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Net-Neutrality Is Dead — If We Do Nothing

Where to begin on this subject? With the obvious: corporations are evil and will murder children for their sweet sweet innards if given a chance for profit, or with the fundamentals of Free Speech in America? Who knows. Both are the primary drivers behind opposing Ajit Pai, the most cartoonish villain to ever head up a Federal Department. Ol' Ajit has made a real name for himself as the head of the FCC, he's become famous among people who have no idea how the internet works, that's pretty impressive for a man in charge of a relatively unimportant department of the Federal Government.

The Federal Communications Commission is generally not an arm of the government that people need to spend a lot of time thinking about. For decades they were mostly thought of when little Timmy heard a naughty word on television/radio or a titty was accidentally shown on broadcast television. The work done at the FCC has always been important, but more as a background character. Preventing one party or corporation from gaining too much influence over the media consumed in the United States. (Which is another reason to oppose Ajit Pai Comic Book Villain, he has no problem with increasing the maximum number of stations and percentage of the population a company can reach through television ownership, he loves Sinclair Broadcasting Group and their fabulous devotion to the Donald Trump version of the truth.) With the advent of the internet and its subsequent growth to the point of being the largest source of media for young people (and even old bastards like myself) the FCC tried to gain some semblance of control over the way the internet was used by corporations. Rightfully so, given that they are in existence to maintain some level of fairness for the citizens who would otherwise be at the mercy of the people and companies that control information. Early attempts at a version of Net Neutrality were shot down in court by the Big Money Corporations (Verizon, Comcast, Time Warner, Cox, etc.) and had to try another tack. The court even gave the FCC an outline of how to do it — by the reclassification of internet service as a common carrier utility under Title II of the Communications Act.

The last head of the FCC, Thomas Wheeler (who used to work for the cable companies as a lawyer, but wisely saw himself as having the American People as his clients while working at the FCC) did just that, classified broadband internet as a utility, to be regulated as such. Now, Republicans and nut-jobs calling themselves Libertarians hate the word “regulation” because it supposedly infringes on the rights of corporations. That's not even remotely true. Regulations are in place to prevent the wholesale abuse of customers by corporations. Without regulations and laws the average person is essentially signing up to be a victim in any interaction with a big corporation. Do these imbeciles really think that the Big Banks that ruined the worldwide economy with no repercussions would have made any changes without new laws and regulations? Be real, they would have found a way to profit off of deliberately crashing the economy every 2 years if they were given a chance. We need regulations, and more importantly cable companies and phone companies are widely considered to be some of the most morally bankrupt companies in the world because of their predatory actions — they need regulation.

With consolidation of corporations comes severe drops in quality and customer service. The cable industry has been consolidating for the last 20-plus years, confirming that very truth. Increased prices year after year, fewer channels for that higher rate. Shitty cable boxes that barely have functioning menus designed in the mid-1990s, leased to the customer for $10 per month. A cable bill is a fine example of how little charges add up quick. With Ajit Pai's destruction of Net Neutrality, he's giving cable companies a once in a lifetime opportunity to create 10,000 new tiny charges. You like YouTube? $4.99/month for the PREMIUM experience. How about Facebook? $2.99/month and only $1.99/month more for email to keep in touch with your family and friends. And if the cable companies start doing it, you can bet your soul that the phone companies will do it too.

Once the internet has been itemized by broadband providers, and consumers have been milked for all their worth, the next step is milking the end-point companies whose services people have been enjoying (in reality, they'd start on both points, but for argument's sake it's easier to draw them separately). YouTube/Google will have to pay your cable/phone company a nice fat check each month or their users will not get the PREMIUM service they deserve. YouTube, Facebook, and Netflix (who has already been subject to this bullshit from Comcast and others) have the money, so they'll pay — and raise your price too (or in Google and Facebook's cases sell your data for more). Worst of all, once a company has domination on the internet, they simply won't have competition, no new players with world-changing ideas, because the newcomer will be priced out of the market before they even get into it.

Ajit the Comic Book Villain claims that none of that will happen, before the official Net Neutrality rules none of those companies acted in a shady way. Not a single one. He is of course, lying through his goddamn teeth. There is absolutely no line that the cable companies won't cross to monetize your internet experience. Claims that they have to do shady things to keep the lights on are equally bullshit. It costs them not one dime more to have you watch a YouTube video, once they have the infrastructure in place, they just need a few techs available to take care of it. They manipulate the public by crying poverty — exploiting the average consumer's lack of technical expertise to know how much is involved in network maintenance. The fact is that the FCC needs to be working to defend the American People by enforcing strong Net Neutrality, Ajit Pai wants to claim that all aspects are already handled by other departments of the government or even through bad PR when a company steps out of line. That's a rosy view of the situation, going back to the Big Banks, how many of them are out of business since 2008? A handful (some only in name — having been absorbed by even bigger banks), some of the worst abusers are still in business and rockin' right along. With all of the Big Banks even bigger now, doesn't get much more bad PR than crashing the entire world economy, and yet last year Wells Fargo was caught making fake accounts (which had been going on for at least a decade longer than they have ever admitted publicly). That sure worked. Giant corporations bounce from bad action to bad action knowing that the average person is stuck with them (the case of the cable and phone companies) or that people will just forget the previous bad thing (Thanks 24-Hour News!).

Americans are held hostage by their internet providers. You have 1 or 2 choices most places. As such, your local duopoly controls the internet. Giving them the power to nickel and dime people only encourages the nickel and diming. What sites I choose to visit is no more their business than who I call. Unless I'm visiting sites with illegal activity, it's nobody's business. Especially not if there is a monetization scheme to charge more to watch YouTube, or twitch.tv, or big butt porn. Supervillain Ajit Pai has made clear that he will do not one damned thing for the American People, so it is incumbent upon the American people to write their Senators and Representative (or better yet call them) and inform them of the importance of Net Neutrality. Tell those dipshits that tax breaks for the super-rich can wait a few days (or never) while they pass an actual law that Ajit will be required to enforce.

ADDENDUM: I wrote to my Republican Representative and Senators and have received 1 form letter back, extolling the virtues of the wonderful decisions of the supervillain known as Ajit Pai. As well as weasel-worded claims about how “many” consider Net Neutrality to be a threat to the open and innovative internet. I don't know if my Senator is unaware that Comcast and AT&T didn't elect her, that the fine people of my state did, or not. But the only people that have said these ridiculous things that I could find were “economists” who were looking at extraordinarily edge cases — which could still be addressed in a package system by offering lower speed tiers under a Net Neutrality scheme — and industry trade groups and telecom corporations.

Dear Elected Republicans, not a single one of you is on the right-side of this debate. Not one. Perhaps you should take a moment to poll your constituents, who actually elected you, whether they want a free and open internet. Because this isn't actually a partisan issue at the grassroots level. Unbending and blind support of the position held by the telecom industry makes it abundantly clear that the Republican Party has become so enthralled with making corporate donors their number one priority that it sickens the American People. Believe it or not the election of Donald Trump was not a validation of years of Republican positions siding with corporations — it was 100% a repudiation of Washington Insider Hillary Clinton, not a mandate to screw over the American People who actually vote in elections.