Monday, February 7, 2011

Why Not a Metered Internet?

The headline of the Globe and Mail article asks the question, Why Not a Metered Internet?

The argument that follows defends the big telecoms in terms of market forces: for example, the cost of infrastructure building.

Here's a different answer to the question: with a metered Internet we would have another case of them that haves and them that don't.

We already have a growing economic inequality gap. With Internet metering, we would have an associated inequality gap in terms of fundamental communications access.

An inequality gap already exists with respect to telephony. The lowest income households haven't room in their budgets to acquire that all-important telephone number. They've not a telephone or cell phone or other mobile device to which such a number could be attached. For those households that have a desktop computer with Skype installed, they cannot make full use of the VOIP provider's services or those offered by similar providers. Such services would provide them with an online number (just like a phone number), thus allowing them to receive incoming telephone calls to their computer.

Why can customers in Canada - unlike those in most of the developed world - not obtain online numbers?

Again, a CRTC decision lies at the heart of the matter.

Access to incoming phone calls. Access to the full services the Internet can provide. In both cases, it's about communication with one's friends, family and community; access to one's regional district, provincial or territorial government and services; access to the federal government and services; access to information regarding elections, parties and candidates; access to news and information.... It's about access to democracy.

[Cross-posted at Challenging the Commonplace]

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Another Wallop at the Dentist

It leaves me shaking, the bills to maintain my health; even in a province whose Pharmacare is supposed to cover people who live in very low income households; because, of course, Pharmacare doesn't cover DENTAL care. Even people on welfare, I am told, only have tooth extraction covered; no fillings, no maintenance to preserve their teeth. And so welfare recipients' overall health that good dentistry helps maintain further deteriorates and means later costs to Pharmacare.

I am just back from the dental hygienist. Cost: $120.75.

I must go again next week to finish the job because for ten years I'd been unable to visit the dentist at all; not to fix my two chipped teeth and not to keep my teeth in optimum condition to avoid problems later. The bill next week could be as much as $155.50. I left the office teary-eyed.

Thanks to SAFER, my income last August realized a 40 percent boost; from $7,200 to $10,000. That's why I paid a visit to Dr. Tom Roozendahl last November, twice, and then again in December. Those three visits totalled $572.40. By the time everything is done, I'll have spent $848.65.

Guess I've good reason for tearing up. I am still shaking from the shock and, yes, panic.

Am hoping to maintain regular visits to the hygienist in future. However, my income remains fixed at $10,000, plus annual chump change in my CPP payments for cost of living increases. Those won't keep up with the higher increases for food and general household goods or increases to my rent and Internet access payments - I have no phone, neither landline nor cell, and no TV and therefore am wholly dependent on the Internet for all my information and communication needs.

ETA: Budget shocks aside, am thrilled with my unstained bottom teeth. Danielle did a superior job to that of the hygienist I went to ten years ago (when I was at university in Bloomington, Indiana). In other words, she removed even older stains.