Why You Should Support Voluntary Net Neutrality

The Situation:

  • The government creates monopolies that lead to internet access abuses. The government tries to fix problems by enacting limited Regulations.
  • Government Regulation leads to more Regulations as new problems and abuses pop up with each new round of regulation.
  • Politicians in the government demands we praise them (or their party) for fixing the problems it caused.

For years, various big government politicians have been clamoring
for the internet to be regulated “for the public’s own good” and they
have been getting serious push-back from the public at every turn. But,
politicians and regulators finally found an issue that they could spin into a
popular platform for launching their first real and direct regulation of the
internet:  Net Neutrality.

One thing that needs to be clearly understood is the difference between the concept of Net Neutrality and of Net Neutrality Regulation. Politicians want to confuse the two, by referring to the Regulation as “Net Neutrality” as if there can be no Net Neutrality without Regulation. This is only one of the ways they lure people onto their bandwagon. It simply is not true that Regulation is the only way to Net Neutrality.

The History of Government Monopolies and Net Neutrality

The scenario at the beginning leaves out one thing:  the free market. Even though it too is regulated nearly to death, the free market is not dead yet. People started demanding better service and access than these government-granted monopolies were giving, and at first the monopolies were not swayed by their customers’ demands. But, the market responded by supplying other options, even when competitors were limited by government regulation that the monopolies lobbied for in Congress.

Then as competition increased, the monopolies started responding to their customers by voluntarily adhering to Net Neutrality standards. Most of the internet providers found that they had happier customers who were more willing to pay their prices and it was easier for the provider when they did this:  metered and charged for the speed of access to the entire internet, instead of metering and charging for access site by site.

The thing that everyone seems to forget is that in this way we already had an active Voluntary Net Neutrality that included all but a few local Internet
Service Providers (ISPs). And Voluntary Net Neutrality was still working and growing, when the government started pushing hard for “Net Neutrality” Regulation of the internet.

About 95% of the population was benefiting from voluntary net neutrality. And due to ever-increasing competition and innovative technologies, coverage was increasing and prices generally decreasing. It is important to point out that the only ISPs not voluntarily complying were ones that:
– had a government granted monopoly,
– were protected from competition by government,
– and were the solitary supplier in some less densely populated areas where government forced them to expand into those areas before it was ready.

Several years ago, DSL providers learned how to solve the “distance from the CO” speed fall-off problem. They found that they could run optic fiber to distribution nodes or sub-stations closer to where people live, closing the speed gap with cable providers. Most DSLs had implemented this solution by 2014, and more have done so since.

Newer technologies have increased choices, and more are on the way. There are independent fiber ISPs springing up all over, not just Google Fiber, most are building that infrastructure without government-granted monopolies. And, new internet access technologies are in the works, like 5G wireless that is due to start rolling out in 2018. More choices equal greater competition, and that translates to lower prices, greater access, and better service.

These are the most important things to remember

– Net Neutrality Regulation has only existed about 3 years and “it worked” because by the time they implemented it, it was largely unnecessary.
– Before the government decided to use the Net Neutrality issue to begin their Regulation of the internet, there was already in place a Voluntary Net
Neutrality that was working and growing without the use of force.
– The very few ISPs who were bad actors all had government granted monopolies that protected them from competition and the consequences of their poor business decisions. In other words, Government caused the problems they wanted to fix with Net Neutrality Regulation.
– Regulation always grows and causes more problems than it fixes. Freedom works as long as government does not restrict or squelch competition, and a free market always ends up punishing bad actors without punishing everyone else.
– The very nature of government is to seek ever more power and control. And one of the ways it does that is to endeavor to regulate everything. We must resist that evil impulse of government or we will not deserve the liberty we have left.

Conclusion:

It seems to me that those who support keeping these government regulations, are getting lost in a government-created smoke-screen, and are locked into a belief that only the government can solve the problems it creates. The arguments they make assume the benevolence of Crony Politicians and busy-body Regulators that simply is not in evidence, and never has been.

I do not assume the benevolence of actors like Comcast and AT&T, nor of any government actors. I simply want to communicate this foundational truth:

You cannot get more freedom or enjoy more of the benefits of Liberty by Increasing the size and intrusiveness of government. You ALWAYS get more Control than you wanted, and it ALWAYS leads to additional government-caused problems in the future.

The only options with the internet are:  to continue to resist government control of the internet, OR to advocate for a slippery slide into ever-increasing government regulation that could easily lead to nationalization, or China-like control of the internet within the US.

As for me, if there are still problems left unsolved in a free and voluntary system of Net Neutrality, I will gladly choose those problems, over the multitude of problems caused by a meddlesome and often arbitrary system of government controls.

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