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Working Without a Net 

A JOURNALIST, A SMALL TOWN ... AND NO BROADBAND

  Note to Rod Dreher: call U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu.

  Dreher, a contributor to National Review and The American Conservative magazines, moved from the Philadelphia area back to his home town of St. Francisville, La., last year due to a family member's illness. He and his family liked it so much they decided to stay. Since then, Dreher has been filing notes on small-town Louisiana for The American Conservative.

  Recently, however, Dreher found one major drawback to country living. "Broadband access at my house is frustratingly slow," he wrote in the magazine. "We had to cancel Netflix, because we can't stream. My iPad apps can't update. ... Before you say, 'Oh, shut up, you and your First World problems,' I will point out that given the line of work I'm in — media — I have to have reliable broadband access to do my job efficiently." He added, "Is this something the town, or parish government, would have an interest in subsidizing, as an economic development initiative?"

  Enter the senator who has long been a proponent of using federal stimulus funds to expand high-speed Internet access in rural Louisiana. Two years ago, Landrieu (who sits on the Senate Appropriations Committee) steered $49 million to the state to help build broadband networks in St. Landry, St. Martin and Acadia parishes. Last November she railed against Gov. Bobby Jindal for rejecting an $80 million grant to continue extending broadband access to rural areas across the state.

  Whether he realized it or not, Dreher — an advocate of bootstrap, do-it-yourself small-government conservatism and a Jindal admirer — seemed to be on Team Landrieu on this issue. "You don't realize how much our modern way of economic life depends on reliable high-speed Internet service, until you don't have it," he told his readers. "Towns and places that don't have it are going to get left behind, economically."

  Not to mention Netflix. — Kevin Allman

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