Tag: net neutrality bad

The Free Market: Everybody Wants It, Everybody Hates It

By FritzCast | United States

Over the course of the past two weeks (and if we want to get technical, even longer than that), two major subjects have taken the national spotlight, both of which are heavily involved in the marketplace.

One was a Supreme Court Decision in a case of one man and his bakery refusing to bake a cake for a same-sex couple for their wedding; the other was regarding the end of Net Neutrality regulations of the President Obama era.

It was odd, to me, that both subjects take on such heated, passionate debate. Many were upset over the Supreme Court’s narrow 7-2 decision in favor of Masterpiece Cakeshop; some will even argue that the court essentially voted that it is ok to discriminate against the LGBTQIA community, but there are ways I humbly disagree with such a sentiment.

First, and foremost, it should be noted that this case, in particular, went to the Supreme Court in a battle against not the same-sex couple, but the Colorado Civil Rights Commission. Masterpiece Cakeshop owner Jack Phillips felt as though that Commission was inappropriately hostile toward him, his first amendment freedom of expression and his freedom of religious practice; including statements from a representative of the commission who stated that freedom of religion was often used as a basis for discrimination and also directly stated “it is one of the most despicable pieces of rhetoric that people can use” (See this good Op-Ed considering Justice Kennedy on the matter).

Regardless of the statements and the situation as a whole, I always wondered what was wrong with the free market approach to the problem. In this case, let me present my argument:

I do not believe Jack Phillips or Masterpiece Cakeshop discriminated against a same-sex couple solely on the basis of them being a same-sex couple; on the contrary, as I argued in my latest FritzCast Podcast episode “Survey Says,” that the same-sex couple could probably frequent the cake shop on a regular basis buying deserts all the time, like delicious blueberry muffins, for example. Masterpiece Cakeshop only refused the service when the same-sex couple requested a cake for a same-sex marriage ceremony (meaning that if a straight person had wanted to come in and solicit Masterpiece Cakeshop to bake a cake for a same-sex marriage ceremony, they too would have been declined).

That being said, that does not mean I agree with Mr. Phillips reasoning, nor would I be willing to support his business with my dollars. I merely mean to say I would not, at Government Gunpoint more or less, make him bake a cake for a ceremony that he did not wish to participate in. I imagine the same-sex couple, even if they had frequented Mr. Phillips shop and bought delicious desserts every day, probably would wish to no longer support him either (there is, however, a distinct possibility that same-sex couple may just love the blueberry muffins so much, they keep going for them). Mr. Phillips then faces the market force, and if you want a highlight of that, just Google Masterpiece Cakeshop…their overall rating has plummeted from consumer response, some of which are strictly reviews from people who have never even been to the shop and experienced the product. And that is fine.

I would probably feel differently, for example, if Mr. Phillips refused to serve any LGBTQIA people solely on the basis that they are LGBTQIA people, however the same concept applies: A private establishment can make a set of rules it states it will follow, and the market force, in turn, can respond to whether or not they support that establishment. I once heard Austin Petersen, former Libertarian Presidential Candidate and current Missouri Senate Candidate, say in the Libertarian Debate “let the bigots out themselves. Who wants to buy a cake from someone who hates them?”

Now, for Net Neutrality, first we must look at the fact that the subject itself is not a simplistic topic. Net Neutrality, though first initially spoken of and declared in 2005, is heavily an Obama-Era regulation of the internet (our most prized commodity), which generally seemed to argue that there needs to be some amount of Government Regulation to ensure the Internet remains open, and that all data be treated the same so that a service provider (such as Comcast, or Verizon) couldn’t block, filter, or “throttle” internet speeds and services.

On the surface, the intentions seem vital and noble, and arguably they are. We all love the internet, most all of us even have mobile devices that remain linked to the World Wide Web. Is access really that equal though? Geographically speaking, some of us are stuck with a sole provider, one-speed options, while others may have multiple companies they could solicit. Back when I lived in my Apartment circa 2012, I had Verizon FiOS, a nice bundled package with really fast upload/download speed on a fiber optic network.

The neighborhood where I bought my house? Verizon isn’t there. No, there is only one internet provider outside of satellite service from DISH, and that is Comcast. Even the higher data plan that I have purchased doesn’t really scratch at what I used to have with Verizon, and the price definitely is skewed, paying a lot more for less than I had with Verizon.

By free market standards, as there is no legitimate other option, the only thing I can do (and often do), is solicit Verizon and those in my neighborhood to make the endeavor worthwhile for Verizon to speed up their process, set up the hardware in my neighborhood and buy services from them.

We can take it a step further, however. Let us say Verizon was in my neighborhood, and they could directly compete with Comcast. Maybe Verizon packages a “streamers internet deal” for people who stream video games, use Netflix and Hulu, and that was some bundle thrown together for $30/mo. So they broke down some of the internet services…maybe that is all I want? Maybe they have an “all-inclusive” package that encompasses every last bit of internet access. Is it THAT horrible an idea?

I’m not suggesting it is the best idea, but I am suggesting that the free market and competition can often bring desired results, and the consumer in both of these cases yield a lot more power than the masses seem willing to admit. In the 21st century, it isn’t the consumer that buckles to “big business,” it’s big business that has to justify to the consumer why its the best product or best provider.

That is the free market: it’s a lot less of a gamble than you think it is.

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Rejoice, Because Net Neutrality is Gone!

By Ashton Barwick | USA

It’s official; on Thursday, December 13th, the FCC finally repealed net neutrality.

The internet has been set ablaze by hysteria over net neutrality. One question that everyone has asked is: What will become of the internet once it’s gone? The internet has always been a beacon of liberty because of its ability to advance faster than the government can legislate. However, in February of 2015, the Federal Communications Commision passed net neutrality in response to Comcast throttling access to illegal websites. Comcast, one of the largest internet service providers, is protected by a myriad of regulations designed to protect them from competition. The market is in a constant state of competition between suppliers. Businesses have to face two types of competition: potential and actual. Potential competition is just as threatening as actual competition because it forces the producer to keep prices low and quality high. Competition filters out the inept and the malicious.

How did the market for internet service become so volatile?

Internet service providers usually do a perfunctory job of ensuring quality internet access, but who’s to blame? Capitalism is often the scapegoat for most because it is easier than combing through pages of regulation. A government can completely destroy a market, and people will still blame capitalism and beg for even more regulation. This phenomenon is exactly why internet service leaves much to be desired. Local governments require ISPs to pay exorbitant costs and navigate through oceans of red tape. They also have to enter contracts with public utilities so they can rent space for wire connections to publicly owned electricity poles. This results in one ISP being granted monopoly privilege over a certain jurisdiction. Consequently, the supply curve shifts left, but government prevents potential suppliers from taking advantage of the augmented supply curve.

Despite all of the corporatism, there’s a light at the end of the tunnel.

Trump has recently reignited the debate over whether online transactions should be taxed beyond their current levels. Currently, only sales taxes can be collected on transactions on the state level. However, in 2014, Congress passed the Permanent Internet Tax Freedom Act (H. R. 3086; 113th Congress) which bans state and local taxation of internet access. This was a big win for free speech because the government now cannot legally impede your access to the internet. The internet has been in the sights of the government since its inception. In a Firing Line debate, with William F. Buckley, they debated whether sales on the internet should subject to taxation by the Federal government. Christopher Hitchens spoke in favor of the legislation citing that it would equalize the playing field. The only problem is: you could use that line of reasoning to justify just about any tax increases. William F. Buckley and his team brought up many great points, but one did stand out. Many businesses that pay taxes also sell things over the internet so the many businesses would be demolished because they would be taxed twice. Businesses rely on the internet to make a profit because it is one of the few tax havens left. Amazingly, the internet has survived relatively unscathed, and it will continue to be the backbone of American commerce for the foreseeable future.

Szoka, Berin. “Don’t Blame Big Cable. It’s Local Governments That Choke Broadband Competition” Wired. July 2013.

Hillebrand, Mary. “Buckley Bows Out With Internet Tax Debate” Ecommerce Times. December 1999.

Selyukh, Alina. “FCC Repeals ‘Net Neutrality’ Rules For Internet Providers” NPR. December 2017.

Jagoda, Naomi. “Trump reopens fight on internet sales tax” The Hill. July 2017.

Net Neutrality Officially Repealed

By Owen Heimsoth | USA

On Thursday afternoon, the Federal Communications Commission officially repealed net neutrality. It was a 3-2 party line vote in favor of a repeal.

Net Neutrality was instated in 2015 during President Barack Obama’s tenure. It’s repeal comes under heavy criticism from many internet users.

Net Neutrality was intended to give equal rights to all websites when it comes to speed and also to prevent ISPs from raising prices on the use of certain websites.

To watch a video of the repeal, click here.

The Problem With Net Neutrality – Jonny Watt

By Jonny Watt | USA

Net Neutrality is a set of government regulations which force ISP’s (Internet Service Providers) to treat all types of data packets on the internet the same. Recently the Trump administration, specifically Ajit Pai of the FCC, made plans to repeal Net Neutrality, pushing the issue of “internet freedom” into the front lines of political conversation. Even conservatives and libertarians, staunch believers in the unhampered free market, seem pretty divided on the issue of Net Neutrality, some believing that granting extra power to ISP’s will cause monopolies, which in turn will raise consumer prices. If we look at the technical ramifications of Net Neutrality, as well as economic analysis, we know this to be a falsehood.

Prior to the Obama administration’s decision to introduce Net Neutrality by means of classifying data broadband as a Title II communication service, ISP’s used a technique known as QoS (Quality of Service.) QoS is the technique of throttling speeds to certain data types and websites in order to provide more bandwidth to other types of data. While this sounds maybe like a bad thing on the surface, this was actually greatly beneficial, especially to those living in rural areas with poor internet speeds. All data types will try to use as much bandwidth as possible, but some data types, like voice calls or skype, genuinely need the higher bandwidth in order to work properly, hence the importance of QoS.

Prior to Net Neutrality,  ISP’s were able to provide a better internet experience to those in rural areas. After Net Neutrality, companies either had to lose customers in rural areas (thus causing profit loss,) or upgrade their systems, providing more bandwidth to match the effect QoS had (still causing a profit loss.) While the bigger ISP’s could take this regulatory hit, it had a greater effect on smaller businesses, especially those who relied on QoS. Currently, due to the regulatory costs surrounding internet, it is much harder for newer companies and businesses to compete with the massive ISP titans, (At&t, Comcast, etc,) which makes them less subject to the laws of supply and demand, thus letting them charge more for their services with little blowback.

This is why all of these large companies support and lobby for Net Neutrality. Government regulation raises production costs, thus creating a disincentive for new businesses to join the internet market. This causes a dangerous lack of competition. Eliminating Net Neutrality would lower production costs, thus lowering consumer costs, and would let smaller companies get a footing in the internet market by using QoS, forcing large ISP’s to lower their prices to remain competitive.

Another major misconception I see surrounding Net Neutrality, typically from members of the progressive left and the ideologically-inconsistent free-market enthusiasts of the right,  is the belief that the internet is an inalienable right. Plainly put, the internet, like healthcare, transportation, etc, is a service, and the ISPs are under no constitutional or moral obligations to offer these services.

The only reason they are supplying these services is a business obligation. As a consumer, we are simply buying a service that ISPs are selling, and Net Neutrality just limits the market for transactions we can make. In order to be an ideologically-consistent free market capitalist, you have to be against Net Neutrality and recognize the havoc it causes for the internet market.  

In conclusion, while Net Neutrality may seem like a good idea on the surface, the detrimental technological and economic ramifications of this regulation are too severe to be overlooked. With the abolition of Net Neutrality, consumers and small businesses alike would benefit greatly, and there would be a genuine free market, letting competition thrive. Net Neutrality is a government invasion of freedom and competition pushed by crony capitalism and misinformation.

Net Neutrality Can Leave

By Emily Merrell | USA

Net Neutrality is currently one of the most talked about topics on the internet, it affects both internet users and ISPs. Many people are pro-Net Neutrality due to the internet’s largest websites’ and people’s influential opinions, but these opinions are lacking.

Net Neutrality is not a policy or legislation, it is a set of regulations granted by the FCC by Obama’s administration allowing communication legislation to regulate the internet for the public interest. These regulations prohibit Internet Service Providers from being able to change network speeds. These regulations empower the bigger ISP companies for profit while giving smaller ISPs no ability to compete.

The first major issue with Net Neutrality is the fact that it gives the FCC power. The FCC is a communication department, originally created to help the government for unhindered signals and radio piracy. This was used in the 30’s when rogue broadcasters created signals to disrupt bigger stations. It was also used in the era of analog TV’s to keep the peace for TV channels. The internet is way bigger than these things as it has no limit and constant growth. FCC control of the internet is out of date.

The most common fears of Net Neutrality stem from the idea that corporations will throttle speed, provide fast lanes for specific sites, and the placement of limits for specific sites. However, what people do not understand about this is the fact that this might be beneficial and the extent to how this would be implemented. The companies that control our internet speed understand the unpopularity of modifying internet speeds for specific sites and will most likely do this in small amounts if any at all. Second of all, these companies will have specific websites with the desire for higher speeds, even at very limited differences. Speed differences can even help websites that are packed with visitors by preventing them from crashing. However, it will be very expensive to make changes to internet speeds making it unrealistic that any major changes will be occurring. These ideas are all hypothetical, though.

Since the free market has been prohibited from experimenting with internet speed, pricing, and making certain deals with websites, it is unknown how many of these changes will affect us and the internet we know today. What we do know is that the free market will not try to overpower us. ISPs will cater to consumers and see how the people react to any changes. If your internet service provider makes any changes that you don’t like, then there is definitely another one that doesn’t make these changes that you can switch over to.

We may even have a reason to be excited about these regulations being repealed. Netflix draws millions of users daily. Netflix may make a deal with Comcast to increase their internet speed. Consumers that use Netflix frequently may want to switch over to Comcast. Comcast will be receiving payment from Netflix, causing Comcast to be less dependent on billing their consumers. Netflix will likely need less research and development for higher internet speeds if Comcast is helping them produce faster speeds. This will be the same for other websites.

The market is the most beneficial place for consumers. Supply and demand rarely fail and companies will see how their customers react to changes. The defense of Net Neutrality has good intent: keeping the internet “neutral” for internet speed. However, they do not realize the danger of having government control over the internet. The more regulations over certain things, the more we are being controlled by the government. Experimenting with internet speeds may be beneficial to us as we want to visit our most frequently used websites faster. Businesses will directly receive feedback from customers, data is gathered from advertisement, and connections are created from choices and knowledge of information. All in all, we must realize that Net Neutrality restricts freedom on the internet, is protectionist, and is very costly. Net Neutrality is certainly not neutral in any shape or form.