Among the issues most commonly discussed are individuality, the rights of the individual, the limits of legitimate government, morality, history, economics, government policy, science, business, education, health care, energy, and man-made global warming evaluations. My posts are aimed at thinking, intelligent individuals, whose comments are very welcome.

"No matter how vast your knowledge or how modest, it is your own mind that has to acquire it." Ayn Rand

10 May 2010

Another FCC Power Grab Attempt Over the Internet

For a decade, the Internet was classified by the FCC as an information service.  Following the declaration on 6 April 2010 by the U.S. Court of Appeals in D.C. that the FCC had failed to show that it has the authority under Title 1 of the Communications Act of 1934 to tell broadband Internet providers how they could manage their finite bandwidth issues, the FCC has now reclassified the Internet's broadband lines so they can regulate them under rules written in the 1930s for telephone lines.  FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski claims this will "allow the agency to move forward with broadband initiatives that empower consumers and enhance economic growth, while also avoiding regulatory overreach."  He claims that the broadband companies will only be subject to a few of the phone regulations.

As the Wall Street Journal editorial notes, this is not reassuring.  This administration has a unique voraciousness for power and never limits itself with less than it thinks it can get away with at any given time.  The point here is to establish by hook or by crook that the FCC can regulate the Internet.  Once it can, it will, Chicago gangland politics style, get to pick the winners and the losers in business and by having that power, politicians will be able to extort money from those companies at risk for campaign donations, future jobs, and present jobs for friends and family.  The claim is always made that such regulations are needed for the general public, but the actual advantage always winds up in the hands of the politicians and the few large companies that are most savvy at buying their influence.

There is no valid reason for the FCC to regulate the Internet.  It is doing just fine.  Certainly it is doing much better than it will once the FCC regulates it.  The Supreme Court ruled in a 2005 Brand X decision that cable broadband was properly classified as an information service.  The FCC reclassification will recreate business uncertainty for years as this FCC action is challenged in court. 

This puts huge investments at risk and will have the effect of making further investments more risky.  In the last 5 years, U. S. companies have invested $576 billion in communications equipment and structures.  Overall U.S. spending on information technology since 2005 is $2.2 trillion.  Communications and electronic and optical information exchange investment is 47% of all non-structure investment in the U.S.

If the FCC gets away with this power grab, it will not be long before we see government campaigns against political viewpoints it does not like.  The left will act to squelch any viewpoints it claims are racist, or bigoted.  Given that it claims that Fox News and the Tea Party movement induce violence and prejudice, it is clear that those with such opinions as voiced on Fox News and at Tea Party protests are likely to be suppressed in the future.  The socialists will act to suppress the sale of foods it does not like, such as beverages with sugar in them or fast foods with too much fat.  Only those organizations which force enough employees to contribute their time to leftist causes will be favored.  When the Right gains controls, they will be tempted to suppress the sex on the Internet.  They may also mount campaigns against those who claim a woman's right to an abortion.

The Internet has been a remarkably free market of ideas, goods, and services.  It is hardly surprising, given our last 100 years of history, that the government wants to gain regulatory control of this huge market, which offers too much to individuals and too little to politicians and the friends they choose on the basis of their support financially and at the polls.  This is why the FCC, which looked to be willing to live with the recent April court ruling, suddenly changed its mind after a host of liberal lobby groups made a fuss about that ruling.  Overnight, the FCC came up with this new reclassification tactic to satisfy these lobby groups.

This is the way excessive government becomes yet more excessive.  The result is always the same:  The People lose their equal individual rights to vicious politicians and large special interest groups.  The politicians reward those who pay them the most and damn the General Welfare of the People.

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