Entries Tagged as 'Government'

Can the Triad Go the Way of Greenlight?

greenlight Greenlight is a FTTH (basically the same technology as Verizon FiOS) service by the city of Wilson in North Carolina. But the question is that if there was to be the creation of such a service, would we have the infrastructure to support it currently and how far would the reach be? Thus, this discussion is predominantly about that and where we stand currrently.

DOCSIS
My main concern with Time Warner currently is how they’re selling DOCSIS 3.0 as if it’s going to fix the data cap issue. But, don’t forget that DOCSIS 3.0 doesn’t actually require that much effort in technology upgrades. It’s mainly a standards change and binding of channels. This basically means that 3.0 markets could eventually fall under the axe of the data caps. So when I saw that they were toting a $99/month 50Mbp downstream and 5Mbp upstream, it hit me that the consumers would lose yet again here in a tiered system.

So far, there have been no guarantees that going to DOCSIS 3.0 would actually have no data cap. Time Warner will probably not deploy this technology here either until there is serious competition since it doesn’t impact their bottom line here in the Triad due to little to no competition.

Verizon FiOS and AT&T Uverse
I predict that Verizon FiOS will not be here any time soon based purely on the fact that this market is maintained by AT&T (previously BellSouth). This was a distribution by the Baby Bells, and thus Verizon doesn’t have any infrastructure here. AT&T Uverse is a hybrid fiber/copper system that can provide a similar sort of service without going through the full fiber infrastructure ground work. The negative of it is that it doesn’t provide the speeds of FTTH (which is what FiOS is due to it being pure fiber to the homes), but the positive is that it costs less in the fixed costs of initial groundwork and can set up as an intermediate stage to FTTH. Unfortunately, AT&T has shown interest in the data cap type servicing plans which defeats the purpose of “faster” services when you’re limited to how much you can use.

Pricing
From a price structure, most of the speed is really lost when you’re on a data cap. Currently, the pricing below shows the more comparable services and how much they’re supposedly going to cost based on their current quotes. Also remember that as of current, unless you do a lot of simultaneous high bandwidth type downloads, upper limits of speed for downstreams are more or less irrelevant to most of your general consumers currently. Now if you had multiple HD streams going, then it would definitely make a difference but even with your current cable, you already can buffer and watch while it buffers the rest.

TWC DOCSIS 3.0 Verizon FiOS Greenlight
Speed (down/up) 50Mbps/5Mbps 50Mbps/20Mbps 40Mbps/40Mbps
Price (per mo) $99 $144 $99

City Infrastructures
High Point : I’m not really sure if High Point has a fiber ring. They might, or might not but if they do, I don’t know what it’s used for as of current.
Greensboro : They do have a fiber ring but it’s city use currently. Can this be used to create FTTH service to certain neighborhoods? I think so. But the infrastructure would have be upgraded and extended out to service more than just the downtown areas where I assume most of the ring is located. They will also have to begin to look into how to create the jobs similar to Greenlight and how to break city and law enforcement services away on the same ring from servicing the public.
Winston-Salem : Of the three cities, Winston-Salem is probably the best set for a shift to services like Greenlight. This is due to the fact that WinstonNet already services the universities here and they have been working on a wireless initiative in the past to provide wireless to all of Winston-Salem and eventually Forsyth County. Being an Internet 2 POP, the bandwidth is definitely there and they can use that as a base structure to become a provider. I would love to see this happen, but it would depend on how they feel about the entire competitive thing and if they believe it would benefit the citizens on a whole.

Regional Politics
I truly think that regionalism is the best push for this type of project, but seeing how the Heart of the Triad pretty much fell by the wayside, and there’s always talk about regionalism but actually very little action, it’s hard for me to see it happen without turf issues. All in all, smaller cities just can’t compete on a grand scale compared with a larger populace.

Synopsis
I believe that a municipal provided service would actually be the most beneficial to defeating tiered billing. Not only would it be a cheaper service, but the governments on a whole are accountable to its people. The couple of parts that I foresee as an issue would be the fact that municipalities not working well together as a region to create a larger fiber ring that no one else has in the United States. It would also show that when people come together, they can provide for its people and put aside its differences. Great speech stuff, but in reality I wonder if the Triad can actually accomplish this. The other part is that business competition with municipalities is actually a potential legal problem. There would have to be some sort of a nonprofit that would represent the Triad in this matter similar to how Winston-Salem is represented by WinstonNet. Only as such, can they perhaps play the same game that the city of Wilson is playing.

Local governments need to focus on what they are to the market

Official logo of Winston-Salem, North Carolina

Image via Wikipedia

I was recently at a Forsyth County TDA meeting along with Lucy and Jon.
Being that I’ve been in doing community things in Greensboro for years, and was starting my venture into Winston-Salem’s community work, I found that there were a few things that were somewhat off.
In one of the exercises, we were to describe Forsyth County in one word. As an “outsider” but resident of the Triad nonetheless, I found that many people were throwing out words that fit better with other Triad areas than within. For instance, Greensboro really is better suited for family life mainly due to the difference in culture and downtowns. Even the nonprofit worlds from both cities vastly differ. And in the world of business? You want to differentiate yourself by playing your strengths, not playing the general field.
To me? Winston-Salem offers a lot more business type opportunities. Their retail district at one time was one of the largest in the state, and I’m sure that the Hanes Mall area is still one of the most trafficked. By no means is it my favorite (Shops at Friendly would definitely rank the highest there) but Winston-Salem offers a lot in that realm. Also, the push for both WinstonNet and the loans for 4th Street are amazing. That’s definitely a push to make downtown a nicer food arena.
By contrast, Greensboro’s community pushed for a park within their downtown. They were the first to bring a new ballpark to the downtown area through foundation help. There were talks about making the Greenway better. All in all, the focuses were more on the living standards than business.
Here, each city has entirely different focuses based on their constituents and what they drive. So when people were throwing out the words and emotions tied to what they believed what this area entailed, I mentally had to sigh a bit. It’s not that it was wrong. In fact, the words probably do touch certain people in those fashions. But if ICF names you one of the top seven “intelligent communities” in the world of 2008, somehow I doubt your strength is in family building.
In that sense? Focus the marketing on what you are to others and less on what you want to be to others.

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Not understanding bailout politics

WASHINGTON - JANUARY 21: U.S. Sen. Charles Sch...

Image by Getty Images via Daylife

Here’s the deal. Where exactly are these bailouts going? I think that overall, Washington is missing the point of the matter. We keep bolstering large corporate structures to “provide, provide, provide” with lower interest rates, better loans, and everything.
But the real problem? Before, the problem was half the problem of the lenders by giving out “toxic” loans, and the other half were borrowers that were getting into loans they couldn’t afford or could barely afford. That’s an issue of financial responsibility.
Now the problem has changed. It was complicated before, but it’s even more so now because the effect is shown with the stock market and how corporations are responding. With unemployment at a high and layoff forecasts not getting any better in the short term, the Treasury and the federal government needs to stop a second and take a look at the big picture.
Our president has come out and said that the stimulus will be judged by job creation, but I just don’t see that happening. Technology is one of the movers and shakers of Wall Street and if you view just that category specifically, most large technology corporations are all in a hiring freeze and dropping serious attrition numbers in both last quarter and this quarter. This in turn will start the vicious cycle of having consumers stop “consuming” which will put them in a savings mode and thus break down retail. At this point? A tax credit for homebuyers isn’t going to cut it, nor will tax cuts. Let’s face the awful fact:
You can’t take advantage of the best sale in the world, if you have no money in your wallet.
And that’s the crisis that we Americans face, as do many others globally. A consumer culture meltdown with billions of taxpayer dollars thrown at the wrong areas. Tax cuts don’t work, mainly because to pay taxes? You have to actually be employed and something actually is going into your wallet from the sweat equity. So when House Speaker Pelosi is criticizing the Senate (whom is also pushing tax cuts) on cutting the money to build schools, I have to wonder what exactly the House Speaker is pushing. I mean, it’s a stimulus plan to help Americans back on their feet, not a “build our future” plan. The fact that the Democrats are pushing for these pet projects on this bill just sickens me.
While I’m thinking about it, the Republicans criticizing the current stimulus plan are not out of the hot seat either. Why? Most of these politicians are the same ones from before the White House administration change. Less we forget, the last bailout plan had a bunch of pet projects that didn’t support the so-called “small businesses are being hurt” type defense. No one is paying here, except really the taxpayers that are fearing for their jobs, or cannot find a replacement.
In the end, the solution to the problem is to provide financial stability to consumers. That means job creation, or perhaps grants or funds to help small businesses expand. Until you put money in the wallets of your taxpayers, they can’t pay taxes nor can they stimulate consumerism. And isn’t that what the entire toxic loans were all about? We just need to address the problems in a LIFO perspective and work backwards as each issue is solved. That’s the only way to ever get out of this mess.

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This is what bailout money pays for…

HB-JSO Dassault Falcon 7X (MSN12)

Image by John Creasey via Flickr

Yeah. Betcha those people that thought that the financial bailout was going to prevent financial ruin are thinking twice. Oh yes! The world economy is going to go to ruin, because these corporations don’t get their money to stay afloat?
What a load of horse dung. And look where it’s landed the taxpayers. We’ve already spent $350 billion and the rest will probably be released with little to no oversight or catches. And corporations like Citigroup are laughing all the way to the bank.
In their brand-spanking-new Dassault Falcon 7x.
Oh yes, you didn’t know they bought one of these babies, eh? It only cost a measly $50 million. And they’re trying to offload their two older model Dassaults valued at $27 million a piece. All the while claiming that if they didn’t pay, they would be accepting millions in penalty charges and that the jets are more fuel efficient. Maybe it’s just me, but it’s like someone telling me that they downgraded from a Hummer H2 to a H3 and they’re saving loads on gas now. Personally? I don’t think that Citigroup’s senior management’s time is worth $50 million. Not in this day and age, and definitely not while claiming to need the taxpayers to back them up.
What’s worse in all this is that people in Congress actually let this happen. Citigroup claims that TARP money will not be used for this purchase, but when you’re a financial institution, money can be shifted around and no one is the wiser. Not to mention, who’s counting those zeroes on the end now that they got almost $50 billion from TARP.
It’s ludicrous that as Americans, we allow any of this to happen with no catches. Politicians are just as much to blame as poor corporate management in a time when layoffs are at an all time high and the end doesn’t seem to be on the horizon.

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US corporations operating tax havens

The tax haven called Monaco

Image by nanand81 via Flickr

Tax havens.
One of those legal, but totally unethical things to play with when you’re running any sort of business, but especially one as large as the ones mentioned in the Washington Post article.
What’s really annoying with this is that it should be pretty obvious if the income is being shifted around with audits of books regardless of how PR people try to say they “operate” in those locales. The problem with this is that the government loses out on billions of dollars a year in tax revenue. In turn, this becomes a burden for the average taxpayer. Talk about unethical.
But that’s not all! Oh no. It seems that several of the latest “financial bailout” corporations also operate these tax havens. This means that while the taxpayers are fronting the bill for these corporations to exist, they’re not even doing their due diligence as American corporations by paying our own taxes. And that’s just terrible.
Is there going to be a way to shut these legal loopholes down? We’ll see. The President-elect seems to think that they will but somehow I think that corporate pressure will throw its own weight. Let’s be honest here. The people that have the most money play the power plays and the rest of us are left footing the bill.

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Democrat governors want bailout too

The Financial Bailout

Image by urbanjacksonville via Flickr

It seems like the Democratic governors of five major states are asking for over $1 TRILLION dollars in federal assistance.
I mean, seriously? This bailout business is becoming ridiculous.
Here’s the thing. Governments are known to be the worst in budget spending. Thus, there’s a lot of inefficiency and fat that can be cut in both process and red tape. Obviously there are probably pet projects that can be cut also that are usually put in by people just as in the federal government there are “earmark” projects.
This just strikes a nasty chord with me on a personal level. For one, these governors are looking out for their coffers, rather than looking out for the raised taxes that everyone would have to pay. Sure, just pile on when the debt is spread out to the rest of the country, but I surely doubt they would have tried to pull this fast one if they could only go to their own state citizens for the money. Seems to me that corporate greed has filtered into our governments too where they’re looking for the taxpayer to bail them out.
And that’s just not good. We keep throwing money at a problem instead of fixing the actual problem. It goes back to why AIG can make the ridiculous claims it did after taking bailout money.
In the end as an Independent voter, this really annoys me. Mainly because we had voted out the Republican party on the federal level because of this type of behavior just to replace them with a different wolf in the same sheep’s clothing. And our little taxpayer’s house still keeps being threatened to be blown down.

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Bailout Nation: Where do we stop?

No bailout for billionaires

Image by Public Citizen via Flickr

There are multiple parts to bailouts without letting corporations take the dive in the natural progression of corporate life and death. And it’s actually a nasty business. Think about it. As a taxpayer, you basically have no say in having to pay more taxes to “help” these corporations that were mismanaged to survive and keep on being mismanaged.
Life cycle
The life cycle of a corporation is based on how its managed and what profit margins it holds. Unfortunately, those that have been “bailed out” and the mismanagement of many of the financial and automobile sectors, you have to seriously wonder why these corporations are allowed to keep on going with the same management and not be entirely restructured. Yes, every single corporation in the sector is suffering the blow, but some not as bad as others. There are those in the automobile industry that are buckling down but not declaring bankruptcy. There are those banks that have cash reserves because they were scoffed at before in doing only normal loans within their means of lending but not are actually one of the stronger ones to hold out in these tough times. The point is that, regardless of how bad it’s getting, a corporation only lasts as long as it can survive. No one gives the mom and pop shop down the street “bailout” money when they can’t make the grade. So why should it be any different for large corporate structures?
Slippery Slope
We’ve already gone down the slippery slope. In a terrible way. First it was the banks. Then insurance companies jumped on board since they make their buck by investments. Now it’s the automobile industry. In world news, I’ve seen that DRAM makers are now looking for bailouts in Taiwan. Every industry is chipping in since they all have jobs to lose and profit margins that are getting cut. So where do you stop? When do you say no? The entire thing was a bad thought to begin with if you can’t define the stopping point and with the entire employment issue, it’s used as a crutch to get the money instead of fixing the problem of actually being an efficient corporate machine.
Employment
Unemployment is at its all time high in the United States, but in the same instance, there was a time that there was no such thing as a “bailout”. So far, there has been no technology “bailouts” and yet there are thousands of jobs being lost due to cost cutting. So the issue is that it ties directly to the slippery slope. If you (as government) falter to union pushes, then what about those of us that have contracts which don’t allow unions? Or the industries that haven’t taken a beating because we have to adjust with the market more quickly due to how our competition works worldwide? It just doesn’t fly well when you look at the slippery slope.
Taxes
Let’s not forget. We as taxpayers have to pay for all of this. It’s not a reserve slush fund somewhere that the government has put away. Every single time we bailout an executive that has mismanaged their corporation without actual restructuring or even firing of the executives is one more time that we’re allowing the rich to get richer and the poor to get poorer. Least anyone forgets, the middle class is the one that is getting laid off here and yet, their taxes are getting pushed up for these senior management types that are getting paid in well over the six figure range to continue to do the same things they have been doing. Don’t believe it? Take a look at AIG’s “retention payment” plans.
Where’s the education?
I’ve seen so many people in the media report about how the government is trying to “help” individuals that bought into the ARMs. Personally, I’d be curious as to if these people are actually buying into more than they can afford. I’ve heard some pretty nasty stories about individuals buying homes that they didn’t have the salary to afford or any assets to even settle. It’s the same issue as those people that drive sixty or seventy thousand dollar vehicles, but only make forty. It just makes no sense. The point here is to “live within your means.” If you’re not doing that, I don’t feel sorry for you and I have no sympathy. In fact, no one else should either. The government shouldn’t be extending lines of credit or telling banks to do so to these people. They should be extending education on how to manage your bills and pushing for people to only pay for what they can afford. There’s a reason why credit cards are tied to your FICO score. Education is a lot more important for those that are suffering from the ARM deals than extending credit since you’re just letting people put themselves in more jeopardy since they don’t understand and the rest of us pay for it.
In the end, the entire thing is a huge sick joke on the taxpayers, in my opinion. We’re bailing out big businesses so that they can continue to screw up, and more and more corporations are jumping on the bandwagon on how “bad off” they are. Those that don’t have homes anymore are crying out for help even though they technically could go back to renting like how everyone else started out. We don’t set examples or educate those that need the finance management educations and we allow senior management types to continue to pull outrageous salaries for running their businesses into the ground and taxpayers keep paying for these mistakes.
Throwing ourselves off the cliff?
The entire thing just seems like a giant slip-and-slide to economic ruin. And we’re just pumping more water on that baby hoping that it’ll slow us down instead of taking a hard look at solving the right problems with the correct solutions.

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Why bailout nation is bad and how AIG screws the taxpayer

aig_logo_tcm20-1620.gif This is the perfect reason why the entire financial bailout was wrong. No one else really has shown such blatant disregard for how much it ties the corporations to the taxpayer, but AIG commits the worst atrocities.
It seems that they’ve just renamed bonuses to “retention payments” and have said that this is required to keep the business running.
Having just recently heard from some friends about their corporate conditions and how many people are getting laid off just to be re-hired into contracting positions where the job stability is less sure, I can’t see anyone that’s taking emergency funding, to even joke about giving out bonuses. Or “retention payments”. I mean seriously. You’re lucky to have a job in these economic times.
Leadership teams should set by example. What makes me wonder about the AIG executives is that they’re borrowing money, and changing the wording, and then basically telling Congress that it’s business as usual. There’s only two things going on here. Either you’re sick, or your stupid. And for AIG’s sake, you better hope for sure that it’s the former, since the latter won’t fly when the taxpayers hear of it.

EPA launches its own wanted website

epa.gif Much like the FBI’s most wanted list, the EPA also has its own list of fugitives that are charged with environmental crimes and have probably fled.
A lot of these people seem to have committed crimes where they illegal stored tainted or didn’t go through the right measures to remove hazardous waste. Sounds like cutting corners doesn’t work, eh?
In any case, most likely they’re hoping that the site gives a place to have people turn in the ones that are committing these heinous environmental crimes that could possibly effect all the rest of us due to people not following the law and disposing of this type of waste in the right fashion. Yes, it is a a violation of the Federal Criminal Code to do these things.
EPA doesn’t have enough staff or budget it seems, but perhaps there will be some more vigilance now by environmental groups now that they have this list in a public form.

If Obama truly wants to change government

“Yes, we can.”
That’s been the motto of the Obama campaign and now the president-elect has put up a site called change.gov where his staff will update with new moves that will put the country in the right direction again. Hopefully.
But here’s a couple things he needs to do. First, it’d be nice if he put a timeline and status bar on his website. Like, we’re moving in this direction with this, that, or another policy that he’s promised during campaigning. Accountability is key, and that’s a step in the right direction in showing transparency. If he scraps an idea later on, hey, we’ll know why. Call me a cynic, but not all the plans are actually realistic.
With all the policies he wishes to enact, that money still has to come from somewhere. And why no one has told him about the GAO (U.S. Government Accountability Office). The problem however, is that GAO has no power over other agencies and only release reports of bloated spending and bad management of funds. In fact, Reader’s Digest did an entire piece that was based pretty much purely on GAO findings. If GAO was given more power to implement the nature of their findings working together with the Office of the Inspector General of each agency, then that would cut back a significant amount of money that could be used for something else. Don’t ask me why we as taxpayers are still paying for the storage of some satellite that will never be launched. To be perfectly honest, it’s ridiculous but I can also understand why it’s there. Someone didn’t want it to come down on their watch because they wouldn’t have gotten their promotion or what not. Pretty standard in the depths of top level government management.
Of course, Obama and his staff wouldn’t really listen to me. Who the hell am I? Not even a registered Democrat (nor do I want to be). But I do love this country, and I want to see it get better from all the turmoil it’s been put through. I’d like to see agencies actually comply with the FISMA security standards for once instead of spending all their budget talking about how they will comply with it. I wish that government would implement standards in their facilities much like those in the corporate world so that if you need to lock down proprietary or confidential information, then provide your employees with all the necessary utilities to do that (everything from locking desks to shredders). In the corporate world, we are actually subject to firing if violating these codes due to potential loss of data that could hurt the company. So should government.
Maybe at some point, someone will pass along some information and someone up top will hear. I’m glad he’s in office, but there’s still more work to be done. Especially to counter those like myself that have a healthy bit of cynicism for empty promises. Are you willing to stand behind your words? I suppose we’ll see with the next four years.
Photo Credit: (jmtimages)