Your Internet freedom is going to change with the passing of a law called net neutrality—or government-run Internet. There are still lots of questions and uncertainties surrounding the issue. But we’ll have a clearer picture of what’s in store by the middle of this month, when Federal Communications Commission (FCC) chairman Julius Genachowski unveils his national broadband plan.
The struggle between big government and the big government–created telecommunications industry will likely result in a compromise where the Internet is more regulated than it is today and the barriers to entry even higher. In the end, our freedom of information and the speed at which we get it will suffer immensely. It doesn’t need to be this way.
In my post back in November titled “A Web of Czars, Progressives, and Their True Intentions,” I wrote about your First Amendment rights being under attack by radical progressives. Net neutrality is the tool they adopted to organize a push for government run Internet. The leader of the progressives behind this movement is, of course, Barack Obama.
In his speech on November 14, 2007, in Mountain View, California, Obama asserted, “I will take a backseat to no one in my commitment to net neutrality.”
Julius Genachowski, Obama’s friend from their days at Harvard, said the following in a speech he gave to the Brookings Institute on his six principles of net neutrality. I have added comments in parenthesis:
Greater transparency (read: government intervention) will give consumers the confidence of knowing that they’re getting the service they paid for (subsidized by the government), enable innovators to make their offerings work effectively (not likely with government involved) over the Internet (they’ll control the lines), and allow policy-makers (Mr. Genachowski and friends) to ensure that broadband providers (oligopolies) are preserving the Internet as a level playing field (subsidized Internet for all).
Susan Crawford, Internet czar, who just last month stepped down to return to the comforts of academia, wants the Internet to be like the mail and a utility. According to The WSJ, she referred to the $7.2 billion taken from the Obama stimulus program as just a down payment for broadband and said that, “We should do a better job as a nation of making sure fast, affordable broadband is as ubiquitous as electricity, water, snail mail or any other public utility.”
Robert McChesney is a socialist friend of the White House and co-founder of the neo-Marxist organization Free Press. In an interview with Socialist Project, he said, “At the moment, the battle over network neutrality is not to completely eliminate the telephone and cable companies. We are not at that point yet. But the ultimate goal is to get rid of the media capitalists in the phone and cable companies and to divest them from control.”
Van Jones is a Marxist, former green jobs czar, and former member of the board at Freepress.net. Here’s what he has to say on net neutrality: “It does no good to win on net neutrality if net neutrality winds up having a neutral impact on the American people. I would argue that fighting not just at the FCC, as important as that is, but fighting to make sure that every local city and municipality is making free broadband available to everybody has to be number one on our agenda.”
Mark Lloyd is the current diversity czar at the FCC. NewsBusters.org quoted his comments on the First Amendment:
“It should be clear by now that my focus here is not freedom of speech or the press. This freedom is all too often an exaggeration. At the very least, blind references to freedom of speech or the press serve as a distraction from the critical examination of other communications policies.
[T]he purpose of free speech is warped to protect global corporations and block rules that would promote democratic governance.”
It is more than likely that all of the above have had a hand in forming the current administration’s architecture for the Internet and propaganda strategy surrounding net neutrality. Their scare tactics have worked. Groups such as Gun Owners of America and the Christian Coalition of America are on board with net neutrality and are charter members listed at Freepress.net. Clearly, leadership is confused on the issue. Membership needs to explain that the government is not the solution in protecting their rights.
The progressives have couched net neutrality in such a harmless-sounding title that it requires time to figure out the issue, and it is confusing. And that’s their point.
Unfortunately, the history surrounding big telecommunications companies is all about government intervention. Market share has been doled out to a lucky few. Genachowski has said one of his goals is to expand 100-megabit-per-second service to 100 million homes by 2020. I can tell you the fastest way to get that done is to do away with the oligopolies. Remove restrictive federal rules. If the rules are there to “protect” the consumer, then they need to be a states’ rights issue. These government regulations are in violation of the Constitution and are harming competition. Therefore, states should seriously consider exercising their 10th Amendment rights.
Faced with opposition to net neutrality, Genachowski seems to be horse trading with the big telecommunications companies. Just this week, we learned that one part of the coming broadband plan will include $25 billion in new federal spending for high-speed Internet lines and a wireless network for police and firefighters as part of the broader plan. Why is big telecom supportive?
First, it’s the money, of course. Obama’s stimulus plan already forked over $7.2 billion for the expansion of broadband lines. Now, an additional $9 billon of the requested $25 billion in “new” federal spending will be earmarked to bring broadband lines to rural areas faster. N4 Group, which builds and operates broadband networks, estimates the cost to hook up each rural home at $4,000, as compared to $1,400 per suburban home.
Why aren’t the telecoms complaining? Because their new bread and butter is wireless, which would gain market share if, as the released portion of the plan suggests, a block of airwaves are set aside for police and firefighters. Any wonder who’s going to get this business?
We may never learn about the behind-the-scenes deal making. We do know Genachowski’s intentions for the Internet through the six principles he laid out back in September. “What he proposes is an intrusive, never-ending government hand in the growth and management of the Internet, one that is clearly aimed at the Socialist goal of ‘single-payer Internet,’ run with the same agile reactiveness as the DMV or the TSA,” wrote Neil Stevens on the RedState blog. In other words, Obamacare for the Internet.
Genachowski rejects the accusation of trying to regulate the Internet. Yet, more recently, when pressed by The WSJ on the subject, he admitted he was referring to regulating Internet lines, not content. What happens once they get their foot in the door? Ever try putting milk back in a cow?
Back in 2008, Andy Kessler wrote the following in The WSJ on the subject of net neutrality:
Net Neutrality is simply using the typical leftist tactic, finding a poor, untrodden victim, the folks who don’t have access to the internet now, the “public services” that might not be able to get their emergency messages out (and thus people will die, people will always die if you don’t follow the left’s policies), but in fact it is nothing more than a justification to open up the door to complete government control of the internet in the name of “public good,” to actually limit the bandwidth for most of us to ostensibly bring more bandwidth to those in need, bandwidth redistribution.
In February, Neil Stevens of the RedState blog had this to say:
Net Neutrality is facing obstacles now that the issues and intentions of the government are figured out. When FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski uses words like “regulate” and “Internet,” they mean precisely what he wants them to mean when he says them. So when he says he does not want to regulate the Internet, he means that he only wants to treat the Internet the way he treats your local NBC affiliate broadcasting USA Curling to your home. That affiliate, of course, is fully regulated by the FCC.
Now a federal court appears poised to say [that] the law does not give the FCC the authority to regulate firms that provide information services, such as ISPs. In response to such a ruling, which would kill the vast “Net Neutrality” regulatory scheme before it started, the FCC is going to declare that ISPs are no longer IT firms. In other words, Julius Genachowski will take an unfavorable court ruling, change the meanings of the words, and do what the court just told him is illegal. He is arrogant and believes himself above all oversight and control.
The U.S. postal service could lose $238 billion over the next 10 years. Is this what a single-payer Internet would turn into? You bet it would. I can almost guarantee that if it’s up to the Obama-led radical progressives, deficits are right around the corner. And how long would telecommunications companies be allowed to hang around? Do you think your choices for cable and telephone providers would increase? Not a chance. Single-payer Internet would further reduce service and choices once runaway costs force a rationing of both. The result would be a single-payer, government-run Internet with the flexibility of a telephone pole. That would be the radical progressives’ dream come true.
E.J. Smith is Managing Director of Richard C. Young & Co., Ltd. an investment advisory firm managing portfolios for investors with over $1,000,000 in investable assets.