Campbell County Economic Development director Andrew Van Kuren says the free market has failed to provide hundreds of folks in the Pollock area with the cell phone service they need and deserve. Van Kuren and his neighbors are circulating paper and online petitions to get some kind telecommunications company to build them the cell phone tower that, so far, market forces have said isn’t worthwhile.
Van Kuren’s petition says his neighborhood needs cell phone service for “health, welfare, social activities, business economics and public SAFETY”. But Van Kuren doesn’t want anyone sticking one particular naughty word on this request:
Van Kuren said a cellphone tower is something that the town has needed for more than a decade.
“We are not saying we are entitled, but we have enough economic activity to make it (worthwhile) for a carrier to put one here,” Van Kuren said. “There are several reasons why we need one, and we hope that we will get one” [Tatum Dean, “Safety Concerns Prompt Cellphone Tower Drive in Pollock Area,” Aberdeen American News, 2016.06.06].
Entitled—ooooo. It’s o.k., Andrew. I don’t think you’re asking for some special treatment any more than your neighbors’ grandparents were asking for special treatment back in the days of rural electrification (brought to you by Democrats—you’re welcome!). More quickly than electricity, mobile communication service has moved from novelty to essential utility. Equal access to public services, job opportunities, and economic development requires that citizens be able to connect with whomever, whenever, wherever.
Perhaps instead of subsidizing big businesses in big towns that already have advantages in the marketplace, the Governor could direct some of the GOED Future Fund toward building basic utilities like cell phone towers in the state’s dead zones. Consider that the four million Future Fund dollars Sioux Falls ad firm Lawrence & Schiller got for marketing could buy a cell phone tower for Pollock and 25 other South Dakota towns that right now might as well be on Mars given how long it takes them to communicate with Mission Control.
Every South Dakotan is entitled to equal access to basic utilities. Mobile voice and data communications have become a basic utility. Keep petitioning, Pollock!