Ben Franklin and public wireless

Ben Franklin would have loved public wireless. Ben Franklin was an entrepreneur who saw the connection between private enterprise and public infrastructure.
Franklin created a thriving printing business, seizing opportunities in a colonial economy hungry for news and education. But there was no reliable way to send newspapers to customers. It could take weeks or months for a message to cross the colonies.
So Franklin helped to set up the postal service, which provided regular mail delivery, and stimulated both business and civic life.
Franklin also helped to set up volunteer fire brigades that would battle all fires, regardless of whose property was burning. Before the volunteer fire brigades, wealthy people created fire clubs that would put out the fires of duespaying members. But when a poor person’s house or workshop caught fire, the whole neighborhood could burn. Franklin saw that a public fire protection service would protect everyone.
Roads, street lights, and fire protection are civic services that provide overall benefits to civic life and economic development. Municipal wireless has the potential to be an amenity that creates spillover economic development.
Innovative communities are experimenting with municipal wireless, like Colonial Philadelphia experimented with fire protection in the 1700s, and cities experimented with street lights in the late 1800s.
But the telecom industry wants to stop these experiments before they get started. They want to make it illegal to provide wireless service as a public amenity.
Imagine if all streets were toll roads. Imagine if it was considered illegal, and radical, for a city or town to build public roads?
Conservative philosophy provides a valuable critique of the role of government. It’s important to critically examine what government does and get the government out of businesses where the private sector does a better job. In today’s American politics, efforts to reduce government spending and foster enterpreneurial growth have overshot the mark.
When the Founding Fathers started this nation, they had a strong sense of the common good. They valued liberty of conscience, and freedom for economic self-determination (with a large blind spot). And they saw that individual and prosperity were fostered by public service, and by public services which promoted the general welfare.
The initiative to ban public wireless goes against the patriotic spirit of Ben Franklin, who fostered the development of civic services that were complementary to economic development, private enterprise and liberty.

One thought on “Ben Franklin and public wireless”

  1. Welcome to SaveMuniWireless

    Welcome to the “Save Muni Wireless” web site. A number of organizations and concerned citizens are coming together to support municipal networks in Texas. Please watch this site for information on the effort and what you can do to help….

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