Thursday, December 14, 2017

Net Neutrality Is Dead and Munchkins Are Dancing In the Street

We are the FCC, sir. WE are omneepeetent!
Hooray! Net Neutrality is repealed. The Democrats are wailing that the Internet is doomed because businesses that provide goods and services on the Web will not be heavily regulated by the federal government for "the good of the people."

Oh, frabjous day!  The truth is Net Neutrality had nothing to do with neutrality. It had everything to do with power. It's a battle over who controls the Internet - the users and innovators who made it a powerful economic engine or the government which has been trying to figure out how to control and tax the Internet since it got out of hand thirty years ago. People argue that without NN and FCC control, the Internet will be controlled by big corporations like Amazon, Google, Microsoft, Apple, Centurylink, Comcast, Xfinity and such. Trouble is, every one of those "evil" big corporations SUPPORTED Net Neutrality and spent lots of money trying to get it passed. 
Why do you suppose that is? Okay, I'll tell you, young Padawan. It's because the Democrat sponsored bill made the Net into a public utility and gave the FCC regulatory increased powers over who does what on the World Wide Web. Now there would be fewer folk that Big Digital needs to bribe in order to get their way. Without NN, customers decide whether or not they use these digital behemoths' products. If the product sucks, they can go elsewhere to obtain service. With NN, you just grease the right government officials with lobbying dollars and voila! You get whatever "regulation" you want.

Why not make the Internet a public utility? Won't that upset Big Digital? Not so much! AT&T was much happier when the phone system was a "public utility" regulated by the FCC. You see government regulators LOVE big corporations. The more big corporations, the less work the FCC has to do. All those independent little entrepreneurs clog the system with essential paperwork. Big corporations love government regulation because it protects their monopoly. This way the FCC can control the amount of paperwork so as to exert the maximum power with the minimum effort.

And without efficient government paperwork, government bureaucrats either don't have any work to do or they have too much. The trouble with the Internet is that the government has historically little power to censor, control and tax those who do business there. It wound up being the digital Wild West. So, of course Democrats on the FCC board wanted Net Neutrality so badly. 
Three reasons:
  1. It gave them power to tax Internet users and to control what people say about the government.
  2. It gave them an excuse to hire more people and there's nothing bureaucrats love more than more minions. It gives them the illusion of greatness to have lots of hired servants.
  3. It furthers the goal of centralization of power in the hands of government.
Don't forget what condition the phone company was in before deregulation. Remember "Ernestine the telephone operator" - the old Lily Tomlin comedy routine? Lily got laughs from Ernestine's bullying of customers. I remember one line where the customer said "You can't do that!" She snorted derisively and said, "We are the phone company. We are omneepeetent!"

It was funny, but not far from truth. Within a year of deregulation, we went from $1 plus per minute long distance to Sprint's ground-breaking ten cents a minute long distance. Mobile phones went from a car trunk full of equipment, $200 a month service charges and a year's waiting list to buying cell phones in Walmart for a hundred bucks and paying $20 a month for service within the space of a couple of years.

The phone system still hasn't shed all the taxes leftover from when it was a "public utility". Do we really want to make the Internet into "Ma Bell"? Apparently at least some of us do not. Thank goodness for them.

Ding dong, Net Neutrality's dead, and this Munchkin is hap, hap, happy about it!

© 2017
by Tom King

1 comment:

Mark Milliorn said...

Free market competition never hurt anyone in the long run. Competition lowers prices while improving quality, and encourages innovation. Net neutrality would have locked the internet into a single government controlled rut, stifling the kind of kooky startups and weird ideas that created the net.