Should the Internet be 'Neutral'?

The very first message was sent over the internet 40 years ago on October 30, 1969. Today the internet has developed in a very short period into a central tool of our economy and our public media. And just as the internet is emerging as the most democratic media forum ever in world history with a place for every man, woman and child to express his/her opinion, internet monoliths and computer giants such as Google, Amazon.com and Microsoft suddenly are favoring the concept of ‘network neutrality’ or ‘internet neutrality’, which ultimately means strong government control of the internet.


Wikipedia.org says that:


Neutrality proponents claim that telecom companies seek to impose a tiered service model in order to control the pipeline and thereby remove competition, create artificial scarcity, and oblige subscribers to buy their otherwise uncompetitive services. Many believe net neutrality to be primarily important as a preservation of current freedoms.


This is the same basic falsehood that leftist anti-capitalists have been preaching for decades – that the private-sector players who in fact have built the internet like Earthlink, Verizon, Juno, Comcast, Road Runner, Facebook etc. cannot be trusted with its future because the private sector is profit-centered. Yet if that falsehood were applied in the real world to our American food-production system, for instance, then our private-sector food supply would not be bountiful as it is, but would be a system of artificial scarcity and empty shelves.


But the exact opposite is true. It is government-controlled agriculture that produces artificial scarcity. Just look at the starving masses throughout the 20th century in communist nations like China, the Soviet Union and North Korea.


Net neutrality is being advocated largely as an economic issue, that private control over the infrastructure of the internet ends up being economically discriminatory. Yet the real reason for regulation is betrayed by Vinton Cerf, who was co-inventor of the internet protocol (IP) and who now works at Google, who criticized the current internet saying that “the internet was designed with no gatekeepers over new content or services.”


“Gatekeepers”? Is that not exactly what a free society wants to avoid – powerful people who decide who says what and when? We have “gatekeepers” at the New York Times who make sure exactly what we see on its pages. We have “gatekeepers” in our universities who stifle free speech and who punish anyone who says things that dissent from leftist dogma.


But more crucially, notice that Cerf says “gatekeepers over new CONTENT or services”.


Content? This is a telling word. Does that not appear to mean that proponents of net neutrality really want to control content, perhaps by first controlling the economic infrastructure through government regulation?


Yes. It certainly sounds like they want to control the whole internet, top to bottom, as if it were NBC or the New York Times.


That these mega-corporations like Microsoft, Google and Amazon, in concert with the Obama administration, suddenly see the internet as needing to be regulated by government should be frightening to us all. Because these companies are left-wing big businesses that favor big government in every way, and want to work alongside that government to control the internet – and everything else – under the concept of ‘neutrality’. It should be very worrisome that neutrality-favoring Google employees gave more than $1 million to president Obama’s election campaign in 2008. Meanwhile many, many computer moguls are super-liberal.


Why this tilt to the left? Aren’t rich people supposed to be conservatives and Republicans?


Hardly. Because computers are based in the ‘soft’ information/media/communications sector of the economy which generally has tilted to the left, while the ‘hard’ economy like manufacturing, steel, railroads, logging, construction, energy generation and mining generally is much more conservative. And America today is shifting toward a ‘soft’ economy while ‘hard’ endeavors like manufacturing and mining are shrinking or moving overseas.


The internet has been called ‘the wild, wild West’ with so many opinions available. Except that all those different opinions on the internet are more broad-based and wide-ranging than the New York Times or the leftist intelligentsia care for. Many of those opinions disagree with the New York Times’ opinion and the Obama administration’s opinion. And so the New York Times and its media/computer/internet/government friends at NBC and Microsoft and Google and Amazon and in Washington, DC do not want Americans to read those opinions without some sort of filtering.


Because after decades of control, liberals came to believe that all media are theirs alone to control. Until the internet came along. And now they wish to take it over to the left just as they have done with our newspapers, our universities, our public schools, the arts, the entertainment industry and the courts by using one simple tactic – filtering out conservatives and their opinions. And the only way to do that is through government control.


Just look at how liberals have managed to control so much of public opinion today. The Fairness Doctrine was instituted to monitor opinions on the ‘public’ airwaves. Newspapers, magazines, entertainers and artists, once relatively neutral, have moved far to the left under pressure from 1960s extremists who now are in control. Universities have been taken over by 1960s radicals who wish to imprint only a far-left ideology on students rather than teaching unbiased history, science, literature and philosophy.


Now even the White House is saying directly that Fox News is not a legitimate news organization and that Rush Limbaugh and conservative talk radio need to be controlled through the Fairness Doctrine. This is to stomp out any dissent to doctrinaire liberalism. But the White House never talks about the bias of the Los Angeles Times or MSNBC or liberal talk radio. Because they would be spared under any government censorship under socialist cronyism.


Two communications elites Stanford law professor Lawrence Lessig and Robert McChesney say that:


Net neutrality means simply that all like Internet content must be treated alike and move at the same speed over the network. The owners of the Internet’s wires cannot discriminate. This is the simple but brilliant “end-to-end” design of the Internet that has made it such a powerful force for economic and social good.


Look at those words… “all like Internet content must be treated alike and move at the same speed over the network”. Does this not sound like the marxist principle that everyone is going to be treated the same in society and that this somehow will produce equality? And when you look at the actual outcome after the application of such theory, does it not always produce massive inequality and a hyper-hierarchical system with elites deciding who gets what, and the vast majority of people left with zero?


To add insult to injury, the internet today is putting many liberal newspapers and magazines out of business and this is traumatizing to the left. How could anyone dare put the precious New York Times on its knees as the internet has done? Nobody else could have. And thus the internet must punished and controlled.


The idea behind ‘net neutrality’ is the same idea that has maintained government control over public education. Those who have favored public schools have said for decades that education is too important to be trusted to the private sector, that it would fall under the control of certain capitalist/conservative entities and opinion-makers, and that education must be controlled by the government.


But while public schools once were very good, today they are not egalitarian, inexpensive and unbiased – like ‘net neutrality’ seems to promise for the internet – but elitist, prejudiced and expensive schools that are getting constantly worse, costing more and more every year, that are promoting only a leftist agenda, and that are shutting out conservative thought. Tens of millions of parents would opt out of the public schools if they could, and that is why the public education bureaucracy fights reforms as if fighting for its life. Because genuine reform and competition would expose the public schools for the failures that they are.


The idea of ‘network neutrality’ has existed since the invention of the telegraph. In 1860, a federal law was passed that would subsidize a telegraph line. The law stated:


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 …


There are many critics of ‘net neutrality’. Wikipedia.org says:


Some opponents of net neutrality argue that prioritisation of bandwidth is necessary for future innovation on the Internet.  Telecommunications providers such as telephone and cable companies, and some technology companies that supply networking gear, argue telecom providers should have the ability to provide preferential treatment in the form of a tiered services, for example by giving online companies willing to pay the ability to transfer their data packages faster than other Internet traffic. The added revenue from such services could be used to pay for the building of increased broadband access to more consumers.


Opponents to net neutrality have also argued that net neutrality regulation would have adverse consequences for innovation and competition in the market for broadband access by making it more difficult for internet service providers (ISPs) and other network operators to recoup their investments in broadband networks. John Thorne, senior vice president and deputy general counsel of Verison, broadband and telecommunications company, has argued that they will have no incentive to make large investments to develop advanced fibre-optic networks if they are prohibited from charging higher preferred access fees to companies that wish to take advantage of the expanded capabilities of such networks. Thorne and other ISPs have accused Google and Skype of freeloading or free riding for using a network of lines and cables the phone company spent billions of dollars to build.


Isn’t that an interesting turn of events?  That Google, the mega-corporation pushing for ‘net neutrality’ would be accused of itself being a freeloader on the internet system built by others? But then again, this is classic liberalism, akin to lazy college professors, featherbedding government bureaucrats and welfare cheaters freeloading off of our economic system while clamoring for more control over that very system. Which is exactly what they do.


Wikipedia.org then goes on to say further about Google:


Those in favor of forms of “non-neutral” tiered Internet access argue that the Internet is already not a level-playing field: companies such as Google… achieve a performance advantage over smaller competitors by replicating servers and buying high-bandwidth services. Should prices drop for lower levels of access, or access to only certain protocols, for instance, a change of this type would make Internet usage more neutral, with respect to the needs of those individuals and corporations specifically seeking differentiated tiers of service. Network expert Richard Bennett has written, “A richly funded Web site, which delivers data faster than its competitors to the front porches of the Internet service providers, wants it delivered the rest of the way on an equal basis. This system, which Google calls broadband neutrality, actually preserves a more fundamental inequality.”


So again, Google is calling for ‘neutrality’ while Google itself is manipulating the current internet architecture to its own ends. 


Robert Pepper, senior managing director of global advanced technology policy at Cisco Systems, and the former Federal Communications Commission chief of policy development, says:  “The supporters of net neutrality regulation believe that more rules are necessary. In their view, without greater regulation, service providers might parcel out bandwidth or services, creating a bifurcated world in which the wealthy enjoy first-class Internet access, while everyone else is left with slow connections and degraded content.


“That scenario, however, is a false paradigm. Such an all-or-nothing world doesn’t exist today, nor will it exist in the future. Without additional regulation, service providers are likely to continue doing what they are doing. They will continue to offer a variety of broadband service plans at a variety of price points to suit every type of consumer.”

This sounds a lot like the case against capitalism itself which has eternally been criticized in theory as elitist and divisive and bifurcated, but which in fact has turned out be the most democratic economic system of all. And this is why we should oppose the fantasy of ‘network neutrality’. It is a theory from the left, whose ideas never have worked and never will work wherever they have been applied but always have produced the opposite result of what their proponents claim.


We should leave the internet alone. It is a tool for democracy that should be encouraged in its present form.


We should ‘Just say no’… to net neutrality.


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