Local Government Supports Internet Monopoly

I’ve talked recently about the Federal government’s involvement in limiting media through regulations and the FCC. Companies like Comcast are not operating in a free market, they have the government to give them advantages, and put regulatory roadblocks in front of their competitors. But the Feds aren’t the only crony capitalists in government. Local governments play a large role in limiting internet provider competition by charging exorbitant fees to companies who want to put their wires in. The cost of the network doubles with the governments forcing pay-offs before a business can start operating. This means an internet company must already be large and established in order to start providing service in an area, and the smaller competitors are cut down by the government demands.

This crony capitalist way of doing business has even blocked Google fiber from delivering services in some areas, because of the gigantic costs—so just imagine how impossible it is for a small company to try to set up an internet business. And this is yet another reason why big companies become monopolies, and small ones wither: government intervention into the market. The local government limits who can even put the wires in the ground or on the poles, meaning they can approve or deny an internet provider moving into their area arbitrarily.

The lack of competition makes it easier for local governments and utilities to charge more for rights of way and pole attachments.

It’s a vicious circle. And it’s essentially a system of forced kickbacks. Other kickbacks arguably include municipal requirements for ISPs such as building out service where it isn’t demanded, donatingequipment, and delivering free broadband to government buildings.

If you can’t afford those kickbacks, your company doesn’t get to exist in that area.

In Austin and Kansas city, politicians wanted Google fiber, so they charged less and streamlined the approval. This however still means those local governments can arbitrarily deny ISP’s to their area by charging restrictive prices, thus allowing the possibility of a Google fiber monopoly. But in places with less regulation, competition among internet service providers has flourished, allowing more choice and better prices for better service.

“[I]t’s clear that investment flows into areas that are less affected by regulation than areas that are dominated by it,” observed Milo Medin, Google’s Vice President of Access Services, in summarizing the lessons of Google’s Kansas City experience in Congressional testimony.

When even well-established companies like Google are deterred by such barriers to entry, is it really surprising that there aren’t more competitors jumping into the broadband market? As Medin pointed out, “just imagine the impact on small and medium-sized enterprises.”

So the solution is to deny the power to government to approve or deny internet providers who want to build networks in their area. Any provider who wants to and can pay for the actual costs of building the wire networks, not the bribes forced on them by local politicians, should be allowed to do so. This is no different then traveling on public roads with goods your company needs to deliver. Local governments cannot demand a payoff or deny Stop and Shop access to their roads. And likewise, local governments should not be allowed to deny some businesses the ability to operate in that area, while selectively approving others.

Yet again the solution is less government, and more freedom. Free market competition can take care of a lot of problems, but not when the government turns capitalism into crony capitalism; not when the government gets to pick the winners and the losers.

Government Fears Iron Grip on Media Slipping

What happened to free speech? Just a reminder to everyone, the First Amendment of the Bill of Rights says (emphasis added):

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

So if a government agency was to, say, regulate news outlets to ban them from endorsing a political candidate… would that violate the First Amendment? I suppose if we interpret “Congress shall make no law… abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press” to mean “Congress can make a law abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press—if it’s for a really good reason!” then, no, that seems fine, nothing to see here, move along.

But now the government is not satisfied with the annihilation of free speech already forced upon PAC’s, they want to also censor internet news outlets, because their stranglehold on TV media is slipping, and they have to protect their phony bologna jobs. And what happens when regulatory power is given to government? Selective enforcement of regulations, or regulations to “level the playing field” are brought out to destroy whatever competitor is not paying off the right politicians, or propagating the correct point on their media outlet. I’ve actually written about this a lot lately, sparked by Comcast’s merger with Time Warner Cable which the FCC and Justice Department must approve.

News outlets like Drudge Report and other internet media are in the FCC’s crosshairs because they cannot regulate them the same way they regulate broadcast television, you know, for the good of the children.

Liberals over the years have also pushed for a change in the Federal Communications Commission‘s “fairness doctrine” to cut of conservative voices, and retired Supreme CourtJustice John Paul Stevens has delighted Democrats recently with a proposed Constitutional amendment that some say could force the media to stop endorsing candidates or promoting issues.

Well maybe I should give Justice Stevens credit; at least he thinks the Constitution should be amended in order to steal the rights of the people in favor of government overlordship, while most politicians and government bureaucrats just ignore the Bill of Rights completely! But to think that a man who once sat on the Supreme Court with the sole job of interpreting the black and white words in the Constitution wants to kill the First Amendment, an amendment apparently important enough to the Founders to put it first, is a scary prospect indeed—especially knowing that most decisions are decided 5-4.

But as the FCC’s power wanes and media is moved to the internet, don’t expect them to go down without a fight. They are making bold moves in an attempt to redefine the mission of the FCC to regulate all communications whatsoever, in flagrant disregard to the First Amendment, which anyone who can read can clearly see prohibits regulation of free speech and media. Maybe that’s the point of Common Core, if no one can read (or think), then it doesn’t really matter what the Constitution says, does it?

All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others. -Animal Farm

CISPA: Regulating The Internet

SOPA was just the first round of the federal government’s attempt to regulate the last bastion of freedom on earth–the internet. The inhabitants of this final frontier–the netizens–stomped this freedom grabbing bill down in the dust. Even mainstream internet destinations opposed this overstep of authority; the Google homepage urged viewers to contact their Reps and Senators about the detriments of regulating the internet. Wikipedia blacked out their pages for a day in opposition to the bill, suggesting SOPA itself would mean an effective blackout of information. Facebook was abuzz with rhetoric about preventing the government from controlling the information on the web, as they control the information on Television. But now SOPA’s sinister cousin lurks in the legislature: CISPA is the latest attempt to regulate our internet.

CISPA, by contrast [to SOPA], would allow Americans’ personal information to be vacuumed up by government agencies for cybersecurity and law enforcement purposes, as long as Internet and telecommunications companies agreed. In that respect, at least, its impact is broader. (Full Article).

Sold as a way to increase cyber-security and assure cyber-terrorism’s demise, CISPA would give private companies and government agencies free reign to monitor and share our online activities and communications without a warrant, and without our consent. This has already passed the House of Representatives with bi-partisan support, but Republicans introduced the bill and comprised the majority of yea votes. 206 Republicans and 42 Democrats successfully passed the bill, while 28 Republicans, and 140 Democrats opposed it. The bill will now move to the Senate where majority leader Harry Reid says CISPA will be considered in the spring of 2013.

Ron Paul was one Republican House member to oppose the bill, as he generally sides with freedom and constitutional limitations on federal power. Paul writes that Libertarian minded Constitutionalists and adherents to the Austrian School of Economics especially oppose internet regulation, because never before has the information they desire been so readily available and easily shared. Many fear that regulation of the internet would be a way to silence dissent and government criticism. I would argue this is quite likely if the government is given power over the internet–just look at the news on Television these days (or lack of news). On his Congressional Website, Ron Paul warns of the dangers of CISPA.

One such attempt [to censor or limit the free flow of information online] is known as “CISPA”, or the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act.   This bill will create a monstrous coalition of big business and big government to rob Americans of their protections under the 4th Amendment of the Constitution.

CISPA permits both the federal government and private companies to view your private online communications with no judicial oversight, provided they merely do so in the name of “cybersecurity.”  But America is a constitutional republic, not a surveillance state and the wildly overhyped need for security does not trump the Constitution.

“Cybersecurity” is the responsibility of companies that operate and make money in cyberspace, not taxpayers.  Those companies should develop market-based private solutions to secure their networks, servers, cloud data centers, and user/customer information.  The role of the US intelligence community is to protect the United States from military threats, not to provide corporate welfare to the private sector.  Much like the TSA at the airport, CISPA would socialize security costs and remove market incentives for private firms to protect their own investments.

Imagine security-cleared agents embedded at private companies to serve as conduits for intelligence information about their customers back to the US intelligence community– while enjoying immunity from any existing civil or criminal laws. Imagine Google or Facebook reporting directly to the National Security Agency about the online activity of US citizens.  Imagine US government resources being wasted on a grand scale to “assist” private companies in the global market.  All of this would become reality under CISPA.

Paul goes on to note that even if CISPA does not pass the Senate, Obama has suggested that an Executive order would be issued to the same effect. To continue reading about CISPA in more detail, click here.