Rural Economics and Network Infrastructure Policies

Today, on facebook, the topic of policies that are so fundamental to our existing economy that we can’t even see them for what they are came up in a since-deleted thread. Rather than revisit the topic directly on facebook, I am going to write here, and then link this to my fb page and see how that goes.

The initial rant, which was truly off-topic for the group and so the deletion was justified, was a common one heard in the streets, literal and virtual here in Porterville, California: That “Obama phones” aka “free phones” are unfair, they are luxuries, and others shouldn’t be forced to pay for them.

There are so many ways to counter this argument. Before I go into my main position today, I want to note for readers that our City is one of the poorest per capita in the country, and people who are complaining are generally at or barely above the poverty line themselves. That’s all I’ll say on that today, but maybe in a future post, I’ll explore that dynamic further.

There was surprising amount of pushback on the thread for these parts, presumably from those who benefit directly or indirectly from the program. But most of it from both sides was of the finger pointing variety by the time I arrived.

I decided to take a different tack. I pointed out that it has been telecommunications policy for over a century that rural areas would have subsidized telephone lines. And that the reason for that was because the nature of network economics is that there would not be any incentive at all to invest in rural areas when profits accrue in areas with dense network connectivity and costs are incurred in supporting a non-dense network as would happen in the vast rural areas of our country.… Read the rest

Don Curlee: Blind leadership frustrates farmers, red-baiting 1950s style the answer

Visalia Times-Delta columnist joins in the Red Bating fad  as though that will solve anything

Farmers have no monopoly on honesty, because that character trait is rooted in the country’s founding principles. But those roots have grown strong and deep in agriculture. Farmers are wondering why honesty doesn’t have a higher priority among political representatives.

If Marxism is a politician’s ultimate destination, he or she ought to be forthright enough to say so. Don’t count on it; saying and doing what is expedient instead makes them more electable.

Many politicians are taking large numbers of people with them to their secret collectivist destinations. Very few farmers want to go there.

via Don Curlee: Blind leadership frustrates farmers | visaliatimesdelta.com | Visalia Times-Delta and Tulare Advance-Register.

Geez “marxism”, “communism”, “socialism” – is red-baiting in the red states and counties going to be the rule of the day for a while? I am sure that is a great tactic to get your own people elected and listened to.

If farmers are such great capitalists and free marketeers, how about they look at the industry structure that they have wrought over the last 100 or so years since this land was settled? If they are so transparent, how about they share what they have learned?

The problem is that farmers have dug themselves a hole at the bottom of a heap of a distribution channel, and a complex supply chain, and as such they have no (or limited) economic leverage.

Take a look at the recent raisin price it was announced that farmers will get for their crop this year – divide the dollars by ton to get a price per ounce, then go to your favorite retailer to see what the retail price per ounce is. The difference is what the market perceives as the value added in all of the steps of the supply chain beyond the farmer.… Read the rest