Broadband brings needed jobsOdd. Why is it politicians like Boucher get credit for bringing 100 new jobs to the area but are never blamed for "job losses [that] have hit the New River Valley hard for years, [with] factories [starting to close] more than a decade ago, [and] now, [with] the current recession [having] taken its toll, exacerbating regional employment problems." It's never a two-way street. Odd indeed.
Roanoke Times editorial
DirecTV's announcement last week that it will hire 100 Southwest Virginians is welcome news in a region more accustomed to hearing about job losses. The new jobs illustrate a way forward, too. The region's future lies, at least in part, with broadband technology.
Job losses have hit the New River Valley hard for years. Factories started closing more than a decade ago. Now, the current recession has taken its toll, exacerbating regional employment problems.
Then came last week's announcement. One hundred jobs do not make up for all that have been lost, but they are a start.
Rep. Rick Boucher was at the announcement to remind everyone that he has been instrumental in increasing broadband access in this part of the state. He has been a champion for rural access generally and for his 9th District in particular. Universal access remains far away, but far more homes and businesses have broadband today thanks to his work. [link]
But to the point.
Ask yourself: If broadband is available in well over half the homes in the United States, and there are somewhere around 114,825,428 households in the U.S., (with 57,412,214 of them therefore having access to broadband), why did DirecTV decide to hire 100 "agents" in Southwest Virginia? Because broadband is unique to Boucher's district?
Uh, I don't think so.
Is it Boucher's personal charm, animal magnetism, and powers of persuasion?
Could it be, though, that Boucher heads up a congressional subcommittee that DirecTV has to jump through regulatory hoops for on a regular basis? Can you say political payoff?
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Don't get me wrong. I'm not faulting Rick Boucher for this. If I were in his shoes, I'd be putting the squeeze on employers too if I had the political clout. This is a worthwhile use of political muscle.
But let's not erect any statues in the town square over this either.
And it would have been nice had the Times mentioned - even in passing - the real reason for this decision.