Privatizing Telecommunications at the Expense of Public Safety

One of the issues my campaign is focused on that doesn’t get a lot of attention, especially from the incumbent, is regarding telecommunication policy. Ohio, like so many other GOP-controlled states, has seen constant moves to ‘deregulate’ these vitally essential services. Done in the name of increasing “competition” and lowering prices, it almost always has the complete opposite effect.

A more troubling impact of these deregulatory policies isn’t just one consumer pricing, but with public safety. Telecommunications is not a consumer luxury. It is a vital necessity to the workings of our modern society, and no more so than in times of emergency.

We’ve seen the tragic consequences when these services are ‘deregulated’ and privatized, to operate based on the wants of corporate profits rather than the needs of our public citizenry. The elimination of Net Neutrality by the GOP and Trump administration already saw its first casualties when California first responders had their networks shut off by a private, for-profit corporation while they were in the midst of fighting historically widespread fires, all because that company wanted to make some more money.

“Verizon Throttled Fire Department’s “Unlimited” Data During Calif. Wildfire (Fire department had to pay twice as much to lift throttling during wildfire response)”

The situation in Florida with Hurricane Michael has become even more stark, as the GOP’s deregulation of its state telecommunications systems have left thousands stranded and out of contact with safety and rescue efforts.

Donald Trump’s Republican FCC chair is also working to drastically curtail, if not eliminate, the essential Lifeline program, created by the Reagan administration, which helps connect poor and marginalized communities to vital telecommunications services, and has proven essential in times of emergencies in the the past, including saving lives during Hurricane Katrina.

“Cutting Off Communication For Puerto Rican Hurricane Victims Is Just Cruel”

As telecommunications policy expert Harold Feld explained in a recent interview regarding on how “GOP Telecom Deregulation Haunts the Florida Panhandle Recovery After Michael” , Trump’s FCC is also eliminating the regulations that were put into place after the disastrous performance by Verizon in providing necessary communications services after all the copper land lines were swept away by SuperStorm Sandy.
 
And yet, as Feld describes, like Florida, “some 37 states have lifted similar decades-old telecommunications requirements, thanks to legislation encouraged by the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), a privately-funded partnership between major corporations and (mostly) Republican state lawmakers…The Republicans’ deregulate-at-all-costs efforts…may now be costing lives in Florida, as many in rural areas, as of late last week, remained unaccounted for, weeks after the storm.”

Unfortunately, here in Ohio, the ideology of my opponent and his party is to continue this deregulatory process. This is a dangerously reckless path, as the recent tragic examples in Florida and elsewhere have made clear. For what my opponent calls “eliminating burdensome regulations” is just corporate lobbyist-speak for doing away with the PROTECTIONS we as citizens need from having a Hurricane Sandy or Florida-style telecommunications disaster happen to us.

This is why it is so important that we have *good* government. A government that is not beholden to a few corporate special interests, but is one that works for the public’s needs and interests. As Abraham Lincoln so astutely noted, there is a reason we have government, and it is to do the things we can’t do on our own…

‘The legitimate object of Government is to do for a community of people whatever they need to have done, but cannot do at all, or cannot do so well, for themselves in their separate and individual capacities.”

There are few realms more in need of Mr. Lincoln’s dictum than in our internet and telecommunications services. We can’t run our own internet, our own phone service, our own public safety networks. We rely on a vast interlinked technical infrastructure, and we jeopardize our safety and security when we allow a small handful of private corporations to control those networks in the name of personal profit over public need.

We’ve seen the tragic results of this. When I’m in the Statehouse I won’t be taking money from these corporate lobbyists like my opponent does. I’ll be fighting them when they try to turn Ohio’s telecommunications networks into their private cash machine at the expense of the safety and well-being of Ohio’s citizens. What has been happening in Florida, in California, in Puerto Rico, and elsewhere when it comes to these vital services, will NOT be happening in Ohio if I have anything to do with it.

Let’s have policies and protections that put the needs of People First!

VOTE KIM McCARTHY for your Ohio State Representative
Election Day – November 6th