NOVEMBER 18, 2011
Following a laughable United Nations declaration that high-speed internet access is a basic human right, the Obama Administration is investing north of $400 million to expand broadband into poor, rural areas of the U.S.
The president has long asserted that broadband access is essential for communities to compete on a “level playing field” and he’s included it among the necessities to improve the lives of rural Americans. The agency in charge of distributing the money—the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)—took it a step further this week, asserting that high speed internet connections will help low-income residents in a variety of unimaginable areas.
For instance, it will “improve healthcare and educational opportunities,” according to Obama’s Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. Broadband will also help the poor “connect to global markets,” Vilsack said, and it will provide “much-needed services to rural businesses and residents.” The investment, presumably on the part of the government, will also “increase jobs” in rural areas, Vilsack assures.
Utility companies in 15 states will receive a combined $410.7 in grants from Uncle Sam to install or upgrade connections in rural and low-income areas that currently don’t have internet access or only have slow, dialup connections. Among them are companies in North Dakota, Minnesota, Colorado, Indiana, Kansas, New Mexico and Tennessee. It’s all part of Obama’s mission to improve the lives of rural Americans, put people back to work and build thriving economies in rural communities, according to the USDA. How exactly fast-speed internet service will help accomplish this is not explained by the agency.
Perhaps not coincidentally, the Human Rights Council of the United Nations General Assembly recently determined that, like healthcare, shelter and food, broadband access is a basic human right that allows people to “exercise their right to freedom of opinion and expression.” In a lengthy report addressing obstacles that challenge the right of all individuals to receive information through the internet, the U.N. demands that governments worldwide make the internet “widely available, accessible and affordable to all segments of the population.”
Here is the reasoning: “Given that the internet has become an indispensable tool for realizing a range of human rights, combating inequality and accelerating development and human progress, ensuring universal access to the internet should be a priority for all states,” the famously corrupt world body says in its report. The U.N. also demands that governments offer special “internet literacy skills” training to help the underserved with computer skills. This could very well be the Obama Administration’s next publicly-funded project.
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