Wednesday, December 1, 2010

We're Screwed - Net Neutrality Bites The Dust

Net Neutrality, the concept that the Internet is open equally to anyone, the idea that service providers have to let everything go through on an equal basis and can't filter or block some content or charge more for some content, or let things like Fox News through at full speed but slow down or eliminate alternative viewpoints, is in my view one of the last best hopes for maintaining any semblance of democracy in America, and the rest of the world, and, what with the monopolization and corporate control of the media over the past few decades, for giving we, the people, a way to fight back -- against anything.Service Providers -- the corporations you get your Internet service from -- have for a long time been trying to do away with Net Neutrality. They see dollar signs. They want to have a fast lane for people who can afford it, and a slow lane for the rest of us. They want to be able to control who gets what information, and they want to charge you more if you want to get what you want and not what they allow you to get. There's some activism fighting them on this, which you can inform yourself of if you just Google Net Neutrality.

But a story in the New York Times today, elaborated on by Josh Silver in the Huffington Post, contains some really bad news. FCC chairman Julius Genachowski has released the outlines of his plan for the future of the Internet, and it isn't pretty.

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/12/01/technology/01fcc.html?_r=2&hp

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/josh-silver/fcc-chairman-announces-fa_b_790307.html

Genachowski's plan will essentially give the corporations what they want, according to the Times and Silverman. As you may recall, the FCC under George W Bush was about  to give the Internet to big business, but the few engaged activists who were paying attention held them off. Barak Obama came along and promised to ensure Net Neutrality. It hasn't happened. First, the Republican Supreme Court struck down the new Net Neutrality regulations passed by the FCC. Then, Obama and the Democrats in congress just folded. They could have legislated Net Neutrality, but they did not.

In August, well before the November elections, I wrote to each member of my legislative delegation stressing the importance of Net Neutrality -- Senator Jeff Bingaman, Senator Tom Udall and Representative Martin Heinrich. Bingaman replied first. He said he would "closely monitor" the situation. That's all. He didn't say he was going to fight  for it, introduce any legislation, make any speeches, make any deals in congress with other members who needed his vote on their legislation. Nothing. I wrote him back and said thank you for your reply but "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."

Later, Udall sent a similar response. He wasn't about to do a damn thing either. By election date, Nov. 2, Heinrich, the only one of the three standing for re-election this year, hadn't replied at all. I didn't vote for him.

No, I didn't vote for any Republican or anything else, but I will not give my precious vote to anyone who is not up there in Washington fighting tooth and nail for my interests, and Net Neutrality is the most important one I can think of right now. Any hopes we have for accomplishing anything else depends, I believe, on making sure we have the same access to the Internet as have the greedy capitalist bastards who want to turn us into serfs and have been making a lot of progress lately toward that goal.

Oh yea. After the election I did get an email from Heinrich. It was just as gutless and namby pamby as the other two. He too is going to be monitoring the situation for me. In other words, doing nothing about it.

Heinrich, who is closing out his first term as congressman, seemed to have some guts when he first went up there. One of the first things he did was withhold his support for one of those letters the Israel lobby passes around every time Israel comes under fire for committing another atrocity against the Palestinians, letters which congress members almost all dutifully sign. I wrote Heinrich to thank him for that, but by the time of the
Mavi Marmara massacre this past summer, when the Freedom Flotilla activists were slaughtered by the Israeli commandos, he had changed. He signed that letter, supporting Israel's right to slaughter anyone who tries to bring attention to the ethnic cleansing going on in Palestine. Maybe they got to him. The lobby, the Democratic leadership. Someone did, or maybe he is getting used to the perks and privileges and the status that come with his high office. Whatever it is, he's just as useless as the rest of them now.

The unemployment rate in this country appears like it is now permanently fixed at about 9.6 percent, and Obama and the Democrats in congress have done nothing except continue to pander to the big corporations, and quiver in fear while they "closely monitor" what Fox News is saying and let Republicans control the agenda and the airwaves. No public works projects, a health care bill that's a big gift to the insurance companies, billions of our dollars handed over each week to the military industrial complex while our sons and daughters, not theirs, not the children of the rich or of any members of congress, die in Iraq and Afghanistan. Even now the Democrats are about to cave in on these so-called Bush era tax cuts, which continue to let the rich off the hook as far as contributing anything at all to this society that they have gotten rich off of.

If you think you can count on the Democrats for anything, anything that helps the working people of this country, you are wrong. And any idea that the Internet will be a platform for fighting back, a way of communicating that we, without the resources of the rich, have access to, that we are learning to use already and can build upon, you can kiss that idea goodbye.

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