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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The old politician saw is: “The most dangerous place for you in Washington – is between (fill in name of pol) and a camera.” We’ll coin a government saw: “The most dangerous place for you anywhere on the planet – is government between you and the free market.”
Any and every tax, law and regulation – is government placing itself between you and the free market. And, conversely, between the free market and you. And, of course, it makes the market less free. It’s inherent. The bigger the tax – the less money you have for the market, and the less money marketeers have to operate. The bigger the laws and regulations – the less freedom we and the marketeers have to maneuver.
Think of government as a straight jacket. The bigger government is – the tighter are the arms constricting the marketplace.
We have spent years now warning you of the unbelievably narrowing nature of the ridiculous regulation known as Network Neutrality. Which is an all-encompassing government straight jacket locked onto the Internet. So huge is this regulatory power grab – it makes the government the preemptive decider on all things Internet marketplace.
We Net Neutrality realists warned of a Mother-May-I regulatory regime. Where every once-free marketeer would be reduced to having to ask government for permission before trying anything new – otherwise known as innovating, a crucial component of a free market.
Net Neutrality proponents repeatedly denied that this obvious reality – was an obvious reality. Now that the Barack Obama Administration has slammed Net Neutrality down upon us – this obvious reality is playing out. The once-free market – is now totally un-free.
Rather than testing new ideas in the marketplace to see if We the Consumers will like them – the marketeers must first go to our government overlords and see if they will approve them.
To wit: Zero-rating. A fancy phrase for a routine free market feature. Zero-rating toll-free phone numbers – are the companies you’re calling paying for the calls so you don’t. Zero-rating free shipping – is the companies from whom you’re purchasing paying for delivery so you don’t. Under Net Neutrality, bandwidth hog companies paying for their bandwidth so you don’t – may be outlawed.
We don’t yet know – our government overlords haven’t yet decided. So the $1 trillion Internet marketplace twists in the wind – while we await permission to try zero-rating online. Uncertainty is a huge bane of the market – Net Neutrality is uber-uncertainty on steroids.
On the Web – the biggest bandwidth hog is video. So we’re talking companies like Netflix and Google’s YouTube (who together, all by themselves, consume half of all U.S. bandwidth). To address this, different cellular phone companies want to try different variations of zero-rating.
T-Mobile’s Binge On would allow you unlimited access to twenty-four different video-intensive sites (with more likely to come) – without them counting against your data cap. (Their list includes Netflix – not Google’s YouTube.) Verizon’s FreeBee would allow any company that wishes to pay for their bandwidth (or per-click, another routine marketplace wrinkle) and join Verizon’s unlimited list plan (that list too would likely grow).
All of which are new and innovative ways to try new pricing models – and address the bandwidth shortage issues the market faces (largely because of government failure). All of which means We the Consumers would be able to afford to do a whole lot more Web surfing – which is good for us, and for every Web company on the planet.
This would be a free marketplace – where We the Consumers choose which plans we prefer. If we watch a lot of YouTube, we’d probably stay away from T-Mobile and choose another provider that includes YouTube in their package. If we don’t care about YouTube, but like Netflix – T-Mobile may be the one for us. Different providers would provide different packages – and constantly update them to make them as attractive to us as possible (for instance, T-Mobile might rush to add YouTube should it prove to be a popular offering).
We the Consumers would have the power. To determine which plans succeed – and which do not. We would have maximum choices – at the lowest price.
Government and its absurd Net Neutrality take this vibrant, choice-rich prospective marketplace – and preemptively strangle it in the crib. Rather than trying out Binge On and FreeBee on us – T-Mobile and Verizon have to beg our government overlords for approval.
Which makes it far less likely we will see either program – or any others from any other providers. Why subject yourself to the time-and-money-waste and egregious annoyance of genuflecting before government – all for permission to offer We the Consumers more for less? These companies don’t need the headache – and can’t afford it.
And how likely is it that an uber-regulatory government that slammed us with Net Neutrality – will be in an un-regulatory mood when it comes to these zero-rating plans? I am not particularly optimistic.
The result of this Net Neutrality inanity? Far fewer choices for us – at much higher prices. (See: ObamaCare.)
And ultimately, just one choice – government: “(T)he ultimate goal (of Net Neutrality) is to get rid of the media capitalists in the phone and cable companies and to divest them from control.” (See: ObamaCare.)
It is and always will be the case: When government makes your choices for you – you end up with no choices.