Rob Wittman never had much to say about broadband internet access in the Congressional District he represents until the issue came up in the Democratic Primary this spring. Much of the district is rural and without connection to the web services that stimulate economic development, support businesses and allow remote access to medical care. They are without this connection because private markets do not provide what amounts to a public utility in remote areas, and no amount of deregulation will make them want to. The return on investment simply isn’t there.
Back in the day, much of Tennessee had a similar problem with electricity. The Federal Government, not private enterprise, solved the problem through the Tennessee Valley Authority, a New Deal Democrat effort to modernize rural areas of the state. Could we learn something from this very successful effort? Continue reading