor? Sure. But you can buy and maintain a satellite phone more cheaply than $3000/line!

Re:The urban poor subsidized the rich for a while (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44252329)

As a % of income, rich people pay maybe 1% sales tax, while poor people pay 5-10% sales tax or more.

Re:The urban poor subsidized the rich for a while (4, Informative)

RabidReindeer (2625839) | about a year ago | (#44252603)

As a % of income, rich people pay maybe 1% sales tax, while poor people pay 5-10% sales tax or more.

% of income is a worthless metric. If your income is 95% spent on subsistence, even a 2% tax is onerous. If your income is spent 5% on subsistence and 95% on savings and non-essential expenses, even a 20% tax may not be onerous (except emotionally).

I hope no one needs help in figuring out which of the above are rich and which are poor.

Re:The urban poor subsidized the rich for a while (1)

fnj (64210) | about a year ago | (#44252623)

As a % of income, rich people pay maybe 1% sales tax, while poor people pay 5-10% sales tax or more.

Bullshit. In the states I know about, food, clothing and rent are not taxed. There's not a whole hell of a lot "poor" people are buying that is not food, clothing, and rent. The exception would be a car. If they can even afford one at all, usually they have to make do with a used car 7-15 years old, and the sales tax on that is not very much. Gas has its own tax and is not really covered by "sales tax".

If we had the national so-called "fair tax" (a kind of consumption tax; i.e., sales tax), poor people would pay none at all, because the "prebate" would cover all their purchases, and actually it would give the really poor a surplus (subsidy).

Re:The urban poor subsidized the rich for a while (1)

CrimsonAvenger (580665) | about a year ago | (#44252713)

In the states I know about, food, clothing and rent are not taxed.

I can't help but think you don't know about many States, then.

I've lived in some where SOME foods are not taxed, but I've never lived in one where clothing was not taxed.

And I've never heard of one where "rent" was considered a "sale" and therefore taxable....

Re:The urban poor subsidized the rich for a while (1)

omnichad (1198475) | about a year ago | (#44252393)

They said:

(except perhaps local sales taxes or use fees)

It's just that they didn't realize how much a percentage of the poor's income this represents (just about the same percentage as the sales tax rate itself).

Re:The urban poor subsidized the rich for a while (1)

i kan reed (749298) | about a year ago | (#44252423)

I can be more due to things like fixed registration fees, and the like.

Re:The urban poor subsidized the rich for a while (1)

operagost (62405) | about a year ago | (#44252735)

which hits basically every dollar poorer people see

That's only because we're already paying for all their food, which isn't taxed in any state. Civilized states (mostly the ones not NY) also don't tax clothing.

Re:The urban poor subsidized the rich for a while (5, Insightful)

hedwards (940851) | about a year ago | (#44252299)

Anybody paying for phone service pays for this subsidy via the USF. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Universal_Service_Fund [wikipedia.org]

It's also worth noting that because of the way that the poverty level is calculated, people that are in urban areas don't qualify when they would be pretty well off in more rural areas, if they were making the same amount of money. Which makes subsidies to the poor at the federal level disproportionately favor the freeloading states over the states that actually contribute to the pot of money being used to provide the subsidies.

Re:The urban poor subsidized the rich for a while (0)

dkleinsc (563838) | about a year ago | (#44252605)

By and large, the "urban poor" do not pay much in taxes (except perhaps local sales taxes or use fees).

That is a myth that has been propagated for years with absolutely no basis in fact. Here's the truth about it:
1. Most states have sales taxes, and urban poor pay those. Many states have income taxes too, and much of the urban poor pay those too, albeit at a lower rate than, say, a middle-class person living in the suburbs.
2. Most states also draw income from urban poor in the form of taxes on alcohol, tobacco, and by state-run lotteries, all of which are more popular in places where people are poor, miserable, and with no way out of their current situation.
3. Anyone who works pays federal Social Security and Medicare taxes on the first dollar they earn. The only people who don't pay that on every dollar they make are people earning well into the 6-figures.
4. Property taxes are paid indirectly by the urban poor: They pay rent to their landlords, who pay the tax. (Forget owning a house - these folks can't afford one)
5. Urban poor receive harsher punishment for criminal activity than anyone else, so the government gets some income from them in the form of fines and asset forfeiture. Of course, one could argue that they also cost the state the most in jail time.

The idea that the people you're calling "urban poor" are a bunch of lazy freeloaders that were acting as a money sink for the rest of society was invented in the 1970's. What the people who invented the idea meant by "urban poor", and "welfare queens", and a bunch of related terms was "n*****s". Some of the people who invoke that idea today mean exactly the same thing, even if they don't say that's what's motivating them.

Re:The urban poor subsidized the rich for a while (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44251979)

Airports and housing incentives may not be necessary for rural areas, but a certain base level of road infrastructure is absolutely necessary. It even makes sense for urban areas to subsidize roads in rural areas.

After all, how the hell else is the food going to get from the fields to the cities?

Re:The urban poor subsidized the rich for a while (1)

i kan reed (749298) | about a year ago | (#44252137)

I'm not going to argue with you. "Transportation is a necessary element of a post-industrial society" is so obvious as to be incontestable.

Re:The urban poor subsidized the rich for a while (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44252301)

After all, how the hell else is the food going to get from the fields to the cities?

Train or boat.

Re:The urban poor subsidized the rich for a while (1, Troll)

hedwards (940851) | about a year ago | (#44252375)

Easy, we ship the food in from overseas in exchange for things that we produce in urban areas. Or we use the railroads that are more cost effective anyways. Leaving the rural folks to actually pay their own way for the infrastructure that's primarily used by rural folks.

Honestly, this extreme level of arrogance and greed on the part of rural folks needs to stop. Service cuts disproportionately affect urban areas, even though urban tax payers contribute most of the money that pays for those services.

Re:The urban poor subsidized the rich for a while (1, Troll)

TWiTfan (2887093) | about a year ago | (#44252397)

Just another example of those slick country con-men taking advantage of good innocent city-folk.

Re:The urban poor subsidized the rich for a while (1)

i kan reed (749298) | about a year ago | (#44252447)

Not every broken system is broken because of fraud.

Re:The urban poor subsidized the rich for a while (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44252611)

Woosh.

and vice versa (3, Interesting)

stenvar (2789879) | about a year ago | (#44252507)

It also works the other way around: rural folks subsidizing ridiculously overpriced housing, education, public safety, and other services that the "urban poor" use. Many of the "urban poor" are likely poor because they are "urban" in the first place. And what about the rural poor who really do need these subsidies?

That's the whole problem with all these "great society" programs: nobody really knows what the money should be spent on. Once you go down this road, you lose yourself in ever more complex and wasteful schemes of economic central planning, rent seeking, and outright corruption.

Re:and vice versa (0)

i kan reed (749298) | about a year ago | (#44252547)

That's really too generic a criticism to respond to, because as far as I can tell, it can be leveled equally at, say, neoliberalism, too.

Re:The urban poor subsidized the rich for a while (1)

operagost (62405) | about a year ago | (#44252687)

We don't need highways? That's news to, like, the entire world.

Education (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44251863)

What did you learn in class today son?
--- "That poor people only live in cities, and that only rich people live in the country"

Re:Education (4, Informative)

SJHillman (1966756) | about a year ago | (#44252061)

I grew up in a fairly rural area. It's sort of like an onion.

At the very center of the cities are poor people, there's middle class urban dwellers surrounding them with a few high-wealth neighborhoods. Around them are poor people that live on the edge of the city. Around them are the middle-class suburbs. Further out are some higher wealth suburbs. Once you get past the suburbs, more poor people. Get out to the small villages and there's some middle and lower-middle class. Rural areas near these small villages have a healthy mix of wealthy and middle class. But you get way out there in bumfuck and it's all dirt poor people. Of course, there's exceptions at every level. There's going to be eccentric millionaires who want to live way out in the boonies, but they're largely outnumbered by the people living in shacks (and yes, America still has plenty of people living in shacks in the woods).

Government math (2, Insightful)

intermodal (534361) | about a year ago | (#44251865)

Much like other government regulations, these subsidies were written with certain assumptions that haven't been reassessed over the years. In this case, the assumption that a couple copper wires were the primary driving factor in whether someone had access to modern telecommunications. Today, wires aren't actually necessary in most cases in the first place. The land line for dedicated voice service at home is rapidly fading into obscurity, and even home access to Internet services in some rural areas is arguably losing the wires and transmitting to antennas or mobile devices where conventional wired broadband is unavailable.

I'm just having a really hard time seeing this subsidy as necessary in this day and age.

Re:Government math (4, Insightful)

rahvin112 (446269) | about a year ago | (#44252183)

Land line is most certainly required in rural areas if for nothing else than emergency services. When you are 20 minutes to an hour away from a medical facility you don't want to run into a situation where you can't get a cell signal or the cell service is down. I would wager 95% of rural residents pay for a copper wire even if they don't use it so they have it in an emergency. At least all the ones I know do.

Re:Government math (1)

intermodal (534361) | about a year ago | (#44252263)

That's not what this is about. You're arguing what people have, not what is necessary. I live in the country myself. My phone has the direct line to the local dispatch office, and coverage in the area is good. The local phone lines on the other hand...good luck whenever it rains.

Re:Government math (1)

hedwards (940851) | about a year ago | (#44252411)

Then they can pay for it themselves. I don't understand why urban areas have to subsidize rural areas at the expense of our priorities. If they can't figure out how to make their lifestyle choices cost effective, then perhaps they need to learn how to be self reliant.

Re:Government math (3, Insightful)

SydShamino (547793) | about a year ago | (#44252729)

If they can't figure out how to make their lifestyle choices cost effective, then perhaps they need to learn how to be self reliant.

Farming is not cost effective. The self reliant method would be for them to stop farming and move into the cities with you, where you can buy all your food from Mexico and China while American fields sit fallow. And then, in the next famine brought about by climate change, you and your family starve to death because America is no longer self reliant for food.

I don't like the idea of subsidizing rich people who want to live in the country, but the idea of subsidizing farmers so that American food products are cost effective (without the troublesome alternative, tariffs on imported foods) makes perfect sense, and part of that includes ways to let farmers collaborate and communicate. How else are they going to access farmersonly.com?

I live in the country (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44251875)

I have DSL and Phone... I tried to go down to just DSL, and they gave me a phone line and 25 minutes of long distance for $10 less /month than DSL only. They will be rolling out FTTH soon as well; and this is in a poor area, unemployment topped 15% a few years back.

Re:I live in the country (1)

SJHillman (1966756) | about a year ago | (#44252083)

If they need to run the same cable for multiple services, they'll usually give you some kind of deal like that. Time Warner does it for cable - I only subscribe to cable Internet, but they throw in basic cable TV for no additional fee.

Re:I live in the country (1)

hedwards (940851) | about a year ago | (#44252443)

Might not want to say that too loudly. I'm in the middle of a major city and FTTH may never arrive. The local ISPs have yet to make anything resembling a firm promise for FTTH and 5mbps service is the best my neighborhood can get. As recently as a couple years ago, there were neighborhoods that weren't able get more than 1.5mbps service.

the other fund (1)

slashmydots (2189826) | about a year ago | (#44251905)

So the Universal Service Fund is very well funded but the balance in the "Move Closer if You Want 21st Century Infrastruction, You Rich Dumbass" or "MCIYTFCIYRD Fund" is still at a balance of $0. It turns out though that $0 is sufficient money to fund that program. They should really cancel the USF then, huh?

Poor people? Taxes? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44251951)

You mean the poor people that get all their money back via tax returns and sometimes more with EIC? Middle class urban maybe.

Re:Poor people? Taxes? (1)

SJHillman (1966756) | about a year ago | (#44252123)

You're thinking of income tax. There are lots of other taxes. Sales tax, gas tax, taxes on almost everything processed or imported. In the end, even if they get back 110% of what they paid in income taxes, they still paid some sort of tax.

Middle class does tend to get hit a little harder because we don't get that income tax back, but it's damn near impossible to pay zero taxes overall.

Re:Poor people? Taxes? (1)

Artifakt (700173) | about a year ago | (#44252663)

The tax in question is imposed on the Telco's, and recovered by a fee they add each month on the phone bill. Legally, it is counted as a tax when the corporations pay it out, but called a fee when the individual actually pays it in. Anyone with a land line pays it, however poor they are. The EIC for a single person, at max, is $ 480. The fees the phone companies charge that subsidise the universal service charge are usually about $72 per year, so just having a land line phone would eat about 20% of that EIC you're invoking. Most single poor people do not even get all their witholding back - that's something that is much more possible if the poor person is raising a minor child or three. A single person can be well under the poverty level and still pay income taxes. As my example shows in part, other taxes may well mean the poor person is paying a good percentage of their income in taxes despite the EIC. Remember, to get the EIC, the person must work and thus have earned income. For more than 50% of the working poor, work translates to gas taxes for driving to work, plus vehicle liscence taxes. It can include state and local sales taxes of up to 10% (possible in California). Arguably, the rent most poor people pay includes covering the property taxes on the space they rent, (or their landlord is somehow willing to rent at a loss). You can beat $ 480 pretty easily, and it's quite likely for a single person making less than $10,000 to be a net tax payer. When you factor in the personal share of Social Security and Medicare, it's pretty frequent for a single person making 10K a year to be a net FEDERAL taxpayer.

          You can also call some things a fee at one end to hide the fact they are taxes, and so falsely make it look like the poor are paying less taxes than they are. Then you can find some dumbass to parrot the false claim that the poor get all their money back via tax returns.

Please explain... (-1, Flamebait)

johnlcallaway (165670) | about a year ago | (#44251967)

1. When having a phone became a 'right'
2. Why people have to have phone that requires 90% or more of the country to pay for it because of where they choose to live
3. Why I should pay more because someone wants to live in a rural area where they can't make any money and don't have phone service. And where storms can bring down phone lines causing thousands of dollars in repair costs for a phone they don't pay for.
4. Why they can't move
5. Why, after all of the above, if they don't have skills, can't live off the land, can't get a job, can't move, and are poor, we don't relocate them someplace else since they must already be living on the government dole. When you don't make your own way and don't contribute to society, you don't get to decide the rules that govern how you receive free money and other things.

Re:Please explain... (1)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | about a year ago | (#44252107)

1. When having access to produce and livestock became a 'right'

2. Why people have to have foodstuffs that requires 90% or more of the country to pay for it because of where they choose to live

3. Why I should pay more because someone wants to live in an urban center where they can't make any food for themselves and don't have land for livestock.

4. Why they can't move

She's a double edged sword, pavement-dweller.

5. Why, after all of the above, if they don't have skills, can't live off the land, can't get a job, can't move, and are poor, we don't relocate them someplace else since they must already be living on the government dole. When you don't make your own way and don't contribute to society, you don't get to decide the rules that govern how you receive free money and other things.

That one is easy to answer:

http://www.archives.gov/exhibits/charters/constitution.html [archives.gov]

Re:Please explain... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44252109)

Phone service is considered a critical infrastructural. as it should be. Or are you saying farmers shouldn't have access to 911.

Re: Please explain... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44252295)

I don't have a problem paying to hook up farmers. I have a problem with subsidizing connections for vacation homes in Aspen, which is what we've been doing. Most farms were hooked up a long time ago, but of course the government programs don't go away once they've achieved their purpose.

Re:Please explain... (4, Informative)

i kan reed (749298) | about a year ago | (#44252113)

1. When having a phone became a 'right'

It became a right when having a phone was a necessary step in getting a job, something we consider fundamentally necessary to taking part in modern society.

2. Why people have to have phone that requires 90% or more of the country to pay for it because of where they choose to live

Cart before horse problem. Their families lived there, then phones became necessary.

3. Why I should pay more because someone wants to live in a rural area where they can't make any money and don't have phone service. And where storms can bring down phone lines causing thousands of dollars in repair costs for a phone they don't pay for.

The same reason you pay more so someone else doesn't get robbed or shot. Enlightened self interest isn't a complex idea.

4. Why they can't move

Why don't you move to where they are to lower the cost per person of the line? Oh now moving is a huge onus to place on someone?

5. Why, after all of the above, if they don't have skills, can't live off the land, can't get a job, can't move, and are poor, we don't relocate them someplace else since they must already be living on the government dole. When you don't make your own way and don't contribute to society, you don't get to decide the rules that govern how you receive free money and other things.

Because they actually earn more than they cost, as part of a complex interconnected society, and their location may be important to maintaining the support network for the country's agricultural base? Who knows? You're criticizing totally anonymous people we don't even remotely know individually, which turns out to be easy.

Re:Please explain... (0)

stenvar (2789879) | about a year ago | (#44252523)

Why don't you move to where they are to lower the cost per person of the line? Oh now moving is a huge onus to place on someone?

I have moved to where my cost of living is lower. And I don't see why I should be forced to subsidize other people who refuse to do so.

Re:Please explain... (1)

i kan reed (749298) | about a year ago | (#44252559)

And how do you know that your lower cost of living doesn't reflect subsidies? I mean that's essentially impossible to say.

Re:Please explain... (1)

aaronl (43811) | about a year ago | (#44252667)

Sure, then those of us that live in more rural areas should also not have to contribute anything to your public transit costs, sanitation, or emergency services. Also, you can buy the reservoir water for your municipal water systems off of us, instead of having free use of these rural water supplies. Merchandise should also have to cost more, since the warehouses are in more rural areas where the land is cheap, too. And you don't get any benefit from the highways that run through the rural areas between cities, so you won't mind if you can't use them anymore, right? After all, if you needed water, you should just move to the rural area where it is. Right? Same with moving to where the food is, to where the warehouse is, etc?

It's foolish logic - we all benefit from spreading things around so that everyone gets to have them. We are better as a society when everyone has access to roads, electricity, food, water, and telephone. For all the things that are available and cheap to you in a city that you want to deny to the rural area, the rural area could turn around and deny the city things. Would you prefer gunpoint subsidies where the rural area refused to let the city have water unless the city paid for the rural telephone service?

Re:Please explain... (3, Informative)

SJHillman (1966756) | about a year ago | (#44252237)

1. It's part of the national infrastructure, just like roads and electricity and the USPS (although that one is becoming a bit outdated). The more widespread communication is, the better the country as a whole becomes.
2. This is the same argument used against... everything. The country works because the masses subsidizes the niches. I'm sure you use plenty of things that are subsidized by people that don't use them. Got kids in a public school? Landowners subsidize that even if they don't have kids. Drive on a public road? People who don't own cars subsidize that. The list goes on.
3. People can't make money in rural areas? Apparently you have no concept of telecommuting, farming, logging, etc. As for the rest of 3, refer to 1.
4. Why don't you move? You're likely not living in the most efficient place possible either. Also, moving can be damned expensive. Personally, I live where I do because I enjoy the area
5. If you actually read the summary, you'd realize they're talking about rich people in the country being subsidized by poor people in the city. Maybe you should move to somewhere with better literacy rates, it might rub off on you. But hey, it explains your signature.

Re:Please explain... (1)

hjf (703092) | about a year ago | (#44252351)

1. Never
2. They don't
3. There's wireless service (NOT cell phone service but wireless analog lines)
4. Why should they?
5. Are you a fucking retard? Did you even read the fucking SUMMARY? It says POOR PEOPLE are subsidizing the RICH.

Re:Please explain... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44252421)

1. Having a phone is not a right, but is considered a modern necessity (for safety, if nothing else)
2. Just like with roads, everyone pays a little bit, because everyone might need to use it. Having nationwide infrastructure is a good thing. Nationwide doesn't mean just in the cities.
3. See 2. And 1. Being able to contact an ambulance/fire station is considered a basic necessity. Also, this is mostly targeted at waste and abuse in corporate users (who are just greedy).
4. Move where? Are you suggesting that cities and population centers can support the bulk of the populous? ...Let me know how that works out. (Where are you going to get produce, food, minerals, building materials... obviously people need to live in rural areas). As for the corporations who are abusing this, I agree, they should not get to do what they are doing, and could very well move.
5. Again, what good would relocation do? I agree that having families with a culture of living off government dole is not a good thing, but I'm not sure what moving them would do. Also, regardless of one's socioeconomic status, everyone has the right to vote, THAT is a fundamental right. How would you like it if someone said, for example: when you don't produce food, you have no say over the regulations regarding the production and transportation of foodstuffs. Having the USA degenerate even more into a caste system (more than it already is) is going to help absolutely nothing. Did you like India in the previous two centuries?

Re:Please explain... (1)

sexconker (1179573) | about a year ago | (#44252607)

1. When having a phone became a 'right'

2. Why people have to have phone that requires 90% or more of the country to pay for it because of where they choose to live

3. Why I should pay more because someone wants to live in a rural area where they can't make any money and don't have phone service. And where storms can bring down phone lines causing thousands of dollars in repair costs for a phone they don't pay for.

4. Why they can't move

5. Why, after all of the above, if they don't have skills, can't live off the land, can't get a job, can't move, and are poor, we don't relocate them someplace else since they must already be living on the government dole. When you don't make your own way and don't contribute to society, you don't get to decide the rules that govern how you receive free money and other things.

You're right. People should only have access to the resources and commodities that are naturally (via the land or free-market trade) present in their area. The government shouldn't get involved.

People in every city ever will LOVE paying 50 times the current price for things like food and water!

This doesn't seem like a news-worthy item to me (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44252017)

- Cell phones don't reach everywhere.
- It's not just the rich that live in rural communities and it's not just the poor that live in urban communities, so poor people subsidizing the rich may or may not be true but is (generally :-) ) a generalization.
- It cost money to put phone lines in remote areas. Try pricing a 1/4 mile electrical run some time.
- It seems like the FCC is trying to control costs. It's not abnormal to scale back a little at a time to determine the results before problems get out of hand.

Rural Rich? Bullshit. (4, Insightful)

Bob9113 (14996) | about a year ago | (#44252079)

Its main effect now is that poor people living in urban areas are subsidizing rich people living in the country.

Uhhh, I grew up way out in farm country in Ohio. I have lived in five different major metro areas. The people in the country are not rich. What kind of bullshit psy-ops lobby-funded advertising is this, and why is it being parroted blindly here? Let's just do a quick bullshit check. One web search, second hit, talks about a study done in Oregon:

In 2011, the (per capita personal income) in non-metro counties was $31,383 and in the metro counties it was $39,267; a difference of $7,884 (25 percent). The difference was due primarily to the difference in earnings from work.

Obviously that's just one data point, feel free to do more comprehensive research yourself. I'll tell you from personal experience; people in the country make less money on average than people in the city. This report is some assholes like the Koch brothers, a lobby called "Alliance for Generational Equity," trying to create infighting so they can drown the government in the bathtub. Let's not start being their lickspittle mouthpieces, parroting their easily debunked lies.

Re:Rural Rich? Bullshit. (3, Insightful)

rahvin112 (446269) | about a year ago | (#44252233)

So earnings are 25% higher but cost of living is 50% lower. Land and homes are cheap in rural areas. In the town of 600 my Wife is from you can rent a 4 bedroom home for $200 a month, and that was the price as of last labor day.

Yea, there are few jobs and the jobs that do exist are primarily crappy and low paid, but overall the poor rural resident is far better off than the poor city dweller.

Re:Rural Rich? Bullshit. (4, Informative)

Bob9113 (14996) | about a year ago | (#44252441)

So earnings are 25% higher but cost of living is 50% lower.

First, no, it's not 50% lower. Land and homes are cheaper, but they are not the majority of your cost of living. Electricity, food, and consumer goods are much closer to parity price (though retail markup is higher in the city, of course). Gas is very close to parity, and you have to use more of it because everything is further away. There's no public transit, and people in the country lose efficiencies of scale in police, fire, and education services. So sure, there's an effect from cost of living, but it is nothing like 50%. I gave you numbers in my post -- you want to counter it with some ridiculous claim, you show me something to back it up or you're just a blowhard.

And even if it is big enough to balance the 25% difference in income, that still doesn't make rural folks rich. That term being wielded by a lobby to describe people making $32k in the US is pure bullshit regardless of the relative cost of living.

Re:Rural Rich? Bullshit. (5, Insightful)

Todd Knarr (15451) | about a year ago | (#44252303)

I think the objection here is to paying that high subsidy to provide service to the vacation homes of people rich enough to maintain 2 homes, who should reasonably be able to foot the bill themselves. IMO the subsidy ought to only be paid on lines serving a primary residence, ie. no vacation homes and the like.

Re:Rural Rich? Bullshit. (1)

hjf (703092) | about a year ago | (#44252415)

Not only they make less money, they also have less access to...well, everything. Living on a city you can get groceries at, basically any time of the day. On an emergency you can be in the hospital within minutes. Your cell phone works. You can get very fast and cheap internet. Power is reliable and water is available.

Out in the country, the only "equal" service is satellite TV. Anything else is more expensive.

Re:Rural Rich? Bullshit. (1)

kerashi (917149) | about a year ago | (#44252533)

This. I live in a rural area, and I'm fairly well-off, but there are people out here who are far less fortunate. But this isn't really an issue of rich vs. poor. This is an issue of everyone needing access to essential services. Land lines remain an essential service in rural areas, especially since there are areas out here that do not have any cell phone coverage at all. Land lines are also often the only source of internet access besides satellite - I'm fortunate enough to have DSL, but I know people still on 56k who just can't afford the high cost of a satellite ISP, and who have no cell network coverage.

Re:Rural Rich? Bullshit. (1)

alen (225700) | about a year ago | (#44252583)

a lot more poor people in the cities are paying the USF to support a few people in rural areas

Several kinds of rural folk (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44252613)

Driving around California for a few years, I've seen several kinds of rural people.

The Rural Rich do indeed exist. See that house up there on the hill? The one with the view of the valley/ocean/fields, etc? The guy in there is rich. He doesn't farm or ranch squat. If his surrounding land is suitable for ranching, it might be leased but you can usually be certain there's no dirt under the fingernails. It's usually a big house with a garage.

The same type of parcel might be occupied by an established ranching family, that may or may not be doing OK. The house is less nice, perhaps even "ramshackle". Appearances can be deceiving. Wealthy? Maybe (remember Sam Walton and his old pickup?). Maybe not. Some bad years in farming, and even the agricultural subsidies might not be enough. Loneliness, divorce, addiction. Next thing you know, it's a meth lab.

Next, the workers. The "hands". A lot, but not all, are from Mexico. Definitely not rich.

Then you've got Gringos doing this kind of thing too. They demand higher pay because they're legal... but get less work. Caretakers, general labor, carpentry, etc. The interesting thing about this is that a legal resident might be more likely to have an illegal house. The woods hide a multitude of sins.

Then I'm sure there are plenty of legal residents scraping by in service jobs, living in trailers on somebody's ranch or back up in the woods in perfectly legal housing. These are probably the closest to what you have in Ohio.

I'm sure there are plenty of people in Ohio who bought some land out in the middle of nowhere and put a McMansion on it too. These are the "rural rich", living right in amongst the rural poor. That's what they're talking about.

Who really funded this study? (4, Informative)

JDG1980 (2438906) | about a year ago | (#44252087)

I really wish that the press releases of shadowy "think tanks" (and consulting firms, for that matter) were treated with a little less credulity and more scrutiny. This study was published by a group calling itself the "Alliance for Generational Equity". Who are these people and who do they represent? We don't know. I did some Googling to see if I could find out more about them, but didn't find much. No Wikipedia article, nothing on SourceWatch. Nothing about their funding sources appears to be public. How do we know this "think tank" isn't just another sockpuppet of the Koch Brothers?

I was able to find some information about Thomas Hazlett, one of the authors whose name is on the study. He's a professor at the GMU Law School, which is not an encouraging sign (that law school is a notorious den of right-wing crackpots). Hazlett is also against net neutrality [youtube.com] . This man is not on your side; he's a shill for rich plutocrats. Listen to anything he has to say at your peril.

Re:Who really funded this study? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44252619)

(that law school is a notorious den of right-wing crackpots)...This man is not on your side; he's a shill for rich plutocrats. Listen to anything he has to say at your peril.

Yeah, this is Slashdot, dammit! We prefer our crackpots to be left-wingers who pretend they actually give a crap about the poor and downtrodden...

I wouldn't quite go so far with that analogy (1)

GodfatherofSoul (174979) | about a year ago | (#44252139)

But, urban areas do subsidize rural areas. I live in Kansas and it's amazing how remote and sparse humanity gets just 5 miles outside of the KC metro. There was a stat from I think the 2004 Prez election where, except for 2 exceptions (Texas and Colorado?), every red state was a net consumer of tax revenue and every blue state was a net producer.

When I riding my motorcycles over hundreds of miles through farmland where there's hardly any traffic and hardly any houses, you still see immaculately maintained roads, power lines, etc. No way that the 2-3 houses you might see on a one mile stretch are paying for that infrastructure out of their taxes. And as contradictory as it might seem, these are the communities that rail the most against Big Government. Every time we take a step towards giving these regions a taste of what the Free Market really means, Congressmen swoop in to reverse the effects.

As an example, we had price protections on crops (I think corn) that were repealed maybe 10 or so years ago. Prices immediately tanked and the distribution middlemen basically ate the profits (your food didn't get any cheaper). So, rather than cheering on the Free Market, Congress came back with new farmer subsidizes that in effect rewarded the distributors.

Now, I'm not against farmer subsidizes since they protect these guys from the wild variances of Mother Nature, but there needs to be some education process on that whole Government Bad motif.

Re:I wouldn't quite go so far with that analogy (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44252327)

good idea man lets reeducate them exile them to the city - Detroit.

Re:I wouldn't quite go so far with that analogy (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44252359)

When I riding my motorcycles over hundreds of miles through farmland where there's hardly any traffic and hardly any houses, you still see immaculately maintained roads, power lines, etc. No way that the 2-3 houses you might see on a one mile stretch are paying for that infrastructure out of their taxes.

As someone who has lived in a rural area all my life, this comment made me laugh my ass off.

"Rich people" "Rural areas" (2)

elfprince13 (1521333) | about a year ago | (#44252297)

I'm not at all in favor of government subsidies, but I just needed to point out that....well....I dunno what rural-rich they're talking about. Sure we have the occasional successful author or entrepreneur, but they're vastly outnumbered by those living in poverty. Rural poverty looks completely different from urban poverty, but it's poverty nonetheless.

The cost of doing the old business (5, Interesting)

KYPackrat (52094) | about a year ago | (#44252305)

In the early 90s, an older couple in Eastern Kentucky decided to break down and pay for a landline telephone. GTE offered to drag them a line for $5000 or so (I forget the exact amount). Outraged, they appealed to the Kentucky Service Commission. The Commission discovered that GTE was going to have to pay almost $25k to get the line to them, and was already eating much more of the cost than could be demanded under the law. The couple chose not to get their phone line.

A friend of my father ran a lucrative contracting business that bid on GTE contracts. He kept mule drivers under contract, because they were often the only way to drag poles around certain parts of the Appalachians.

These days, this exact same couple would be able to pay $40 to $80 a month to get a cell phone. The tower will be a couple of hills over, with a microwave feed back to the home network and a small diesel generator on-site. For the cost of one phone line, an entire area can get phone and internet service.

The same economics are working in India and Africa. Excluding possibly power, there will be significant portions of the world that will never, ever be wired.

Re:The cost of doing the old business (1)

Dcnjoe60 (682885) | about a year ago | (#44252563)

You state that there are parts of the world that will never be wired, which I don't doubt, but when you are talking about in the US, why? Almost all rural areas are served by electric coops. There is nothing stopping using those same power lines to carry voice/data/media, other than adding filters at the transformers. Of course, the cable and phone companies don't want that to happen. Nor do the ham radio operators who do have a legitimate beef in that using the power lines disrupts ham radio operations. But that could simply be the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few, or since we are talking about deeply rural areas, the needs of the few outweigh the needs of the even fewer.

Rural land lines are going away soon (2)

n-baxley (103975) | about a year ago | (#44252457)

As someone who lives in a rural area, even though I'm not rich, I can tell you that the quality of phone lines in rural areas are pretty much crap and you're better off going with a mobile phone. If the phone companies are being paid per active line, this whole thing will go away in a few years anyway.

Poor subsidizing the rich? (1)

Dcnjoe60 (682885) | about a year ago | (#44252505)

The summary states that the program has devolved to poor people in urban areas subsidizing rich people in the country. While that may be true, Would not the rich people in urban areas also be subsidizing the poor people in the country? Last time I checked, urban areas had a lot of people of different classes and while there are definitely some wealthy people in the country, in the vast areas known as fly over country, the wealthy are far and few between. But, if you are talking about the rural areas of CA or NY, well, aren't those really the new suburbs?

Why do we let governments make stupid rules? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44252509)

I always wonder about that.
Why do we make all kinds of stupid laws based on silly assumptions without some mechanism of review, or automatic expiration of those laws?
I think we would be better off if every single piece of legislation came up for review every 10 years or so.
And if it wasn't updated, or re-affirmed it should just expire.

Otherwise you get crazy shit like this, or rules about women not being allowed to drive a car while wearing a housecoat.

Waste fraud and abuse offend everybody (3, Informative)

bdwoolman (561635) | about a year ago | (#44252627)

But... reading the paper I smelled a preconceived agenda. The paper was sponsored by Americans for Generational Equity an ostensibly bipartisan group concerned with the fact that the "Pig in the Python" is getting closer to the snake's cloaca. And the group worries that said meal is (or soon will) be providing less nourishment than it takes to digest it. Read: The Boomers are greying and will suck the life out of the country before they become python excrement. Think of the children.

A look at the group's composition [nndb.com] reveals a majority of Republican notables with a sprinkle of moderate Democrats. The FCC is a bipartisan body and fairly judicious by nature IMHO. I have to wonder what is really going on here. There are hundreds of more fruitful places to look fo WF&A. As for real waste? Check out the US military. [washingtonpost.com]

Bullshit study (5, Interesting)

Charliemopps (1157495) | about a year ago | (#44252645)

I work for a telco. We're required by law to provide phone service to everyone... period. In some counties we're required by law to keep 911 service working regardless of if they residents even want a phone, or even if the building is abandoned! We've got houses on top of mountains, we've got houses at the bottom of the grand canyon on Indian reservations that require microwave dishes to link the bottom of the canyon with the top. Or techs have to hitch rides on helicopters to service some of these people. The vast majority of whom are not rich at all. Rich people like to live in the countryside around cities or small towns, not in the Appalachians where these subsidies have the greatest affect.

Not that all the government subsidies are perfect. The most recent, the Rural Broadband initiative, is total pork. But the standard tax on lines that allows rural customers to get basic phone service? No, that's probably one of the most important programs in US history. If hadn't been enacted most of the country (geographically) would still be without service. If they were to drop it all together, rural customers would get cutoff almost immediately. We're talking entire towns. And before you start talking about cellphones, how do you think all the cellphone providers get their data links for those towers? The phone companies.

Load More Comments
Slashdot Login

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?