This Week: A Kick In The Head

al franken on net neutrality
Last week was bad enough with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Control (IPCC) telling us that we have about 15 years to straighten the climate out or suffer the really bad consequences. “Straightening out” will mean pretty much stopping any emissions going into the air which in turn means stopping commerce. Not going to happen, so it looks like we are about to see if their predictions are true. I have children and grand-children I am bequeathing this to. This was a kick in the head. Just to add to the kick was that few news sources carried this story or gave it only scant attention.

However, that didn’t prepare me for the 1-2-3 kick in the head we got early in the week. I believe the order that they were delivered were: first the Supreme Court decision upholding Michigan’s end of Affirmative Action, Georgia arming damn near everyone and then FCC Chairman Ted Wheeler saying he would offer a proposal that would end internet neutrality.My head felt like a basketball after taking those punches.

{pow} Ending affirmative action takes away one of the few really effective ways to make up for the centuries of suffering that minorities have endured through slavery and Jim Crow laws and customs. With the country going through a new phase of de facto segregation in schools and with school funding one of the big victims of the new trickle up economy, affirmative action was one of the few lifelines to end a repeat of the past. Now it looks like history will repeat itself.

{pow} Georgia Governor Nathan Deal signs a bill that allows people to carry guns pretty much anywhere. Hello, Old West! Churches, bars, the high school basketball game – just about any place a person can go he or she can go there packing. Boy I sure would not want to be a high school referee at a Georgia basketball game. About the only place guns are not potentially allowed is the statehouse.

The consequences of so many guns being carried around is staggering. We kill around 30,000 of our own every year. So what’s the answer to so many gun deaths every year? More guns? Guess so.

And then {POW} Newly appointed FCC chair Ted Wheeler – formerly a lobbyist for cable companies – lets it slip that he would propose a new ‘fast lane’ internet for the rich that can pay for it. While claiming that this proposal would not end net neutrality, Wheeler’s proposal would effectively end net neutrality. By definition if there is a fast lane then there must be a slow lane. My guess is that blogforiowa will only be able to afford the slow lane while folks like the Koch brothers will be able to afford the lightning speed lane.

Corporations already control almost all of what we have access to read in this country. The one media they have not been able to control is the internet because of the equal accessibility for all. Thus I can sample news and opinion from all sides and from many countries. Once the internet becomes “pay for play” you can be sure that corporate sites will load the fastest and will operate smoothly while opposition sites will be incredibly slow (think dial-up days) and very clunky. While the claim is that content will not be censored, you can bet it will be.

My best analogy to what a ‘pay to play’ internet will look like is our current cable situation. Cable companies hype that you get “500 stations.” The reality is that most folks get maybe 20 or 30 they actually ever watch. The rest are sales stations, preachers, really bad, crappy content that seems to pervade the cable these days – no history on the history channel for instance – that they are useless. You have to pay through the rear to get some decent stations such as movie channels. Plus there is much you can’t get. For instance I would like to get CBC. Do I have that choice? No.

Worst of all on cable is the slant of the news. Left wing sources are limited a couple hours on MSNBC at night and FreeSpeech TV. Al Jazeera may be the closest to neutral. All else is quite to the right, with no way to remedy that because the cable is owned by corporations.

When the country was founded printing presses abounded and there was a multitude of voices. Costs drove the private presses out to the point that eventually we would have one voice disseminating the news in most cities. The internet has once more allowed a million voices to be heard. Little could be more important to corporations than to once more stifle those voices. All they need is a small crack in the protective layer of net neutrality

About Dave Bradley

retired in West Liberty
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