Dear Net Neutrality Proponents,
You dear, sweet buffoons.
I know you're quite impressed that the Federal Communications Commission just passed a sweeping set of regulations granting themselves control over the Internet. President Barack Obama considers this a glorious victory. Liberals and Democrats across the land are delighted. Even some corners of cyber space -- the ones populated by masochists and nincompoops -- are cheering loudly, excited to finally be under the jurisdiction of an enormous federal bureaucracy. Hallelujah!
Now, Gullible Americans, I realize that you think you've just been once again liberated from the shackles of the free market and whisked away to a fanciful land where Father Government makes sure everything is nice and fair and everyone is sharing their toys like good boys and girls. I know you are under this impression. I mean, I can't blame you. It's right there in the title. They call it "Net Neutrality," for goodness sake! It's neutral! Neutral means fair! Fair Internet! Who can quibble with a fair Internet! Only big bad corporations and their right wing minions, you think. Fox News and the Koch Brothers and Lex Luthor and other scary names.
The FCC tells us that Net Neutrality will give us a free and open Internet by granting them the power to regulate it under laws that were written 60 years before the Internet existed as a common household service. Consumers need to be protected from the possibility that Internet providers will block traffic to certain sites, or set up paid prioritization systems for consumers or web services who pay more. That's what this is all about, you think. The FCC is looking out for the little guy again.
Good old FCC, always fighting for truth, justice, and bureaucratic control.
But, see, this is where I need you to stop and think, Gullible Americans. It's too late now, but I need you to finally try to learn something here. The government is not the knight in shining armor you think it is -- even when it's run by Democrats.
[sharequote align="center"]The government is not the knight in shining armor you think it is - even when it's run by Democrats.[/sharequote]
Dig deeper. Don't accept everything at face value.
The FCC is launching this invasion of the open internet (which already exists) to give us an open internet (which, like I said, already exists) using conjecture as its only basis.
Notice every article about Net Neutrality comes with words like "fears" and "might" and "could."
The FCC fears that Internet service providers might block traffic and could offer two-tiered service and could do this and might do that and conceivably would do such and such. They aren't addressing a problem that currently plagues American consumers; only a problem that they insist will probably plague us at some point.
As these ISPs have pointed out, they don't actually offer paid "fast lanes," so these regulations are a remedy in need of a sickness. Besides, my internet provider doesn't charge me for faster service, or offer me a break for slower service, but I'm not sure I see why such an arrangement would be so unbearably evil. Plenty of hotels have a model like this, and I actually rather appreciate it. I can decide what kind of connection fits my needs, and pay accordingly. So what?
Thanks, FCC, but I don't need your assistance. I'm not a damsel in distress; I'm just a consumer being presented with options.
Yet, in addressing the non-existent problem, the government often (well, always) creates the problem it was ostensibly attempting to solve. In fact, speaking of paid prioritization, did you hear the one about the TV station that was granted an exemption to FCC rules after its executive contributed thousands of dollars to the campaign of a prominent Democrat?
Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Tom Wheeler speaks before calling for a vote during a meeting of the commissioners on May 15, 2014 at the FCC in Washington, DC. (AFP Photo / Karen Bleier)
Paid prioritization brought to you by the agency now in charge of getting rid of paid prioritization. By the way, ever hear of lobbyists? Our entire system of government is run by politicians who legislatively prioritize according to who is giving them money. Indeed, Net Neutrality itself was achieved by billionaires like George Soros handing out millions of dollars to the right people and placing proponents on the White House staff. Net Neutrality happened because rich people paid to have it prioritized.
Just as outrageously, Julie Veach at the FCC announced a couple of days ago that Net Neutrality would be would be "sustainable, enforceable rules to preserve and protect the open Internet as a place for innovation and free expression." Forget about the fact that an agency responsible for handing out millions of dollars in fines for expression it deems inappropriate is now knighting itself as the Protectors of Free Expression. The greater irony is that rules signed into law back when rotary phones were considered innovative are now being hoisted on the Internet in the name of innovation.
Are you laughing yet? Or crying? Or dropping to your knees and begging to be forgiven for your blind ignorance?
Yesterday the FCC head honcho gloated that the rules were passed after an "open and robust process." Well, we better hope it was open, considering these are the guys now in charge of making the open Internet opener. Except his idea of an "open process" includes refusing to release the plan to the public until it was already voted on and passed by the commission.
Not a surprising hypocrisy, coming from the same snake oil salesman who said that the "Internet is too important to let broadband providers make the rules".
So who should make the rules? Somebody is going to make the rules, Gullible Americans. Do you see that yet? Somebody always makes the rules. Right now Internet Providers, being private companies providing a service, do dictate certain things. This is how the free market works. But nobody really controls the conversation online. Nobody dictates the content.
Sure, we need an Internet connection to access it, and we need a platform like social media, or a blog, or the comment section of a cat video, or whatever, to voice our ideas, but in the end it all gets out there. The conversation online is already robust and open (not always entirely useful or worthwhile, but open nonetheless) (So open and robust that millions of people have spent the last 24 hours debating the color of a dress -- these are the profound issues only the Internet can properly tackle).
So who makes the rules now? Yeah, you pay your bill to Verizon, you complain about the privacy settings on Facebook, but when it comes down to it, the Internet is about the only facet of American life where We The People really do have an unfettered voice.
And that's why the government wants in. That's why the government wants to make the rules. More specifically, whichever political party is in charge of the government at any particular time will make the rules.
This is why you're so damned shortsighted if you support this garbage. Do you think Democrats will be in the White House forever until the end of time, God help us? No, not likely. Well, with the ability to stomp out dissidents on the Internet they certainly stand a better shot, but eventually a Republican will get in there, one can assume. And unless he's a very principled Libertarian kind of guy (which rules out approximately 98.7 percent of them), this behemoth you now applaud will turn its sights back around on you.
[sharequote align="center"]Don't you see, you silly fools? The Internet was already free and open. [/sharequote]
Don't you see, you silly fools? The Internet was already free and open. It was a place where citizens of all ideological stripes could voice their ideas and beliefs. It was so free and open that a schlub like me could start posting his opinions on Facebook and a year later be a full time professional blogger writing stuff like this for your general enlightenment. And you think bureaucrats want to come in to protect my ability to do that? Surely, you can't be that gullible.
Answer me this: when was the last time the U.S. federal government got involved in something and actually made it better, freer, cheaper, and more efficient?
When was the last time the US federal government seized control of a realm of American life and actually used that power to protect and restore liberty?
When was the last time the U.S. federal government assumed power over something, and then studiously made sure to relegate its powers only to the specific areas it initially outlined?
Can you think of one example? And don't say health care. Don't you dare say health care.
This is why I just wish you would do radical things like read books. Because if you did that, you'd see that our government, and in fact every government, has a long and storied history of ruining everything it touches.
But you don't even need to read books to understand this one. All you have to do is look at the rationale they're using. They tell us that the FCC must control the Internet to protect consumers from big, powerful, and corrupt Internet providers.
Wait, do you know what else is big, powerful, and corrupt?
Yes, the government.
Yes, we will add one big and corrupt entity on top of another big entity in hopes that corruption will be minimized. Now there's a plan that makes a lot of sense to anyone who's drunk, concussed, and mentally insane.
I don't like Comcast. But I dislike Comcast for all of the reasons I dislike the federal government. It's slow, inefficient, expensive, and there's little transparency or accountability. The only difference is that the federal government exhibits all of these traits to an incalculably greater degree, not to mention it has, like, a military, and the IRS, and the police at its disposal.
If I have to deal with a giant bureaucratic entity in order to obtain my Internet service, I'd rather not add another giant bureaucratic entity into the mix -- particularly one that has the power to actually take away my freedoms.
If I don't like Comcast I can dump them and find an alternative, as scarce as they might be. If I don't like the way the government is doing things, I can wait a couple of years for an election, get in line, cast my vote, hope enough people agreed with me, and then ultimately be disappointed when I discover that voting accomplishes very little when most of the power rests in the hands of unelected pencil pushers.
Upon that realization, I can give up, shut up, scream about it, move to another country, or venture down some other road that, depending how far I go, might lead to an IRS audit or life imprisonment. The point is, as powerless as you feel when at the mercy of big corporations, it's not nearly as powerless as you are when at the mercy of big bureaucracy.
Politicians have a grand time herding you in their desired direction by exploiting your distaste for those corporations, but you'll notice that their remedy is always to strip the corporation of some its power and then transfer the power to itself. There is no power to the people here, Gullible Americans. It's power to the government. Not you. The government. Not you. Are you paying attention. Not you, ok? Not you.
And guess what? When the government gets together with the corporations, you don't even get the benefit of watching those capitalistic pigs get knocked down a peg or two. Why do you think the health insurance companies supported Obamacare? Because they still make out like bandits. I hate to break it to you, but the rich stay rich, no matter what. No matter what the system, no matter what the regulation, no matter who is in charge, the rich stay rich.
So with a deal like this, the only losers are you and me. We are the ones who benefit from the current freedom and openness of the Internet, and we are the ones who will suffer when it's gone.
The FCC now possesses broad, sweeping regulatory power over the Internet. Do you think it will just sit on the sidelines and take a hands off approach? Please.
This is the federal government we're talking about. The FCC. The same agency that fined Viacom a million dollars for airing a movie preview for "Olympus is Fallen" that briefly featured something that sounds like an emergency alert signal (people might get confused and really think terrorists have taken over the White House and Morgan Freeman just became president!). And it's the same agency that spent almost a decade litigating Janet Jackson's nipple. And it's the same agency, worst of all, that brought us the Fairness Doctrine, a regulation that sounds like something straight off the "Animal Farm."
If the FCC can impose rules based on what might occur, can't we oppose those rules based on what will almost definitely occur and in fact has already occurred? A Fairness Doctrine for the Internet isn't hard to conceive. Like the television and radio version, it will ensure that not only our "access" is fair and open, but that the content itself lives up to the federal government's fairness and openness standards.
They have that power now. How will it start? I don't know. Maybe they declare that all search engine inquiries must bring back conservative and liberal results in equal measure. Maybe they decide that websites like TheBlaze must feature a certain amount of liberal commentary. Maybe they start shutting down websites entirely if they infringe on the democratic spirit of openness and fairness. Maybe Mark Cuban is right and this will ultimately destroy not just the Internet but television as well. Maybe a thousand other things, and we haven't even talked about the taxes and fees that always come with any new government power grab.
Do you think this is outlandish? You're naive. Or lying. Or maybe you find this vision of the future quite appealing. Yes, why shouldn't TheBlaze be forced by law to provide certain opinions based on government quotas? We already enforce racial diversity this way, why not ideological?
Well, keep salivating at the notion, until a Republican president gets in there and appoints a conservative chairman and they decide that Jezebel has to run a pro-life rant from Matt Walsh just for the sake of being balanced. That's the funny thing about tyranny, folks, it never works out for anyone but the ones in charge. And you ain't in charge. You're just a rube. A useful pawn. A servant.
Why is this so difficult to understand? When forced to choose between big corporations and big government, you should never choose big government because whatever you don't like about the big corporations WILL ALSO BE PRESENT IN BIG GOVERNMENT, ONLY WORSE, AND WITH GUNS.
I never resort to all caps, but I don't know how else to communicate this. I've tried every other way. Should I write it in a poem? Say it in Pig Latin? Mail it to you in a candy gram? Communicate it via interpretive dance?
What can I do? What can I do to somehow force millions of oblivious people to understand that the government is not a magnanimous white knight that rides into town to rescue you from the scary dragon. The government is the freaking dragon.
Welcome to America. Look around sometime and get acquainted.
I have a headache.
I need to take a nap.
Thanks for your time.
A Dedicated User of the Formerly Free and Open Internet
Listen to Matt's podcast here. Contact Matt with general comments, hate mail, and speaking engagement inquiries at MattWalsh@TheMattWalshBlog.com
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