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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A free market economy – is all about the customers. Which in the United States – is roughly 300 million people. Millions of businesses spend every second of every day trying to give these 300 million people as much of what they want as possible – for as little as possible.
These businesses look for all sorts of new ways to get these 300 million to choose them – and not their competitors. They lower prices. They give away free stuff. And they offer their new and better services in new and innovative ways.
For We the Customers – it is Utopia.
Sadly, more and more we are less and less a free market economy. With ever more laws and regulations – we are nigh completely transformed into a command economy.
A command economy – is all about the Commanders. For the Commanders, We the Customers are an afterthought – if we’re thought of at all.
In a command economy, these centralized bureaucrats make all the decisions. And they do it as government always everywhere does it – very poorly, very slowly. They nigh always decide wrong – and they take a LOOOOONG time to do it.
In this nightmare mess, businesses don’t try out new ideas on customers – because they aren’t allowed to do so. They are forced to first ask the Commanders for permission.
On the Internet – we’re hurtling toward full-on Commander control. Thanks to the absurdity that is Network Neutrality – that is now in great and growing effect.
The ridiculous Net Neutrality was unilaterally imposed by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) eighteen months ago. On a 3-2 Party-line vote. The three unelected Democrat bureaucrats voted to appoint themselves Internet overlords (the two Republicans voted Nay).
And now the Internet economy – 1/6th of our nation’s total – is held in thrall by these three Donkey bureaucrats. Not present: We the Customers.
And the Commanders are behaving as Commanders do. Behold the slow: Eighteen months in, we still have very little idea what Net Neutrality actually entails. Because eighteen months in – the FCC has done virtually nothing to actually define it.
I know what you’re thinking: Shouldn’t the FCC have clearly defined and delineated what Net Neutrality is and entails BEFORE imposing it? Of course it should have – but that would have been SO un-government of them. Grab first – answer questions…later, if at all.
The amorphous blob that is Net Neutrality creates what is known in investor parlance as – uncertainty. Internet Service Providers (ISPs) are incredibly hesitant to make any move in any direction. For fear that the Commanders will deem it a Net Neutrality violation – and crush it under their boot heels.
Meanwhile, the Commanders pretend that the Internet is still a free market. So the ISPs have to play along. Besides, eighteen months is for private companies a LOOOONG time to wait around doing nothing.
So some of the wireless ISPs have started offering new ways to deliver us their data. They are “zero rating” – and unlimited data. “Zero rating” is a provider providing a(n ever expanding) list of websites that don’t count against your data cap – you can utilize these sites as much as you wish. And unlimited data is just as it sounds – you can be online anywhere you want, as much as you want.
For We the Customers, these are two prospectively fabulous new options. And in a free market economy, we 300 million would get to decide if they are. If millions of us liked them, millions of us would fire the ISPs that didn’t offer them – and hire the ISPs who did. And you’d suddenly see the ISPs not offering them – offering them. If We the Customers decided we didn’t like them – they would go the way of the Edsel. Or the flip phone.
But We the Customers might not get to decide. Because the Commanders might deem these two perfectly reasonable free market options Net Neutrality violations – and squash them.
And, of course, the Leftist, anti-free market peanut gallery is happy to help the Commanders decide these – and nigh every other free market move – are Net Neutrality violations. And, of course, this sniping, diminutive gaggle includes the media.
On “zero rating”:
On unlimited data:
So we have two perfectly reasonable commercial offerings – in a free market economy. But we don’t have a free market economy – we have foisted upon us a command economy.
So these two eminently reasonable offerings – may be outlawed by the Commanders. Before We-the-300-Million-Customers ever get a chance to decide for ourselves.
And who knows what other great Internet ideas – never even made it this far. For fear of being smashed by the Commanders.
The worst of the many losses to regulation – are the things we never get to see.
If we want an Internet that continues to be its dynamic, ever-expanding old self, Net Neutrality – and nothing else – is what needs to go away.
[Originally Published at Red State]