Report: 'Stimulus' Wasted Billions of Taxpayer Money on Rural Internet Projects
During the Depression, the REA truly did help bring electricity to an entire nation. Even through the 1950s, REA loans and grants built out sewers and telephone lines, benefitting the nation. So, what happened? In part, the older, streamlined model offered insufficient opportunities for graft, as Glenn Reynolds likes to say. The FCC’s Universal Service Fund (look at your phone bill; you pay it) is a slush fund of not-particularly-accountable money that can be thrown at well-connected cronies in the guise of internet for the poor.
Partially, it's Pournelle’s Iron Law of Bureaucracy: those dedicated to the organization, rather than the organization’s goals, will crowd out the publicly minded. Another issue with these programs is "mission creep": the REA transmogrified into the RUS, and needed new missions to justify its existence. "Internet for the poor" fit that bill.
The size of the waste, though, you can blame on the ideology behind massive growth in government spending. Only an alert, well-read, engaged public can starve this beast.