The Internet, A Public Utility, A Private Enterprise, We Have To Decide

The internet, a public utility, a private enterprise, we have to decide.


In my grand vision of how I was going to spend the first few posts trying to capture your interest for this social philosophy blog thingy we have here, it was my plan to lead with this very subject.

I got sidetracked when the Arizona State Legislature proved to the people that they want to de-evolve democracy in the name of religious convictions. I’ll try not to get sidetracked by Oscar Pistorius.

I have felt that from the beginning we have been the owners of the “internet”’

The biggest reason is that the entire thing was launched originally with Federal money at the D.A.R.P.A. and N.S.A. level in cooperation with some seriously major Universities. Every little bit with our money.

Then the U.S.Congress said somebody should make a profit. Right.

This is where Al Gore “invented the internet” and, don’t get me wrong, I like Al. From a purely legal point of view, Al invented the internet. He drafted the legislation that handed my investment over to the financial markets. The communication companies glommed right on. It was like an old piece of silly putty that melted in the sun in the pocket of my first baseman’s mitt. They were here to stay.

So the people that built this thing for me with my money told the communication companies that they should put it on fiber-optics and it could evolve.

Well, these companies all went to the U.S.Congress (you remember them) and complained that their infrastructure wasn’t up to it. They couldn’t modernize the infrastructure by themselves. Well, the U.S.Congress (you remember them) gave them my investment and they weren’t having any of this can’t baloney, no sir. So they  gave them my money to bring the copper out of the fifties and the coax out of the seventies. The communication companies cashed the check, loaded the internet on their networks and told everyone that they would have high speed fiber-optics in ten years, max.

Still waiting for supply side to trickle down? Thought so. This one’s no different.

Make no mistake, this is how you got screwed. The Capitalists take what you own and you pay them to build on it. They don’t. You expect them to evolve it and they still don’t.  Then when a local political organization or independent service provider says “never mind, we’ll build around you and do it right without you”. The communication companies react by having the various state congresses try to stop them. It’s their market. Their money. Baloney!

But, we can’t just look at this one issue. This isn’t the whole story. It has a few elements to it.

The next thing that we hear about is “net neutrality”. What? Is it Swiss? Well it’s not what you think. It’s not about what you can get from the internet. It’s about what you can give.

I subscribe to Comcast Broadband and if I want to publish in E-commerce a product or service and I buy a little Facebook and Google advertising net neutrality comes into play. Comcast could decide that they could provide the product or service and even the advertising and mess with my traffic. Even though I paid my subscription fees to them. Why not? After all, it comes through their pipes. The ones from the seventies that they took my money to up-grade and didn’t.

The lobbyists are out there right now talking to your State Legislators an U.S.Congress members (remember them).

The only plausible answer to all this stupidity is to turn the internet into a public utility. The argument for this is simple and straight forward while the argument against it is filled with lies and insults. It is entirely a right against the rest of us argument and it requires reason and common sense.  The right won’t provide that.

Common-sense and logic understands that the internet is a marketplace of ideas, opportunities and necessity. I was at work the other day and a guy came in and asked for a job. The manager on duty told him that he had to start on-line and gave him a card with the URL. If that’s what it takes, we have to see that everyone that breaths has equal access to the net. Period.

But, that’s just the beginning. We need to sign up for health care, file our taxes, chase educational opportunities and deal with almost every essential service out there on-line. It has become ubiquitous. Yet, it is difficult to access on an unequal playing field with antiquated infrastructure. All with our money and, benefitting only the financial markets. Way to go U.S.Congress (remember them).

Now the obvious solution to this generally unregulated capitalistic institution of welfare queens is to change their charter to that of a public utility. Heavily regulated and financed by investors that are looking for stability.

This is where the right jumps in and lies and threatens and insults people.

They will tell you that all regulation is bad. Lie. Our public utilities are good investments, as any broker will tell you and, are a conservative investment. But, of course, the right wouldn’t understand conservatism if it smacked them in the face. They think it’s a label or rallying cry. Stupid, stupid people.

They’ll tell you that all regulation is bad. Lie. They’ll tell that the government can’t do it as well as the private sector, as usual. Lie. There are actual local governments here that are doing a much better job of delivering internet than the abject failure of the welfare queens in the communications industry. Let’s not even talk about Federal governments in other countries have accomplished, with our invention, as a public utility.

The public utilities that we do have occupy steeply regulated marketplace to provide quality service on an equal playing field. For us. The people who paid for what we, so far, haven’t gotten.

Then the right will insult us. It is there only real argument, even though it’s a lie. They will climb up on their soapboxes and drag out their tired old arguments (and really, it will be their only real argument) and they will declare that we want to grow government and socialize the internet because deep down inside we are all communists and liberal gay activists who don’t believe in the American way and of course, we have no God.

Mark my word, that will be their biggest actual argument.

You have to remember that this is a lie. Utilities a great, stable “conservative” investment opportunities in the private financial markets. Call your broker. Ask him.

Regulation requires utilities to maintain an equal playing field for all their consumers and all their consumers have to pay the bill.

The bottom line is that the internet and its future is like electricity. Everyone needs equal access. Sounds to me that it is almost a civil right.

Max Oebulet, Social Philosopher


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