Friday, January 14, 2011

Cut Government - Start by Dumping the FCC

The FCC is an outmoded appendage of the past.  Time to shut it down.  As a bonus, we would save $325 million per year in the process

The same organization that forced all consumers to buy Ma Bell-made telephones for decades, the same FCC that enforced speech codes via radio "fairness doctrines," the same FCC that took two decades after its invention to OK cellular technology for the marketplace and acted similarly sluggishly with cable and satellite innovation has no business online.  (Harsanyi)
Jack Shafer sees the FCC's latest "Net Neutrality" power grab as a "solution" looking for a problem:
The FCC's sense of urgency may befuddle you. After all, the many-colored, hydra-headed, and infernally useful beast that is the U.S. Internet came into being without government demands and decrees. Without commandments from the FCC or anybody else, American broadband companies invested tens of billions of dollars to create an Internet infrastructure for their customers.
He also explains how the free market works:
Would any of the companies currently in the broadband game have built their systems without the expectation that they could "leverage" their investment? I doubt it.

Do they lust for an Internet environment that imprisons us in their "walled garden" and bleeds us for every penny during our stay? Of course they do.

But then why—in the absence of FCC regulatory powers to ban such Internet land-grabs—haven't the broadband providers erected such walled gardens?

Because 1) they face competition from another broadband provider and don't want to give their customers an incentive to leave, or 2) where they're the only broadband provider, they tend not to want to give a potential competitor encouragement to enter their market.

That's it in a nutshell.  This isn't about the Orwellian sounding "Net Neutrality" or "Open Internet."  As David Harsanyi warns us...
"... doublespeak is still flourishing [...] it reminds us that the FCC's institutional positions conflict with the vibrancy and freedom of the Internet." (Harsanyi)

It's about power and control.  The progressive urge to regulate every last corner of our lives is metastisizing and has spread to the internet
Even the staunchest net neutrality advocate will concede that net neutrality is a fuzzy concept. No network can be purely neutral. If the current Internet didn't prioritize some traffic at the expense of other traffic, the whole enterprise would grind to a halt like Manhattan's streets when the stoplights stop working.

So the basic question here is who will set the Internet's priorities, the government or the providers. (Shafer)

Jack Shafer - Who's Internet is it Anyway?

Harsanyi - Save the Net; Abolish the FCC


Jersey McJones said...

It is a prerogative of the federal gov't to regulate interstate, national commerce, and so we have an FCC. We have to have one.

Anmd ANYONE who is against Net Nuetrality is truly a delluded loony. It is truly telling of the lack of understanding of free market capitalism among conservatives that they happily oppose Net Neutrality because a few popular sleazy scumbags tell them they should.


Silverfiddle said...

If Net neutrality really were just about net neutrality, it might be ok. But it's not; it's about unelected regulators intervening in the free market to solve problems that do not exist.

Frequency management could easily be managed by a private contract, and the federal government has no business regulating the internet.

Your capacious interpretation of the interstate commerce clause combined with our increasingly interconnected world would give government control over virtually all aspects of our lives.

I thought you were against a police state?

Lisa said...

He's only for it if Obama is president, you know the guy who is keeping Gitmo detainees indefinitely and using rendition and pretty much putting the rest of the patriot act on steroids and now moving to controlling the internet by way of "doing something good".
That's how they do it,they walk you into bad policies all while giving you a big reasuring hug.
In other wordes" blindsided"

Bastiatarian said...

>ANYONE who is against Net Nuetrality is truly a delluded loony

ANYONE who thinks that there is anything at all "neutral" about Net Neutrality (correct spelling) is truly a deluded (correct spelling) loony.

>I thought you were against a police state?

He's not. He's afraid of liberty. That's why he needs everything regulated.

Finntann said...

I have to disagree with you on this one. That said, what ends up in net neutrality regulations needs to be about net neutrality.

Providers are pushing the boundries of acceptable behavior with practices such as Deep Packet Inspection. The contents of message traffic is not something your ISP should be looking at, any packet should be treated as any other packet of the same size. The content of my data packets, like the content of my phone call is none of the providers business, or the government's either barring a warrant.

I'm surprised that as a libertarian you are not more concerned about who's looking at your data and why. Google Narus for some insight if you wish, you'd be amazed what they can do.

That said, the FCC needs to get out and stay out of the content management business.

Like it or not, telecommunications companys are public utilities, with infrastructure taken by the government via eminent domain, else I would happily charge QWest for the use of my personal property in the transmission of their data. Why shouldn't I get .001 cents a packet for all that data streaming under my garden? It's not QWests land! I relinquish certain rights in exchange for the common good, those utilizing my property without paying me compensation are expected to do the same.

Silverfiddle said...

Finn: The government intruding in the free market is what I don't like about this. Net Neutrality is right up there with "The Ministry of Truth," as far as I'm concerned.

Jersey McJones said...

Look, guys, you conservatives were coll with net nuetrality only a few years ago. I remember vociferous rightwing arguments against getting rid of it back in the early 2000's. You guys are like the wind.

Remember, this only affects carriers. That's all they are. They operate in the public sphere, along the roads and conduits, telephone lines and pipes, and in our skies. These carriers have to go out of their way to obey all sorts of regulations you guys are fine with.

The one thing we all used to ask of them was not to limit use of the internet by cheating on the search logarithms. Marketing on the net will remain as vibrant as ever only if we allow them, the producers, to go to where the customers are. Without net nuetrality, both marketers and customers will have to fight through pikemen in the road (the carriers) to find each other.

This strikes me as such a simple, logical, constitutional, correct, capitalistic, free marketeer, healthy, growth-minded, FACT. Why anyone would be against net-friggin'-nuetrality is COMPLETELY beyond me.

And that stupid srgument that the FCC wants to take over or whatever - what kind of comic book universe do conservatives live in these days? The FCC couldn't take over a clothing chain! They're too small! They're not taking over anything. They're just maintaining the same rules we FRIGGIN' had in the first place.

Remember guys. We all like to blog. It would be a damned dirty shame if we had a harder time finding each other.


Mr Beardsley said...

"Finn: The government intruding in the free market is what I don't like about this. Net Neutrality is right up there with "The Ministry of Truth," as far as I'm concerned."

Silver it's already not a free market. And, as much as I hate to say it, that is by necessity. Just like water, electric, and gas service, you can't really have a bunch of companies running their own lines to every house. So we are in a special situation just like the public Utilities. Competition is key to free market success; what is to keep ISPs honest without competition?

Bastiatarian said...

>Look, guys, you conservatives were coll with net nuetrality only a few years ago.

Nobody that is a conservative by any meaningful definition of the word is for government intrusion in telecommunications. There may be Republicans that are for it, but anyone with even a couple of brain cells knows that Republicans have little to do with liberty.

Only a power-hungry thug or a liberty-fearing coward would be for the thoroughly non-neutral "Net Neutrality."


Jersey McJones said...

Bastiat, thank God you aren't king of the world. ;)


Silverfiddle said...

Off topic, but I have come over to the David Gilmour side of the Gilmour-Waters Pink Floyd split. I watched a concert video of him, Rick Wright, Nick Mason and an awesome cast of musicians and singers with my daughter (also a huge Floyd fan) and I was blown away. I also highly recommend "the making of Dark Side of the Moon" where Gilmour shows us how they did it.

So I'm not so stubborn after all...

Silverfiddle said...

It was Pulse, the one with the eyeballs

Finntann said...

The problem is it was never a free market: "messages received from any individual, company, or corporation, or from any telegraph lines connecting with this line at either of its termini, shall be impartially transmitted in the order of their reception, excepting that the dispatches of the government shall have priority ..." Pacific Telegraph Act of 1860.

If it was a free market, QWest, Verizon, or whoever your local telecommunications company is couldn't come in, erect poles or dig trenches, and run wire, cable, or fiber across your private property without compensation.

The government grants telecommunications companies limited monopoly rights for their market as an incentive to build infrastructure and uses eminent domain if necessary to secure the needed right of ways for these "private" companies.

The extreme end of this is Comcast doesn't allow it's customers to access Netflix over "its" infrastructure, of course they're not quite that bold...but do you want Comcast inhibiting your access to Netflix by delaying or slowing your access? Companies have done it already.

"Comcast refuses to plainly explain what it does to control BitTorrent traffic, but independent analyses have shown that Comcast is severely throttling internet traffic that is using the popular file sharing protocol BitTorrent by sending fake “I’m finished” messages to users’ BitTorrent programs. Those fake packets are also alleged to affect users of the mainstream business application Lotus Notes. "

The lawsuit has now come to an end, as Comcast settles it for $16 million

The complaint against RCN was filed in 2008 by Sabrina Chin and later expanded into a class-action lawsuit. According to the judge's summary, RCN was charged with violating the Consumer Fraud and Abuse Act "by promising its customers 'fast and untapped' broadband Internet service, when in fact [it] was engaging in a network management practice called 'throttling,' which was designed to prevent or delay customers from using the Internet in certain ways, including for 'peer-to-peer' file sharing."

The two sides agreed to a settlement in mid-2009

When you have limited government granted options for access, there is no free market.

Think its a free market? Try to start your own wireless company.

Finntann said...

Bandwidth and the RF Spectrum is a limited national resource, the FCC provides a necessary and governmental function in the allocation and distribution of that bandwidth.

Even if you subcontract out spectrum management, the power is inherently a governmental one... a private company can neither own nor allocate bandwidth. Without the governmental regulation, there is nothing to stop me from building a transmitter and walking all over WABC. Part of the reason for the establishment of the FRC (The predecessor to the FCC and assuming regulatory powers from the Department of Commerce.) was too many stations with too much power on too little bandwidth, resulting in chaos.

I am a Libertarian, free-market advocate, and also prefer minimal governmental interference. The keyword is minimal, for this is indeed a necessary level of government regulation. You may as well argue the government should eliminate traffic regulations as well as telecommunications regulations...because both would result in utter chaos.

Finntann said...

LOL...I just can't seem to let go of this one.

I don't P2P and I don't use a lot of bandwidth. I spent 3 years stuck on dialup because there is no cable and DSL wasn't offered yet. I now have 1.5MB DSL service, the fastest available in my area, and have no problem with my ISP limiting my bandwidth to 1.5MB, which is what I pay for. When higher speeds become available, I'll pay for higher speeds if I so desire.

What I have a problem with is, if I pay for 20Mbps... I expect 20 Mbps all the time. I don't like the idea of my ISP limiting my bandwidth by giving preferential treatment to associates while limiting my access to their competition. That is in no way a free market, when a market monopoly is granted by the government to my provider, limiting my choices.

I also expect the same privacy in my data service that I get in my voice service. You'd be screaming bloody murder if it came out that Verizon was listening in to your phone calls. The provider has no more right to look at and process your signal internals than they do to look at and listen to your phone calls.

Honestly, I'd rather knowingly be regulated by my government (which I at least theoretically have some control over) than unknowingly by my service provider (over which I have no control), especially when government granted monopoly powers limits my choice of provider.

That said, the FCC needs to operate within its legally established limits. This will all get worked out in the courts and congress.

Bastiatarian said...

>Bastiat, thank God you aren't king of the world.

Still can't answer the question, I see. Not to say that I'm surprised, of course.

And yes, I realize that you don't want me to be king of the world, since I'd leave everybody alone and let them direct their own lives, and determine themselves what they do with their own property. In other words, I would not enslave anyone, to any degree whatsoever. I know that whole freedom thing scares you and all, but I wouldn't force anybody to take care of you, so you would have to negotiate your own voluntary exchanges to get what you want and/or need. You know. Like an adult.

Trestin said...

Ah Jersey, you sure are entertaining.

Kurk, dead on with this one, we need to defund the FCC. We do not need a public censor. Besides it's not like they are doing a good job anyway.

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