UofO Professor Upset over Autzen Stadium ‘O’

Read my full discussion of this at Appeal to Heaven.

This just in from KMTR

EUGENE, Ore. (AP) – A University of Oregon professor says the huge yellow “O” on Autzen Stadium is an eyesore for her neighborhood.

McKay Sohlberg’s complaints have led to a May 13 hearing over whether the university has the proper permission to put the “O” on the south side of the football stadium.

Originally, the 816-square-foot “O” was hung by the athletic department for a national television pre-game show. But it stayed after the TV crews had gone.

Sohlberg says the city should have applied for a permit or an exception before the “O” went up.

The Eugene planning director ruled the sign was an exception to the code in March. But Sohlberg appealed to a hearings officer, the next step.

I’m no lawyer, but I’m pretty sure that McKay Sohlberg doesn’t own the Autzen Stadium property. When she bought her home in the neighborhood, did she buy a guarantee that Autzen Stadium wouldn’t put up something she thought looked bad?

No. No she didn’t. She bought the property AND the risk that the Stadium might put up a giant O.

Would she appreciate it if the owners of Autzen Stadium appealed something that she was doing with her property? No.

If she has a problem with it, maybe should should consider buying the property from Autzen Stadium – rather than trying to get government to force Autzen to do whatever she wants with their property.

Favorite Email of the Day

Just wanted to give you a heads up that the prize you received from XXXX XXXX in January will be taxed on the upcoming paycheck dated 2/20.

Feel free to come by if you have any questions.

Of course it will.

Socialized Healthcare and ‘Tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims’

Boy is this audio appropriate today:
Part 1:

Part 2:

Whatever you thought of Reagan, there was one thing true about him – he understood the fundamental epic failing of socialist philosophy applied to government. Socialism comes in the form of friendly ideas with the best intentions. It ends in Tyranny.

C. S. Lewis put it this way:

“Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron’s cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience.”

Contrast all of the above with President Obama the other day:

audio ht: Levin

A Decent Video Overview of American Government

Not perfect, but good. Definitely worth viewing:

The 2012 Pelosi GTxi SS/RT Sport Edition

Whatever your position on the American auto-maker’s bailout – this parody nails the central problem with government getting involved in major private industry:

Satire by Iowahawk.

I don’t pretend to know the ‘right decision’ in this mess, since it’s likely that any decision will end up screwing hard working Detroit families. However, the long-term ramifications of installing a governmental ‘Car Czar,’ as many are suggesting – should not be underestimated.

masterEmporer

Personally, if it were my business, I would be extremely wary of accepting government money. Strings have a way of…appearing….down the road…

Great Moments in Climate Science: Government sees increasing hurricane strength – despite data

By government – I mean President-Elect Obama, but it is more important to remember that when people are warning about global catastrophes – despite the evidence, the end concern is always – what will government force you to do about it. Here’s the Obama quote:

“Few challenges facing America — and the world – are more urgent than combating climate change,” he says in the video. “The science is beyond dispute and the facts are clear. Sea levels are rising. Coastlines are shrinking. We’ve seen record drought, spreading famine, and storms that are growing stronger with each passing hurricane season. Climate change and our dependence on foreign oil, if left unaddressed, will continue to weaken our economy and threaten our national security.”

And here’s an actual graph of cyclone strength metrics:
cyclonestrengthgraph

Firstly – only someone who does not understand the methodology and process of science would say something foolish like, “The science is beyond dispute.” Science cannot be “closed” as I have written before. (You can read a bit more about this concept here.) Whenever anyone tells you “the science is closed,” especially concerning something vastly complex like global climate change, you should be skeptical.

Second – If you look at the graph on cyclone strength – the idea that, “storms … are growing stronger with each passing hurricane season,” is false. Cyclone strength has, in fact, risen – then fallen dramatically over the past decade or two. In the last five years – in particular, we have seen a dramatic drop-off in cyclone strength.

But then again -as far as public policy goes – since when did actual data matter, especially since we have such a great thing going with this whole Global Warming frenzy? People are already totally convinced that it will bring about our impending doom, and since it’s a “global problem” who else are they going to turn to to “fix it?”

Hint: Starts with “gov,” ends with “ment.”

Closing thought: If global warming is such an existential threat to mankind that we must immediately take major government action – why hasn’t President-Elect Obama, or Al Gore, or anyone for that matter – set up a single day of hearings to consider arguments from credible scientists on both sides of this issue?

The answer is simple: Because they fear having their belief challenged. And the only people who are afraid to have their beliefs challenged, are those who either know their belief to be false, or don’t know enough to know their belief is true (and how to defend it).

ht [CS]

John Stossel – The Road to Serfdom

Great column this week. Read it on Townhall, or below:

It’s exciting that the world is so excited about Barack Obama. I’m excited, too. That he achieved the presidency says something good about America.

But the excitement also frightens me. It reinforces the worst impulse of the media and political class: the assumption that all progress comes from Washington. In a free society, with constitutionally limited government, the president would be a mere executive who sees to it that predictable and understandable laws are enforced. But sadly, the prestige and power of the presidency have grown, and liberty has contracted. That is not something to celebrate.

The infatuated chattering classes now demand “action” on the economy. They use positive words like “bold steps.” The insufferable New York Times suggests the choice is “between a big-bang strategy of pressing aggressively on multiple fronts versus a more pragmatic, step-by-step approach …. ” There is endless talk about how FDR ended the Great Depression and how Obama will apply similar “stimulus.”

Please. FDR’s “bold” moves didn’t end the Depression. They prolonged it by discouraging capital investment. Hoover and Roosevelt turned what might have been a brief downturn into 10 years of double-digit unemployment.

Now Obama says, “we don’t have a moment to lose,” and he and the Democrats insist that government must unionize most of America by passing “card check” and taxpayers must throw even more money at American automakers.

This is the conceit of what Thomas Sowell calls “the anointed” (http://tinyurl.com/6me8d4). The politicians know best how our money should be spent. The “road to serfdom” is paved with such good intentions.

Obama promises:

We will change the world … There is nothing we can’t do, nothing we can’t accomplish if we are unified.”

Who is this “we” politicians always cite?

We can change the world for the better if “we” means hundreds of millions of free people pursuing their interests, inventing, building, parenting, helping.

But the politicians’ “we” is different. It means government. “We” will take your money by force and order you about. A democracy can become the tyranny of the majority. That’s no way to create prosperity.

Obama is an extraordinarily talented man. But there is one thing he can’t successfully do: ignore the laws of economics. No one can do that. That’s why we call them “laws.”

Ludwig von Mises wrote that once the science of economics emerged in the late Eighteenth Century, people began to realize “there is something operative which power and force are unable to alter and to which they must adjust themselves if they hope to achieve success, in precisely the same way as they must take into account the laws of nature. This realization … led to the program and policies of [classical] liberalism and thus unleashed human powers that, under capitalism, have transformed the world.”

The resulting abundance, which so many people take for granted without understanding its source, allows them to believe that a new president can “stimulate” us out of recession.

But we cannot raise wages or create jobs or eliminate poverty by executive order. We can do so by freeing people to save and invest and accumulate capital. We can’t make medical care universal and inexpensive by legislative fiat. But we can approach that goal by permitting a free market in medicine to work.

Government is force, not eloquence. And force is an attempt to defy economic logic. The consequences are often opposite of those intended. “A subsidy for medical insurance increases the demand for services and raises prices. A price ceiling makes those services less available. A floor under wages makes jobs for unskilled workers more scarce, as employers find it a losing proposition to hire them. A subsidy to production means too much produced relative to something else consumers want. A trade restriction lowers living standards at home and abroad,” writes Sheldon Richman on the Foundation for Economic Education website.

What will happen when the unintended consequences hit? F.A. Hayek warned that a government serious about enacting its economic plan must be prepared to use heavy-handed measures. Is that what we want?

I fear that today’s “forceful actions” will not only be a painful assault on our freedom, they will exacerbate whatever economic troubles we face.

Declaration of Dependence: Ask not what your country can do for you, demand it.” by Mark Steyn

Excerpts from his Column in the OC Register:

Across the electric wires, the hum is ceaseless: Give it up, loser. Don’t go down with the ship when it’s swept away by the Obama tsunami. According to newspaper reports, polls show that most people believe newspaper reports claiming that most people believe polls showing that most people have read newspaper reports agreeing that polls show he’s going to win.

In the words of Publishers’ Clearing House, he may already have won! The battleground states have all turned blue, the reddest of red states are rapidly purpling. Don’t you know, little fool? You never can win. Use your mentality, wake up to reality. Why be the last right-wing pundit to sign up with Small-Government Conservatives For The Liberal Supermajority? We still need pages for the coronation, and there’s a pair of velvet knickerbockers with your name on it.

Yes, technically, this is still a two-party state, but one of the parties is like Elton John’s post-Oscar bash and the other is a church social in Wasilla. As David Sedaris put it in The New Yorker:

“I think of being on an airplane. The flight attendant comes down the aisle with her food cart and, eventually, parks it beside my seat. ‘Can I interest you in the chicken?’ she asks. ‘Or would you prefer the platter of s–t with bits of broken glass in it?’

“To be undecided in this election is to pause for a moment and then ask how the chicken is cooked.”

Well, to be honest, I’ve never much cared for chicken.

McCain vs. Obama is not the choice many of us would have liked in an ideal world. But then it’s not an “ideal world,” and the belief that it can be made so is one of the things that separates those who think Obama will “heal the planet” and those of us who support McCainfaute de mieux. I agree with Thomas Sowell that an Obama-Pelosi supermajority will mark what he calls “a point of no return.”

It would not be, as some naysayers scoff, “Jimmy Carter’s second term,” but something far more transformative. The new president would front the fourth great wave of liberal annexation – the first being FDR’s New Deal, the second LBJ’s Great Society, and the third the incremental but remorseless cultural advance when Reagan conservatives began winning victories at the ballot box and liberals turned their attention to the other levers of the society, from grade school up. The terrorist educator William Ayers, Obama’s patron in Chicago, is an exemplar of that most-recent model: 40 years ago, he was in favor of blowing up public buildings; then he figured out it was easier to get inside and undermine them from within.

All three liberal waves have transformed American expectations of the state. The spirit of the age is: Ask not what your country can do for you, demand it. Why can’t the government sort out my health care? Why can’t they pick up my mortgage?

In his first inaugural address, Calvin Coolidge said: “I favor the policy of economy, not because I wish to save money, but because I wish to save people.” That’s true in a more profound sense than he could have foreseen. In Europe, lavish social-democratic government has transformed citizens into eternal wards of the Nanny State: the bureaucracy’s assumption of every adult responsibility has severed Continentals from the most basic survival impulse, to the point where unaffordable entitlements on shriveled birth rates have put a question mark over some of the oldest nation states on Earth. A vote for an Obama-Pelosi-Barney Frank-ACORN supermajority is a vote for a Europeanized domestic policy that is, as the eco-types like to say, “unsustainable.”

[...]

“People of the world,” Sen. Obama declared sonorously at his self-worship service in Germany, “look at Berlin, where a wall came down, a continent came together, and history proved that there is no challenge too great for a world that stands as one.”

No, sorry. History proved no such thing. In the Cold War, the world did not stand as one. One half of Europe was a prison, and in the other half far too many people – the Barack Obamas of the day – were happy to go along with that division in perpetuity.

And the wall came down not because “the world stood as one,” but because a few courageous people stood against the conventional wisdom of the day. Had Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan been like Helmut Schmidt and Francois Mitterrand and Pierre Trudeau and Jimmy Carter, the Soviet empire (notwithstanding its own incompetence) would have survived, and the wall would still be standing. Sen. Obama’s feeble passivity will get you a big round of applause precisely because it’s the easy option: Do nothing but hold hands and sing the easy-listening anthems of one-worldism, and the planet will heal.

To govern is to choose. And sometimes the choices are tough ones. When has Barack Obama chosen to take a stand? When he got along to get along with the Chicago machine? When he sat for 20 years in the pews of an ugly neo-segregationist race-baiting grievance-monger? When he voted to deny the surviving “fetuses” of botched abortions medical treatment? When in his short time in national politics he racked up the most liberal – i.e., the most doctrinaire, the most orthodox, the most reflex – voting record in the Senate? Or when, on those many occasions the questions got complex and required a choice, he dodged it and voted merely “present”?

The world rarely stands as one. You can, as Reagan and Thatcher did, stand up. Or, like Obama voting “present,” you can stand down.

[...]

Thomas Sowell is right: It would be a “point of no return,” the most explicit repudiation of the animating principles of America. For a vigilant republic of limited government and self-reliant citizens, it would be a Declaration of Dependence.

If a majority of Americans want that, we holdouts must respect their choice. But, if you don’t want it, vote accordingly.

Read the whole article

Naturally, On Net Neutrality – Government Fails: Especially Joe Biden

Wait – what the crap is this all about?

First of all – what is Net Neutrality? I think the best way to describe net neutrality to a layperson is to first establish some groundwork. (If you already understand Net Neutrality skip down to ‘Political Implications’) Here are two different concepts:

  1. A Utility Service (e.g. electricity, phone)
  2. The Service Usage (the devices using electricity – or the conversations over the phone lines)

It is vitally important to understand that the two items are not the same thing. You may be thinking – well, duh – of course they aren’t the same thing, but the foundation of arguments around Net Nuetrality rely on this understanding. Again – here’s a basic analogy:

I pay the electric company for the amount (volume) of electricity I use. I do not pay the electric company based on what I happen to use the electricity for. Whether I am simply plugging in a clock/radio – or I am playing Mario tunes with a Tesla Coil, the electric company is only charging me for the amount of electricity I use (very little with the radio, quite a bit with the Tesla Coil).

Again - Utility Provider does not equal Service Usage.

Net Neutrality is basically legislation that applies the same definitions to internet bandwidth service. I pay Comcast a certain amount to provide me with an agreed upon amount of bandwidth service. I do not pay Comcast based on what I use that amount of service for.

Yeah great…and I should give a crap because…?

You should care because many Internet Service Providers are trying to change this definition with the strong-arm of government. Essentially – they are attempting to remove ‘Net Neutrality’ and define the two concepts (service provider – usage) as one. What Service Providers want to do is to be able to, not only charge you for how much service you use – but also, to charge you for what you use that service for.

For instance, Comcast already attempts to charge you more for having multiple computers connected to your cable modem. The question is – why? Let’s say I am paying for 5 Megabits (mbs) of service (I am simplifying the technical jargon so forget about uploading/downloading speed, etc). I should have 5 Megabits of service, regardless of how many computers I hook up to it.

It’s much worse than this though because, not only do Service Providers want to control what devices you hook to your service – the also want to control what types of content you transfer over their network. What the crap is that? I am paying for 5 Megabits of service –  End of discussion. As long as I don’t exceed that amount – or do something destructive to their network (this would probably happen in my Tesla Coil project above) – how do they get to decide what I do with the service I pay for? 5mbs = 5mbs, period. They are service providers – NOT content controllers. This would be analogous to the phone company charging me based on what topics I discuss on the phone.

Again – the two concepts: Service Provider and Usage are not the same thing.

Obviously – the reason that Internet Service Providers (ISPs) want to do this is because they want to charge you differently for certain specific types of service usage

This brings up the issue of network ‘overbooking’ and ‘tiered internet’.

Let’s say Comcast provides you with 5Mbs (megabits) of service. They are banking on the fact that once in a while you are on your computer, checking ESPN, or email – or whatever. This of course only uses a tiny amount of bandwidth, given you are essentially paying for 100% constant 5Mbs of service. This is why the Comcast fine print really reads “up to 5Mbs.”  

The problem is that current internet technological advances have brought about things that use much more bandwidth at a much more consistent rate (unlike the once in a while ‘getting on email’) such as VOIP (Voice Over Internet Protocol – basically transmitting voice data over a network), streaming video services, and Bit-Torrent and file sharing (torrents work by connecting a swarm of users together to share content – thus increasing the speed of transfers since there are many sources to send and receive data from, rather than one or two). These technologies and services obviously use much more bandwidth than the occasional user getting on ‘teh Internetz’ to ‘do the computer.’

In short - internet and device technological advances have out paced the network providers (a prime example of the ultimate free market provided by the internet) who have actually over-promised users about their internet service. The simple fact is that Comcast can’t even begin to provide 5Mbs of service to all of its users. So where do the service providers turn to? The government (more on this in the next section).

Next, we have the idea of Tiered Internet:

Certain types high bandwidth network content would be appropriated to a different (more expensive) tier of service provision however the Internet Service Providers sees fit. At this point we have just breached the divide between service provider, and content – creating a sort of middleman. In a crappy way – the ISPs would be able to choose what content fits into the higher tiers and what belongs in lower ones – and charge accordingly.

Many people (including myself, who work in the online software industry) see this as a huge impediment on the free market nature of the internet – as innovative internet content providers such as YouTube, Google, Hulu, or services like Bit-Torrent could end up at the mercy of the internet service providers (two very different industries).

Obviously, there could be a serious stifling impact on advancement of online companies and technology – not to mention a detrimental regulatory effect on the internet free market, imposed by the service provider (who exist in a different market).

Political Implications

Anyone who reads this blog knows that I generally take a conservative stance and am a huge proponent of free markets and limited government. It seems like many in government, especially conservatives are touchy about what they perceive to be ‘government regulation’ of the free market. In my view – Net Neutrality does not violate these free market ideas, In fact – quite the reverse is true, and I will explain why.

In the case of Net Neutrality – opponents that use the ‘free market’ argument usually make a case along these lines: “Well, the service providers own the data lines – so they should be free to do whatever they want with them.” Normally I might agree with this – except, arguably the Internet is more of a Service/Utility than anything else. More importantly – Net Neutrality is simply a principal that defines business types, and not really some sort of governmental regulatory meddling. (Not to mention – the un-regulated internet is itself, a prime example of successful laissez-faire capitalism in a free market system.)

In fact – it is partly the governments fault, in my opinion, for fostering opposition to Net Neutrality. For instance -the legal system has foolishly attacked network service providers for ‘supporting’ illegal internet activity (usage) - such as illegal file sharing. In doing so – they are incorrectly presuming that the two concepts of Net Neutrality, are one and the same. This would be like suing the water company over someone who drowns a child in bathtub water.

What the government needs to do is fairly simple: properly define the two concepts of Net Neutrality. In doing so – it must grant service providers with immunity from legal proceedings with regard to the usage of their services. Also – it should define Internet Access as a bandwidth (or time) based service – not a content service. Note that this doesn’t require some huge new government bureaucracy - it simply demands a proper legal definition.

Finally – it bears mentioning that it is a misconception that conservatives are 100% anti any sort of government programs or regulations. Obviously – if that were the case – they would be anti-government. (Another important distinction is that corporations are not necessarily ideological -neither liberal, nor conservative- but, as in the case of Net Neutrality – are instead opportunistic). There clearly need to be some laws in place to protect competition in a free market – such as the one created by the internet. Otherwise you open up the playing field to ‘crony capitalism‘ which essentially eliminates real competition, and thus is a destructive force to the fundamentals of a free market. Essentially, without Net Neutrality, there would be blending of two different industries – one infrastructure, and one data.

But what about situations of national security?

The nature of national security situations and legislation are vastly complex, so the following are simply some of my thoughts:

The only case where the ISPs should be requested to hand over any sort of user information should be a the situation where the government has tracked communication from an identified threat to a certain location or person. Even in this case – I don’t think the ISP should be allowed to record, log, or be required to hand over any information other than location and perhaps usage amounts. Location and Usage Amounts are clearly within the jurisdiction of a service provider – so that only seems fair. Neither should the ISP be held legally responsible for the content of the users transmissions unless there is clear evidence that the ISP had anything to do with the particular users involved other than providing them with service.

In other civil cases I think there are plenty of ways that the Justice Department could track illegal activity – but this should not involve the service providers.

Essentially – the service providers should not have any business meddling with the content transmitted over their networks. I probably sound like a broken record, but I can’t repeat this enough.

So we should like Joe Biden. I mean – he’s probably pro-government right?

Not so fast.

In the midst of the torrents (no pun intended) of glistening putrescent horse excrement Hollywood, the media, and the Obama campaign have been hosing Sarah Palin with 24/7, there is one man whose record has quietly been ignored (ok fine…one man besides Senator Obama). That would be Senator Joe Biden.

What is his record with regard to Net Neutrality? To put it bluntly, it completely sucks. Consider the following less-than-sunny appraisal from Gizmodo:

Maybe you don’t care about the doings in Washington, but you may want to know that Biden considers a lot of what you do care about criminal activity. Here’s what I’m talking about:

• He asked Congress to spend $1 billion to monitor peer-to-peer activity. (In fairness, much of this is to prevent child pornography, but the tactic is apparently a little blunt.)

• Two Biden bills have been explicitly anti-encryption, because you know, encryption makes it hard for the FBI to read people’s e-mails.

• He has expressed support for internet taxes and internet filtering in schools and libraries.

• The RIAA seems to be one of his best buddies: Biden sponsored a bill that would restrict recording of songs from satellite and net radio, and another one that would make it a felony to “trick” a computer into playing back unauthorized songs or running bootlegged videogames. That latter one died when Verizon, Microsoft, Apple, eBay and Yahoo all argued against it.

• Biden was one of just four senators invited to attend a celebration of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act hosted by the MPAA’s Jack Valenti and the RIAA’s Hillary Rosen, two of American file-sharer’s most wanted.

• When he was asked in 2006 about proposing net-neutrality laws, he said there was no need, since any bit-filtering violations would provoke such a huge public ruckus they’d have to hold congressional hearings anyway—and they’d be standing-room only.

More

If you think that’s dire – try this article from Yahoo News:

By choosing Joe Biden as their vice presidential candidate, the Democrats have selected a politician with a mixed record on technology who has spent most of his Senate career allied with the FBI and copyright holders, who ranks toward the bottom of CNET’s Technology Voters’ Guide, and whose anti-privacy legislation was actually responsible for the creation of PGP

Also, check out Biden’s voting record at the CNET Technology Vote. 

Basically – it’s a bipartisan FAIL when it comes to Net Neutrality. McCain’s also sucks, Obama’s is about 50%, and Palin’s is unknown. Clearly neither ticket is all that hot on this issue – but this should come as no surprise to conservatives like myself. Again, government fails to understand and keep up with free market innovations. I never saw that coming…(cough *sarcasm* cough)

The issue here for conservatives (as well as others) is that Net Neutrality is not about government messing with the free markets. Internet providers did not create the online free market – they created the technology that supports it. Like I mentioned above – Net Neutrality is about a legal distinction between service providers and content, not a new government bureaucracy. In effect – the advances of technology created the ultimate free market online. This is similar to the way that the provision of electricity to homes created a a whole new market for electrical devices. A strong argument can be made that the proper definition of Net Neutrality actually protects the laissez-faire capitalism of the online free market.

The government needs to acknowledge the creation of the internet free market – and protect it. That’s what Net Neutrality is all about. You should contact your senators and representatives, regardless of political party, and clarify what this is all about.

Further Questions

Sean brought up some great questions in the comments that I’m elevating into this post (as if it wasn’t long enough…ha! Complex issue though – needs much discussion.)

The issue with tiering the Internet is a huge concern of mine personally. As an entrepreneur who plans to make most of the money in my lifetime from Internet related ventures, I do not want to have to get in bed with Comcast or whoever the *service providers* might be to make sure that my product gets delivered with equal emphasis as CNN, ESPN, or whoever is already part of the party.

I also greatly am troubled by the call to end encryption by the FBI (as Gizmodo.com reported). Encryption is very important to a lot of the technologies that are developed and I personally don’t want anybody to sniff my emails/credit cards.

What do you think of city governments becoming more responsible for acting as ISP’s? It seems that a city could ding each of its citizens with a little bit of a tax hike and cut out the Comcast & Time Warners altogether… Or is your point that the ISP’s are not the enemy but rather the government and its inability to define the rules?

As far as city run internet service goes – I think it is kind of a double-edged sword. The obvious advantage would be the universal access, and certainly (perhaps not though…) a more clear definition between service and content. However – as in other government solutions, there are many potential downsides.

For one – anything powered by tax dollars become involuntary. You will be paying for a service – simply because it exists – regardless of quality. This could have serious ramifications, especially with a service as technical as internet connectivity. (Low speeds in your neck of town? Highly unlikely your taxes with reflect that) A government solution (similar to ‘crony capitalism’) effectively eliminates competition and choice. Sure – you could say you get some choice, such as a vote on the program every couple of years, but contrast that with our current system which constitutes a voluntary vote-with-dollars each month. (I hire Comcast, bums that they are, to provide me with internet service – and I can fire them at will.)

Perhaps you could argue for a government solution, along-side private service providers. This is problematic also because the tax funding the government ISP would then have to become voluntary – giving people an option to pay for the city service vs. the private service. Or it wouldn’t and you would just have to pay for both.

I want to reiterate that I’m in no way trying to make a case that Comcast, Time Warner and others are some shining example of free market perfection. (Actually – I think that they, in many ways are attempting to subvert free market competition.) To answer your last question – I think both parties are to blame. Private ISPs are opportunistically trying to take over and control the market – mainly because the government has failed to properly define what the internet is. (clearly – The Internet != internet access.)

What the government can and should do is make sure that there are clear and fair rules/laws governing the internet service market – mostly defining internet service as one industry, wholly separated from the actual internet entity (content). Most importantly – like I mentioned above – the government must acknowledge that the internet is itself a free marketplace outside the jurisdiction of the internet service providers.

Finally – the government should do everything in it’s power to encourage competition in the internet service industry. It should be wary of crony capitalism and regional monopolies. If it is going to allow a giant like Comcast, then it should be equally welcoming and encouraging to competitors like Verizon FIOS, etc… not allowing ‘deals’ where a certain provider is granted exclusive access to a certain area. The more service options local citizens are able to choose from, the better.

Oh yeah – and the whole ‘end encryption’ movement is completely nonsensical. Internet Data Security is a crucial facet for internet market success. Clearly – the arguments for encryption are legion. If the FBI is concerned about monitoring illegal online activity – trying to do away with encryption is about as foolish a concept as gun control. You universally punish every responsible user, for a small % of miscreants. The FBI needs to look elsewhere because ending encryption is a ludicrous solution to the problem.

How did Freddie and Fannie get so screwed?

Hint: What usually forces businesses to make bad business decisions?

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