Patterico's Pontifications

4/9/2015

Reason.com: “‘Net neutrality’ sounds like a good idea. It isn’t.”

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 8:58 pm



This article at Reason.com about Net Neutrality is probably the best article I have ever read on the subject. I can’t sum it all up, and I urge you to read it all — but here is a nice excerpt describing part of the problem:

[E]ven without government’s guiding hand, neutrality has long been an organizing principle of the Net. The engineers who first started connecting computers to one another decades ago embraced as a first-cut rule for directing Internet traffic the “end-to-end principle”-a component of network architecture design holding that the network itself should interfere as little as possible with traffic flowing from one end-user to another. Yet the idea that this network “intelligence” should reside only at the ends of the network, has never been—and could never be—an absolute. Effective network management has always required prominent exceptions to the end-to-end principle.

Not all bits are created equal, as the designers of those first Internet software protocols recognized. Some bits are more time-sensitive than others. Some bits need to arrive at their destination in sequence, while others can turn up in any order. For instance, live streaming video, interactive gaming, and VoIP calls won’t work if the data arrive out of order or with too much delay between data packets. But email, software updates, and even downloaded videos don’t require such preferential treatment-they work as long as all the bits eventually end up where they’re supposed to go.

Anticipating the needs of future real-time applications, early Internet engineers developed differentiated services (“DiffServ”) and integrated services (“IntServ”) protocols, which have discriminated among types of Internet traffic for decades. The effect on less time-sensitive applications has gone virtually unnoticed. Does anyone really care if their email shows up a few milliseconds “late”?

But these are engineering prioritizations, and they come without an associated price mechanism. As a result, there’s little incentive for anyone to mark these packets accurately: In the face of network congestion, everyone wants the highest priority as long as it’s free.

Here, as throughout the economy, prices would make everyone reveal the value they place on a transaction, thereby allocating scarce resources efficiently. An Internet characterized by business prioritization, offering fast and slow lanes for purchase by end-users or content providers, could make all applications work better, significantly increasing consumer satisfaction while also promoting broadband adoption and deployment.

Wait, what? A price mechanism might allocate resources in the most efficient manner? Tell that to Chief Central Water Controller Jerry Brown! (But that’s another post, one I’m probably too weary to write. Anyway, the people at IBD.com already wrote everything I wanted to say about California water restrictions anyway.) Back to the Reason.com Net Neutrality article, the authors make the point that, if there is lack of competition, the problem (as usual) is government:

In fact, the real competitive constraints are usually imposed by local government franchise regulations, including the imposition of substantial build-out requirements and restrictions on broadband providers’ access to government-owned utility poles.

Read it all. Ted Cruz called Net Neutrality “ObamaCare for the Internet” — a quote that future Salon.com writer SEK, whom I blocked on Facebook tonight, mocked as being stupid, but was actually genius. Cruz was right. As the Reason.com folks say: “No decent person, in other words, should be for net neutrality.”

The fact that many decent people are just means they’re misguided, of course, and not indecent — but their ignorance is getting harder and harder to excuse.

64 Responses to “Reason.com: “‘Net neutrality’ sounds like a good idea. It isn’t.””

  1. I watched a video on it recently on youtube, and watched a few (as you do).

    One of the “we need net netraulity” videos was astounding. They postualated that your water provider *might* want to switch your water to soda – which everyone would want, right? But Soda isn’t good for you, and it isn’t good for all the things you’d usually use water for.

    Hence we need the government to stop providers from doing something they’d never dream of doing, and no consumer would ever let them get away with.

    I was left wondering just how anyone could conceive “promoting” something by first postulating to the viewer that the viewer was too stupid to want water from their pipes, but then appealing to the user by implying they would also be smart enough to know that government regulation would stop this.

    scrubone (c3104f)

  2. stupid people make stupid arguments…

    SEK, for instance… (didn’t he used to post here as well?)

    redc1c4 (269d8e)

  3. In fact, the real competitive constraints are usually imposed by local government franchise regulations, including the imposition of substantial build-out requirements and restrictions on broadband providers’ access to government-owned utility poles.

    Looks to me like a great reason to have a federal law restricting what providers can do so that they can’t be manipulated by the local governments.

    I love the idea of a fully price-driven internet as described in the article. In fact I’ve promoted a similar system in the past in a technical forum at a company that might actually have some influence on this (and the idea was generally well received). But this doesn’t solve the problem of local providers, with government-supported monopolies, from discriminating based on the content source in order to extort money from successful companies, protect their own investments in other areas, or support the political party that controls their contract.

    So let not the perfect be the enemy of the good. Just because there is a better system that is possible in theory, that doesn’t mean that the better system is possible in practice–at least in the near term. Sometimes you have to admit that you can’t get the perfect solution and work towards a solution that is merely less sucky than the current state of things.

    As to my ignorance being “harder and harder to excuse”, we have that in common. I find it harder and harder to excuse the way that you keep harping on this subject without even acknowledging the dangers posed by local government control of internet access, much less trying to explain why a federal law that prevents control of content is a greater danger than local governments having a free hand to control internet content.

    Cugel (699bce)

  4. “Net neutrality” isn’t about prohibiting a network from performing QoS optimization such as giving VoIP packets, or streaming video, a higher precedence over a software download or a batch email transmission.

    Its about prohibiting an ISP from deciding their business partner’s streaming video service packets get priority over competitors’ streaming video packets. Or from allowing search engine “A” to pay to have their search results delivered faster than those from search engine “B”.

    It’s also about prohibiting ISP “A” from charging the customers of ISP “B” extra for using bandwidth that the customers of ISP “A” are ALREADY paying to use.

    If I, as a customer of ISP “A” pay for a particular bandwidth/speed, and also subscribes to a streaming video service “N” (that is itself a paying customer of ISP “B”) – the streaming video service should NOT have to ALSO may MY ISP (“A”) to transmit that video data stream to me at the full speed supported both by the service speed it pays ISP “B” for and the speed *I* pay ISP “A” for.

    The Internet (31b838)

  5. The idea is, that when I pay my ISP for a particular amount of Internet speed/bandwidth I should be able to expect that ALL other points on the Internet, that pay their OWN ISP for sufficient bandwidth as well, to be able to transmit to me at full speed (one at a time, of course; obviously if I am receiving from multiple senders at the same time my total incoming bandwidth would be distributed between the streams)

    Expecting BOTH the recipient AND the sender to pay for the recipients bandwidth is pure greed. The sender already pays for it at THEIR end.

    The Internet (31b838)

  6. Its about government regulation of the internet, The Internet. What they SAY they will do is one thing. What they will ACTUALLY do is quite another.

    Dejectedhead (83e1bc)

  7. …and before anyone posts that “No ISP would ever do that”..

    They already have, and when the FCC tried to stop them, they sued to say the FCC didn’t have the authority because of how they were classified. Which is why the FCC decision to reclassify broadband Internet happened.

    The Internet (31b838)

  8. We know the story of the most recent beginnings of Net Neutrality.

    Dejectedhead (83e1bc)

  9. As far as the FCC regulation…just look at the businesses that already fall under their jurisdiction. Comcast and Time Warner. Two cable companies that are ALREADY under FCC jurisdiction. (Oddly enough, I think Tom Wheeler was a former Comcast lobbyist…that now heads the FCC)

    One thing about regulatory coverage…it leads to less competition and locks new competition from the market. I leads to monopoly positions in markets, not the other way around.

    Look at this coverage map in the Northeast.
    Comcast : and Time Warner

    Flip back and forth between that coverage map and you’ll see some oddly noncompetitive behavior. Comcast controls Chicago’s market…but no Time Warner. Time Warner controls all of Ohio, but no Comcast.
    Comcast control Maryland, New Jersey, Connecticut, and Massachusetts…and No Time Warner.
    Time Warner controls all of New York, North Carolina, and South Carolina…and No Comcast.

    But Comcast gets Atlanta…with No Time Warner.

    Weird what regulations can do.

    Dejectedhead (83e1bc)

  10. Dejectedhead its actually about near monopoly control over the Internet by a few giant corporations that have passively declined to compete with each other in established geographic areas of control.

    The talking heads of big media and their toadies have come up with all sorts of lies and misinformation to try to convince people of what you claiming. Read the truth:

    http://theoatmeal.com/blog/net_neutrality
    https://www.publicknowledge.org/issues/net-neutrality
    http://www.savetheinternet.com/net-neutrality-what-you-need-know-now
    https://www.eff.org/deeplinks/2015/03/todays-net-neutrality-order-win-few-blemishes

    The Internet (31b838)

  11. Cable already falls under FCC control TI. Internet Specific ISPs haven’t.

    Dejectedhead (83e1bc)

  12. Dejectedhead – Yes, the COMCAST/TWC merger is a bad thing. I think the FTC, or the FCC, or someone, should block it.

    Net neutrality is not directly related to bringing more last-mile competition. But it can help to prevent those companies from taking in even MORE money to further entrench their tight grip.

    And if competition for hardwired high-speed broadband Internet access actually got to a point where true healthy competitive market started to form (95%+ of addresses in the US with at least TWO options for broadband, with the vast majority having three or more choices) then the ability of customers to “vote with their wallet” by switching providers, could form *some* motivation for providers to stay neutral on their own without regulation. But with the current situtation of most folks having little or no choice, its not even remotely a factor.

    The Internet (31b838)

  13. I’m not talking about a merger between Time Warner and Comcast. I’m talking about the practical application of FCC control over an industry. FCC control ALLOWS anti-competitive behavior and Tom Wheeler is a former lobbyist for the Cable industry.

    FCC control bring less competition because it uses its regulatory authority to divide industry competition.

    There has been NOTHING wrong with the progress of the Internet. Then one day comes and suddenly everyone acts like there’s no choice.

    The vast majority of Americans have 2 or more choices in internet access and they’d have MORE choice if the FCC wasn’t involved at all up until this point.

    Dejectedhead (83e1bc)

  14. Here’s a breakdown chart of the US states coverage.

    Coverage by 3 or more Providers if you include wireless is near universal.

    Those aren’t bad numbers for internet access and when you include the wired and wireless market, there are plenty of options.

    Dejectedhead (83e1bc)

  15. No. Clearly everything should be cross-subsidized in the least transparent manner possible. It’s how we do things as Americans!

    Kevin M (25bbee)

  16. Here in Los Angeles, I have a choice of 4 major wireless carriers (and a bewildering number of small fry). For wired internet I have a choice of the phone company, the cable company and a couple of upstart fiber overbuilders.

    My wife and I each have a smartphone on a family plan for $90 combined from AT&T. I just got a letter from Verizon offering to “cut” our bill to a mere $130. I think I’ll pass.

    My wife’s BUSINESS phone+20Mb internet comes from COVAD at $40/month combined, something AT&T would charge a couple hundred dollars for, if such speeds were available from them (they top out at 3Mb DSL in her area).

    No doubt this price will be regulated up due to its unfairness to the phone company. Can’t have all this wasteful competition.

    Kevin M (25bbee)

  17. Cellular wireless is not remotely a suitable option for home broadband.

    And those charts are misleading, they assume that if even one person in a given zipcode, city, or region can get service from a particular provider, that everyone in that zipcode can, even if many or most of the other individual address in that zipcode are actually NOT in a service area.

    Nonetheless, the FCC does not have the authority to force new providers to startup, nor to force providers to move into areas they don’t yet provide. The problem is that the costs of entry into broadband (both real and manmade) are massive. They only reason that at least some people can choose between the incumbent “telecom” provider and the incumbent “cable” provider for broadband Internet is mostly due to their legacy of being different services, and those probably aren’t merging because that might well be the straw that could trigger antitrust action.

    There are large areas (especially rural, but some suburban was well) where people are covered by exactly ONE hardwired broadband Internet provider. Of course the rates in such areas are higher than the rates in areas where there is even ONE other choice. There are still larger areas where NO hardwired broadband provider offers service. And the lobbyists for these companies vehemently oppos any sort of community network project to provide service.

    Google is the only company doin it remotely right. But it will take them a long time to build up coverage – probably almost as long as it took the current providers to build theirs up.

    The Internet (31b838)

  18. “Net neutrality” isn’t about prohibiting a network from performing QoS optimization such as giving VoIP packets, or streaming video, a higher precedence over a software download or a batch email transmission.

    Its about prohibiting an ISP from deciding their business partner’s streaming video service packets get priority over competitors’ streaming video packets. Or from allowing search engine “A” to pay to have their search results delivered faster than those from search engine “B”.

    It’s also about prohibiting ISP “A” from charging the customers of ISP “B” extra for using bandwidth that the customers of ISP “A” are ALREADY paying to use.

    The Internet (31b838) — 4/9/2015 @ 11:36 pm

    But that’s not we got is it? Read the 400+ pages of regulations the FCC wrote in secret without the ability for public comment. There was no transparency in the process. Look at the history of FCC regulation. Give them an inch and they take a mile. It will drive up costs and reduce competition.

    What you say “Net Neutrality” is about could have been written on half a page and should have been written by congress who actually has constitutional authority to write laws, not the FCC.

    Tanny O'Haley (c674c7)

  19. And those charts are misleading, they assume that if even one person in a given zipcode, city, or region can get service from a particular provider, that everyone in that zipcode can, even if many or most of the other individual address in that zipcode are actually NOT in a service area.

    I don’t know HOW you determined that. Please explain how you arrived at that conclusion? I’d say your explanation appears more misleading than the charts. The charts provide statistics by % population.

    The problem is that the costs of entry into broadband (both real and manmade) are massive.

    Do you notice how the topic quickly moves away from “Net Neutrality” and into an argument for government involvement with subsidies?

    There are large areas (especially rural, but some suburban was well) where people are covered by exactly ONE hardwired broadband Internet provider.

    So? If you live in a rural area, it comes with its own challenges doesn’t it? You aren’t advocating for wired broadband coverage in rural Alaska are you?

    And the lobbyists for these companies vehemently oppos any sort of community network project to provide service

    Like Tom Wheeler? Current Head of the FCC and Former Comcast Lobbyist. Do you not worry about corporate capture of regulators at all?

    Dejectedhead (83e1bc)

  20. I’ll bet that esteemed group of chamber of commerce members love this. Big business can’t fail fast enough for me.

    mg (31009b)

  21. Panchsheel Broadband Services
    for more detail please visit:-
    Welcome in Panchsheel Broadband Wireless Internet Broadband Connection (A unit of http://www.parasbroadband.com  )

    panchsheelbroadband (6c4711)

  22. so over facebook

    block them all let god sort em out

    happyfeet (831175)

  23. TI, it is not about how A or B pays for their bandwidth, it about how much ISPs charge each other for peering. And if the ISP hosting B sends a lot of data to the other ISP’s customers then they need to work something out.

    In the end, constant, low latency, synchronized, high bandwidth downloads from distant content providers are not what consumer ISPs are selling. When Verizon or Comcast talk about streaming video, they mean access to content they host on their own networks.

    Xmas (bfaacb)

  24. I have taken to asking people who are in favor of one Government intervention or another “Can you name one instance of a government initiative that required subtlety and tact that wasn’t a disaster?”

    I’m getting a lot of sputtering, but damn few answers.

    C. S. P. Schofield (a196fd)

  25. The idea that “the Internet” will improve with a govt takeover is silly beyond words.

    JD (c90ab3)

  26. CSP Schofield @24 – I’m assuming that you’re not in favor of military interventions in places like Iran, then, and that you opposed the Iraq invasion in 2003?

    Jonny Scrum-half (574c2e)

  27. JD @25 – How is a regulation requiring “Net neutrality” a “government takeover” of the Internet? Isn’t it simply requiring a continuation of what we currently have? (By the way, didn’t the government create the Internet?)
    It seems to me that opposition to Net neutrality is driven by those who would seek to make money by charging different fees to customers, creating a bidding war.

    Jonny Scrum-half (574c2e)

  28. I think this op-ed Is also helpful.

    DRJ (e80d46)

  29. Here you go, Johnny. Stan Freberg’s “Elderly Man River”. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PLlTlYfqQV4 Safe and hilarious.

    nk (dbc370)

  30. == (By the way, didn’t the government create the Internet?)==

    No. It was, and continues to be a process. Read and learn.

    http://www.internethalloffame.org/internet-history/timeline

    elissa (94cfb6)

  31. I’m for net neutrality. I’m against “Net Neutrality” – the convoluted mish-mash of fine-print legalistic regulations promulgated by the FCC under that title, which will, just by sheer size have many unintended consequences, most of which will be bad for the average Internet used.

    bud (30d398)

  32. This is a question to which I don’t know the answer, so I’m not asking with any pre-conceptions in mind – why does South Korea have faster internet at cheaper prices than the US? Is their market more or less regulated than ours, and does that have anything to do with the difference in price and speed?

    Jonny Scrum-half (574c2e)

  33. ==This is a question to which I don’t know the answer,==

    Jonny, with all due respect if South Korea’s internet structure and pricing is of great interest to you, how about you do your own research and then report back if you discover there is any common relevancy to this thread?

    elissa (94cfb6)

  34. Thanks, Elissa @33 for the “due respect.” I tried that and wasn’t able to find anything that explained it in a way that made sense to me. I figured that it couldn’t hurt to ask if someone already had the answer.

    Jonny Scrum-half (574c2e)

  35. Well, depending on how much you trust Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Internet_censorship_in_South_Korea

    I don’t know if this entirely answers Jonny’s question http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Internet_in_South_Korea#National_program

    nk (dbc370)

  36. JD @25 – How is a regulation requiring “Net neutrality” a “government takeover” of the Internet? Isn’t it simply requiring a continuation of what we currently have? (By the way, didn’t the government create the Internet?)
    It seems to me that opposition to Net neutrality is driven by those who would seek to make money by charging different fees to customers, creating a bidding war.

    Jonny Scrum-half (574c2e) — 4/10/2015 @ 8:26 am

    If Net Neutrality is all you wanted, then congress who is constitutionally given the right to make laws should create a law. Not 400+ pages from the FCC who is not constitutionally entitled to create laws. It’s a “government takeover” because it doesn’t just require “Net Neutrality”. We get things like new taxes and the possibility of content censorship.

    Read the fine print. Beware what you ask the government for as you will always get more than expected.

    Tanny O'Haley (c674c7)

  37. No. 9, Re: your questions (8:23 am, 9:50 am):
    1. CP suggested that the government was deficient on tasks that required subtlety and tact , this is certainly not a reference to the use of the military. The military kills people and breaks things, which is the correct prescription for both Iraq and Iran. It mystifies me that you would have overlooked this distinction.
    2. South Korea has a population of 51 million, and an area of 39,000 sq. miles. This works out to about 1300 people per square mile. If you combine Orange County, Ca., and San Diego County, Ca., you end up with about 6 million people in 5500 square miles, or about 1100 people per square mile. So one might reasonably compare the California counties to So. Korea for policies that are dependent upon population density. However, the United States has about 330 million people living in 3.5 million square miles, which works out to 94 people per square mile, although the vast majority of us live in cities where the population density is around 5,000 people per square mile. What works for So. Korean networks isn’t necessarily good for the U. S., and it wouldn’t be so good for either the cities or the rural areas. In fact this is a great opportunity to demonstrate the beauty of Federalism. You and your employers should convince the two counties to implement “net neutrality” and see how it works out. Or maybe not.

    Shock and Awe and Desert Storm worked. It was the follow up that got tangled up in political correctness and muddled thinking. It would work again in Iran, and our failure to attempt the effort will result in consequences that will be almost unimaginably terrible.

    bobathome (ef0d3a)

  38. bobathome@37 – The population density explanation makes sense. Regarding the “subtlety and tact,” I was thinking more about the post-war occupation more than the actual war itself.

    Jonny Scrum-half (574c2e)

  39. Johnny half-sack – if “net neutrality” was all the govt and you really wanted, it would have been done in the open, and would have taken maybe 1-2 pages of text. As is, it was done in the most incredibly not transparent way, in total secrecy, with 100’s of pages of regulation. Please forgive my skepticism.

    JD (c90ab3)

  40. #32. One reason that South Korea has faster internet is that they have a much smaller and dense market. 16% of our population and 1 % the size of our territory.

    Dejectedhead (4bfcf6)

  41. Doh, don’t know how I missed bobathome’s comment.

    Dejectedhead (4bfcf6)

  42. “CSP Schofield @24 – I’m assuming that you’re not in favor of military interventions in places like Iran, then, and that you opposed the Iraq invasion in 2003?

    Jonny Scrum-half (574c2e) — 4/10/2015 @ 8:23 am”

    What about a military intervention involves subtlety and tact, pray tell? Oh, due to various idiocies, some of each was tried in Iraq. Those are parts that were failures.

    C. S. P. Schofield (a196fd)

  43. As to my ignorance being “harder and harder to excuse”, we have that in common. I find it harder and harder to excuse the way that you keep harping on this subject without even acknowledging the dangers posed by a local government control of Internet access.

    Given that your comment opens with a quote in which I acknowledge precisely that, I find myself wondering what the hell you’re talking about. How can you quote me acknowledging something and then say I never acknowledge it? Please explain that to me.

    Patterico (2f6716)

  44. As to whether the problem of local government laws is best addressed by changing local government laws or imposing a giant central standard, we can agree to disagree. I favor decentralized solutions, ideally market ones, any time possible. I recognize that not everyone agrees.

    Patterico (2f6716)

  45. Well, would you!?!? http://t.co/RHbZQnNyJG

    Colonel Haiku (2601c0)

  46. Niiice suit. Haircut, too. Very WASP.

    nk (dbc370)

  47. Given that your comment opens with a quote in which I acknowledge precisely that, I find myself wondering what the hell you’re talking about. How can you quote me acknowledging something and then say I never acknowledge it? Please explain that to me.

    Maybe I misunderstood your use of the quote. I thought you were suggesting: “see how bad local government control is making things and now you are bringing in the federal government which will be even worse.” and not that you were acknowledging that the net neutrality regulations will actually help to relieve problems that already exist.

    Cugel (699bce)

  48. Net neautrality regulations will not “fix” the problems they are claiming to solve, and will impose new costs and create new provlems.

    JD (bccb81)

  49. I thought you were suggesting: “see how bad local government control is making things and now you are bringing in the federal government which will be even worse.”

    You thought right.

    But, again, our debate over how to handle the problem of local government rules is separate from your utterly false claim that I have refused to acknowledge the problems they cause. I acknowledge them right there in the quote that you open your own comment with. And I have complained about local government rules in this area quite openly in the past. So please, do not misrepresent my position.

    Patterico (9c670f)

  50. Few things get people upset, and throw civilized discussion into turmoil, such as misrepresentations of the opponent’s position.

    General advice to Internet denizens: Start by being fair about your opponent’s position. Write that rule down 100 times before you say another word.

    Patterico (9c670f)

  51. Let me make this very clear for people not reading every word of the post or the comments.

    In the post, I said: “Back to the Reason.com Net Neutrality article, the authors make the point that, if there is lack of competition, the problem (as usual) is government.” Then I quoted the authors as saying the following:

    In fact, the real competitive constraints are usually imposed by local government franchise regulations, including the imposition of substantial build-out requirements and restrictions on broadband providers’ access to government-owned utility poles.

    That is an explicit acknowledgement of the dangers posed by local government control of Internet access.

    Then, cugel opened his initial comment on this thread with the very quote that I just provided above. cugel not only showed that he had read the quote in the post, he performed a copy and paste of those very words into his comment. Words that are, again, an explicit acknowledgement of the dangers posed by local government control of Internet access.

    Then cugel, in his comment, accused me of proceeding in this argument “without even acknowledging the dangers posed by local government control of internet access.”

    This truly leaves me stunned, and at a loss for responding adequately without the use of serious profanities or wild accusations of flat-out dishonesty. So far, I have managed, through restraint learned by years of practice, to refrain from either.

    But I remain utterly flabbergasted by someone who opens his comment with a quote in which I acknowledge x (whatever x might be) and then proceeds to accuse me of not acknowledging x. For now, I will leave it there.

    Patterico (9c670f)

  52. Well I appreciate your forbearance. Naturally, when two people engage in discussions of complex political issues like this, misunderstandings are bound to arise. In this case, the misunderstanding is my fault because I was not clear about my specific concern with local regulation. I was provoked by your comment: “their ignorance is getting harder and harder to excuse” and did not respond as thoughtfully as I should have. This comment is an attempt to rectify that.

    The quote in question:

    In fact, the real competitive constraints are usually imposed by local government franchise regulations, including the imposition of substantial build-out requirements and restrictions on broadband providers’ access to government-owned utility poles.

    is an acknowledgement of SOME of the dangers posed by local control of the internet–the economic costs. But I was not talking about the economic costs; I was talking about the risk of censorship and political control of information. You obviously know that local governments have a lot of power over the internet providers, but you do not take the next step of asking what they might do with that power in regards to controlling what information people can get access to. When you talk about federal regulations, then you worry (rightly, I acknowledge) about how government power might be abused to restrict basic freedoms, but when you mention local governments, it’s a minor aside acknowledging that that economic costs of regulation are bad too.

    As a person who has actually experienced and been harmed by internet censorship I am naturally more concerned about problems that actually exist now than speculative problems that may exist in the future. And as a resident of a city where everyone on the city council views Rush Limbaugh as Satan’s Voice On Earth, I am concerned about the possibility that they may use their influence on my cable company to control the information that gets to voters in order to secure their position. The federal government is much less ideologically pure and therefore, in my view, much less of a danger in this regard. If you have ever addressed this particular problem with local control of internet providers, then I’ve never seen it.

    Cugel (699bce)

  53. Cugel,

    Thanks for the comment. First of all, I almost always favor decentralized decisionmaking. If things get too oppressive because of your local government, it’s easier to move to the next town than it is to move to the next country.

    I am always concerned about government at any level trying to control speech and punish views they don’t like. I’d be interested to hear more concerning your views on specifically how this happens at the local level.

    Patterico (9c670f)

  54. stupid people make stupid arguments…

    SEK, for instance… (didn’t he used to post here as well?)

    He used to comment here, but not post. That was when I enjoyed his writing because he wrote humorously about real-life events that seemed unlikely but that he insisted were true.

    Now he is a humorless scold who spends his days Googling terms of racial opprobrium so he can bring minor instances of racism in the country to national attention. Just got himself a Salon gig that way. I just blocked him on Facebook, after he accused me of intellectual dishonesty right out of the gate on a post. Interacting with people on Facebook makes Facebook think you want to see their stuff more, and I knew no other way to make SEK posts stop.

    I just blocked Jeff Bishop aka Xrlq on Facebook too. He completely misrepresented my position on the Slager shooting and when I called him on it he tripled down. Aggressive misrepresentation of the sort I don’t need to put up with any more. Life is too short.

    Patterico (9c670f)

  55. Am I mistaken or is this net neutrality thinger going to have the government take all the influence of supply and demand out of the equation for bandwith availability and pricing and treat everybody equally like good communists?

    Also I keep hearing people claim there are vast wastelands of the country where people have one choice of internet provider, in essence a monopoly, but I have not seen that factually supported.

    daleyrocks (bf33e9)

  56. Am I mistaken or is this net neutrality thinger going to have the government take all the influence of supply and demand out of the equation for bandwith availability and pricing and treat everybody equally like good communists?

    It certainly gives them more power to do that. But I can’t imagine government taking steps down a path towards socialism, can you? (Bats eyes innocently.)

    Patterico (9c670f)

  57. “It certainly gives them more power to do that. But I can’t imagine government taking steps down a path towards socialism, can you? (Bats eyes innocently.)”

    Patterico – Heavens to Betsy no! One hot take from this observer is that we could free up a lot of band width by having Eric Holder issue a memo telling federal government employees it is a firing offense to stream pron while at work.

    No need to thank me.

    Ima giver.

    daleyrocks (bf33e9)

  58. Capitalism is for oppressors. We need the heavy hand of extensive government regulation and intervention to make sure the intertubes work efficiently for all so the government can keep spying on us.

    daleyrocks (bf33e9)

  59. Govt will reduce costs by raising fees.

    JD (ecb924)

  60. Providers will lose money on each customer but make it up on volume!

    daleyrocks (bf33e9)

  61. I’m not saying that politically-motivated censorship by local governments has happened, I’m saying that it is even more likely than the politically-motivated censorship by the federal government that you are so worried about. When national Democrat goons threaten TV stations for showing Republican ads, it makes the news and they have to deal with the pushback. But local Democrat goons could use the same tactics to stealthily coerce internet providers into suppressing “hate speech” or something similar. And then it’s a private company doing it, so there is less pushback. Without proof of government involvement, a lot of left-leaning moderates who would ordinarily stand up for free speech can say it’s just private action and this gives them an excuse to be silent about it.

    The “censorship” that I’ve experienced was motivated by the good old profit incentive. This would not merit government involvement except that the only reason the company could get away with it was because of a government-supported monopoly. If there were any reasonable alternative to Comcast in my area, people would be abandoning it in droves to move to whatever company game them Netflix at decent speeds.

    Cugel (0b4507)

  62. all I needed to know about net neutrality is that Mark ‘wonderful democratic revolution’ Lloyd was for it.

    narciso (ee1f88)

  63. I’ve never understood why trucks are charged higher tolls than passenger cars on toll roads. Anybody know why?

    Asking for a friend.

    daleyrocks (bf33e9)

  64. they’re more harder on the roads?

    happyfeet (831175)


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