5.04.2008

Failed socialist daydreams by the lake: Burlington Telecom

News item in the Burlington Free Press: "Burlington Telecom still running below goal".

2008 is rapidly sliding by, another year gone, and (among other things) it means that I am another year removed from my past life in Burlington, and from my work experience in the Internet/Telecom space in Vermont. I was, however, not at all surprised by this story in the Free Press: From 1995 - 2000 I worked at an ISP in Vermont, mostly in business services, and from 2000 - 2005 I was still in involved in fragments of related businesses, and for the duration of all this experience, I was a taxpayer in Burlington. In short, I had a pretty informed (ie, unenthusiastic and cynical) perspective on the genesis and initial build out of Burlington Telecom.

As a taxpayer, I had a couple of opportunities to vote on this initiative, and I always voted against it, and it wasn't out of any sympathy for the incumbent cable/telecom providers, it was based on my experience of how state and local governments function (dysfunction) in Vermont: Bureaucrats in love with mandates and expanding the public sector (ie, adding unionized workers with generous benefit packages & fully funded pensions), living in happy ignorance of economic realities and supported by an electorate that didn't seem to care too much about such boondoggles. I just cannot see how an organization with 30+ employees working in a small and tightly defined market, saddled with $33M in debt will ever break even... and I do have a slightly informed opinion.

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