The Broadband Teat

(with a tip of the hat to Harlan Ellison)


Austin, Texas, USA
January 13
I'm a husband and proud papa. I have a B.A. in history from Middlebury College and an M.A. in Screenwriting from The University of Texas. And now I work at a kennel--which I enjoy a great deal. I'm also writing a lot of short fiction these days, which I enjoy even more. Catch my story "Trials" in the anthology Ring of Fire 2, currently available from Baen Books.


SEPTEMBER 7, 2010 2:29PM

One Person's Boondoggle...

Rate: 0 Flag

Let me say at the outset, I love where I work: DogBoy's Dog Ranch in Pflugerville, Texas. My employer does boarding, day care and training for dogs (and much more), so even though I sit at the desk and answer phones and emails I get to meet many great dogs and their owners. Plus, my own dogs get to come and play while I work--a great fringe benefit.

Recently, my employers installed solar panels on the roof of one of the kennel buildings as part of some other capital improvements. Thanks to these beauties and Austin's typical 300 days of sunshine per year, we're already seeing a real benefit: this summer the panels have been supplying about a third of our energy needs in the three buildings hooked up to  them. In the spring, before we had to start running the air conditioning, they were supplying up to two-thirds of our total energy used. All this was made possible by subsidies from the county and federal governments that made solar panels an affordable option for small business owners like my employers.  

Predictably, however, the comments thread was filled with people who insist on living in a fantasy world where the government doesn't pay for anything (except the programs that directly benefit them, of course), and any subsidies such as the one my employers and numerous Austin businesses took advantage of is all part of Obama's Evil Socialist Agenda.

You're mad your taxes are going to a boondoggle? Fine. But think beyond your narrow world view, if you can and consider the ripple effects from just one subsidy. Because of these solar panels and the money they save in our electric bill, my employers will hopefully not have to cut hours so severely. That means those of us working at DogBoy's will have more money in our pockets. We can buy the food and clothing we need, maybe go out on a date night occasionally and, yes, pay our taxes. If the people who employ me don't have to lay me off, that means your taxes don't have to support me, my wife and child on a government assistance program, and I don't have to collect unemployment insurance.

Additionally, I can continue to pay for preschool for my son. The church that runs the school will then use that revenue to sustain the school and perhaps other social outreach programs depending on their finances. My wife and I can continue to afford the woman who watches our son the one day a week not covered by a flexible schedule or preschool, not to mention the woman we have clean our townhouse once a month in lieu of premium cable.

I am just one of about 20 employees at DogBoy's, each casting their own economic ripples. And DogBoy's is just one of many Austin businesses who took advantage of these subsidies. Not to mention the business throughout Texas and the country. The multiplier effect of such relatively small grants as this is just one of the reasons why I can't buy into belief that big government is somehow the source of all our problems.

One person's boondoggle is another person's lifeline. And just remember: even if you never set foot in a business with solar panels,  you still reap the benefits.


Your tags:


Enter the amount, and click "Tip" to submit!
Recipient's email address:
Personal message (optional):

Your email address:


Type your comment below: