Sunday, 26 December 2010
|1414 - The Left isn't always wrong|
I read the Power Line blog regularly. They generally have their head screwed on straight, unlike the Left. They do occasionally get it wrong, though, as in their posting on the FCC's push to adopt net neutrality regulations.
They don't allow comments on their site, but they do occasionally read and respond to email. I sent them this reply, in the hope that they'd do that, but so far, nothing...
Sorry, guys. I have to disagree with Scott's posting slamming the FCC on net neutrality. I'm normally a free-market conservative, but in this case I see a problem with no other solution.
Put simply, the problem is that the backbone carriers (AT&T, Comcast, Level 3, Verizon - in short, those who make money from carrying others' traffic) want the ability to pick and choose who gets good net service and those who do not, based on fees paid directly to them by those who provide content on the net. They claim this is only to help compensate them for the load placed on them by such providers as Google and YouTube. There's absolutely nothing, however, that would prevent them from simply dropping performance on any content provider they wished, for any reason they wished.
Let me bring this home to you: Let's say that Comcast is heavily influenced by the liberals that manage NBC after they succeed in buying them out. Never mind about discriminating against other sources of broadcast entertainment on the net. What would stop them from discriminating against Power Line? From deciding that you are a force for evil and should be silenced? That people should not have the right to read your words just as they do those of, say, The Daily Kos?
Nothing, that's what.
Normally, I would agree with those who say that market pressure would keep them in line. The problem is that there's no lever for a market to push on. Consumers don't get to choose which backbone carrier their net traffic goes over. The routing is all done automatically, at levels we never even see, let along get to inspect and influence. If I don't like Comcast's network management policies, there's nothing I can do about them because I'm not the one they're getting money from, even though they are affecting me.
This is a personal issue for me. My fame as the Tron Guy came entirely from my pictures, and later my videos, being spread across the net. In the kind of world that AT&T and Comcast want to create, that would not be possible, because I would have had no reason to know that, by paying their Danegeld, I would have gotten fame in return.
I firmly believe that governments have the Midas Muffler touch: Everything they touch turns into a muffler. Nevertheless, I simply see no alternative. Either we have mandated net neutrality, where everyone's content is equally treated as it travels across the net in a content-neutral manner, or else we will have an Internet controlled by the same kinds of people who give us the leftist MSM. I find the latter unacceptable, even at the cost of the alternative.
I'm still mildly nervous about being in bed with the Left on this issue, but console myself by noting that nobody's perfect, not even perfectly wrong.
current mood: awake
My standard "net neutrality" challenge: Write a definition that does what you want. You (presumably) want to allow an ISP to block spammers and malware sites, and to sell 3 MBPS for $40/month and 20 MBPS for $100/month.
I have yet to see a good definition (other than "I know it when I see it") and the government has never been good at writing laws to do what people want. Between their incompetence and corruption, I don't see anything good coming of this.
The problem is that I see nothing good coming from inaction, either. How would you keep Comcast from shutting off Power Line? I see that as an inevitable outgrowth of letting backbone providers -not just ISPs - discriminate on a basis that isn't directly tied to keeping the network going, as they want to do.
The MSM wants to turn the Internet into just an extension of the MSM. That MUST be avoided at all costs, lest the unique freedom of expression we have fades into dust.
I don't see them shutting off Power Line as an issue; the customer service costs from bunches of users calling to complain about "the Internet is broken" and demanding refunds until it gets fixed will handle that.
The problem I see is Comcast Video-on-demand will play quickly with high resolution, while Netflix Streaming will be downgraded. How do you avoid that, while still allowing them to sell customers different tiers of service?
The problem we have is too much regulation, and adding more regulation isn't going to solve it, and is in danger of doing exactly the same thing as letting the MSM control the internet.
Local governments have given franchises to Cable providers and given limited monopolies to DSL providers. The only thing left for competitors is wireless, and that can never compete with the way the FCC has everything over-regulated on that end. We need to break the back of the DSL/Cable duopoly by opening up competition in these markets. Give other companies guarantees that they can operate in areas and not be shut down by capricious local and state governments. Work with them to open markets up and install fiber and underground conduit whenever possible.
Municipalities that are insistent on putting in Fiber for all citizens should look into making it so the homeowners own the fiber, and they can choose who to lease it to for providing them access. Common access conduits would let new companies build out from their central offices to the curb easily, then the customer owned fiber would let them get to the house. All without digging up the street.
Short of this, what's the path going forward? The best way is to leave it in a state of legislative and legal limbo... so there's the threat of regulation without any actual regulation. That way, they'll avoid misbehaving too much, and we can keep doing what we've been doing for ages... Complaining loudly whenever someone starts breaking things. For the consumers, either having actual regulation or ruling regulation out without solving the government granted monopolies would both be equally bad.
And this is why you're one of the few Right people I bother to follow because you at least concede we have some ideas worth sharing. As I do you.
I *still* think that the only way for your country to prosper and advance is if the Democrats and Republicans find common ground, make concessions to the other, and work together. We need people like you lighting such a fire under the Right.