Yesterday I decried the rampant economic segregation occurring with discriminatory rural internet access. Today, I want to bolster the point with a story of corporate concession.
Our county has a Little Debbie plant (I think one of 4 in the U.S.). It uses 1.5 million pounds of sugar a week (more pounds of sugar than pounds of flour). Did you get that sugar amount? A tractor trailer holds a little under 50,000 pounds of freight. So 1.5 million pounds would be about 30 tractor trailer loads . . . A WEEK! Sugar!
Talk about a societal health risk, this is it. When the plant moved into the county, the county gave them everything--nice big entrance, road upgrades, a cheaper water hook up than the average residential home, and a promise that all spouses of managers moving into the area who worked in education would get a job in the county school system. Deferred taxes.
In its red carpet roll out for big business, the county overlooks the contribution of many small businesses. In aggregate, the small businesses employ more people and create more economic activity than the big ones, but they don't have a voice. Or maybe I should say we don't have a voice.
"Well, get organized," you say. My response: "When?" By the time I comply with regulations and trying to make a living with half my income confiscated in taxes to give concessions to huge corporations and build schools so kids can leave when they can't access the internet, I don't have time to organize everyone. I joined the Chamber of Commerce about 10 years ago thinking maybe that would give voice, but it's a shill for big business and doesn't do squat to actually help with problems. So I dropped out and was branded "not a team player."
I don't want to play on a team that stacks the deck against innovative small businesses. So here we are, with sporadic internet access. I just read a piece today about the history of American agriculture and it pointed out that rural electrification paved the way for today's efficient farmer. I suggest that high speed internet is today's rural electrification. The longer we delay, the more disparate rural income and opportunity will be compared to urban, and that puts authentic food and fiber production in jeopardy. Believe it or not, in many areas of the world where people wonder when they will have enough food to eat another meal, their internet access is much superior to ours. Maybe Bill Gates could put that on his philanthropic agenda. If the county forgave my taxes for 10 years, I could afford to put in high speed internet. But dopey me, I'm just a small business.
What would you launch if you got tax forgiveness for 10 years?