Just a week before the FCC holds a vote on whether to apply fairness rules to some of the nation’s internet service providers, two companies that sell their services to the country’s largest cellular companies showed off a different vision of the future: one where you’ll have to pay extra to watch YouTube or use Facebook.
~From a Wired article earlier this week. READ IT
Now here's why this matters...
It's not about Facebook or YouTube. Those seem on the surface like silly trifles and why shouldn't we have to pay more for silly trifles, right? Because those silly, time-sucking trifles represent present-day American innovation. Our physical manufacturing sector has been almost completely moved offshore. This was done over a period of a couple of decades between Reagan and Bush II and was done for the sole reason of increasing corporate profits. If it's cheaper to manufacture stuff somewhere they don't have a minimum wage, and the prices here stay the same, the company makes more money for it's shareholders. This seems like a good thing, unless you're looking further than one fiscal quarter ahead.
Now we have a situation where large Telecommunications companies have found a giant, largely unregulated loophole in the fastest growing sector of their business. They'd like for their share of the wireless spectrum to remain largely unregulated so that they can carve it up how they want and charge for it what they want. Seems fair, right? But remember this is our fucking AIR they're charging us to access. They rightly realize that they majority of future internet use is going to take place over the airwaves, so best to get that sucker divvied up now and get the "best practices" in place for making as much money as they possibly can going forward. (Makes me think of this article from the Onion.)
Best practices would include making damn sure they charge more money for popular web services once their customers come to depend on them. I depend on Facebook to keep me in touch with most of the people I know on this planet. It's surpassed "social network" status and become a utility.
This utility and others like it have become the center of American innovation, and the brightest hope for the future American economy. Perhaps we won't be able to manufacture our way out of a recession, but maybe we can innovate ourselves out.
But Chile is trying a radical new experiment. ... It is importing entrepreneurs from all over the world, by offering them $40,000 to bootstrap in Chile. They get a visa; free office space; assistance with networking, mentoring, fundraising, and connecting to potential customers and partners. All the entrepreneurs have to do, in return, is commit to working hard and live in one of the most beautiful places on this planet.
~From a Techcrunch article a few days ago.
Here's why you should be worried about Net Neutrality.
If you think for a second that America's place in this world as the center of creative innovation and hard working people making something from nothing is granted by the grace of God, you might be right. But Verizon and the FCC may just make it impossible for even the will of God to overcome the long-term economic effects of giving these TelCom idiots what they want. What they want is to milk as much money out of you and I as they possibly can, and they plan to do this by charging more for "better, faster" access to large internet companies that can supposedly afford it (while totally ignorant to the fact that the oldest and largest of any of these companies is barely 10 years old).
Where does this lead?
If the biggest internet companies pay more for their content to be delivered faster, then smaller companies and startups will have to use the "plain old" internet, which is what the entire internet is today.
If big TelCom gets a pass to charge for faster access over a premium network, they most certainly won't have any incentive whatsoever to improve the "plain old" network.
If countries like Chile are not just begging but paying smart entrepreneurial types to move to their country and start businesses, they most certainly will.
Oh yeah, vastly higher bills for all of us.
Ergo, if technological innovation and brainpower have been this country's advantage over the rest of the world and you deliberately cripple technological innovation in the name of a few years of higher corporate profits, you can rest assured that the brainpower will flee this country to some place where it's more highly valued.
I'll leave you with a few words from Steve Wozniak, co-founder of Apple.
I was brought up being told that one of the main purposes of our government is to help people who need help. When I was very young, this made me prouder than anything else of my government. [...] We have very few government agencies that the populace views as looking out for them, the people. The FCC is one of these agencies that is still wearing a white hat. Not only is current action on Net Neutrality one of the most important times ever for the FCC, it's probably the most momentous and watched action of any government agency in memorable times in terms of setting our perception of whether the government represents the wealthy powers or the average citizen, of whether the government is good or is bad. This decision is important far beyond the domain of the FCC itself.