Friday, August 20, 2010

Monitoring Net Neutrality News -- Senator Jeff Bingaman

Net Neutrality, wherein everyone has equal access to the internet, has always been and continues to be under threat from corporations that seek profit any way they can get it.

Net Neutrality is the concept that internet providers can't give priority to certain web sites based on how much they pay. In other words, data comes to you from someone's blog at the same speed as data from CNN's or Fox's or British Petroleum's or any other web site.

Corporations want to prioritize the speed of the information based on who pays more, so that if the obscenely rich owners and conservative supporters of Fox want to pay enough, that data would travel over the internet in hurry, but an opposing viewpoint of someone with less money would take a long time to download.

As it is, Internet service providers now can charge us more if we want to get faster service, which is a step in the wrong direction already, because it means that people who can afford it already have better access to information, but even with that system, things are equal in that people who want to influence our opinion, like Fox or CNN or BP, have to wait in line like everybody else as far as sending their information over the internet.

Poor people have to wait longer that information, but it comes across equally slowly for everyone.

The FCC has been trying to establish rules that ensure Net Neutrality, and of course the rich people in this country don't like that, and recently won a decision in court to block the FCC.

That leaves it up to  congress. Of course, members of congress covet those big campaign donations from the rich people, and several attempts to pass net neutrality legislation have already failed to make it through congress. But we, the working class, have the power of the vote.

When the decision against the FCC came down a week ago, I expressed my opinion, that congress should intervene, in emails to all my representatives, Rep. Martin Heinrich, and senators Tom Udall and Jeff Bingaman, who to his credit (or, more likely, to his staff's) is the only one, so far, who has replied, which reply I just received:

Dear Mr. Muntzer:
Thank you for contacting me regarding Internet neutrality. I appreciate your taking the time to write and share your views.
As you may know, a federal appeals court overturned the Federal Communications Commission's plans to set net neutrality regulations. I support strong Internet neutrality. I also understand that many Americans are concerned about this issue, and I will continue to closely monitor the situation and to see how best to ensure that Americans continue to have unlimited access to the Internet.
Again, thank you for writing. Please do not hesitate to contact me again regarding this or any other issue of importance to you and your community.

United States Senator
Phone:  (202) 224-5521
Toll-free in NM: 1-800-443-8658
Subscribe to my e-newsletter.

So I didn't hesitate, and replied:

Dear Mr Bingaman,

Thank you for your reply to my email regarding net neutrality.

You say you are going to "closely monitor" this.

I can closely monitor it myself.

Even without a large, well-paid staff, and the ability to write and introduce legislation, and your big salary.

So what's the difference between me and you then?


Bubba Muntzer

In fairness, Bingaman's response is typical of the ones you get from congress. They receive hundreds if not thousands of emails, letters and calls, and so you get generic replies, which are as non-comittal as they can be; they do not want to say anything that can be used against them by political opponents.

However, Bingaman is the master of non committedness. When I first wrote him several years ago, urging him to support something, he replied that "a consensus has not formed yet" on this issue.

He is most well-known for keeping a low profile, but he also seems to keep one finger in the wind. He co-sponsored the union-backed Employee Free Choice Act when it was first introduced three years ago, but when it started getting some resistance from the ruling class and their handmaidens, he backed off in a hurry, telling me, in response to my email urging him to work hard to get it passed, that he was going to be studying this matter and paying close attention to it.

The Employee Free Choice Act still has not passed, having been blocked repeatedly by Republicans with the help of Democratic senators Ben Nelson, Blanche Lincoln, and Thomas Carper, while Jeff Bingaman lays low.

Bingaman, whose wife is one of the highest paid lobbyists in Washington, likes to have it both ways. He will come out in support of something, but when Republicans filibuster it, and Democrats need to get 60 votes to override, he will vote with the Republicans, so that the bill dies, as he did on immigration reform

And when Democrats tried to block the confirmation of Samuel Alito to the Supreme court with a filibuster, he voted against them, then voted against Alito's confirmation.

But he closely monitors each issue, including his prospects for getting elected again, and for preserving his status as a United States senator and his comfy lifestyle in Washington, DC.

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