Waters: Fearmongering Fails to Diminish Reforms
By Jim Waters
LEXINGTON, KY - The political left's preferred pattern is to consign conservatism to the wilderness with obituaries of its much-ballyhooed demise abounding, signaling: it's time to bury all hope of returning to the constitutional republic our founders intended.
When that doesn't work – like when disruptors of the status quo took over the Kentucky House in November and began resurrecting ideas about returning this commonwealth to a free-market economy and the Constitution for which it stands – the preferred tactic of the left also resurrects: fearmongering.
The scaremongering was on full display throughout Betsy DeVos' confirmation process as Education Secretary.
Senators and celebrities alike, many of whom attended – and send their own kids to – elite private schools, predicted gloom, doom and worse for public schools because DeVos wants to give all parents the same opportunity to choose a better education for primarily at-risk students that these hypocritical school-choice opponents' rich kids enjoy.
I was reminded why I quit watching Comedy Central when I saw actress Ilana Glazer's tweet: "It's heinous, the school system was already so broken – this is murdering it."
"Avengers" director Joss Whedon claimed DeVos and her supporters "declared war on our children."
Liberal senators responded with similar vitriol. Washington Sen. Patty Murray, a Democrat, called the Michigan philanthropist's nomination "a slap in the face."
But America's had charter schools for a quarter-century yet Chicken Little isn't showing up on Public Education Street.
In fact, the best research shows that once students attend charter schools for at least three consecutive years, they usually begin to academically outperform their peers in regular public schools.
There have been no reported sightings of C.L. on other streets, either.
It wasn't that long ago, for instance, that the rhetoric of fear could be heard clanging up and down Telecom Reform Street claiming regulatory improvements passed by the legislature in 2015 would leave vulnerable Kentuckians in rural regions without basic phone service.
"They won't even be able to call 911," Chicken Little clucked.
I put a call into C.L. on my new LG phone – at least where I could locate a signal – asking him to find me a single Kentuckian who lost basic phone service because of the 2015 reforms.
"Well, at the very least," clucked C.L. Fearmonger, "they will harm, not help, Kentuckians."
Tell that to entrepreneurs in Louisville now able to start home-based businesses or to students doing major projects online who now have access to larger and faster residential gigabit service. With increased investment, similar access will soon be coming to other parts of Kentucky.
Yet while Kentucky's telecommunications reforms in 2015 were a good start, three years is a lifetime in technology.
The commonwealth must follow the example of every other southern state by fully updating its telecom regulations.
Otherwise, we will continue losing out on very large investments by telecommunications companies less interested than ever in diverting resources toward maintaining old technology to satisfy rotary-dial regulations instead of building advanced, next-generation networks for all Kentuckians.
Other states, including neighboring Indiana and Tennessee, long ago eliminated onerous regulations like those that remain wrapped like anvils around the ankles of Kentucky's progress.
This year's legislative session can make history by removing the regulatory fetters and providing incentives to accelerate increased investment in Kentucky's telecom infrastructure and making certain all Kentuckians – whatever their street – have access to the information superhighway.
Jim Waters is president of the Bluegrass Institute for Public Policy Solutions, Kentucky's free-market think tank. Read his weekly Bluegrass Beacon column at www.bipps.org. He can be reached at email@example.com and @bipps on Twitter.