Please forgive me if this comment sounds over-the-top, but some of the terminology has connotations that I didn't attach to them.
Wireless spectrum and the fiberoptic lines that carry Internet traffic are fundamentally different. The "airwaves" are, given technology currently in use, a very finite resource. Short of putting all wireless spectrum into private hands for effective management (see Coase's Theorem
), there needs to be some way to handle traffic so that it doesn't get polluted to the point of uselessness. In contrast, one can add more fiber bandwidth nearly ad infinitum
, and can do so without government interference (for example, buying the right to do so along train rights-of-way).
Thus there may be good reason to enforce neutrality over wireless, but not over the Internet as a whole.
Additionally, because of practical considerations with "last-mile" ISP service (there's generally at most 2 choices for any given consumer: at most, you can choose Cable or DSL), similar arguments may apply for enforced neutrality for ISPs. This should
be a temporary state: once technologies allow for more competition, these controls should be relaxed. However, (a) when was the last time you saw federal regulations being relaxed? and (b) given the precedent of governmental controls limiting profitability, who is going to invest in that new technology to improve competition?
Google, and large long-haul backbone carriers like ATT or Qwest, have invested incredibly large amounts of money in building an effective network. Thanks to their investment we've got a whole world of information at our fingertips, quite literally. It seems to me that those who made those giant investments deserve to reap the benefits of their investment.
Net neutrality is the government telling these carriers that they can no longer manage their networks (that they built with their own investments, and at their own risk), that the government can direct how these putatively-private resources must be used. While stopping a good deal short of outright nationalization of the communications industry, this certainly qualifies as economic fascism:
An inherent aspect of fascist economies was economic dirigisme, meaning an economy where the government exerts strong directive influence, and effectively controls production and allocation of resources. In general, apart from the nationalizations of some industries, fascist economies were based on private property and private initiative, but these were contingent upon service to the state.
(See https://secure.wikim...iki/Economic_fascism )
From a moral perspective, I can't fathom why so many people believe that forcing the communications providers to surrender their property to government control is the right thing to do. It seems that we've simply gotten so used to having completely open access, that we are entitled to it. But by what moral law do we gain control over another's property?
From a practical perspective, I am equally worried. It seems to me that many people are exhibiting a knee-jerk response to large corporations, jumping on the "quest for profits is evil" bandwagon. The thing is, in fighting the battle you're giving to the government yet another tool that they can use against us
. You're giving more powers to the same entity that brought us the war in Iraq, the IRS, subsidies for giant corporations like Archer Daniels Midland
, and countless encroachments on our fundamental freedoms. Quoting again from the wikipedia article economic fascism:
One significant fascist economic belief was that prosperity would naturally follow once the nation has achieved a cultural and spiritual re-awakening. ... Once in power, fascists usually adopted whatever economic program they believed to be most suitable for their political goals.
In over two centuries of American history, I can only think of a single major government initiative that has been significantly beneficial in the big picture (that is, the Eisenhower Interstate Highway System). Most all turn into monsters, suffering regulatory capture
so that the government turns into the servants of those they intended to regulate (e.g., the petroleum industry). I think you'll be hard pressed to name any significant government initiative that is as good as "not terrible".
In that context, it just boggles my mind that people would be so agitated to take such a risk with something that's so important -- all over something that is, so far, purely abstract and hasn't been shown to really be a problem.
EDIT: add link explaining "regulatory capture"
EDIT #2: Here's a worthwhile alternate point-of-view
. The author starts with the fundamental Internet value that the network must allow bits to flow freely, period, and develops that into an idea that service providers ought to be able to add services with greater value, so long as they don't interfere with that fundamental philosophy of the Internet
. This isn't entirely in agreement with my above post, but seems a pretty compelling viewpoint.