The Conservative Case for Net Neutrality

I am completely baffled at the conservatives here in America’s ability to get the Net Neutrality debate ass backwards.  Every statement from both conservative and libertarian sources gets it completely wrong.

Without Net Neutrality, government sanctioned monopolies will have the right to levy their own taxes on successful private businesses.

That is the TRUTH, that is why many Conservatives are supporting Net Neutrality.

I have posted this question to any politicians who are opposed to net neutrality: “So you are in favor of government sanctioned monopolies levying new taxes on successful businesses?”  I have yet to hear back from any of them.

The anti-net neutral argument made in practically every article I posted is that “Netflix takes up 33% of the internet bandwidth, so it is only fair that they pay ISPs to help support their traffic.”

Any good Conservative should see the fallacy of that argument, and every tech savvy person should also. So what if Netflix uses 33% of the bandwidth? They are providing a service people like and are willing to pay for as an added feature of their internet service.  Not only that, they are spending millions to make it easier for ISPs to handle their traffic by reducing the load on long distance lines, but that has not stopped ISPs demand for additional fees.

If ISPs levy additional fees on Netflix, then Netflix will just pass it on down to the consumer, and that is why it is a consumer issue.

Is that not the same argument raised by every anti-tax conservative against raising taxes on businesses?

And what about the 30 or so other streaming services that show up on my Apple TV? If Netflix is forced out by exorbitant fees, then that 33% bandwidth will just be divided up by other services, and then will ISPs go after them for fees too, even though they use significantly lower bandwidth?

What percentage of bandwidth is too much? At what level is charging them fair?

Then there is the future. That 33% is destined to fall even if Netflix continues to grow. By 2020 Netflix may only represent 10% of the bandwidth. Should ISPs continue to charge a premium? What about the hundred or so Netflix like services that haven’t even started up yet but will eventually? Can they compete if they have to pay fees to all the ISPs like Netflix? So much for competition in the market place.

Eventually the internet will grow so big that it will be able to easily support hundreds of Netflixes, and then the “Netflix is too big” argument will go out the window, and yet like all good taxes, the high bandwidth fees will continue to levied costing consumers and internet based corporations billions which could have been paid to salaried employees.

For the future of the internet, and I have been working in the internet field for 20 years so I know what I am talking about, there are ONLY two options:

1. Get rid of the government sanctioned monopolies and force ISPs to open their lines to competitors.
2. Get rid of their right to levy their own taxes on internet based companies, aka make them title II utilities like telephone and electric companies.

1. is not going to happen any time soon, but 2 could happen tomorrow if the FCC decides to.

What about fears of government regulation of the internet? That is a completely separate issue apart from Net Neutrality, it is just as likely to happen if ISPs become utilities or not. It is a completely separate battle, and yet the GOP backed by ISP money is using the confusion to claim they are the same battle, which is why there is so much misinformation on the right.

Why can’t we just leave ISP’s alone at their word that they won’t violate Net Neutrality? Because they already have. Twice. And they did it by purposely slowing down traffic. Net Neutrality will regulate these kinds of actions.  Without net neutrality guarantees, ISPs could slow or completely block internet sites they don’t like, or ask consumers to pay for access to their favorite sites.  This has not happened, but it is perfectly legal for them to do so.  This is why Net Neutrality is also important to free speech.

ISP’s say Title II would lower their incentive to improve the internet, AT&T says they will not expand gigabit services until the issue has been decided. Is this true? AT&T would not stop expanding if the gigabit service was selling well in Austin, but it seems most consumers are happy with the service they got. I’m guessing AT&T has already decided to slow down expansion for fiscal reasons, but decided to make a political issue out of it.

The truth is their political issue seems to have backfired.  It only points out how the lack of competition is harming the availability of really fast internet in the US. It is why US is in 27th place in internet speed.

The conservative position should be: We need competition so we don’t need to implement Net Neutrality rules.  But, the GOP politicians don’t seem to even mention that option. Until we get real competition, Net Neutrality is our best bet as consumers to insure free speech and consumer protection.

13 thoughts on “The Conservative Case for Net Neutrality

  1. Bart R. November 14, 2014 / 9:24 pm

    I’m very much agreeing with all of it. Except for two things:

    1. I’m not baffled. And yes: Conservatives are going to likely get all mad at me for saying this. But, it should be said that many conservatives… And not all necessarily, of course. I’m thankful many are actually supporting net neutrality. But, many others are just that hard-headed because they just want old ways: Even if their way of going about it doesn’t work anymore in a modern society. Old ways can still work. But there are better ways of doing it than being hard-headed like the guy in the picture climbing up the power lines with a bush clipper.

    2. I think it is possible for option 1 to work, for a very simple reason. If ISPs continue to place unnecessary rules on companies… And if they become too much for even the companies to bear… Then companies will fight back long and hard to oppose them. How is it possible to have this happen soon, you may ask? Petitions, public campaigns by hardworking consumers, and spreading word that companies not for net neutrality will not be a good incentive to buy stuff from them. There. Maybe it wouldn’t be effective very soon. But, it would be a good help towards that very same cause.

    • arianeb November 14, 2014 / 11:32 pm

      So, some conservatives do not want to help the internet, because they would rather that it go away?

      That actually makes a hell of a lot of sense.

      • Bart R. November 14, 2014 / 11:47 pm

        Glad I could help.

        And yes: This isn’t the first time I posted a strong opinion on one of your posts. I hope though that I haven’t come across as too strong to anyone…in any of those cases. I know with politics, that’s like asking for the world to stop spinning. But, I never intend to. And I haven’t gotten a chance to state this before. So, there you go.

      • arianeb November 15, 2014 / 12:49 am

        I very rarely post a political post, but when I do, all views are welcome, as long as they don’t contain spam, racism, sexism, or hate in other ways.

      • Bart R. November 15, 2014 / 1:33 am

        Thank you. I do respect that. But, it’s good to know that I have done so in the past as well. And in case you couldn’t tell already…I’m kind of a long-time follower of your blog.

  2. Ashley Redman November 15, 2014 / 3:44 pm

    may who ever thought this lil bs scheme up and every one that agree’s to it die a thousand slow deaths ^_-
    i already pay to dam much for my net and my isp given control over its taxes
    i will be going back to only affording dial up

  3. nazim10 November 19, 2014 / 11:00 am

    I saw an episode of “Last week tonight with John Oliver”, in which he talked about Net neutrality. It was hilarious, yet, very informative. For those who want to see it, it’s available in his youtube channel

  4. 321 November 22, 2014 / 11:14 pm

    Sadly, I’m about to blow your mind. Because I’m a conservative, and I agree with you – the fact that Netflix (just to use your example) takes up 33% of the bandwidth does not mean ISP’s should charge them more. The consequences of doing so would be simply the tax being passed on to the consumer, as ALL corporate taxes end up being passed onto the consumer. It’s how the free market system works – you charge a company more in taxes, they pass their increased tax burden on down as higher costs to the consumer. You charge the company less in taxes, and they then pass their reduced costs down to the consumer in an attempt to out-compete their competitors and drive them out of business. This is Economics 101, and failing to understand this only means you don’t understand how the free market system works.

    The bottom line is that while it’s easy to say “Conservatives are against net neutrality and as such are EVIL!”, it’s just not true. Yes, some conservatives think the way you say they do. However, not all. Many, like me, disagree.

  5. Marc Timon November 25, 2014 / 12:11 pm

    “as ALL corporate taxes end up being passed onto the consumer”

    Never ceases to amaze me, the amount of (intelligent) people who can’t (or won’t) grasp this concept. If Netflix uses 33% of bandwidth, there is a reason for it. Delivery systems (ISPs) should use Netflix’s popularity as an advertising tool to increase subscriptions. Subscriptions are how they should be profiting.

    This is just like the entertainment industry. Three components: 1) Providers (cable channels), 2) Delivery systems (Sat & cable companies), & 3) Consumers.

    Consumers PAY for everything – Retail products (Cost of products increased by advertising budget [Providers revenue stream]) and Subscriptions (Delivery systems revenue stream).

    If I’m pay for both ends, WHY is there such a thing as “carriage” fees? It is to everyones benefit for ALL channels (advertising audience) to be on ALL delivery systems (audience traffic).

    When GREED does the thinking, common sense takes a back seat.

    OT BTW Ariane, thanks for all you do. Games are great, but forcing us to think (via your blog) is also beneficial.

    Marc

  6. Paul November 27, 2014 / 10:27 am

    It is a fact that the people pay for everything. All the taxes we pay should give us everything we need, but governments don’t use the money from the taxes in benefit of the population. In England and in Brazil, the public health system pays for everything, including complex heart surgery. But the system could be much better if the governments did not use part of the money of the health system on other things, including corruption. In the USA, for what I read, big corporations control almost everything , even a huge amount of politicians , therefore the cost of everything is controlled by these corporations. This also happens in almost every country in the world . We have to work a lot, getting less than we deserve, and pay much more than we should for things that we need, just because these big corporations put the profit above everything .

  7. sr December 30, 2014 / 7:13 am

    First, you have convoluted taxes — which are forcibly imposed by government under threat of death or imprisonment — with a marketplace imposing prices on scarce resources involved in voluntary transactions.

    Prices are not taxes. They are two different things.

    Second, I disagree with your notion (based on no evidence other than wishful thinking) that turning ISPs into government-regulated utilities would have no implications for government regulation of the Internet as an whole.

    I believe you WILL see strict regulations on speech and conduct be proposed and imposed, and under a NN regime it will be done directly through the regulators rather than through a messy legislative process.

    • arianeb December 31, 2014 / 9:10 pm

      “Second, I disagree with your notion (based on no evidence other than wishful thinking) that turning ISPs into government-regulated utilities would have no implications for government regulation of the Internet as an whole.”

      And your assertion is based on no historical evidence, just fear mongering (which I am really really sick of). Has phone regulators ever restricted phone conversations? Has electric or gas regulators ever restricted its use? There is no evidence that utility regulation would restrict content, except to protect the infrastructure.

      The restrictions you fear are far more likely to come from legislation than utility regulation. We have already seen the precedents set SOPA and CISPA, both of which would have passed had the internet not made a big stink about them. Congress keeps trying to enact these rules, and one day they may even succeed, and it will happen irregardless of the state of net neutrality.

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