December 14th marked the end of the internet. At least, that is what the media, social networks… and lobbyists would have you believe.
Net neutrality has dominated the media cycle lately.
But why? Why would the repeal of a rather freshly formed regulation garner all this attention, and anger?
Taking a step towards a freer marketplace should be celebrated. Right?
But to hear internet activists and the millions taking to social media complain, this step is a death blow to the internet.
Now, without the government protecting us from ISPs, we will be forced into paying for subpar services. We will be forced to deal with ISPs throttling our connections while watching small internet based businesses slowly bleed out of existence.
Except, we won’t be forced to do any of those things. That’s not what last week’s repeal was about.
Americans will not be forced to purchase services they don’t want. Instead, an Obama era regulation which attempted to police businesses was repealed, paving the way for the free market to run its course.
So why the outcry?
People misunderstand net neutrality and what it actually did. As usual, the mainstream media worked in a concerted effort to push a narrative while banking on decent people’s emotional reactions. They pushed a story with the full intention of manufacturing a specific response. Nothing new there.
But that curated anger did nothing in terms of fixing the real problem facing our ability to connect to the world around us. And this is a problem that extends much further than cat memes and the trolling online.
An attempt to clear the smoke while ignoring the fire…
The net neutrality regulations were typical restrictions. They were an attempt for the US government to control various aspects of the telecom industry.
Net neutrality made the internet regulated like a public utility. You know, like “the water company” and “the electric company”. It’s no wonder the few choices we have seem all too often like, “the internet company.”
Now, telecommunications companies have more freedom to offer different services at different prices. And yes, this includes the possibility that they throttle internet to certain sites and users.
Net neutrality was the government’s response to an actual problem. As usual, their response ignored the problem completely.
The problem wasn’t the way in which ISPs conducted business. The problem was the consolidation of power among ISPs. They influence legislation and regulation so that the government protects ISPs from competition.
How did ISPs gain that ability? Through politicians’ favorite personal path to riches, lobbying.
In fact, the FCC Chairman who presided over the implementation of net neutrality was Tom Wheeler. He was a lobbyist for the telcom industry who raised about a million dollars for Obama during the 2008 and 2012 elections. Obama nominated him in 2013.
Lobbying, as it exists today, is nothing more than glorified bribery. Those with money cozy up to those with influence and engage in quid pro quo deals. From those deals, businesses and industries purchase the ability to sway laws.
Wouldn’t you know, Obama was golf buddies with Comcast CEO Brian L. Roberts. Comcast owns NBC and MSNBC. These mainstream media outlets protest net neutrality by claiming it will give their parent company too much power. Hmm…
The power the telecom industry gained through lobbying was used to build small scale monopolies across the entire country.
They purchased influence which created laws that prevented individuals from creating private networks. They prohibited local governments from breaking up regional monopolies. They even allowed telecom representatives to author a North Carolina bill without politicians. This became apparent when politicians turned to telecom lawyers to explain their bill because they didn’t understand it themselves!
The telecom industry has lobbied 21 states to enact legislation aimed at reducing competition within the industry. Not every piece of legislation outright banned competition within the market. But they all created a legal maze that effectively shut out new businesses. If you don’t have an army of lawyers, forget about competing in the industry.
This led to the creation of regional monopolies across the country, creating a problem net neutrality did nothing to solve.
FCC Repeal is Rare Move Against Lobbyists…
Lobbyists wine, dine, and buy politician’s influence. They sway laws in their favor.
So where is the outcry to stop this legal form of bribery? Why are social media activists not taking to Instagram to post memes about the stifling effects lobbying has on healthy competition within a market? Where are the celebrities tweeting about how lobbying diminishes the ability of the individual to shape policy?
When we allow the government to dictate how a business can be run, lobbyists for the biggest businesses inevitably have their way. Regulation they claim will prevent monopolies always creates them.
So perhaps instead of trying to fight for the government’s ability to regulate private industries, people should focus on setting their sights on the bigger problem.
In the meantime you have to admit that the phrase: “Hold your politicians accountable for accepting large scale bribery while selling away our country to the powerful few and destroying a competitive marketplace,” is not quite as catchy as: “Save the Net.”