Wednesday, February 25, 2015

NYT Crows Over Net-Neutrality Victory

It looks like President Obama is going to win his effort to fold the internet into the government. The smaller internet content providers have mobilized an army of activists to flood the zone at the Federal Communications Commission and it looks like Republicans are throwing in the towel on opposing the president. Here's how Jonathan Weisman at The New York Times describes it:
A swarm of small players, like Tumblr, Etsy, BoingBoing and Reddit, overwhelmed the giants of the broadband world, Comcast, Verizon Communications and Time Warner Cable. Two of the biggest players on the Internet, Amazon and Google, largely stayed in the background, while smaller participants — some household names like Twitter and Netflix, others far more obscure, like Chess.com and Urban Dictionary — mobilized a grass-roots crusade.
The issue (supposedly) is whether the bandwidth providers can charge content providers for getting a "fast lane" on the Internet and whether the bandwidth providers can "throttle" content providers that don't want to pay.

At the center of the issue are the content streamers like Netflix, which is said to use up to 1/3 of bandwidth with its movie streaming. Should Netflix pay to get the bandwidth it needs to stream without glitches? Should the government decide that or the market?

The deciding factor, apparently, has been the Millennials.
“We don’t have an army of lobbyists to deploy. We don’t have financial resources to throw around,” said Liba Rubenstein, director of social impact and public policy at the social media company Tumblr, which is owned by Yahoo, the large Internet company, but operated independently on the issue. “What we do have is access to an incredibly engaged, incredibly passionate user base, and we can give folks the tools to respond.”
So here is the first entry of the Millennials into national politics. And what do they want? They want free stuff: uninterrupted streaming of their movie and video downloading. And they want to screw the evil bandwidth providers to whom they have to pay monthly payments.

In health care we have the evil insurance companies; in the internet we have the evil bandwidth providers.

Well, Millennials, you may not like it when you get what you ask for. Because you are licensing the government to start monkeying around with bandwidth and content providers, and don't doubt that ObamaNet will turn out like ObamaCare.

Oh yeah. Remember Obamacare? That was Obama promising you can keep your health plan and your doctor and it would all cost less. Only what actually happened was that Obama bought the support of the insurance companies and the drug companies with your money, and you can't keep your doctor or your health plan and premiums and deductibles have gone up.

Don't doubt that the same thing will happen with ObamaNet. Because that's how politics works. It's not about helping people. It's about fighting over the loot. And the corporations and insiders have more money and more access than you do.

Let's close with a quote from Milton Friedman: "The government solution to a problem is usually as bad as the problem."

But our Millennial friends will have to find that out the hard way.

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