I’m sitting here at 8 am with a fussy 3-week old because at 8:01am I am calling my phone/internet/cable provider on the minute they open so I can find out why I have lost service five times in the last two weeks and why my internet has been out for three days, while the company has promised I would receive a call from a technician two days ago (no one called). I’m desperate because my wife needs the internet so she can check her email for the Army and we need to register my son for pre-school through the same email, otherwise, we lose his spot and his education suffers.
After a ten-minute wait time, the representative answers. With baby in arms, I rush to the phone but apparently, 3-seconds is too long a wait for the representative and they HANG UP ON ME!!!! Now I have to call back, while my newborn screams, and wait another seven minutes.
But it’s okay: I have “access” to phone, internet, and cable.
Just because a private company wins a government contract doesn’t mean it’s free market. A lot of my friends talk about it like it is. “Companies compete for the contract and the government chooses the best one. It’s free and open.”
No. No, it’s not.
Once a contractor wins a contract, they almost have it for life. It’s nearly impossible to get them removed. In addition, they usually got that contract by offering the most affordable product (i.e. cheapest piece of shit) and usually, they got it with the help of a political insider (politician, aid, lobbyist, etc.).
What this amounts to is me screaming at the top of my lungs at some rep on the other end of the phone because “a technician is in your area and will call your phone.” The phone, by the way, that doesn’t work because THE INTERNET COMPANY’S SERVICE ISN’T WORKING! THAT’S WHY I AM CALLING FOR CHRIST’S SAKE!
At this point, most would point out, “It’s just internet. It’s a convenience. It’s no big deal.” Well, no numb-nuts, it’s not “no big deal.” It’s my wife’s career. It’s my son’s education. It’s my business (my only source of income at the time).
But, sure, it’s the internet. Let’s go with that logic. Shouldn’t I receive what I pay for?
But now let’s apply that to healthcare. Think it’s not a problem? Remember, veterans died while on a waiting list. A waiting list! Is that not a big deal?
Apply it to military spending. Do you know how many tanks we churn out a year? Tanks! You know how many tanks we need for our current military operations? Not much. All that money is wasted. Is that not a big deal?
Apply it to coal mining under Trump. Coal of all things! He’s picking winners and losers and, I’m sorry, but how many coal jobs does that create? (It’s in the low thousands, by the way, but other energy companies are losing out; companies who could provide millions of jobs to our economy). Is that not a big deal?
Apply it to religion. And yes, you can apply it here when the government favors one over another. The government affording favoritism to one religion (or religion at all) hurts other religious groups, LGBT people, and atheists. Is that not a big deal?
Same principles apply: you have access to them, they aren’t directly from the government, but the government chooses for you what you have.
I have options in my current situation. I can put in a formal complaint, but this company has the contract and it will do literally nothing to fix anything. I could look for another provider, but in the area, the only company we can use must be approved by the government.
And that list has only one name on it: this company.
This is the reality of government-run services. And yes, more people may get services, but there is always a cost. The question is: what cost? At what point in time do you give up access to something worthwhile and good, for just simple access?