Policy

Thievery, Chicanery and Idol Worship

1/09/2005 7:00 PM Eastern

I am the tax preparer in my home. I tend to think about the taxes all year long. What deductions are we going to have? Are we withholding the right amount so we won’t get whacked by a huge bill in April? Did the feds change the laws and how will that affect us?

I figure between property, income, gas and sales tax we pay over one-third of our income in taxes.

I don’t want to complain. I live in a nice community in Maryland where the roads are well-maintained, the schools are well-funded and even the Section 8 housing looks like a middle-class neighborhood.

But the truth is, we could be doing better, and maybe my taxes would be lower if the Federal Communications Commission and Congress would stop stealing money from local government.

It’s not only that local government is losing an estimated $500 million a year in uncollected cable-modem fees, it’s the fact that that amount will grow exponentially as the Bells are granted their free ride on Internet-protocol video and cable challenges the regulatory playing field.

It made my head spin to see how fast both parties were eager to give away the store. U.S. Reps. Cliff Stearns (R-Fla.) and Rich Boucher (D-Va.) weren’t even decent enough to wait a week into the new Congress to introduce their bill that gives the Bells a gigantic bear hug.

According to Multichannel News, “under Stearns-Boucher, neither the FCC nor the state would be permitted to regulate the entry or exit of “advanced Internet communications-service” providers or to impose rates, terms and conditions on the services offered.”

Stearns said deregulation was needed to allow these technologies to “flourish.” Like they aren’t flourishing?

Like my brother in Missouri needs this legislation so he can finally, once and for all, get ESPN400 through his ISP? As if he would care — he gets 50,000 satellite channels and he’s got 300 head of cattle to feed. Yet, Congress and the FCC treat the communications companies as if they were the “golden calf” that we should all worship in the desert. Huh?

Meanwhile, I think about taxes, fees, surcharges and the like that are imposed on me by the feds, the state and the local government and wonder about my own ability to “flourish.” I sure could use some de-reg, and I am guessing most of my neighbors could, too.

March