Rich Galen

A recent poll by the Pew organization showed that while those of us in Our Nation's Capital and the 2,375 people who watch cable chat shows are consumed by the looming sequester, the other 75% of Americans are just shrugging, sighing, and smiling knowingly that the world will go on after Friday.

The underlying issue about the size of the deficit (about $1 trillion for FY 2013) and the national debt (a touch under $16.6 trillion) is the way the government spends our money.

Not its money. Our money.

Case in point.

I came across an article yesterday that talked about the government (money from the feds, being spent by a state) trying to bring broadband access to hills and hollers in West Virginia.

I write for a coalition of about 300 companies and organizations called Broadband for America so I know a lot about this.

About 95 percent of American homes and businesses have access to broadband. The Federal government would like to get a broadband connection to that last five percent.

To that end they have come up with a program that allows states to get money to do just that - bring broadband to places that are not economically feasible for the major network providers.

In West Virginia there are many places that qualify as not being economically feasible, so the state applied for this Federal money (OUR money) to string some wires and make some connections and bibbity-bobbity-boo Internet for all.

Unfortunately for us the people in Charleston, WV who were doing the purchasing had no idea what they were doing.

When I lived in Marietta, Ohio 45750 just across the river from West Virginia we told West Virginia jokes. Here's one:

One night, a guy stood on the West Virginia bank of the Ohio River wanting to get across. Another guy, on the Ohio shore says he'll shine his flashlight and the Mountaineer can walk across to the Ohio side.

The West Virginian says, "You must think I'm dumb. I'll get half way across and you'll turn off that light."

The people in the state government who were responsible for buying the necessary wires and whatnot to get everyone connected signed a contract with Cisco - the switch and router people - to provide the switches and routers necessary to do it.

Cisco sold the State of West Virginia some routers that cost up to $20,000 each. These routers were for mid- to high-capacity implementations.

According to an article in, seven of these high-capacity, $20,000-a-copy routers, were installed in Clay, West Virginia; population 491. One for every 70 inhabitants.

Rich Galen

Rich Galen has been a press secretary to Dan Quayle and Newt Gingrich. Rich Galen currently works as a journalist and writes at