So Net Neutrality has come up in a large way because of the fact that a number of people have seen how the FCC lost their suit. Can’t obviously say I didn’t see it coming given the current Third Gilded Age we live in. You know what happens when corporate interests take over the government and decide to pay themselves and ignore the nation? That’s the basic Gilded Age. The first was in the 1860s when the railroads were fighting against slavery (another video, another time). The second came up in the 1920s with the wild speculation of the Carnegies and Rockefellers. Our third one basically began when Nixon II, um, I mean Reagan… Became president through sabotaging the presidency.
So what does this have to do with Net Neutrality. Well… Pretty much everything. Reagan allowed a number of monopolies to form while stating how “we need to starve the beast of government”. Less in public services, less in innovation, more wars, more police in poor areas, and less regulation of the phone industry. And that set a trend… You see, there was the elimination of a charter for a business to kill it and Reagan never utilized that option. There was the fact that AT&T basically began to merge under Reagan that helped to grow their monopoly.
Now right about here, we should take a basic discussion into economics… There seems to be a number of people that believe that the government works best when it works least from Adam Smith’s work in capitalism from his time. Fair enough. But did anyone remember what he had to say about mercantilists of his time?
“The proposal of any new law or regulation of commerce which comes from capitalists ought always to be listened to with great precaution, and ought never to be adopted, till after having been long and carefully examined, not only with the most scrupulous, but with the most suspicious attention. It comes from an order of men, whose interest is never exactly the same with that of the public, who have generally an interest to deceive and even to oppress the public, and who accordingly have, upon many occasions, both deceived and oppressed it.”
Now let’s break this down… Adam Smith lived through a time of transition from feudalism to capitalism and he was very wary of the merchant class. When you see this need for government not to work, it usually works in the favor of those in a position to take advantage of less government.
Having said all this, you can see why I focus on the big companies as I do. The reason they got there was by eating smaller ones, then colluding to control the markets. Whether that’s the oil industry, Hollywood, or anything else, you see the problem, hopefully.
So that brings us to the supposed Net Neutrality regulations that are indeed the “backbone” to innovation as people want to believe.
But before we get into that, let me ask you a question…
What happens when you have a number of rules set up to control a monopoly? If history is any lesson, that monopoly learns how to bend those rules or break them. AT&T and Time Warner do that… Quite well in fact. Eating the competition, depriving states of revenue with their tax incentives, and fighting against government regulations.
In a sense, this proves to us that the work of regulating a private company is folly. This is akin to taming a savage beast. They will always work to their best interests. And their best interests are to make more money, not to provide the best service. Case in point…
So the question is that we have these giants in the field and they have 40 or 50 year advantages. They’re bloated and they love to engulf themselves on your tax payer dollars. Can you fight such an entity? It is my belief that it can be done, and must be done by those in the public sphere. And it’s done by focusing on the level that can create the largest change by people: The grassroots.
Yes, having a top down structure can help in fighting. The Gods only know that having Google inspire some actual competition can indeed help. But the fact remains that the public has a right to good broadband service in the areas that they need it most. Their homes. As of now, the US has very unappealing broadband penetration which has monopoly pricing and exorbitant fees from lack of competition. But it can be fixed.
If the national brands have bought off politicians, it’s time to demand services which the public needs. And the state level has just a solution in eliminating the laws that Comcast, Time Warner, and other entities rely on. Imagine what would happen if you had a community that had internet access on a local level and you could complain to your mayor about the outages… Imagine if the maintenance and upkeep was a local fee that required you to keep knowledgeable people close at hand. Imagine that if Comcast or Time Warner wanted to enter your community, they had to pay you, not the other way around. Would that cause and spur competition?
In my view, municipal and small time broadband would ensure that more people would have access to the internet while ensuring that large businesses stop failing to deliver. If a company can not bring about results to my area, why would I want to employ that company again and again and lead to the same disappointment? Why not just roll up my own sleeves and fight for my own internet access?
This is the point that must be maintained. Net Neutrality was always about adding new regulations. This is not the issue that should be focused on. The issue is to instill competition into the public sphere. That is done through a sharpened focus on city and state legislatures and fighting for more access through local channels.
And as I write, there are indeed success stories. Tennessee has 1GB internet while Mississippi seems to be working on it. Santa Monica, CA has a 10 Gigabit network and other places can fight for Google broadband support. But this does not mean that local people can’t fight for stronger access to the internet. Sometimes, you have to fight for the things that truly matter.