One of America's leading authorities on technology and telecom policy, Motley is a writer, television and radio commentator, political and policy strategist, lecturer, debater, activist, and policy advisor to The Heartland Institute.
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Eighty years ago. The depths of the Great Depression. Democrat President Franklin Delano Roosevelt blindly flailing around, throwing ever more government-centric “solutions” at the growing list of problems. Each new centrally-planned effort making matters worse – and the Depression last longer.
Remember, Ladies and Gentlemen, Hideki Tojo ended the Depression – FDR elongated it by more than a decade.
Begat in all of this failed government uber-action was the Communications Act of 1934. The anniversary of which current Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Tom Wheelerjust decided to celebrate.
Eighty years ago today, President Franklin Roosevelt signed the Communications Act of 1934, creating the FCC – so what’s Chairman Tom Wheeler doing? He’s throwing a party for all the past FCC chairs, commissioners and key staff.
We’ll move past the fact that the Barack Obama Administration is commemorating the creation of a now ridiculously overreaching entity that a great many people – including a former Commissioner or two – think should no longer exist.
Because there’s an even more bizarre dis-honorarium potentially afoot. Chairman Wheeler is contemplating applying the woefully antiquated regulations of the 1934 Act – to the ultra-modern, state-of-the-art, constantly-evolving Internet.
In other words – the Chairman is considering Title II Reclassification of the the World Wide Web.
Putting it up front and center, and asking for public comment on the use of Title II reclassification (which would make broadband providers subject to common carrier rules) is a big deal. Wheeler…stated that he’s really committed to this….
Because the Chairman wants to party like it’s 1934. Because certainly law and regulations written eighty years ago are apt and easily applicable to the 2014 fast-forward Web, right?
Why does Chairman Wheeler want to go back to the future – without the future part? Because in true failed FDR fashion – he wants to throw a gi-normous government “solution” at a non-existent problem.
As an entrepreneur who started companies that offered new programs and services to cable companies, I was subject to being blocked from access to cable networks….
Note the lawyerly wording – Wheeler was “subject to being blocked.” Because he never actually was blocked. No one ever has been. Even the most ardent Title II Reclassification proponents begrudgingly admitted that. To fix that factual problem, the Left warped and broadened beyond all recognition their definition of what “blocking” is.
To a very large extent, this experience has been the backbone of my long-time support for the Open Internet.
Note the lawyerly phrase change – “Open Internet” rather than Network Neutrality (NN). Because we Internet defenders have now rightly defined Net Neutrality – so they had to come up with an alternative term.
Chairmen Wheeler’s Internet Reclassification Party will be very sparsely attended. Most of even the most ardent of Leftists have long thought it to be aterrible idea.
So did more than 150 organizations, state legislators and bloggers.
Seventeen minority groups (that are usually almost always in Democrat lockstep).
And many additional normally Democrat paragons. Including several large unions:
• Communications Workers of America (CWA)
• International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW)
Several racial grievance groups:
• League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC)
• Minority Media and Telecom Council (MMTC)
• National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP)
• Urban League
And an anti-free market environmentalist group
• Sierra Club
So when you add in that we already know this:
Is it any wonder that that kid’s dorkier, slower, fatter big brother – Title II Reclassification – is going to throw a party and no one is going to come?
The companies that have already invested trillions of dollars to build the Internet into the free speech-free market Xanadu we all know and love – certainly won’t attend. They’ll take their massive coin and find much less inhospitable places to invest it.
And where will that leave us Web users? Staring at Chairman Wheeler in his strap-on pointy hat – playing Pong on his Commodore ’34.
And praying for 28K dial-up.