Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Net Neutrality - Patriotic Anti-Americanism

Unbalancing Act
Lunar eclipse over the Washington Monument
For the last one hundred years, at bare minimum, we have been getting more and more comfortable with giving the state the power to make our lives cozy - giving it the power and responsibility (here, you take it) to make our world a very protected, safe place. We've been intent on giving those who are confident that they know better, the power to determine, define, and oh so gently pre-approve all of our decisions, filtering them down to only those that have been investigated and declared to be 'safe enough' for us... in regards to just about everything,

'Safe enough' for us to eat...
'Safe enough' for us to bank...
'Safe enough' for us to vote for...
'Safe enough' for us to drink...
'Safe enough' for us to do business with...
'Safe enough' for us to breathe...
'Safe enough' for us to watch, listen, read...

So much so, that we are almost to the point now where we consider anything that has not been investigated, and thoroughly regulated, to be 'uncertain', unsafe and quite possibly dangerous and un-American to leave it so - even to the point of seeking to make the Internet 'safe' with Net Neutrality's attempting to make the Internet equally accessible, fast and fair to all.


Of course it won't do anything of the sort, it will in fact slow it down, bar access to many, and result in rising rates and restricted use - not to mention severly jeopardizing what Rights we've left. This isn't simple speculation, there's a very visible track record of past governmental efforts to accomplish similar ends (see Parts1,2,3) - but that is the way it's being sold, because the salesmen of statism know their customers, they know what sells, and being the government, they don't have to worry about deceptive advertising laws, they can just claim: "Govt will make life easier for you!", and have no fear of consequences (other than the occasional November...)

But the fact that Net Neutrality won't work, is the least important fact of all, and more than just a little beside the point. The actual point is that your Rights are being sold out from under you for the price (never to be paid) of less expensive movies on NetFlix. On this, the darkest day of the year, it seems most appropriate to ask, would you sell your soul for thirty pieces of silver? Well you are being asked to sell what is the very soul of being an American, your Individual Right to make your own choices, for the pittance of lower internet fees.

The lunar eclipse last night was nothing in comparison to the eclipse of the American Soul preparing to be enacted in Washington D.C. today. For those who complain
"We're not talking about destroying 'rights' we're just talking about preventing fat cats from forcing us to pay more than we want to!"
I'll answer, no, you're talking about the government, that body charged with upholding the Rights of all Americans before impartial, blindfolded, Justice, singling out an easily vilified group 'fat cats' and telling them that they do not have the Right to make their own choices, they do not have the right to choose what price to set for their services, they do not have the right to say what they choose to say. That is what you are urging, not even congress, but an agency, to put into practice over, and in place of, your Rights.

There is no such thing as Rights which apply to some people and not to all people, and those who wish to sweep them out of their way know this very well. If you can do away with protecting the rights of some people which most people don't like, then you have already done away with the idea of all people being born with equal rights, you've converted Rights, into favors, to be bestowed as seems most politically useful to do - aka: Political Correctness.

Can I Just Say It?
I could dance around it, but I'd rather not,
Anti-Free Market + Anti-Constitution + Anti-Property Rights + Anti-Free Speech = Anti-American
There is no Liberty in this, only residual comforts and fleeting pleasures purchased at the price of our actual individual rights and ability to pursue happiness. The effort to make gov't determine what you will be allowed to make choices about, well... fewer things could be more anti-American than that; yet they are done with all the patriotic pomp and circumstance of 'helping the little guy!' and 'promoting democracy!' that the proregressives can muster and bluster.

I'm not questioning their patriotism, only the nature of the ideas their patriotism is given to - and in clear, level headed terms, those ideas are Anti-American. Govt having power and responsibility to pre-approve your choices is a central point in the assault upon the Constitution, one which all regulatory law entails. It relies upon a very particular view of Rights, which, if "American" in any sense means freedom and liberty, then it is Anti-American.

I'm not questioning whether or not these are good and well intentioned people - I take it to be a given that they are! I'm questioning whether or not they are aware of the danger to freedom, liberty and the rule of law, that is created when the desire to do good is given the unrestrained power to take one select people's view of what would be the good choices to make, and imposes them upon everyone else.

The proregressive left (and right) takes it as an article of faith that it's good to safeguard the public against any and all risks, and obviously for govt to make life easy and secure for you, it must make choices for you - choosing not only what you will be allowed to do, but also choosing, for you, what you must do, what you will not be allowed not to do, and choosing for you what you will never have a choice in choosing at all!

Regulatory law is the means of controlling the choices of the populous, and those of the left who understand their positions beyond that of its ideological assertions, are deeply aware of it. I'm reading Cass Sunstein's "The second bill of rights", and I'll give him credit, he's one of the very few leftists who can trace the history of his ideas back before the 20th century, and he understands the limited proregress to be made at this point in history by simply asserting their claims - that jig is up, with each "Speak truth to power!" episode, leftists instantly look like caricatures of old hippies; too easily laughed at and dismissed.

Sunstein, on the other hand, grasps not only how important it is to sound calm & reasonable, but of how important it is to undermine the original concept of Natural Rights, rather than to attack them outright; his strategy is to subtly redefine them at their core so as to make it seem that by increasing government power, somehow your Rights will be strengthened, rather than being weakened and dissolved, as they are.

Sunstein, like an exercise in rhetorical gene splicing, artfully inserts his assertions into a discussion of the principles of our fundamental rights, while seeming to agree, he subverts and eliminates their threat to his regulatory ideals, leaving the Founders concept of Rights not just behind, but seemingly in tow.
To give you a glimpse of his technique, take a look at this from Chp. 2 of his book, and see if you can spot the danger:
"In a nutshell, the New Deal helped vindicate a simple idea: No one really opposes government intervention. Even the people who most loudly denounce government interference depend on it every day. Their own rights do not come from minimizing government but are a product of government. The simplest problem with laissez-faire is not that it is unjust or harmful to poor people, but that it is a hopelessly inadequate description of any system of liberty, including free markets. Markets and wealth depend on government."
I've got to say, in the way that a cop might be impressed at how skillfully a master criminal pulls off a heist, I'm impressed with the economy of how skillfully he corrupts principle and meaning and removes clarity from the scene, leaving the appearance of a meaningful statement behind - emptied of meaning, contentless - robbed.

Magicians and thieves don't pick your pocket with the hand you're watching
In that short paragraph Sunstein dispenses with the idea of our Individual Rights coming from our nature as human beings and the importance that they not be infringed upon, and transforms 'Individual Rights' into a particular set of positive rights to be bestowed upon us by legislators, with nary a mention of the conflict between the two approaches. Pay particular attention to these two passages:
"Even the people who most loudly denounce government interference depend on it every day. Their own rights do not come from minimizing government but are a product of government. "
"Markets and wealth depend on government."

The half truth shuffle here is deft, and if unawares, you might enter into that paragraph secure in your beliefs, yet come out of it on the other side shaking your head and looking around for signs of their escape.

The technique he uses is common, and simple. Equivocate and Particularize, or IOW, 'divert the meaning of a term into something else, and trade away ideas for material substitutes'. Before looking at Sunstein's quotation, lets have a look at some other common examples, with an towards keeping your eye on the two maneuvers the magicians hand is making in order to stay hidden :

  1. Equivocate on a key word being used so that the common meaning is replaced by a different sense of the word, such as a Right being something you may not be prevented from exercising, with a 'right' as being something you commonly expect, desire and maybe even deserve to receive -

    the general Principle that your Freedom of Speech must not be prevented, with the position that leftist's views are unfairly restricted if they aren't displayed for free on conservative sites
  2. Dispense with Principles in general, by reducing them to those particulars often associated with them -

    Replace the Right to your property, with the notion that you have a 'right' to get what you want at a price that you, and a lot of other people, decide is a 'fair' price
Keep an eye out and you'll see that happening in every proregressive leftist missive that's righteously thrust in your face.

Sunstein key equivocations taking place in 's paragraph, are

  • "minimizing government" - this counts on leading you to equate Rights enforcement as being equivelant to the source of Rights - which they most certainly are not.
  • "are a product" - seeks to further confuse 'Laws' with 'Rights'. Laws certainly are a product, and one of the most central purposes of government, but Rights are not a product of Laws or of government, not in the American sense, Rights are derived from our nature as human beings, and it is their defence which is the central purpose of government, and which Laws and government actions are to uphold and defend - not goodies to be distributed.
  • 'Interference' - confusing the proper actions of govt taken in the defense of rights - which can and must intrude into individuals lives (police, trials, laws, etc) - , with the very different actions of government usurping your rights in order to enforce it's own assumed powers over you and your choices.
All of which is using spin to declare a cop and a mugger to be equivalent because they both use guns in their line of work.

Keep your eye on the other hand, your Rights are being magically taken from you right before your eyes, while you ooh and ahh over the promise of lower prices.

Make no mistake, your Freedom and Liberty DO depend upon Government, but only on a Government of a very particular kind, one which upholds and defends your Right to exercise your Rights to pursue the form of happiness you choose, a Government 'of Laws and not men'; but your freedom and liberties are taken away by a government that can tell you what particular things you will be given a right to, and how much of those it will decide you should be 'happy' with.
(Cross posted at 24th State.)


USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

I'm not questioning their patriotism, only the nature of the ideas their patriotism is given to - and in clear, level headed terms, those ideas are Anti-American. Govt having power and responsibility to pre-approve your choices is a central point in the assault upon the Constitution, one which all regulatory law entails. It relies upon a very particular view of Rights, which, if "American" in any sense means freedom and liberty, then it is Anti-American."

The proregressives are very patriotic to the proregressive UN which wants to also do what the FCC (and every agency of the left) wants to do: be the new source of our rights and determine what, if any, those "new rights" are while calling it "Constitutional" without battin' an eye.

BTW, the UN also wants to tax the internet. Will the FCC also create a regulation by fiat for that as well? Perhaps claiming the "fat cats" should pay for the enforcement of these new regulations they wanna impose on our liberties?

Of course they will, if we allow them to.

From uphold and defend to tear down, replace, and enforce. A craven new world of every proregressive's wet dream.

By the time that most proregressives decide they don't actually like what they're wishin' for it'll be too late.

Great post, Van!

Van Harvey said...

Thanks Ben, and yep on the worldwide front, Heritage ties a couple of the int'l links together here,
FCC’s Christmas Gift for the Internet: Net Neutrality Regulation

And still more Christmas cheer to be found here,
Why You NEED to Care About Net Neutrality.url
A Coup By the FCC

And the veriest most cheerful of them all,
Obama's Emerging Enabling Act

"...But the subprime collapse served as the excuse to adopt certain “emergency” confiscatory powers, many already in existence but not fully exploited, others created from whole cloth. Capitalism, Wall Street, and Joe the Plumber were blamed, not Federal policies whose illegitimate economic concoctions had been percolating since at least Bill Clinton’s administration. Beginning with Jimmy Carter’s Community Reinvestment Act, followed by Ronald Reagan and his Alternative Mortgage Transactions Parity Act and the bailouts of the savings and loans under his watch, every president since then has had a hand in stirring the pot in which the frog swims, and both political parties..."

I wish it was as Rand'ishly over the top as it seems to be... but he lays out the path that got us here pretty well, and where others have taken such roads to in the past.

USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

The newly elected GOP majority should make it their first order of business to defund the FCC.

Thanks for the links!

Joseph henry said...
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