They don't quite want to bill like utilities, either; that would imply less use results in a smaller bill. Pay more when your connection for more than the occasional email? Sure thing! But cable companies only want that to go in one direction.
There are plenty of open-source programs that are, in fact, in the public domain — SQLite would be one example thereof. (And if for whatever reason your lawyers don't think that's clear enough, it's possible to buy an explicit license.)
You left out the really frakked-up part. Say you're in the UK and want to apply for a US visa. Step #1: call an 09 number.
That's right. The State Department won't give you a visa until you call their phone-sex line. And make an appointment, get TSAed, and come to grovel in person. We don't actually want foreigners coming anywhere near us. Must be cooties or something.
Those stores you mourn had crap selection, extremely inflated prices, and limited hours. Heck, many of them were probably closed on Sundays. If it wasn't for the Internet and Walmart, people in Malone would be driving to Montréal all the time to get a better selection, even if things are more expensive north of the border. (For all I know, they do. The closest I've been is Ithaca, and I can assure you that if it weren't for the large chains there everyone would still burn metric buttloads of gas driving to Syracuse.)
This is the same sense of entitlement British merchants have — they can't be bothered to have trading hours, inventory, or any other reason at all for customers to visit, and then wonder why the grocery stores have turned into general-merchandise stores. "Throw money at my closed doors" is not a sustainable business plan; moaning about how nobody will burn their vacation time to shop at your store, instead of at a merchant that actually wants the business, accomplishes nothing but making sure everyone gets the message to not even bother with your third-rate establishment.