Senator Franken sought to stem the blood loss on the issue of Net neutrality so he took to the airwaves on Sunday. Net neutrality was supposed to be a good issue to bring up in the wake of the crushing defeat of the Dems on November 4th. It hasn’t turned out that way.
The logic likely went something like this.
Everyone likes movies right? I know, let’s call for “Net neutrality” (actually net control) and paint the cable companies which everyone hates (largely because they are crony organizations which have partnered with governments on all levels and so are often protected monopolies) as the bad guys while the government seizes control in the name of keeping the movies flowing. Voters like movies. Hollywood wants to sell more movies over the Internet and doesn’t want to pay the market rate for transmitting the movies over private networks. So this is a win win for us since Hollywood is where a lot of our campaign contributions come from. The dumb people glued to their sofas and remotes will love it! So what if the incentive to invest in faster and better networks is eroded over the medium to long term? We’re interested in short term. Our poll numbers are terrible!
But a funny thing happened on the way to the takeover of the Web. People actually started paying attention. Net neutrality is not just about slowing down faster internet traffic so that all Internet traffic moves at the same (slow) pace. It is more importantly (from the government’s perspective) about getting the FCC a foothold in a part of the economy and communications where they have been shut out. Right now the FCC censors and ultimately controls (with its corporate sponsors) radio and TV, 2 dying media forms. The FCC realizes that to stay relevant it needs the power to censor and control (with its corporate sponsors) 21st Century communications which happen over the Net. Thus “Net neutrality”
The regulators (and their corporate sponsors) know that if they don’t move now it may be impossible to regulate the Internet in the future. It might just be too big for them to wrangle. That is why “net neutrality” is on the table right now. (That, and absurdly obvious political positioning.) Make people afraid that their virtual bread and circuses are in peril and they will rally to the fascist (lite?) cause.
But again, it hasn’t worked out like that. Since we currently actually have a free and open Internet people have been able to inform themselves on the finer points of this power grab and thankfully they are erecting barricades and fighting back in the marketplace of ideas.
You know, the marketplace Al Franken and his entertainment industry friends think should be regulated by the FCC.
“Let’s give a simple contrast. The Telecommunications Act of 1934 was adopted to regulate these,” Cruz says holding up a landline phone. “To put regulations in place and what happened? It froze everything in place. This (Cruz puts his hand on the landline phone) is regulated by Title II. This (Cruz holds up a cell phone) is not.”
“Your smartphone, the Internet, the apps — all of this is outside of Title II,” Cruz continues. “The innovation is happening without having to go to government regulators and say, ‘Mother, may I?’ We want a whole lot more of this (Cruz holds up a cell phone) and a whole lot less of this (Cruz points at the landline phone).”
Note: I have to say that though Franken is totally wrong here I was long a fan of his. He was legitimately funny and he played a great roll in one of my favorite movies ever, Trading Places.