L.E. Brown / April 9, 2015

Net Neutrality

As elite, learned and mega-egotistical as they might be, experts in the national mainstream media have been uselessly expending their energies arguing for or against the so-called “Net Neutrality” rules proposed by FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler.

To paraphrase Bill Clinton, it all depends on what is meant by the term “neutrality.”

Most learned pundits have also forgotten to inform little people how the proposed rules came about.

In May 2014, Wheeler released a plan that supposedly would have allowed companies like AT&T, Comcast and Verizon to create pay-to-play fast lanes on the Internet. Then, bowing to pressure, in February of this year Wheeler announced new Net Neutrality rules which, supporters say, would give Internet users the strongest protections possible.

What has been bandied about are terms such as network neutrality, open standards, transparency and lack of censorship for the Internet.

The term “Net Neutrality” was chosen for the new rules, as it seemed to have the most political and social appeal. It didn’t matter that the term has no direct, truthful relation to the proposed rules.

Theoretically, an open Internet allows equal treatment of data, the full resources of the Internet to all and allows the Internet to be easily accessible to all individuals and companies.

Again, theoretically, an open Internet represents decentralized technological power, whereas a closed Internet has restricted access to web standards and artificially degrades some services.

Most importantly, supporters of “Net Neutrality” say, a closed Internet is one which filters out content.

But wait.

The issue of “Net Neutrality” bears further examination, since it appears to some, including myself, to contain rules that bring to bear intensive federal government intervention and control, a takeover if you will, of Internet activities.

Government control, by its very definition, means filtering out content the controller doesn’t like.

And, since wealthy individuals, large corporations, unions and non-profits have the most influence on governments, largely through political campaign donations, it is they who exert the most power over communications, such as the Internet.

It is they who favor government rules, since they have the wealth and power to influence them favorably, and smaller companies and individuals, don’t.

That is why spokespersons for large corporations publicly profess outrage at government interference and regulations, while their lawyers and lobbyists work closely with bureaucrats and politicians developing rules and regulations.

Very few little people are aware that most often when large corporations wax opposition to government regulations they are blowing smoke. To them, more regulations are generally positive, since they tend to stifle small companies — and average individuals, the little people.

A serious student of history knows that the term “neutrality” seldom means what is advertised, including when death is involved.

They know that when “neutrality” was used by politicians in the years and days leading up to the Civil War, World War I, World War II and the Korean War, it did not mean what little people thought it meant.

Lastly, as an aside, national opiners have failed to point out that the neutrality affair is a prime example of the route actions by Congress take on the road to affecting the lives of little people.

Congress enacts legislation, written by lawyers and usually purposely vague; it is refined by bureaucrats and more lawyers; then it is further refined by the judicial system and the executive branch. (Quite often courts and the executive branch ignore the wishes of Congress.)

In the ensuing years, new rules and regulations are added by employees of the various enforcement agencies, with the help of more lawyers and lobbyists.

While Congress is busy enacting more vague legislation, but not so vague as to not aid special interests.

Not one of the well-known national commentators bothered to remind readers and listeners that the lives of little people mean something to them; i.e., the little people.

And, to paraphrase Abraham Lincoln, the Lord must have loved common people, else he wouldn’t have created so many of them.

L.E. Brown, Jr. is a columnist based in Magnolia, N.C. Email him at [email protected]

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