Monday, August 30, 2010

The Regulatory State of Mind & the Choices it Chooses - Casting a wide regulatory net to neuter us all Part II

Hold on tight. To your Rights... and not your parrrty! (Cross posted at 24th State)
In digging into this sort of thing, regulations, where they come from and why, it's tempting to go off into which big businesses contributed most to which political party, the left or the right. But despite appearances, this really isn't a Left/Right issue. Sure the left is typically more enthusiastic for more and new regulations and controls, but there have been so many little 'r' republicans from Teddy Roosevelt to Richard Nixon to John McCain, and most points in between, as to make the 'Party' question irrelevant. It's not a political party issue, it's a philosophical issue, constitutionally limited government, or proregressivism, and the later choice is made in both parties.

More practically speaking, it's a 'have power & seeking influence' vs 'have wealth & seeking advantage' issue, ,. combined with an easy familiarity with political expediency over constitutional principles, and sad to say it abounds on all sides of the aisle, they unite collegially under the amorphous umbrella of 'Doing Good!', especially among those who see no problem with government mingling with business. What they both demonstrate above all, is an utter absence of understanding of what this nation desperately depends upon -and which is no longer taught - the importance of property rights.

Intentionally or not, what these do gooder's are doing, is voluntarily creating what amounts to a series of nice comfy house slave positions for themselves and not a few lesser slots in the kitchen for the rest of us, wherein they promise that none of us will need to worry or strive in any way in order to meet our 'needs' again, our wise regulatory masters will do it all for us. Rather than a simple old plantation owner, our masters today are to be a set of regulations, administered by regulators and represented by elected officials who are influenced by those who can afford them or help them to look good (and if you think I'm exaggerating, hold that thought for a bit).

And, of course, we don't have to worry about any slave driver's... no, today that function is to be taken over by friendly folks like the I.R.S.

Isn't that a relief?

What should be shocking, is that anyone sees the process of regulating industry as anything other than bargaining for power and control between those who have and are able to affect, influence or sell power, and those who are interested in gaining control of it. What claim to 'transparency' can possibly be made, which can't even see through that?!

Who'll regulate the regulators? Doh... the regulators of course!
This is a question well worth looking into, especially as regulatory control has lately bid to control the majority of the entire United States economy. Regulations have always been touted as 'looking out for the little guy', but in practice they have always been a means to enabling the government to come to the aid of less ethical, more politically connected, big businesses, and that has been the case from the very beginning. A good example can be found in the formation of the Interstate Commerce Commission, which was sold as a way to control the Railroads and prevent them from gouging the public with high prices and the threat of diminished services - but what it actually did was heavily favor the politically powerful major railroads, at the expense of the more competitive market oriented railroads which were nearly the publics only source of lower prices and better services,:

"...The public eventually began complaining of the monopoly pricing and corruption that were inherent features of the government-created and -subsidized railroads.

The federal government responded to the complaints with the Interstate Commerce Act of 1887, which was supposed to ban rail rate discrimination, and later with the Hepburn Act of 1906 which made it illegal to charge different rates to different customers. What these two federal laws did was to outlaw Hill's price cutting by forcing railroads to charge everyone the same high rates.[21] This was all done in the name of consumer protection, giving it an Orwellian aura.

This new round of government regulation benefited the government-subsidized railroads at Hill's expense, for he was the most vigorous price cutter.
That has a familiar ring to it... doesn't it? That there should be one rate for all? That it should be illegal to charge different rates to different customers? Whether we're talking about Railroad Neutrality, or Net Neutrality, large, established companies don't like having to manage and track and charge different rates for different customers based upon their demands upon the system, cutting away all excessive costs and waste in order to reduce charges to the least possible amount that will still allow a profit. No matter that the competition to refine those processes and considerations have traditionally translated into the lowest prices for the most customers; what it meant to them was more effort, heavier competition to the point at which only the best mgmt & personel can survive - and big businesses, particularly those who thrive on political trade, rarely welcome any of that - such an environment makes it almost impossible to engage in favoritism and other self important indulgences.

But wait a minute, you say, isn't the free market based on competition?

What Proregressives Could Learn At Hogwarts
Yes, competition is a big part of the free market - but so is something else - virtue (when you finish chuckling... ask yourself why). The ugly truth is that more often than not, those who become successful in the free market, too frequently become it's greatest enemies, and they find many willing accomplices in government regulations and regulators. There's a line from one of the Harry Potter books, where Prof. Dumbledore tells Harry,

"The time is coming where we will all have to choose between what is right and what is easy"
That is a timeless truth, and unfortunately at this point in time, Harry Potter is just about the only place in our popular culture where you might have a chance of learning it. Once upon a time, it was a well known lesson, during the Founder's era it was a very popular and powerful one, the subject of famous paintings, and ancient tales intrinsic to Western Civilization (which pretty much explains why they are not part of Arne Duncan's 'educational reforms' today - that fundamental transformation having been nearly accomplished already),

"The moral allegory of Hercules’ Choice provides a straight thought-line from Renaissance humanism to the creation of the United States and its political symbols. Among classicists, it was one of the most beloved and inspiring tales of the eighteenth century. John Adams sought to make Hercules' Choice the national emblem in 1776:

  • I proposed the Choice of Hercules, as engraved by Gribeline [above] in some Editions of Lord Shaftsbury’s Works. The Hero resting on his Clubb. Virtue pointing to her rugged Mountain, on one Hand, and perswading him to ascend. Sloth, glancing at her flowery Paths of Pleasure, wantonly reclining on the Ground, displaying the Charms both of her Eloquence and Person, to seduce him into Vice.

-John Adams invokes Hercules as a model for his own self-development. The note may be found in a diary entry, Jan. 1759, in L. H. Butterfield, ed., Diary and Autobiography of John Adams, vol. 1: Diaries 1755-1770, Belknap, 1962, 72."
One of the reasons we need to be so on guard against big government and big business 'negotiating' for the 'greater good', is that one of the first things many business people turn upon once they become successful, is the Free Market! Competition is difficult, it's tiresome, and it is sooo much easier to control your market through the influence of your political connections in the government, who will 'stand up for the people!' and implementing policies and regulations which have the handy side effect of imposing barriers and burdens on your market, making it much more difficult for smaller competitors to hold on to their share, or for any new competitors to even enter it.

Sure there are costs involved for the bigger businesses to meet those requirements, but it's a bargain when you stop to consider what it relieves them from having to do instead - namely compete. Those are the choices we have allowed our government to be making for us, and they have put us on the easy, downward path of good intentions, and you know which road they pave.

Whether it's Net Neutrality, or a 'Free Press' subsidized by the government, Healthcontrol, Green initiatives, handicap policies, public minded initiatives, and nearly every other variety of market regulations, they all serve the uncompetitively minded. Sure they impose costs on big businesses too, but they can afford them - whereas a new startup, or a competitor whose only advantage in the market is their ability to offer lower prices to you - they cannot afford them - and that means that you soon lose the possible savings which they may have been able to produce for you and me.

For every James J. Hill building his Northern Railway himself, there are twenty Vanderbuilt's who will welcome and seek the embrace of government assistance and collusion. And changing the names to Google or Verizon doesn't change a thing. Or General Motors.

To the politically connected, but fat & lazy, whether they ply their trade on old iron railroads or the new information super highway, the easy solution remains the same: Create a new set of regulations that raises all rates and lowers the amount of service which most customers across the entire market will come to expect. Another useful side effect is that fat & happy political businessess are able to avoid any number of unforeseen consequences through competitive innovations, because regulations demand more and more instances of mandated conformity, more and more obstacles to entering the market for new comers. Competition is decreased, the need for competent skilled personnel is reduced and the 'value' of politically connected personnel increases.

Here's an example from the beginning of the regulatory era,

"...The Interstate Commerce Commission soon created a bureaucratic monstrosity that attempted to micromanage all aspects of the railroad business, hampering its efficiency even further. This was a classic example of economist Ludwig von Mises's theory of government interventionism: one intervention (such as subsidies for railroads) leads to market distortions which create problems for which the public "demands" solutions. Government responds with even more interventions, usually in the form of more regulation of business activities, which cause even more problems, which lead to more intervention, and on and on. The end result is that free-market capitalism is more and more heavily stifled by regulation."
Unforeseen consequences tend to crop up more and more, such as with these instances (H/T Reboot Congress) in the form of unlooked for shortages in the supply of Helium,

"But helium is also a non-renewable resource and the world's reserves of the precious gas are about to run out, a shortage that is likely to have far-reaching repercussions.

Scientists have warned that the world's most commonly used inert gas is being depleted at an astonishing rate because of a law passed in the United States in 1996 which has effectively made helium too cheap to recycle."
, and in and the ability to reap profits which aren't really dependent upon what you produce, "Flash Crashes" in the Stock Market,

"The mayhem had been primarily caused by an "overreliance on computer systems and some types of high frequency trading" strategies that roam the market en masse, looking to pick off pennies of profit....

Behind these changes, beginning in 1975, was a zeal to liberate the individual investor from the clutches of the archaic market makers who made a good living taking "eighths"�12.5 cents�for every share bought and sold.

The government later found Nasdaq dealers were even more gluttonous than first imagined. And by the time the last big market reforms were issued in 2005, the intent was to "give investors, particularly retail investors, greater confidence that they will be treated fairly," the SEC said at the time.

As spreads squeezed from eighths to pennies, a new batch of electronic-trading networks blinked into action. Volume trading was the only way to make money."
What has followed from regulatory policies and actions beginning way back then, as it still does now, is chaos. They have never accomplished what they were intended to accomplish, have never 'reigned in' who they were billed as targeting, they have never protected 'the little guy' and they have always, always, caused worse conditions than they ever sought to alleviate.

This is the pattern of results which regulatory agencies have produced since they began, and is what will continue to be produced today and through all our tomorrows - if we don't end them: smaller businesses and customers will pay higher prices for ever diminishing services - it's what happened with the railroads, and is what happened with the 'Public' Utilities, the Airline industry, the Banking industry and our current health care insurance industry... and it can no longer be thought of as a new or unexpected phenomena! There are a hundred years worth of easily discoverable history associated with this process - why don't we hear about this in school? Or in the media?

How about from 'consumer advocates'? You'd sure think you would, since the consumer has been the one that's born the brunt of all the regulatory good done unto them, and it has been known by them as far back as one of the first of the breed, Upton Sinclair, the muckraker who's book "The Jungle" provided the impetus for Teddy Roosevelt to create the forerunner of the FDA, the granddaddy of all regulatory agencies, said

"The Federal inspection of meat was, historically, established at the packers' request. It is maintained and paid for by the people of the United States for the benefit of the packers."

Gabriel Kolko, historian of the era, concurs. "The reality of the matter, of course, is that the big packers were warm friends of regulation, especially when it primarily affected their innumerable small competitors." Sure enough, Thomas E. Wilson, speaking for the same big packers Sinclair had targeted, testified to a congressional committee that summer, "We are now and have always been in favor of the extension of the inspection, also of the adoption of the sanitary regulations that will insure the very best possible conditions." Small packers, it turned out, would feel the regulatory burden more than large packers would.
And so it's been demonstrated to play out again and again, from the establishment of the ICC and the FDA, and on through the intervening century's worth of alphabet agencies on down to today's latest offerings of 'helping the little guy' with ObamaoCare - time and again, the worst of big businesses profit at the expense of smaller competitors, and especially at the expense of We The People.

This isn't a condemnation of 'Big Business', if a business can get big, titanic even, through providing it's customers with a product and service they want to purchase, and stay there by remaining competitive with their abilities & services, even to the point of being so efficient as to be the only company serving that need (and no, that is NOT a monopoly), I say fantastic and bully for them. But those that want to indulge in a 'third way' of partnering with government to maintain their positions... those should be roundly condemned and despised. We should especially note that these politically successful businesses manage to create their partnerships with government, in large part thanks to those well intentioned do-gooders like our PC tech writer in Part I, those who work so hard and with such little thought and forethought, so as to sway public opinion into not seeing what is right up and in their very faces.

Is that really surprising? Maybe we can make all this transparency a little clearer if we try looking at it from another angle, What is it, do you suppose, that Regulators are actually after? In light of what we just reviewed, it can't be any of their stated goals, not if there is even a hint of competence that is to be assumed to exist in either their agencies, or the legislators who 'oversee them', or the 'consumer advocates' who advocate for them,

So what is it that they are in the business of - Justice?

Nooo... no,, that's got to be ruled out right off the bat.

Why? Well, can you really claim to be upholding & enforcing Justice... without there being an actual crime having been committed in the first place? Think about it, if the police came to your door tomorrow and said

"We've had reports that you purchased ammunition yesterday, and seeing as studies proven that most firearms incidents involve ammunition and pose a grave risk to public safety, we're going to need you to go ahead and wear this monitor at all times and make regular reports to our dept, we're going to need to see regular reports of gun cleaning, and of course verify that you're using approved oils & clothes, and proof they've been disposed of properly..."
, would you be willing to call that 'justice', or even justifiable?

I really hope not. We'll have a look at what they are after, and what best to call it, in the next post.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Bloomberg, Obama and the Mosque Mask of Social Vandalism

I got a comment by reader Ex-Dissident, about my last post at 24th State and cross posted here, he was a bit conflicted; he believes in the importance of property rights, but he also felt that that there were times, such as with the mosque being proposed near where the Twin Towers once stood, that
"... the needs of the community may at times trample over property rights."
There's a confusion here that has become so common, that I think I'll go a bit out of order to address it now, before finishing out the series of posts I just started, because it is important to distinguish between true property rights, true in the classical liberal sense which our Founding Father’s understood to be rooted in the nature of Man, and the mere gaudy mask of property rights, which is defined by legislators for ‘the greater good’.

There is a huge difference between trampling over property rights (always a bad, bad thing), and upholding the real property rights which people do have in their local community, and which they have a real right to exercise so as to prevent their community from being defaced by social vandals.
There IS a reasonable expectation which people have in their community, at the direct democracy level of the ward, assembly & township level where members of the community should, and do, have a say in the shared aspects of their community.

Hardcore libertarians, or the leftists seeking a debating point, may say,
"Property rights are 100%! If I don't have the right to paint my house in purple zebra stripes & polka dots, then there are no property rights! If I can't do that, then you're violating my right to my property!"
To which I'll say, Property Rights are absolute, within a given context - if you erase the context, you erase what it meant and why it meant it, you cannot pretend that a simple statement will be valid or clear across all contexts. My old buddy Aristotle nailed it in his Nicomachean Ethics with this,
"...for it is the mark of an educated man to look for precision in each class of things just so far as the nature of the subject admits; it is evidently equally foolish to accept probable reasoning from a mathematician and to demand from a rhetorician scientific proofs..."
, if you ignore that, then you are no longer dealing with legitimate rights or principles (or even Reason, for that matter), but with categorical imperatives which ultimately wipe out all principles and all the rights of all the people. Especially in politics and law, there are degree's of precision which can and cannot be reached, depending on the context, and it is important to realize it.

There are legitimate, difficult to define areas, where what you do on your property affects the ability of other members of the community to enjoy their property. When you purchase property in a

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Net Neutrality - Casting A Wide Regulatory Net To Neuter Us All - Part I

Looking beneath the transparency (Cross posted at 24th State)

Well... good news ladies and gents out there in the free and open skies of internet land, public spirited folks from the IT world, are looking out for bad deed doers and speaking up for your interests. There are such keen eyes as these from a vigilant tech writer for PC Magazine (never realized how well named it was before) who has expressed his dismay at the regulatory process... not over the interference of government into the free flow of information across the internet... no, no... no. He has seen reports of something 'fishy' in the land of regulatory purity, and is shocked at what he's found.

Here, have a look:

"The end of the FCC negotiations is actually good news. What the FCC should do is execute its duties to oversee the industry without apologizing or asking permission. The FCC negotiations sought to compromise with the industry--the very nature of which implies that the agency would be making consessions in order to appease companies like Verizon and Comcast.

Negotiation and compromise are cornerstones of the political process, but they should be conducted openly and involve all parties. The problem with the FCC efforts was that the closed-door meetings excluded most of the affected parties from the process."

To useful ... uhm... pundits... like our PC tech writer here, they feel that government regulation of industry is a good thing, that 'Net Neutrality' will be a benefit to all Americans, and they are only upset that the process hasn't had more transparency involved in it. I'd like to look at that here, and go a bit beyond that 'transparency' to get a wider perspective than their little government issue world viewer window might otherwise afford us. But first, let's try looking through only that itty bitty viewer they use, and see what we can see.

I know I see one thing here that I particularly enjoy, and that's the line "should be conducted openly and involve all parties."... do you suppose that this tech writer for PC Magazine has ever ventured out and onto the internet? I don't know how many providers there are out there, my quick Googling popped up around a hundred or so big and small, providers, still, I do believe it might be just a few more than can conveniently cozy up around a conference table and hash out some regulations that will be 'fair' to all parties. And while he's not alone in his concern for all us little people... what of the millions of users who will be affected and deprived of their ability to pay more, or less, to receive the service they most value? Should the choices of such little people stand in the way of the 'greater good' that can be served by giants like Google & Verizon who are, after all, just intent on 'doing good' unto us?

Google & Verizon are both quick to respond with something having the gist of 'We aren't going around Net Neutrality, we're for it! We're for fair and even distribution of bandwidth... enforced by the power of government regulations, as opposed to having to deal with other ISP's who won't let us do what we want, because they care about serving their differing and annoying customers choices & preference...', well... they leave that last part off of course, but even so, with all that fairness on their minds, what is it that you suppose they are so carefully negotiating about?

After all, according to Google spokesmen there's nothing to be concerned about

""Google has been the leading corporate voice on the issue of network neutrality over the past five years. No other company is working as tirelessly for an open Internet," counsel Richard Whitt argued in a fact sheet on the issue. "We're not saying this solution is perfect, but we believe that [this] proposal ... is preferable to no protection at all."

Whitt pointed out that there is currently no method for the federal government to enforce equal access principles. His assertion does have basis in the facts: following the Comcast decision, it is now case law that the FCC does not have regulatory authority over broadband access under current rules.

Google and Verizon's proposal would for the first time give the FCC a legal basis to ensure net neutrality principles, and Whitt noted that Verizon had voluntarily already agreed to abide by the requirements set forth even without legislative action that would make it mandatory.
Now that is something which is really deserving of some of your own mental bandwidth, "...for the first time give the FCC a legal basis to ensure net neutrality principles...". Just bookmark that in your mind, and we'll return to it in a bit.

Mr. Googleman continues:
A good portion of the criticism has come on the issue of wireless traffic, and Whitt admitted that in order to advance the deal, it agreed to not ask for net neutrality principles on that traffic. He argued that due to bandwidth constraints, it is more necessary to manage traffic actively on wireless connections.

"This is a policy proposal -- not a business deal," he wrote. "Of course, Google has a close business relationship with Verizon, but ultimately this proposal has nothing to do with Android."

Regardless of what happens with net neutrality, in the end it will come down to action in Washington. Whitt said that it will ultimately be in the hands of legislators and regulators to do what they need to do in the space to ensure an open Internet.

"We're not so presumptuous to think that any two businesses could -- or should -- decide the future of this issue," he concluded. "We're simply trying to offer a proposal to help resolve a debate which has largely stagnated after five years."
Hmmm... that "...will ultimately be in the hands of legislators and regulators to do what they need to do..." Knowing a little bit about the tech world, that doesn't seem like such a good idea to me, just on a basis of functionality, not to mention showing a wee bit less concern for 'fairness' than seems the case of our public minded PC tech writer, who no doubt is only concerned about the plight of the little guy, and surely many people are concerned that all peoples should get their fair share of internet fairness... surely no one wants’ any iOliver Twist's coming round with their blackberries & begging "Please, sir, I want some more?"

But without questioning the goodness of our PC writers PC priorities, ask yourself something... when was the last time that you or your buddies were sitting around having an animated discussion slash argument about... properly allotting bandwidth between various ISP providers so that you could get your fair share of bandwidth?

Has that been a big flash-point in your home or favorite gathering spot recently? Are you or your friends deeply concerned about how bandwidth is allotted?

Is anyone you know confused about whether or not you can pay for greater crazy fast download speed if you want it... or not?

I'm betting the answer is mostly a big NO.

Do you think that the Federal Government has purposely taken the time out of the many issues facing them and demanding their attention, in order to arbitrate the fairness of how companies should negotiate their deals with each other? Do you think they are really deeply concerned about your ease of downloading iTunes?

Hopefully that's a no as well.

So what do you suppose might be going on here?


A Solution in search of a problem
If all you want to say is that 'everyone gets the same bandwidth ...' what's to quibble about in secret negotiations, let alone cause the secret negotiations to break down?

You needn't take that as an accusation of nefarious deeds being done, but hopefully it does make you at least a bit curious about what they are trying to do, which is, in typical proregressivist fashion, to plan out, from the top down, the 'perfect solution' (at least it's not a 'final solution'...) to plan out ahead of time (maybe even in 5-yr increments) how they can meet the 'fair needs' (as determined by them, not you) of what users (you) may require... without having to deal with any pesky issues - such as any of those users own preferences, wish's, judgments and choices... all those sorts of things the neanderthalic 'free market' considers so valuable.

So why is this such an issue? When you're looking for a little perspective on the days events, sometimes it helps to look back to the ODWG's (old dead white guys), and when you're looking for some perspective and insight on how people behave, respond and react in terms of pressure, politics and turmoil, one of the oldest of them, Thucydides is hard to beat, here's one almost selected at random, from the Melian dialog, where the Athenians who once prided themselves on being an exceptionally Just and successful society, the school of their world, now found themselves more concerned with using power to get what they wanted (ok, almost selected at random),:

  • "holding in view the real sentiments of us both; since you know as well as we do that right, as the world goes, is only in question between equals in power, while the strong do what they can and the weak suffer what they must."

Just let that idea settle into your noggin... then maybe mix it in with Mr. Googleman's "...for the first time give the FCC a legal basis to ensure net neutrality principles..." and "...will ultimately be in the hands of legislators and regulators to do what they need to do...", let it stew a bit, see if you begin to get a handle on where your interests and preferences fit into that picture and we'll come back to it shortly. In the meantime, here's two more clues that don't seem to go together all that well, one from last month, about our ever thoughtful government seeking to expand broadband service to the wilds of Missouri, with our own Sen. Claire McCaskill, looking out for her peep's:

"At the meeting McCaskill, D-Mo., espoused the need for high speed broadband to rural America as an economic necessity. “Without fast speeds to the Internet, our commerce, our job creation in this country is going to continue to fall behind,” said McCaskill.

Chairman Genachowski spoke of the virtues of his Third Way proposal and how it would support rural broadband efforts.
Huh. Well that sounds all admirable and swell. But then there's this, from about four years ago:
Internet Neutrality: A Solution in Search of a Problem

"As the Senate holds hearings on net neutrality, it is important to avoid calls for new regulations or mandates that would impede broadband deployment in the United States. Net neutrality is a vaguely defined term that generally refers to access to the Internet, and the need to keep access open to all consumers. While this is an important question for consumers, new mandates on Internet access could reduce incentives to build new high-speed broadband networks or invest capital in innovative new technologies...

Dr. Wayne Brough, Chief Economist at FreedomWorks commented that, "Currently, the United States ranks 16th in the world when it comes to broadband deployment. Introducing new mandates or regulations on networks will only hamper deployment of new networks. We need to look to the future and unleash the innovation and technologies of the next century. To bring these technologies to consumers, we need to avoid unnecessary new mandates."
So while Claire's trying to be ever so helpful to Missourians, promoting the kindly and virtuous Genachowski's Third Way proposal (what does that mean, 'third way'? That's a really good question - you really should answer it, careful though, might prompt a few more questions), there are others who seem to be having the oh so startling thought that new Regulations, 'guidelines' and government interference might actually add costs and slow & even reduce the spread of broadband service throughout the wilds of Missouri, and elsewhere as well.

Here's something that's a little closer to the matter from the American Spectator, which might help shed a little more light and connect a few dots for us:

"In a statement, Free Press said: "We welcome the FCC's decision to end its backroom meetings. Phones have been ringing off the hook and e-mail inboxes overflowing at the FCC, as an outraged public learned about the closed-door deal-making and saw the biggest players trying to carve up the Internet for themselves. We're relieved to see that the FCC now apparently finds dangerous side deals from companies like Verizon and Google to be distasteful and unproductive."

"Verizon and Google to be distasteful and unproductive", yeah, now that sounds just like our friendly PC Tech Writer... very unpleased with backroom deal making and concerned with our fair servicing... but wait, there's more,

The only problem with that statement, it turns out, is that Free Press was part of those "backroom meetings" and at the time the FCC negotiations were canceled, Free Press officials were actually holding a private meeting with FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski in his office.

Free Press, which was founded by Marxist Robert McChesney, and is run by well-known political activist Josh Silver, is a founding member of the Open Internet Coalition. The OIC's executive director, Markham Erickson, had a seat at the table during every negotiating session held by the FCC. "
Ah. Sorta sounds like what's being said for the public consumption of the peep's, and for the useful idiots... er... pundits... like our buddie the PC Tech Writer, just might be a bit different than what's actually taking place behind closed doors, doesn't it? Seems like we're getting a bit more to the heart of the matter, or at least closer to the closed door of the back room where the deals are being made, and if history is any indicator of what's being cooked up (and it is), then you can bet your bottom dollar (while you still have one) that what it doesn't involve, is your well being or best interests.

Ladies and gents, the allotment of bandwidth, and determining whether Verizon or Comcast get's to handle more video across their lines, cable, wired or wireless, at their discretion and price points, is so far besides the point as to be left pointing right back at yourself.

The issue here is Power. And one of the most consequential uses of power in recent history.

This isn't a new issue. It's not a new idea. It didn't arise with Verizon & Comcast. It didn't even arise with the Obamao administration.

Ed Morrissey of Hot Air noted:

"Genachowski needed an agreement that involved the private sector in order to give him and Congress political cover for a net-neutrality arrangement that leaves the FCC in charge of the Internet — and perhaps even content, or at least access to it. Without an industry consensus, Congress isn’t about to impose yet another big regulatory burden in a season where voters are already angry about government overreach. Genachowski will have to either wait for the lame-duck session or once again abuse the rule-making process, which the courts have already blocked once and Congress has demanded he stop doing."
What amounts of power and control do you think might accrue to government in general, to their agency in particular, and specifically to Mr. Genachowski and his 'Third Way' ideals, should they succeed in gaining control over the backbone of the internet? What other related efforts might such a thing lend a helping hand to in the future?

Politico notes:

"The Federal Communications Commission Thursday suspended its weeks-long series of talks with Internet providers on Net neutrality, dealing a blow to efforts to produce a deal that the agency could take to Congress.

The decision to cut off negotiations marks a major political setback for Chairman Julius Genachowski, whose office reached out to stakeholders six weeks ago to strike an agreement and avoid a public battle over rules that would treat all users’ Web traffic equally.

But the end to industry discussions — which a source close to the FCC talks blamed entirely on news that Google and Verizon separately sought some form of net neutrality agreement — could now force the FCC to take a more aggressive approach to solidifying its broadband authority.

FCC chief of staff Edward Lazarus stressed in a briefly worded statement that the agency has no plans to back down on Net neutrality, months after a federal court in a case involving Comcast essentially nullified much of the agency’s broadband authority.

Lazarus said the agency’s round of stakeholder meetings had not “generated a robust framework to preserve the openness and freedom of the Internet.” But he added that “all options remain on the table.”
Now would be a good time for you to get some perspective - go ahead and glance back up at ol' Thucydides' observation about those with power telling those without it what they're gonna do and like it, and see how well you think it jibes with "...the agency has no plans to back down on Net neutrality..."... are you beginning to get a better grasp of the larger picture? They are intent on passing this with or without law, with or without constitutionality, whether or not it expands or contracts broadband distribution, and whether it increases your service and satisfaction - or not. Feeling all nice and liberty-full now? Sounds more that just a little bit like Nancy Pelosi on health care:
“We’ll go through the gate. If the gate’s closed, we’ll go over the fence. If the fence is too high, we’ll pole vault in. If that doesn’t work, we’ll parachute in but we're going to get health care reform passed for the America people."
... and no doubt we'll just need to experience it as well, before we find out what's in it. Another thing to keep in mind here, especially in regards to our upcoming elections in November: Do you remember when we got Scott Brown elected and 'killed' OamaoCare?

Remember how well that worked? Yeah. Keep that in mind. Because two years ago I was thankful that that incarnation was 'defeated', I was commenting on a speech (here on YouTube, here in text) which Bill Moyers gave about how the government should take over... er... 'support' a 'free press' and impose Rep. Markey's earlier iteration of Net Neutrality, and make no mistake, the two very definitely go together, they are both rooted in the notion that you and I are incapable of making intelligent choices, that we are mindless slaves to slick marketing and unfair (meaning low) pricing. Moyers rails in the video at 6:10 into it,

" ...organizations whose reward comes not from helping fulfill the social compact embodied in the notion of “We, the people,” but from the manufacturing of news and information as profitable consumer commodities, rather than the means to empower morally responsible citizens."
And more so at 14:59 goes on about how private advertisers having the ability to sponsor points of view which they support, and making those available for people to listen to (or not) on something like YouTube,

... "Advertisers have already aggressively seized the new online world to go back into the programming business themselves, creating what’s called branded content. Imagine the Camel News Caravan revived, but this time online as a sponsored YouTube channel!"

What you should imagine instead, are people like Moyers denying them the ability to support and promote the ideas they believe in. He asks in a contemptuous manner,

"Already, newspapers and magazines, and soon television, are encouraged to sell keywords to advertisers in the online versions of stories. Can you imagine advertisers going for stories with keywords such as “healthcare reform,” “environmental degradation,” “Iraqi casualties,” “contracting fraud” or “K Street lobbyists”? I don’t think so."

He assumes not only that I, or others, wouldn't patronize such sites, but that I shouldn't be allowed to patronize such sites or others more in line with my interests, and that he, or other chosen ones, should have the power to limit and force me to view only what he sees as worthy keywords."
Moyers and his comrades who promote 'Net Neutrality' and 'FreePress', like to denigrate anything that is a commodity - ignoring the fact that a commodity is a product which people will pay their hard earned time and money for, and use - but they've got no compunctions against forcing those same people to pay, against their will, for another commodity, theirs, which those who are forced to watch it might feel to fall somewhere between uninteresting pap, and biased propaganda - as his show was - something which in fact people weren't willing to pay for, even when it was free.

What Moyer's wanted then, and those of like mind still want today, is the ability to remove the inconvenient truth of individual's own right to choose to not be bothered with watching the shows Moyer's demands that they watch. To do so, he wants to enlist the government to skew (at best) or outright control the market, in order to make the public 'morally responsible' in his opinion, and in that of those he chooses to approve of, who he refers to as "professional journalists trained at prestigious universities ". Moyers would like to advance the principles of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.. by forcing people to watch what he knows is best for them, and as an ardent supporter of 'Net Neutrality', he was very enthusiastic about how it could be used to aid in 'subsidizing' a 'free press'... at the price of a free press.

At about 6:45 in to the speech he notes a story he might also have remembered from his talks with Joseph Campbell,

"... Why a media anyway? I’m going to let an old Cherokee chief answer that. I heard this story a long time ago, growing up in Choctaw County in Oklahoma before we moved to Texas, of the tribal elder who was telling his grandson about the battle the old man was waging within himself. He said, "It is between two wolves, my son. One is an evil wolf: anger, envy, sorrow, greed, self-pity, guilt, resentment, lies, false pride, superiority and ego. The other is the good wolf: joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion and faith.” The boy took this in for a few minutes and then said to his father—to his grandfather, “Which wolf won?” The old Cherokee replied simply, “The one I feed.” Democracy is that way. The wolf that wins is the one we feed. And media provides the fodder. .."
Yes, they one you feed. Pity he didn't pay more attention to how Campbell told those tales, because their points often have Rod Serling-like twists, where the person seeking to do good, is shocked to find that he has been promoting evil instead. What a shocker, eh? In truth, the wolf Moyers and his fellows are seeking to feed, is the state, strengthening its power to control what will, and will not be, heard, in the naive notion that you can 'solve' and 'fix' other (lesser) people to believe as 'those who know better and who aren't biased' do. What Moyer's and the proregressives in general just don't grasp, is that those who claim to know what others should do, are the most fearsome tyrants of all, knowing little about their fellows and even less about themselves.

At 11:52 he laments that the Bush administration (no this isn't Obamao or Robert Gibbs speaking, remember, this is from a few years ago) is giving the 'public airwaves' to nasty, greedy, miscommunicating telecom's,

"Even as we meet, the administration is pressing to give the conglomerates more control .... to awarding some of the most valuable remaining swaths of public airwaves to two of the largest telecommunications companies..."
Now, think about it, does anyone see that happening today? Is the Obamao administration divvying up public airwaves to the big bad telecoms? No? So then... why are they still pushing for the Net Neutrality act today, if the problem it was supposedly a solution for, is not a problem today? Looks like it is still just a solution in search of a problem.

At 12:20, Moyer's goes on with connecting his utopian dreams of a government controlled free press, with a government controlled free internet,

"‘Congressmen Ed Markey has introduced a bill to advance network neutrality' Moyers is fond of invoking the specter of Orwell’s 1984 and double-speak. Please, somebody, tell me what it is that cloaks itself under the name of 'network neutrality' in order to force private companies, telecoms, etc, to provide free access to their services, and force cable companies to provide programs which the Gov’t approves of and deems necessary? Thank God it was defeated yesterday.
Here's a bit of folk wisdom that I'd be ever so grateful for Moyers and all other do gooder's to take to heart, a quote usually attributed to George Washington, which if he didn't say it, he should have,

“Government is not reason, it is not eloquence — it is force! Like fire, it is a dangerous servant and a fearful master. Never for a moment should it be left to irresponsible action.”
A fearful master indeed... and a devilishly difficult one to keep down. I was thankful when 'Net Neutrality' was defeated several years ago. But it's back. 'Defeated' to leftists is not the transparent term it might be to the rest of us, it doesn't mean defeat to leftists, it means time to rejigger the wording, and then try to sneak it, or cram it, through yet again. They very much have contempt for their opponents - you and me - and they intend to take every opportunity they have to 'do good' unto us no matter what we might say in response.

This is plainly not about crafting a policy to solve a problem, this is not about making a more 'level playing field' for businesses to compete in. This is not about bringing broadband to rural Missouri or to any other wilderness. This is about gaining power over what you will be able to see and hear, and where and when you can see and hear it, if at all. It is about control of the voices in this nation who oppose what those in power are doing.

I was thrilled when it was defeated back then, and that it was defeated yet again. And yet again, we must defeat it again, and again, and again.

A lame duck congress is coming up... and those who favor neutering the 'net are prepped and ready to be filled with resentment and looking for payback. This November 2nd it is important that you get out and vote for those who will show some respect for your rights.

But while this election is exceedingly important, it is only a start, and if we want to actually 'fix' government, it's going to be a long term project. Talk to your friends, meet your neighbors, get the word out - and make a habit of it.

If we want to avoid being neutered and escape the net that's been cast over us, we've got a lot of unweaving to do.

What you need to keep in mind, is that Net Neutrality, and every other regulatory plan, is going to be aggressively sold to you as benefiting 'the greater good', that we shouldn't allow one business or another to 'overcharge' (absent will be any mention of those who would be charged less, but that is also neither here nor there) a helpless public.

But if you can manage to wipe all that opaque transparency out of your way, the true core of the issue is that if rights, your rights, are tentative things which must yield to whatever the latest hot-button issue that a slick politician succeeds in labeling as the new 'greater good', then you really have no Property Rights, and if that is the case, then you really cannot be said to have any Rights, whatsoever.

You might say that's a wild overstatement, but those who founded this nation would have disagreed with you, and I'll make the case for it in my next post, but in the meantime let me leave it on a brief mention of two important Supreme Court decisions.

The first, "Charles River Bridge v. Warren Bridge Company" was argued as a case which highlighted the importance of Property Rights by the great lawyer Daniel Webster - which he lost. After the decision against his case, he and other prominent lawyers were heard to say that 'That's the death of property rights', or as Chancellor Kent said in The New York Review, that
"A gathering gloom is cast over the future. We seem to have sunk suddenly below the horizon, to have lost the light of the sun."
I'll give you a hint - they were not concerned about their wallets. These were men who believed that property rights formed the very foundation of a republican government and in the view of Natural Law, were the political anchors of all of our individual rights.

If you disagree with that, then you likely agree with the view that our rights have an evolving nature, and as the needs of men change over time, so then we must adjust what are seen as rights, so that 'The Law' can uphold the needs of the 'greater good'. Such was the meaning of the decision against Webster's case, as delivered by Justice Taney when he said,

"While the rights of private property are sacredly guarded, we must not forget that the community also have rights, and that the happiness and wellbeing of every citizen depends on their faithful preservation."
, upholding the defense of the 'greater good' over the mere rights of individuals.

The other case I'd direct your attention to, was one that was decided some years later when that same Justice, Roger B. Taney, had become the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, and that is the case of Dred Scott v. Sanford, where he made the argument, which men like Webster & Kent knew must come, that individual rights, all individual rights, must be secondary to the interests of the community and that of the state and the greater good - and that in such a view, slavery should be seen as a 'constitutional right' - the 'evolving nature of rights' had evolved to the point of justifying one man owning another.

If you oppose property rights, then you oppose the principle of all individual rights - Daniel Webster knew it, and so did Roger B. Taney.

Do you?

If you really want to change things, read the Constitution and discuss what it means with others, learn what our Founder's knew to be the vital nature and source of our rights, and why they must be defended in the details of property and contract. An excellent place to start is at The Founders Constitution, from the University of Chicago Press and the Liberty Fund. It goes through the Constitution, clause by clause with a collection of hyperlinks to the relevant material which the Founders had in mind during the constitutional debates on that clause, such as the Preamble. If you want to be able to meet the argument that 'Well, the 'general welfare clause' enables the government do whatever it wants to do' - that's the link to go to for your ammunition!

If this was only about 'Net Neutrality', I'd end this post here. But it's not, it is about extending the net over all that we know and knew... and it task's me... sorry, but the html has only begun to flow... Part II coming up soon.

Repeal. Reduce. Restore.

NOTE: A good post and set of resource links for learning about and battling Net Neutrality: The Right Needs to Wake up to Net Neutrality, on Gateway Pundit, by Warner Todd Huston.

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Show Me State to ObamaoCare: Get Outta Town!

Show Me State vote of 71.1% for Prop C Healthcare Freedom Act says to ObamaoCare: Get Outta Town!
Missouri voters went to the polls yesterday and overwhelmingly voted for the Health Care Freedom Act, Proposition C, whose first provision says,

" 1. No law or rule shall compel, directly or indirectly, any person, employer, or health care provider to participate in any health care system."

Kudo's and huge thanks to Annette Read and Margaret Hanenburg Walker of "I heard the people say" who put an enormous amount of time and effort into making this happen, a small part of which I saw first hand on several occasions, and posted on here and here.

If you may be tempted to think this is just much ado about nothing, I'll direct you to a recent comment by Congressmen Pete Stark, to a constituent during a townhall meeting (H/T Poed Patriot:)

Townhall questioner: If this legislation is constitional, what limits are there on the fed govt's limits to run our private lives?
Congressmen Stark: I think that there are very few constitution limits that would prevent the fed govt from rules that could affect your private life, now the basis for that would be how it would affect other people.
Townhall questioner: Is your answer that they can do anything?
Congressmen Stark: The fed govt, yes can do most anything in this country...
And if you've been following the comments of other fine folks like Pelosi & Hoyer, this attitude is commonly held, and even boastfully stated.

Make no mistake, when those entrusted with power feel that they have no restrictions upon the use of their power, there is little or nothting that can be done to stop them from doing unto you what they think is best for you.

If you are tempted to think that 'no legitimate public figure would do bad things to their fellow citizens'... you should also keep in that fine folks like Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes once ruled on forced sterilization of 'botched' citizens. Other fine folks like President Teddy Roosevelt often voiced his opinion that societies lesser elements should be bred out of 'the common stock'.

Ideas have consequences folks, and unless those with the power to act on their ideas are restricted from imposing their best ideas upon you - they will!