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August 06, 2010

Behold The Modern Liberal Mind: Oh Noes! Teh Intertubes Will Sux Unless The Government Gets Involved

Net Neutrality is a big deal for a lot of folks. I can't say I'm anything near being fully up to speed on it but a generally safe rule of thumb is that if Keith Olbermann and Al Franken are for it, I'm against it.

Last night Olbermann (no longer of NBC's Sunday Night Football coverage), had on Josh Silver, a HufPo writer to go on about the supposed dire consequences of not allowing the government to regulate the internet.

OLBERMANN: But if the FCC is not in charge of oversight from a—from a governmental point of view, is there—is anybody in charge of it? I mean, is the Federal Trade Commission in charge? Anaconda Wire? Who‘s in charge?

SILVER: Nobody. This is the problem. And it really shows just how badly money has corrupted the government. I mean, we‘ve got a situation where the phone companies spend—they‘re second only to the pharmaceutical companies in Washington spending. They‘ve got the majority of the U.S. Congress on their side on this issue and they know it.

So, they‘re running the table. The Federal Communications Commission is the only agency who can regulate on this. And, so far, the chairman, Obama‘s appointee, has sat on his hands since that court decision last April. The only thing that‘s going to work is if people across the country understand the gravity and importance of this issue and actually start to get involved.

OLBERMANN: How did Alan Grayson—who‘s been one of the progressive heroes of the last six to eight months—how did he get on the wrong side of this? He‘s against net neutrality?

SILVER: It‘s crazy. He‘s saying that Congress should make the

decision and not the Federal Communications Commission because, he knows,

the next FCC could change the rules again. But the problem is, as I said -
you know, it‘s important to know, Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid, Henry Waxman
most of the leadership in the Congress right now, they‘re good on this issue. They support net neutrality and they support consumers.

But, you know, the rest of the Congress is not good. Seventy-four Democrats came out against net neutrality and against the FCC reclassifying or reasserting authority, and all but one Republican House member is against agency authority.

So, you know, once people start to understand, though, that this is the big game-changer, then things can and will have to change—because the president has come out, a big supporter of net neutrality, as has the FCC chairman.

So much fun stuff to unpack in this little excerpt.

To begin with, let's be honest, if the federal government regulated the internet from the start the internet as we know it wouldn't exist. The few people involved in it would be computer geeks spending all there time on CompuServe message boards. Thanks to the freewheeling, entrepreneurial landscape, non computer geeks can spend all day on blogs! Isn't that better? Oh that and the fact that billions of dollars of commerce is conducted on the modern internet, whole new industries have been created and continue to be created, much of the increase in political activity we are seeing is directly linked to the ability of people to connect and share more information than ever before and on and on and on.

But according to these geniuses, the only salvation for this modern wonder is...government regulation.

Note well the irony that Keith is absolutely aghast at the idea that the government isn't regulating how the market prices the importance of information from his perch on a cable TV network which is not government regulated.

I also love the idea that the FCC has to grab this power because Congress may not vote for it. Elected representatives of the people don't want something? No problem. Just pretend that their only objection is rooted in corruption, ignore the popular will and regulate by fiat!

Democracy isn't a value to these people, it's a tool to use when it suits them and to ignore when it doesn't. Liberalism is simply an exercise in raw power by self-anointed leaders who think they know what's best for the proles.

As I said, I'm not an expert on Net Neutrality but I'm more than a little skeptical that the answer is government. If companies set up this multi-tiered system and people don't like it, there are always other companies they can do business with. If too many companies wind up providing a service in a way customers don't like, someone will invent a new technology to deliver it to them. And besides, who to say there aren't going to be some customer advantages from the systems companies set up?

There's never going to be a perfect balance between customer desire and companies trying to maximize profits. That's why markets exist, to allow for choice, to provide feedback to participants and to spur on innovations. Those are not exactly the strong suits of government bureaucracies.


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posted by DrewM. at 12:18 PM

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