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.
Latest posts by Seton Motley (see all)
- Localities Shouldn’t Be Dictating (Inter-)National Policy - July 17, 2019
- We Are Surrounded By Intellectual Property – Until We Aren’t - July 13, 2019
- A ‘Drain The Swamp’ Test: Will The Trump Admin Reward Amazon’s Killer Cronyism? - July 11, 2019
Candidate Donald Trump ran on massive regulatory rollbacks. And won thereon. Since being sworn in, he’s – in very un-Washington-D.C.-fashion – adhered to and started implementing his campaign promises. Including his regulatory rollbacks – pledging cuts of “75% or more.” Serious business.
His Cabinet almost inarguably is the most deregulatory in our nation’s history. To wit: Four years ago former Texas Governor Rick Perry ran for the presidency pledging to close the Energy Department. Trump just named him head of the Energy Department. Former Oklahoma Attorney General spent the last six years suing the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) – fending the over-reaching, invasion-ary agency off of his state (and others) with a whip and a chair. Trump just named him head of the EPA.
And then there’s Ajit Pai – Trump’s choice to head the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). Ostensibly an independent agency (Trump predecessor Barack Obama certainly didn’t treat it as such), it would be up to the Chairman to set a deregulatory course. Trump again chose inordinately wisely – elevating Commissioner Pai to the lead role.
Of course, when the average politico hears “FCC” and “deregulation,” they think of the ridiculous policy known asNetwork Neutrality – and the massive power grab known as “reclassification” that the Obama FCC executed to get there. Of course, the Obama FCC executed a whole host of massive power grabs – but Net Neutrality retains the highest profile.
God bless Pai. He was on the Obama Commission – repeatedly, vocally voting “Nay” as Obama’s FCC Chairman rammed through this cavalcade of power grabs. Since Trump’s victory, Pai has said he wants to take a “weed whacker” to Net Neutrality – so Trump, in keeping with his deregulatory-appointee-process that delivered us Perry and Pruitt – delivered us Pai. (And perhaps Trump has a preference for surnames that begin with the letter “P.”)
As has been the case with all things Trump, the Left is in total freakout mode about the appointment of Pai. And of all the power grabs Pai will hopefully (and most likely) undo, the one eliciting the biggest freakout – is Net Neutrality.
Net Neutrality, Meet the Weed Whacker Ajit Pai
There are oh-so-many-more-talking-point-examples – but you get the idea. And of all the anti-Reality, anti-free-market claims made about Net Neutrality, I find the dumbest to be that government-uber-regulations-mandate Net Neutrality – is the solution to a First Amendment problem.
Minnesota Democrat Senator – and former unfunny comedian – Al Franken is a vocal Net Neutrality advocate. He calls it “The First Amendment issue of our time.” Oregon Democrat Senator Ron Wyden claims “a roll back of Net Neutrality” is a rollback of “free speech.” Democrat Senator Richard Blumenthal asserts an undoing “is also a danger to free speech.”
And in this vast Sea of Dumb, the dumbest assertion of all comes from Tim Wu – an academic who actually coined the phrase and concept of Net Neutrality. Wu actually argues that: “(Internet providers) should not be allowed to use the First Amendment to avoid regulation.”
Ummm…yes, they absolutely should. That is EXACTLY for what the Constitution calls.
For Wu – and the embarrassing elected officials who have taken an oath to uphold and defend the Constitution, but have zero grasp thereof – here is the First Amendment in its entirety:
“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”
You’ll note the first word of the text – “Congress.” You’ll note that two words don’t appear anywhere in the text – “companies” and/or “corporations.” The ONLY entity from whom the First Amendment (and, in fact, the Constitution in totality) protects We the People – is government.
I have for decades found absurd the insertion of government – as a protection against…government. Even so, this avalanche of dumbness unleashed to preserve, protect and defend government vastly overreaching into the free speech-free market Xanadu that is the Internet – has still managed to surprise me a little. Because it’s just SO dumb.
Companies aren’t magical entities that exist all on their own. They are formed by and made up of – We the People. The First Amendment doesn’t end with the addendum “unless you incorporate” – meaning you don’t lose your protections from government just because you start an LLC.
And on the Internet, you have all along the way had inherent protection from Internet providers silencing you – it’s called the free market. If one Internet provider does anything to circumscribe your Web experience – you will very quickly fire them and hire another.
How do we know our free market protections have worked magnificently? Because even the most ardent Net Neutrality proponents begrudgingly admit that after two decades of explosive, massive Internet growth – without any Net Neutrality regulations is place – no Internet provider had ever blocked anyone from accessing legal content.
Oh: And if eternal-monopoly-government censors you – where do you go? How did the Tea Party fare with the government’s Internal Revenue Service (IRS)? To where could they turn as government trampled their rights?
So allowing government to remain intrinsically involved in the Internet – doesn’t solve anything having anything to do with the Constitution. It, in fact, creates all sorts of brand new Constitutional problems.
So to say the government must remain titanically over-involved in the Internet – to protect the First Amendment, which is written to protect us only from government – is titanically, magnificently dumb.
Which is precisely what we’ve come to expect from Washington.
Thankfully, the Trump Administration is finally ending our decades-long rigid adherence to Washington dumbness.
[Originally Published at Red State]