Does it seem to you that Washington is a big circus? My wife, Becky, and I certainly think so, especially after watching Glenn Beck’s interview with congressman Eric Massa. The only one to apologize for wasting our time was Beck. As Massa talked to us about making a difference by writing to our politicians, we just watched in amazement as the tickle-party train wreck continued to unfold. It’s more than a distraction—it’s disturbing. This clown is part of our legislative branch? Give me a break.
As President Obama’s final health-care campaign tour comes to a town near you, do you wonder, as I do, who’s in the audience supporting him? The only thing missing is the SEIU banner. The Rasmussen Reports daily Presidential Tracking Poll for Wednesday gives Obama a Presidential Approval Index rating of minus 21—matching the lowest Approval Index rating yet recorded for him. And he just continues to pound away to “get it done.” How does that make you feel? Believe me, I know. It’s bad.
Two issues near and dear to progressives’ hearts will unfold next week: health care and the FCC’s broadband plan. Both are attempts to put more government in your life. I would scrap both. You already know about the forced Obamacare vote, and you need to know about the coming FCC broadband plan as well.
Broadband czar Blair Levin feels the plan will cover the enormous mandate set by Congress. Great, I’m sure he does. As Ronald Reagan said, “The nine most terrifying words in the English language are: ‘I’m from the government and I’m here to help.’” Where’s that wisdom today in Washington?
I’ve talked to you about net neutrality, also known as government-controlled Internet. Whatever you want to call it, government control of the Internet will be accomplished in a number of ways. Look for net neutrality to sneak along within the Internet Freedom Preservation Act of 2009 currently in the House. It will not be spelled out in next week’s broadband plan.
In the broadband plan, government will put its foot in the door. Here we’ll learn that the government will subsidize the extension of the Internet to rural areas at more than double the current cost of hooking up a suburban home. Is it your fault if you currently have Internet service in your home? Of course it’s not. Is it your responsibility to subsidize the Internet for rural areas? The government thinks it is. Funny how the marketplace deems it too expensive today. Maybe it wouldn’t be if the government got out of the way.
Thanks to existing FCC restrictions over broadcast airwaves, those airwaves are not even part of the conversation about extending broadband to rural areas. Ironically, part of the FCC’s plan is to take over “available” airwaves—which are privately owned, I might add—and use them for wireless broadband. What if current owners don’t want to give them up? As NAB spokesman Dennis Wharton points out in BusinessWeek, “Sometimes in Washington, voluntary means, ‘if you don’t do what we are suggesting, we are going to make it mandatory.’” Isn’t that a shot of confidence in your government?
In his article “The FCC’s Misguided Spectrum Quest,” columnist Holman W. Jenkins Jr. of The WSJ writes:
[C]onsider a commentary by the invaluable Harry Jessell at TVNewsCheck.com. He notes the irony of the FCC’s likely blessing of the Comcast-NBC merger even as it “adamantly refuses to allow two TV stations to merge in Toledo.” He notes that the same agency that flays broadcast execs if a four-letter word is heard on the airwaves meanwhile is seemingly hellbent “to put a broadband-enabled cellphone into the hands of every man, woman and child in America and thereby give them immediate access to explicit full motion video of virtually every sex act ever devised.”
The FCC must know what’s best for us, right? Think about all the waste these government rules create.
Apparently this is a joke to Genachowski, who opened his speech “Implementing the National Broadband Plan: Perspectives from Government, Industry, and Consumers” by saying, “The FCC is doing everything it can to provide full employment for telecom lawyers. Whatever else we are failing at, we are succeeding at that.” I’m sure he and Blair thought that was just hilarious.
Keep in mind, there’s a reason they’re calling this “Genachowski’s national broadband plan.” Input from the five FCC commissioners has apparently been solicited. Yet approval does not require their vote. Read more about the real architects of the plan.
Progressives will never have a clear vision as they legislate utopia. As Adam Thierer of The Progress & Freedom Foundation points out, an entire forest fell as they tried to define “telecom reform” in just three competition rules in the Telecom Act. Specifically, here’s what the lawyers came up with: Local Competition Order (1996): 737 pages, 3,283 footnotes; UNE Remand Order (1999): 262 pages, 1,040 footnotes; and UNE Triennial Review (2003): 576 pages, 2,447 footnotes. Now, 13 years later, the meaning of “telecom reform” is still being debated.
In another article, Thierer and Berin Szoka discuss the Government Accountability Office (GAO) report Information Collection and Management at the Federal Communications Commission (GAO-10-249), which examined information reporting practices at the FCC. In its effort to regulate, the FCC gathers information on required company filings, applications for licenses, consumer complaints, company financials, and other issues, such as an annual survey of cable operators. It’s just another example of what too much regulation leads to: “the FCC told the (GAO) that it receives nearly 385 million responses with an estimated 57 million burden hours associated with the 413 collection instruments.”
The radical left wants nothing more than to control the Internet, and that control will impede your right to freedom of speech. Achieving this end is right up there with health care on their wish list for you. No thanks. I’ve had enough of the Washington circus moving from one industry to another and leaving us to clean up their mess.
Watch this video for an overview of net neutrality.
Or if you’re in the mood for something on the lighter side, check out “Fruitcakes” by Jimmy Buffett. Guess what? We’re not perfect—and that’s OK.
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.