If Georgians want to see precisely how little sense most of the activities covered by the federal stimulus bill make, look no farther than the North Georgia mountains. Vice President Joe Biden was in Dawsonville recently to announce that he had decided to spend some taxpayer dollars on a project to “stimulate” our economy.
In fact, the announcement was that the federal government would launch a new telephone company in North Georgia. Unlike the existing phone companies in the state, this new phone company would be paid for with $33.5 million in taxpayer funds.
In this case, the federal government is going into “competition” with a private company that already provides jobs for more than 1,400 Georgians and paid tens of millions in state and local taxes last year. This federally funded company is competing in an area that does not even meet the minimum threshold for being “underserved” by existing telecommunications providers. As anyone who lives or travels in North Georgia will tell you, the region is anything but a languishing series of coal mining and textile towns where good phone service is impossible to come by.
In fact, 90 percent of the areas the Obama administration has labeled as underserved already are served by broadband, and the majority of those areas are served competitively by more than one private carrier.