You’ve probably heard a lot of screaming and yelling about net neutrality lately, the latest thing left-wingers and right-wingers are expected to get angry about (in addition to the tax cuts, but I’ll talk about those in a few days). I talked about net neutrality quite a while ago, but the issue is a much bigger one than internet traffic. The issue of net neutrality is a classic example of the no-win scenario you have when your government and culture stupidly embraces corporatism.

Let’s say you have two options:

Option A – Your life will be run by big, incompetent, corrupt government.

Option B – Your life will be run by gigantic, soulless, monopolistic corporations.

Which option do you choose?

Seriously, which one do you want?

The correct answer, if you’re a sane person that is, is neither. You don’t want your life run by either massive government or massive corporations. Handing power over to either of those entities means your freedom will be crushed one way or the other, at least in the long-term.

Now let’s switch the question slightly. You have two options:

Option A – The internet will be controlled by big, incompetent, corrupt government.

Option B – The internet will be controlled by gigantic, soulless, monopolistic corporations.

Which one do you want?

Again, if you’re a sane person, the correct answer is neither. I don’t want the internet run by Verizon or Comcast, and I don’t want the internet run by some Obama/Trump politicians or bureaucrats in Washington DC. I want big corporations and big government to stay as far away from controlling internet traffic or content as much as humanly possible.

The problem is, under corporatism, which is the political system the USA utilizes, this isn’t possible. We are now stuck with the horrible, no-win choice of having big, incompetent, authoritarian government being in charge of the internet, or big, powerful, unfair, monopolistic corporations being in charge. Both of these options suck balls. Both of these options are completely unacceptable.

The problem is that you don’t hear any of this. Instead, you see progressives and SJW’s scream that if we put government in charge of internet traffic and content, everything will work out fine (which is completely incorrect). Then you see corporatist Republicans huff and puff that if we put the internet in control of gigantic corporations like Verizon and Comcast, everything will be just fine (which is also completely incorrect).

The Societal Programming narrative is, once again, that given a choice between getting raped with a broom handle or raped with a pogo stick, one of those options is bad, and the other is good, or at least okay.

No, shitheads. They’re both unacceptable.

Now obviously, since I’m a libertarian, having government in charge of the internet concerns me a little more than having big corporations being in charge, but I won’t sit here and say that having Comcast be in charge of the internet is a good thing; no, that would be a terrible thing, since Comcast fucking sucks.

Two horrible options. Two irrational sides championing one of the horrible options like idiots. That’s what happens when you embrace corporatism.

What is the solution to this problem? It’s quite simple. Legally de-couple the final mile of fiber from the internet to your home, and open up that link to any company who wants to provide internet service in any given region that is able to do so, and with minimal or zero regulations. Use free market capitalism to get companies, big and small alike, to compete for your service, and to win your business by providing the best service for the lowest costs.

The problem is that what I just described won’t ever happen. Neither the leftists in big government nor the corporatist right in gigantic corporations will ever allow anything like that. Big government and/or big corporations are going to be in charge, now pick which one of these ghoulish entities will control your internet. Have fun!

There is some slight good news. At some point in the future, perhaps even near future, net neutrality won’t be an issue, since it’s entirely likely we’ll be using privately owned satellites to wirelessly get an internet signal instead of using cables in the ground. At that point, you will (likely) see a more free market solution, free (or at least freer) from both big government and gigantic, multinational corporations.

Until that day comes though, we’re going to all suffer, eventually, from either reduced internet speeds for certain services (thanks, corporations!) or limits on certain types of content on the internet (thanks, government!).

Oh well. As usual, I don’t care. Merry Christmas everybody!

20 thoughts on “All This Screaming About Net Neutrality

  1. Happy holidays, Caleb! How do you think this all compares to utility services? For example, in Cleveland (Ohio), I can pick my supplier of electricity and gas (where the electricity/gas comes from) even though my provider is fixed (whose lines/pipes the electricity/gas is delivered by). There are 2 portions on my bill; one for the provider and one for the supplier. I don’t control the provider cost, but I do control the supplier cost since I get to make that choice. Any feedback would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!

  2. To Mendel Tomas:

    Marc Andreessen said it some time ago ‘you don’t shit 10x as much every few years’. Internet infrastructure needs constant investment.

  3. Well, wouldn’t it be easier if net neutrality was made law? Something like what they did in Chile?

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Net_neutrality_in_Chile

    The relevant line is this:

    Establishes the prohibition of arbitrary blockage, interference, discrimination, obstruction and restriction to the activities of Internet users. The ISP will be able to take the necessary measures for the traffic management and network administration, and will have to take care the users privacy, the protection against virus and the network security.”

    With this law and the one you propose of “freeing the last mile”, problem solved.

    P.S.: I don’t see this satellite thingie as a solution. Satellite links can be fast but they always suffer from latency. Nothing beats the optical fiber in both speed and latency.

  4. How do you think this all compares to utility services? For example, in Cleveland (Ohio), I can pick my supplier of electricity and gas (where the electricity/gas comes from) even though my provider is fixed (whose lines/pipes the electricity/gas is delivered by). There are 2 portions on my bill; one for the provider and one for the supplier. I don’t control the provider cost, but I do control the supplier cost since I get to make that choice.

    That sounds fine, at least a much less bad system than “net neutrality or not.”

    Marc Andreessen said it some time ago ‘you don’t shit 10x as much every few years’. Internet infrastructure needs constant investment.

    Correct, which means it would be up to the individual free market providers to constantly upgrade the transmission, or else lose customers and go out of business, which is the way capitalism is supposed to work.

    Well, wouldn’t it be easier if net neutrality was made law?

    Yes, it’s always easier to put the government in charge of something. That doesn’t mean it’s a good idea.

    The relevant line is this:

    Establishes the prohibition of arbitrary blockage, interference, discrimination, obstruction and restriction to the activities of Internet users. The ISP will be able to take the necessary measures for the traffic management and network administration, and will have to take care the users privacy, the protection against virus and the network security.”

    Horrible, chilling, and proves my point. You want to put big, incompetent, corporatist government in charge of whether or not ISP’s in the free market provide… virus protection? And whether or not they block traffic from certain users or companies? Jesus, I sure as shit don’t. But I realize I’m in the tiny minority.

    I don’t see this satellite thingie as a solution. Satellite links can be fast but they always suffer from latency. Nothing beats the optical fiber in both speed and latency.

    That’s the case now. I wasn’t talking about now. I was talking about the future.

  5. Horrible, chilling, and proves my point. You want to put big, incompetent, corporatist government in charge of whether or not ISP’s in the free market provide… 

    Sorry but I don’t get it. There is a law that says that murder is forbidden. Does that mean that a big, corrupt government is messing around?

    Jesus, the only thing they say is “treat all packets of information the same way”. What’s the problem?

  6. @CSR
    Jesus, the only thing they say is “treat all packets of information the same way”. What’s the problem?
    Because that is a stupid rule. No serious Internet infrastructure treats all packets the same, because they aren’t. For example, UDP packets carrying video data streams need to be prioritized about TCP packets containing your email. Why? Because it doesn’t matter if your email is five seconds late, but it matters a lot if that video UDP packet is five seconds late.

    Of course if you made that rule twenty years ago, before super time critical data flowed on the net, it would seem perfectly reasonable, but new technology is used for new things all the time, and regulators at the FCC do a terrible job adapting to that.

    But there is a bigger problem I have generally with Caleb’s take on this. Certainly the choice between big government controlling the internet and big business controlling the internet is a stark unpleasant one. But it isn’t a difficult choice. Plainly choosing big corporations controlling the internet is a much better choice. Why? Because Comcast doesn’t care if you watch porn, or watch anti government videos, or watch ugly videos about abortion or ugly videos about right wing military abuses. They basically just want to charge Netflix a tariff since Netflix consumes 30% of their capacity. The government on the other hand does care about controlling what you see, and if you think that the FCC will stop at shaping traffic and not quickly move into controlling traffic, I suggest you take a look at the history of government regulation.

    All this I think Caleb would agree with. But there is another point here, namely that those big cable companies don’t have complete control. There is competition, and in fact he himself, after explaining how big lefties won’t allow control of the last mile, goes on to give a perfect example of how they will be able to do so (via privately owned satellite channels.) And that isn’t to mention the fact that wireless networks are beginning to compete with wired networks, as are mesh networks, and many other new technologies (some of which massively expand the carrying capacity of the radio spectrum.) You can get a new ISP, and you’ll soon have many choices in ISP. However, changing your ISP is way easier than changing your FCC.

    So the solution is to deregulate, and net neutrality is just another big government intrusion into a system that has thrived and grown without “we’re from the government and we are here to help you.”

    To misquote John Glimore, “The internet sees monopoly as damage, and routes around it.”

     

  7. What is the solution to this problem? It’s quite simple. Legally de-couple the final mile of fiber from the internet to your home

    This does not work because the main issue is zero-rating by mobile network operators.

  8. or limits on certain types of content on the internet (thanks, government!).

    Caleb, you are completely wrong! The government cannot limit, restrict, or control the content of the Internet because of something called the First Amendment. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled on this issue in, I believe, 2000.

    But, private corporations aren’t restricted by the First Amendment. So if Comcast sees that you are writing something that’s politically incorrect, it can censor you by slowing down your blog to the point where it’s unreadable because you just hurt the feelings of Comcast’s stockholders.

    As a libertarian, I agree that your solution is ideal. But if that’s impossible and I have to choose between a government that can’t censor me because of Free Speech protections and a private corporate monopoly that can, I’ll choose the government that is legally chained by the Constitution’s guarantee of Free Speech every time!

     

  9. The government on the other hand does care about controlling what you see,

    It doesn’t matter what the government cares about. The government legally cannot control what I see! That would violate the First Amendment! 

    and if you think that the FCC will stop at shaping traffic and not quickly move into controlling traffic, I suggest you take a look at the history of government regulation.

    I suggest you take a look at the Supreme Court’s Free Speech jurisprudence as it pertains to the government and the internet. Spoiler: The government, under the First Amendment, can’t legally silence you, censor you, or control what you see or read online!

    You can get a new ISP, and you’ll soon have many choices in ISP. However, changing your ISP is way easier than changing your FCC.

    But the Supreme Court says that the FCC can’t legally censor me online, as that would violate the First Amendment. ISPs can.

    So the solution is to deregulate,

    You mean censor me for politically incorrect speech that is disagreeable with Comcast’s private sponsors. Fuck that!

    and net neutrality is just another big government intrusion into a system that has thrived and grown without “we’re from the government and we are here to help you.”

    Wrong. Remember dial up? According to federal law, telephones are utilities, and therefore, require content neutrality. Broadband (which replaced dial up), however, has never been declared a utility. Therefore, it can be censored by big business unless the Internet is classified as a utility, which it was in 2015 under Obama. Now the FCC has reversed this.

    Imagine if electricity weren’t a utility:

    Want to watch TV? Make sure it’s a Panasonic TV, because the electric company is in competition with Samsung and will block all electricity to Samsung TVs.

    Imagine if water weren’t a utility:

    Want to take a shower, flush your toilet, or shave? Pay an additional $69 for your water company’s “Shower, Shave, and Shit Package.” Have a pool in your backyard? Pay an additional 149 dollars per month (plus applicable taxes) for your water company’s “Back yard H20 Entertainment Subscription.”

    Imagine if your phone weren’t a utility:

    Want to call me? Sorry, your phone company doesn’t want to facilitate communication with someone who has such politically incorrect opinions, because, lest we forget, 6 million Jews!

    And now that the Internet is no longer a utility:

    Want to visit this blog? Sorry, but the Comcast Corporation does not wish to associate it’s own privately owned wires with “hateful, sexist, institutional, structural, systemic, buzzward, buzzword, buzzword.”

    Again, I’m with Caleb all the way on the competition angle. But if competition is not possible because America hates capitalism, and I have a choice between a government monopoly or a private monopoly, I’ll choose the government every time, since it’s legally chained to the First Amendment and can’t silence me, according to the U.S. Supreme Court, unlike a private monopoly which can gag me anytime it wants if I hurt its feelings!

     

     

     

     

     

     

  10. I trust a corporation more than a government 9 times out of 10.  I belive, you get what you pay for in this world, and if you pay the corp, they’ll leave you alone for the most part.

     

    Im far more concerned that a govt is looking at what i search for and reading.  Corporations cant put me in jail.  BUT the more these idiot CEOs start virtue signaling to appeal to the SJWs, maybe they will start shutting down the online movements I follow, or worse, tattling to the govt!

     

    They should learn a lesson from the last election and realize their is a big target market for non SJWs.  It would be smart business to provide value to them too.

  11. All this I think Caleb would agree with.

    I do and I agree with all of your points. My point is that (amazingly) some of the left-wing arguments about big corporations screwing people are indeed valid.

    This isn’t a good vs bad thing. This is a horrible vs slightly less horrible thing. As usual.

    This does not work

    I know. That’s what I said. Proper solutions to the problem are now impossible because of current laws and corporate structures, neither of which will be reformed or changed.

    Caleb, you are completely wrong! The government cannot limit, restrict, or control the content of the Internet because of something called the First Amendment.

    Yeah right, because the federal government has never violated the constitution and always follows it 100%.

  12. @Caleb Jones says

    My point is that (amazingly) some of the left-wing arguments about big corporations screwing people are indeed valid.
    Yes, for sure. However, it is not often realized that many corporations are big, or their power comes from the government. How? Because the government often provides some monopoly or biased market to their benefit. A perfect example is companies like Comcast where the local governments often provide laws that deliberately restrict the number of people who can run cables to your house. If these laws were not in place then many companies could compete for your business (small local companies providing quality local service, for example.)

    Other such tools used for this purpose are regulatory burdens that are so complex that they can’t be overcome by smaller companies (SOX for example), patent law, special laws, special government contracts etc.

    I imagine the Caleb will disagree with me on patents, but they are perhaps one of the worst tools used to enforce this sort of nonsense. It is often mischaracterized as protecting Uncle Bob’s brilliant invention in his garage, when in fact it is a tool used by massive businesses to crush smaller businesses. As is often the case there are some rare exceptions, but the fact is that the VAST majority of patents are cranked out in massive legal farms in the basement of gigantic corporations, and they are mostly used to harass people who certainly didn’t “steal” someone else’s idea.

    Of course there are exceptions, Microsoft and Google for example both became huge because of their own efforts, and they have both used the “monopoly” power in bad ways. But they are the exception rather than the rule.

     

  13. <i>You read my mind; that will be the topic of the very next post on this blog.</i>

    Awesome, I always enjoy reading a contrary opinion from someone who has his head screwed on straight (which you do) and who is an advocate of freedom (which you are.)

    Before you do you might want to read this (which is pretty short):

    https://www.acslaw.org/acsblog/report-patent-law-stifles-drug-innovation

    Or this (which is much longer but more scholarly):

    https://files.stlouisfed.org/files/htdocs/wp/2012/2012-035.pdf

     

  14. Yeah right, because the federal government has never violated the constitution and always follows it 100%.

    Facepalm! Caleb, you’ve done no research whatsoever on First Amendment jurisprudence and judicial remedies for First Amendment violations like I have. Let me spell it out for you:

    No aspect, portion, branch, denomination, functionary, division, section, agency, organization, institution, department, instrumentality, bureaucracy, individual politician, appointee, or employee of the United States Government within all of its horizontal levels (legislative, executive, judicial)  or vertical levels (federal, state, county, or local/city) may, in any way, shape, or form infringe upon your First Amendment right to Free Speech on the Internet in the form of censoring or silencing you, controlling or limiting what you see, read, or write, or administer a single negative consequence, or withhold a single positive consequence (directly or indirectly, affirmatively or passively, openly or secretly), due to your speech, listening, reading, or writing online, whether by legislative action, executive order, judicial pronouncement, bureaucratic regulation, or departmental procedure (formal or informal), according to the U.S. Supreme Court!

    If the FCC (or any other aspect of any horizontal or vertical level of government) were to try, you could immediately procure an ACLU attorney (for free) who would immediately obtain an injunction from the lowest federal district court ordering the FCC (or whichever aspect of government is doing this) to immediately “cease and desist.” You could then sue the government agency in question for damages to your inalienable human right to Freedom of Speech, based on past and current U.S. Supreme Court First Amendment case law!

    But, if the entire Internet is in the hands of a private monopoly (like Comcast), not connected to the government in any way, and it decides to block access to your blog or silence you because you have hurt the feelings of Comcast’s shareholders, sponsors, or company executives, what is your remedy? Switch to Verizon or AT&T? What if they feel the same way? Now what? And what about your readers who still have Comcast? What’s your remedy? None! That’s the problem!

    Faced between a government monopoly bound by Free Speech, or a private monopoly bound by nothing but its own ambitions, as a Free Speech absolutist, you need to choose the government every time! Unless, of course, capitalism is presented as the third solution. That is, of course, the best one. But if that one isn’t available, the second best (government monopoly restricted by the First Amendment) must suffice!

    That’s why us politically incorrect speakers need net neutrality!

     

     

     

     

  15. I trust a corporation more than a government 9 times out of 10.

    But the one time out of ten would be when the corporation in question is a monopoly that isn’t bound by any Free Speech laws, unlike the government.

    I belive, you get what you pay for in this world, and if you pay the corp, they’ll leave you alone for the most part.

    Really? You think a private monopoly which knows you can’t go anywhere will leave you alone, or care what you think? The heart and soul of capitalism is competition. No competition = no capitalism. And if the private monopoly isn’t bound by a Constitution the way our government is, this is akin to living in a third world dictatorship.

    Im far more concerned that a govt is looking at what i search for and reading.

    Why? What do you care if the government is looking at you?

    Corporations cant put me in jail.

    Neither can the government. For what? Speech? The government can do nothing. But corporations may censor you and silence you without a care in the world for any speech they don’t like.

    BUT the more these idiot CEOs start virtue signaling to appeal to the SJWs, maybe they will start shutting down the online movements I follow,

    Exactly. Corporations aren’t bound by Free Speech laws or by anything other than their own private ambitions. That’s why capitalism was created – to create competition. But corporatism is a way for tyrants to avoid both capitalism AND Free Speech restrictions upon government at the same time!

    or worse, tattling to the govt!

    Why is that worse? What exactly can the government do to you under the First Amendment? Did you know that, in the 1970s, the Supreme Court ruled that even Nazis can march through a Jewish neighborhood and advocate for a second holocaust under the First Amendment’s guarantee of “Freedom of Petition?” Did you know that, in 2002, the Court ruled that the First Amendment protects “computer simulated child pornography” as long as no actual children are involved? If even that is protected, surely you are too! What exactly are you afraid of?

     They should learn a lesson from the last election and realize their is a big target market for non SJWs.  It would be smart business to provide value to them too.

    Why should a corporation care about smart business practices when they have a monopoly and are protected by psychotic government regulations from competition AND from the First Amendment by virtue of being private, thus obtaining the most totalitarian position of both worlds?

     

     

     

  16. Jack Outside the Box
    Caleb, you’ve done no research whatsoever on First Amendment jurisprudence and judicial remedies for First Amendment violations like I have.

    Good for you. Problem is what you say is plainly incorrect. You assert the government can never do this, so one counter example demonstrates you wrong. Here is a counter example just quickly off the top of my head. CBS received a MASSIVE fine from the FCC when Janet Jackson flashed her nipple (god help us, “what about the children?”) on the Super bowl halftime show.

    Just for fun, here is another. That much quoted saying of Justice Oliver Wendel Holmes about shouting fire in a crowded theater was quoted from his opinion in a case where the defendant, for the crime of distributing materials in opposition to the US government’s rush to join WWI, ended up in jail for several years. Apparently our “free speech” gets trampled on all the time.

     

     

     

  17. Facepalm! Caleb, you’ve done no research whatsoever on First Amendment jurisprudence and judicial remedies for First Amendment violations like I have. Let me spell it out for you:

    You didn’t address my point in any way. Tell Howard Stern the government will never do anything to infringe upon free speech. You’ve lost your mind on this one.

  18. Problem is what you say is plainly incorrect.

    No, it’s not, as I shall show.

    You assert the government can never do this, so one counter example demonstrates you wrong. Here is a counter example just quickly off the top of my head. CBS received a MASSIVE fine from the FCC when Janet Jackson flashed her nipple (god help us, “what about the children?”) on the Super bowl halftime show.

    Because that wasn’t within the scope of First Amendment law. The U.S. Supreme Court, over the last 200 years, has very neatly and specifically, delineated all the exceptions to the First Amendment (such as making death threats, etc…).

    What you are talking about is obscenity laws, or laws against “public indecency,” which the Court ruled in 2000 DO NOT APPLY TO THE INTERNET!!!

    They apply to public television (not premium channels), public radio (not satellite), and newspapers. When I said that the government cannot infringe upon your Free Speech, I meant that “within the scope of the First Amendment.” Things which aren’t protected by the First Amendment (and haven’t been for 200 years) aren’t at issue here (like making death threats, encouraging law breaking, inciting violence, public obscenity, etc…).

    Side note: As a libertarian, I agree that obscenity laws are bullshit and should be added to First Amendment protections, but, in any case, the Court ruled that obscenity laws don’t apply online!

    Just for fun, here is another. That much quoted saying of Justice Oliver Wendel Holmes about shouting fire in a crowded theater

    Yes, speech which is objectively deceptive that may cause “physical, financial, or reputational injury due to the deception” isn’t protected either, and never has been.

    was quoted from his opinion in a case where the defendant, for the crime of distributing materials in opposition to the US government’s rush to join WWI, ended up in jail for several years. Apparently our “free speech” gets trampled on all the time.

    HAHA! You do realize that that ruling was overturned right? So called “seditious,” or “anti-government” speech is absolutely protected by the First Amendment, according to Supreme Court rulings from the 1940s, 50s, 60s, and 70s, which overturned all those cases from the 1920s that you are mentioning!

    By the way, I know I’ll come off as a naïve idiot for asking this, but are you the real Alex Jones?

     

     

  19. Tell Howard Stern the government will never do anything to infringe upon free speech.

    Bad example. Howard Stern was on public radio, which is restricted by anti-obscenity laws, which the Court ruled aren’t covered by the First Amendment. That’s why he had to move to satellite radio, which is covered by the First Amendment, and so is the Internet, according to the Court!

    You’ve lost your mind on this one.

    No I haven’t. See my response to Alex Jones!

     

     

     

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