The evils of Net neutrality for dummies

You think you want fair and equal Internet access for everyone? Cable TV's brain trust may seek to have a word with you

i'm with stupid graffiti artwork
Credit: flickr/Whiskeygonebad

We are ruined. We are wax puppets spit-roasting over a campfire. We are cats about to be spayed by dogs. Net neutrality has passed, woe to the world.

I used to support dragging ISPs into Title II telecom status. I ranted and raved in favor of the move, apparently fueled by drink, ignorance, and low morals, plus a rampant lack of empathy for you, the Average Joe. Now that Net neutrality has made it past round one, I'm shocked, mortified, by the outburst of publicly minded, not-at-all-greedy grief expressed by ISP executives and their bankrolled politicians. These worthies decried the new regulations as sins against humanity that can only end with you celebrating your next birthday with the Antichrist or Travis Kalanick, depending on whose schedule is most flexible (my money is on the Antichrist).

I was surprised and upset to see this outpouring of concern for the consumer as it flew directly in the face of what I had believed to that point, not to mention logic, the laws of nature and economics, the Magna Carta, and the Dead Sea Scrolls. “What do these guys know that I don’t?” I wondered, and so saying, determined to find out. Where do you go for the whole truth and nothing but the truth from consumer-not-wallet-minded politicians, pundits, and PACs? Cable TV news, of course.

Here you can get the straight facts unsullied by opinion or hyperbole, no sirree bob. Through basic cable, I enjoyed an unfettered view of the enlightened analyses made by ISP execs and their pet politicians on the new FCC rules, specifically how they’ll turn this country into a technological laughingstock, ruin the Internet economy, and stunt our children's growth. I found high-minded commentary from the likes of FCC commissioner Ajit Pai and Florida Rep. Gus Bilirakis, who looks a little like Peter Griffin from "Family Guy," but less fashionable.

Breaking down Net neutrality for the rest of us

You may recall when Sen. Ted Cruz tried to break Net neutrality into simple terms: It’s like Obamacare for the Internet -- except it’s not trying to change anything. It's meant to keep a good thing as it is and should be. Also, it's neither government-funded nor price controlled. Other than that, it’s exactly the same. Alas, my ignorance took over again, and I delved further into my quest for enlightenment.

Where Cruz failed, I figured the Family Guy might succeed, so I read Bilirakis’ op-ed. His objection was more detailed, which is helpful because detail isn’t my forte. He argued that reclassifying broadband ISPs as Title IIs would immediately result in higher prices, less innovation, and less investment in infrastructure (none of which is happening now at all). Sure, reclassifying phone service had the opposite effect, but this is different!

According to Bilirakis, the new rules will lead us down the path of an overly regulated Internet similar to what the Europeans have, which is why -- hold on, I need to cut and paste to get this stat right -- ”less than half as many European households have access to the fastest LTE mobile networks as compared to American households in 2012.” Those poor schmucks!

If you suddenly feel a sharp pain behind your eye sockets, you're not alone -- but don't be fooled. That's not a hemorrhage induced by an indecipherable market stat so vague as to be meaningless and applicable to anything or nothing. That's the true mark of recognition as the full evil of Net neutrality finally dawns on you.

Alas, my skull is so thick that there's no way a stat so light on tangibles will ever get through. There goes Bilirakis -- best to head straight to the source, which means Commissioner Ajit Pai. He’s in the belly of the FCC beast and would know better, right?

The FCC insider speaks

Pai has been very vocal about the evils of Net neutrality, so you don’t need to pay for cable to get his take, though it’s a good place to start. Like Bilirakis and Cruz (kinda), Pai opines that reclassification is tantamount to a government takeover of the Internet. Since the FCC isn’t a government body, I guess he’s referring to the NSA and its empowerment through Net neutrality or an equally logical scenario.

He’s also sure that Net neutrality will raise taxes. Although the new rules don’t explicitly ban the “service charge” ISPs can append to your monthly bill, thus maintaining the profit level needed for their lifestyles and their support of easily swayed politicians, the vote implies inevitable follow-up legislation that will. Once carriers are forbidden from adding random charges to your bill in exchange for no discernible change in service, anarchy will surely follow.

I must've gone stupid in my old age because none of this made any sense to me. But I know they’re right. Regulating big companies with a history of predatory business practices can only hurt us as consumers and “the little guy,” which I think is supposed to mean small businesses. Who wouldn’t want Internet service that’s slightly slower than what you’ll find in countries that didn't even exist or have any infrastructure 20 years ago, not to mention an outside party choosing what will and won’t work as advertised on your overpriced connection? That’s obviously the best way to go.

I agree; I know it’s true at the same instinctual level at which I know the sun really revolves around us and crop circles are evidence of angelic flatulence. That’s common sense and proper faith in the opinions of people who have to better informed than me because they’re rich and in Washington, and I’m not. We’ve lost. We’re screwed and the Internet will never be the same again. In the meantime, I'll have to keep eating lead-based paint until I understand why.

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