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Tuesday, October 04, 2005

S.F. mayor sees wireless service as basic right

Some of you may have heard that there are rumors that Google is planning on getting into the WiFi business. Google is one of 24 companies bidding to provide San Francisco with wireless internet access. At a press conference yesterday, Mayor Gavin Newsom showed that he is completely out of touch with reality.
"This is inevitable -- Wi-Fi. It is long overdue...it is to me a fundamental right to have access universally to information...this is a civil rights issue as much as anything else"
What next? Is it a fundamental human right to own a BMW? Should we provide universal ownership of iPODs? Should all workers be provided with Herman Miller chairs for their office?

This is most definitely not a civil rights issue; this is an entitlement issue. Perhaps the greatest lesson I learned from my father growing up was that life is not fair. That isn't to say that we don't wish it to be fair or that we shouldn't try to make it fair. But the reality is that it isn't fair. And that is sometimes ok.

I am baffled by Newsom's claim that wireless access is a fundamental right. But where would this craziness end? Free WiFi access is pretty useless without a computer; would we need to provide free laptops for everyone? Laptops need to be plugged into a power supply on occasion; what about the homeless? Should we build free covered workstations with power supplies on the streets of S.F. for the homeless? Afterall, this is a civil rights issue, isn't it?

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