Government Wi-Fi as Public Bad


The economic theory of goods defines a bad as something that makes you worse off by having it, or better off by not having it (e.g. a disease, pollution, crime, and if you're anti-war, nuclear weapons).

As a dissertation writer, I need uninterrupted and distraction-free quiet to write, write, and write... I have to become a hermit--move into deep seclusion: no friends, no TV, no music, no internet, no blogging!. Woe to me then, when yesterday, I moved into what seemed like the quietest and most secluded position in the Alexandria Central Library, and my computer started downloading my email and Instapundit popped up in Firefox.

I didn't ask for the free Wifi, yet now I cannot avoid it. This is a bad--in fact, a disaster. As a result, I am now blogging this post instead of writing my dissertation. This whole situation reminds me of Sam Gordon in Russ Robert's The Invisible Heart who took control of his life by eliminating television--a private bad. Alas, I will now have to find a new place to write...

My coblogger Ian has already come down against government financed wi-fi networks. Alas, I too must oppose them, because to me they are a public bad. Imagine a world where I cannot anywhere avoid Wi-Fi, except in remote mountainous regions. I'd be writing my dissertation until I die...


Try a strategy of precommitment: leave your wi-fi card at home.

Techdirt is having some fun with this.

Alas, my wireless card is integrated, and I'll just have to have some self restraint.

Well, government ownership issues aside, just because you lack the attention span to properly work on your paper doesn't mean wi-fi is a bad to the rest of us, hehehe.
I'd reckon train crossings are a bad to people who only ever drive, but it'd be a bit silly to get rid of them when so many of us take the train.

heh ... now you're part of the fiercewireless club as well. :) of course, reading your blog entry is keeping me from doing your work, so it seems wi-fi proliferation is in fact doing what you say it will (in a roundabout way).


I don't know about your laptop but my laptop lets me turn off my wireless adapter (a good). What has happen to personel responsibility. Oh but wait you were downloading emails Remotely? Isn't that a good.

I was trying a precommittment strategy to study in solitude, like Andrew suggested. What I'm suggesting is that ubiqitous wi-fi will transform the function of public and private spaces... I agree that many people think this is a good, but I'm suggesting that a negative externality will exist... Still, I'd rather you bear the cost of the externality... not me. :)


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This page contains a single entry by Kevin published on October 26, 2004 10:18 AM.

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