As a representative of Missouri's business community, one of my jobs is to look out for our state's economic well being. I'm pretty careful to examine big promises by companies of the benefits their moves will bring - perhaps people like you. I usually say, "Show me."
That's exactly what two companies did in a recent presentation at the state's capital. The lesson and messages were simple. The federal government should give approval to the merger request of two satellite television companies, EchoStar (which operates the Dish Network) and Hughes Electronics (which operates DIRECTV).
It would be good for Missouri in that it will benefit businesses, families, schools and other public institutions. It would be especially beneficial for rural areas and small communities, but will help urban and suburban areas as well.
Only a certain amount of bandwidth is available for broadcast by the satellite providers. The result is that some 500 channels now carry duplicate programming.
Merge the companies and 500 new channels automatically become available. At present, only stations in the largest markets offer local programming via satellite, but after the merger, every station in every market could offer them.
It is gratifying to note that the two companies have pledged to follow a "one-nation, one-rate card" pricing policy, so that those in rural areas would not be charged higher prices for services than those in the big cities and suburbs.
But for those of us who are concerned about Missouri businesses, there is another, much more important benefit of the merger - high-speed Internet access. Today, less than 5 percent of small towns and rural communities have access to this so-called "broadband" access. That places rural businesses, families and schools at a disadvantage, as the Internet becomes more important to our social, educational and economic life.
The Echo-star-DIRECTV merger will virtually eliminate that "digital divide" from which rural areas suffer. Because of the high costs involved, it is virtually impossible for a business, school or household anywhere in rural Missouri to get broadband Internet access. Within months of the merger's approval, all that will end. Since people in rural counties are just as close to the satellite as those in St. Louis and Kansas City, everyone could hook up to the Internet at the same rate.
These companies did not just make these promises - they have come on the road to demonstrate their new technical capabilities. In the state capitol building, they showed us these new services and said they would be willing to commit to them legally if the merger is approved.
Every year, the importance of bridging the digital divide grows greater. The Department of Justice and the FCC can build that bridge by approving the Echo-Star-DIRECTV merger. Here's hoping they do, and without delay.
Gary Marble, president Associated Industries of Missouri Jefferson City
I read where Congress has raised the national debt ceiling $450 billion. That won't last a Republican president very long.
What did the Republicans do with that balanced budget and those hundreds of billions in surplus President Clinton handed them? They've already run through it, haven't they? They don't learn very fast, if at all. President Bush and his loyal followers have returned us to the Ronald Reagan voodoo, black magic, California fortune teller, movieland make-believe type of government.
I only rehash this because the exact same thing is happening now that happened under Ronald Reagan. We Democrats know better and the Republicans should be ashamed to try that on us again. Surely they remember the disastrous effects of Reaganomics. You know, Reagan's cut taxes, increase spending, supply side, trickle down, create a surplus and pay off the national debt.
Under Reagan, our nation became so helplessly mired in debt it could only be saved from default by massive daily transfusions of borrowed money, anywhere they could get it. We owed Japan and Germany more money than the entire national debt when Reagan was elected.
They are now spending the Social Security Trust Fund, breaking their promise not to touch it. This president will never pay the debts he is running up, and if it's ever paid, future generations will have to do it and by then it may be too late. It may be later now than we realize.
There may not be another Bill Clinton, Harry Truman or Franklin Delano Roosevelt come along to save our democracy. There's much more, but I'll stop here with listen not to what they say, only watch what they do.