Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Bad News For The Internet

As usual, a regulatory agency demonstrates its lack of understanding of fundamental principles of government, as the FCC approves rules for so-called net neutrality.

The ruling is not surprising, given the entire issue of net neutrality is flawed as typically discussed. Even a technical publication like Ars Technica never seems to get this issue right. In a recent review of four books on the topic, it confuses free speech protections with rightful exercise of property rights, when it says our Constitution "hobbles any government attempt to act against private censorship".

"Private censorship"? There is no such thing.

Don't get me wrong; I understand the concept of restricting content. I'm simply saying that restricting content on your own property -- which is what Internet pipe really is -- should be protected speech just like writing in a newspaper without being shut down. They both extend from the same individual right to act freely within your rightful domain provided you don't physically coerce someone else.

To blur the distinction between state and private restrictions on content is to reverse direction from protecting freedom to killing it.

It's bad to have government suppressing speech, but it's equally bad to have government forcibly prevent private business from acting on its rights by allowing and disallowing any speech it wants on its property. Both cases involve the same transgression: violating individual rights. Both are morally wrong, for the exact same reason.

As with the recent McDonald's issue, the solution to this issue for the content provider is free choice, i.e. the fact that nobody is physically coercing them to use the Internet pipe. But as I said then:

Note that the responsibility to choose does not entail forcing some people to provide a certain number of choices for you (which is the premise behind laws like antitrust that allegedly promote "competition"), or making it easier for you by depriving others of liberty (such as this case). It means not forcibly preventing you from making a choice among the options you already have.

Key words: "already have". If you can't voluntarily secure the access you want, it is not acceptable for the government to force a business to provide it. That is slavery.

Some claim that providers have no choice, that carriers have a stranglehold on pipeline, and that's a threat to them, to consumers, and to the Internet economy (!). So, someone being able to freely use their property is bad for the free markets, but telling them what to do helps commerce? LOL.

The ultimate irony -- more ironic that claiming that groups advocating a command economy are good for consumers -- is that the limited competition in communications is the government's fault. There are licensing requirements, restrictions on content, restrictions on community access, on pricing, mandates on plans offered, and so on ad nauseum. You can't simply buy property access from private individuals and start providing cable (or other utility) service, which you should be able to do. So, basically the government is saying "We have crippled real competition in the marketplace and helped to establish virtual monopolies, and our solution to this problem is to further restrict your freedom by violating your property rights".

Nonsense. And they do not have the moral right to do it.

Humans must think and act in order to survive. To prevent this in any manner is to prevent us from living. It is anti-life. And you see the result in the grey stagnation of our economy and the sense that things are no longer right in America. Hint: it's not "greed", or the rule of a particular political party. It's the idea that we live only to serve others, and should not be free to live our lives peacefully as we see fit. Flourishing can only happen when we are free to think and act, and free to live our lives free from coercion by government and other citizens.

This ruling is bad for consumers and bad for the industry, and will only result in further intrusions by regulators as things continue to get worse and require more government "solutions".

The real answer is to have truly free markets, instead of the awful government-botched semi-monopolies we have now.

1 comment:

  1. You go boy! Dive into some powder up there for me. Gene


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