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Karr to Rural South Dakotans: No Broadband for You!

As inflation makes it harder for Golden West and other Internet providers to stretch their subsidies and their cables out to every farmstead and faraway vacation home, Representative Chris Karr (R-11/Sioux Falls) says maybe those folks who don’t have the good sense to live in town like him have to accept the slow-loading consequences of their choices and let the market come to their downloadable rescue:

“The federal government has already been spending billions and billions of dollars on this,” Karr said. “Is it the role of government to cut through a mountain to deliver internet? I question that. Because, if you move somewhere remote, there are going to be trade-offs.”

…“We talk about a debt ceiling and the question is always, ‘What are you gonna cut?’” Karr said. “This is one of these areas where we should take a look.”

Karr argues that market forces and private-sector initiatives can drive broadband expansion, pointing to industry-led projects like high-altitude balloons that beam down wireless internet.

“We are stifling innovation; because, when we hand out cash, it’s those that are not innovative that are first to the trough,” Karr said. “If inflation has increased the cost, these private companies benefiting from this should pony up that difference” [Joshua Haiar, “Inflation Drives Up Cost of Broadband Internet Projects,” South Dakota Searchlight, 2023.06.05].

If we let the market take care of everything, rural South Dakotans would still be milking cows by kerosene lamps. The market won’t innovate into rural broadband if they can’t make big bucks doing so. Maybe Representative Karr is reading the numbers from Davison County and concluding that providing basic services to the dwindling agricultural sector isn’t worth taxpayer support. But he needs to acknowledge to rural voters (whom he doesn’t have to face at the urban District 11 polls in western Sioux Falls, lucky guy) that he thinks they should either pay more than what city folks pay for high-speed Internet or just go back to reading books instead of watching Netflix.


  1. Richard Schriever 2023-06-06 07:06

    The US Government (Military Research) developed the technology that IS the Internet, and GAVE IT AWAY FOR FREE to several private enterprises, who have turned it into a very profitable business. I wonder if Karr knows this and understands that “the market” of internet services would not exist at all were it not for the government funding it?

  2. P. Aitch 2023-06-06 08:25

    Is Rep. Karr ignorant to the fact that buying things we all need as a group is cheaper?
    Think COSTCO and the savings gained by paying to join the group.

  3. larry kurtz 2023-06-06 08:33

    Fact is, South Dakota’s broadband roots were strengthened in 2010 by Democratic former Rep. Stephanie Herseth Sandlin but Senator John Thune (Earth hater-SD) went to DC as one of America’s least wealthy politicians so after nearly two decades in the swamp and helping to pack the Federal Communications Commission with Trump stooges he’s rich.

  4. Nick Nemec 2023-06-06 08:43

    I live in a very rural area and our family, and I would argue all of South Dakota, benefits from the high speed internet installed in our home. My wife is a psychiatric nurse practitioner, earns a 6 figure income, and works from home as a telemedicine provider. She sees 10-15 patients each day. Her company, Horizon Health, has 32 clinics around the state in many small towns, there is no cost effective way they could provide in person psychiatric care in all those clinics without telemedicine. Psychiactric care is one of those fields about which the leaders of our state have lamented the shortage of skilled, qualified medical providers especially in rural areas. Because of high speed rural internet Horizon Health is able to address this pressing need.

  5. larry kurtz 2023-06-06 09:51

    Thank the Wakíŋyaŋ for repelling the Republican assault on the reservation communities trapped in South Dakota.

  6. All Mammal 2023-06-06 10:04

    Hmmm maybe sitting on federal handouts just to wield power, while costs keep going up, should be misuse of appropriated funds. In a way, it is stealing because those dollars have lost value after several years. It sounds like KN might have squandered away $200 million in workforce housing since the debt ceiling deal reneges on unspent COVID monies. Our showboaters in DC probably shouldn’t have bragged about all that rural broadband ‘they’ scored for SD before wifi signals even pop up.

  7. Jason Robertson 2023-06-06 11:58

    Yet Mr. Karr isn’t concerned about the governor running all over the world and country on our dime? That’s the problem they don’t want to hold their own party members responsible for their crimes or liberal spending!

  8. Francis Schaffer 2023-06-06 12:31

    Maybe everyone who lives and/or owns a business in his district should rely on the private market for snow removal.

  9. e platypus onion 2023-06-06 13:39

    Maybe everyone who lives and/or owns a business in his district should rely on the private market for snow removal.

    You will whenm magats cut taxes more and brag about being a low tax srare. Low taxes = low services.

  10. PWK 2023-06-06 14:42

    Whenever I hear a SD legislator talk about the “power of markets” to lower prices I hold onto my wallet. Karr lives in a Sioux Falls fantasy world.

  11. Francis Schaffer 2023-06-06 15:56

    Well, not the response I had hoped for, yet teachable moment for me. My point is, the same people who he wants to foot their own bill for cable/internet/phone service also foot their own bill for snow removal especially if they are on the bus route and/or mail route. Also, many act as volunteer fire fighters with tractors and disks when a wild prairie fire develops, cut the downed trees to clear roads after storms, etc. So if Mr. Karr would like everyone to fend for themselves, my point is to remind him many already do. I believe sharing the expense of common services should be the standard, and the best type of socialism. I don’t believe magats want lower taxes, just lower for themselves.

  12. KEN MANY WOUNDS 2023-06-06 19:45

    Sounds like a TRUE “CITY BOY” who has never smelled nothing but the exhaist fumes in town. It;s RURAL AMERICA that makes the world go round. Not the city folk who have McDonalds at there door step. This “CITY GUY” can stay in the city where he belongs and be a SHEEP

  13. John 2023-06-06 19:49

    Karr has a point, but he’s too obtuse to recognize it. Since the 1990s huge swaths of China, India, SE Asia, Africa, and the Middle East joined the global telecom world without a single telephone wire being strung or laid. They made a centuries worth of transformation in a decade via cell phone towers.

    Similarly, world class internet is available via networks that are cellular, microwave, and satellite. Only in Thune’$ Amerika are we still dragging around cables.

    And oh, that satellite internet service, . . . thank the US Defense Department, not the selfish “market”. Rural “internetfication” ought to occur without expensive cables/wires. (Play on words from rural electrification in the 1930s. If the government hadn’t electrified rural America my family (and Nick’s) would still be waiting for the market 100 years later). The wire / fiber draggers are now as obsolete as the horse and buggy. They are dead men walking.

  14. grudznick 2023-06-06 20:29

    Mr. John, they probably have to drag wires out to the cell phone towers to get the data through it so it can be sprayed out of the tower. Other places use fancy balloons floating with radar sprayers hanging underneath. Balloons don’t work because the wind will move them out of the area. I don’t know how they load all the data into the balloons before they go aloft.

  15. grudznick 2023-06-06 21:45

    All this soup and internet business aside, young Mr. Karr looks a bit puffy. This probably indicates a serious health condition. We should all be concerned.

  16. Jenny 2023-06-06 23:01

    Those darn DFLers in MN established a grain indemnity fund in the Ag Bill signed by Walz. 10 million is set aside to compensate farmers when elevators fail to pay. Would SD ever consider doing something like this with its history of corrupt elevator owners in the last few recent years? Highly unlikely my guess would be, you know how stingy the Pubs are in Pierre.

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