USF - Pork Barrel for Politicians (END USF NOW!)
When I recently wrote about how the telecoms are using USF as a political tool to gain advantage over VoIP providers, I failed to explore how it is used by the politicians themselves. In Gordon Cook's excellent blog Cook's Collaborative Edge, he points to an article by Andrew Walden in the Hawaii Reporter with an example of our elected officials stealing our money to help their constituents. How about $500 Million for a new fiber optic communcations network which serves only 5,400 homes?:
In a little-noticed May 16 2005 ruling, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has granted a waiver necessary to allow Sandwich Isles Communications to complete construction of its $500 million project to link 69 Hawaiian Homelands properties with a fiber optic communications network.Walden points out that these 5,400 homes already have land lines from Verizon and that satellite based high speed Internet access would cost just $600 or less per home (as opposed to the $93,000 per home hand out from USF). Walden continues in his article, "Unsurprisingly, Sandwich Isles is led by many politically connected directors and corporate officers." According to the article, this was one of the last acts of the FCC under then-chairman Michael Powell, who the article claims was a Naval Academy classmate of Al Hee, president of the company receiving the $500 million. Much more detail and accusations available in this web posting - Vultures of Sandwich Isles.
Cook also points to a terrific study by Thomas Hazlett at George Mason University entitled UNIVERSAL SERVICE FUND SUBSIDIES: WHAT DOES $7 BILLION BUY?