Main Topic

What Free Market?

The oligarchy’s trend in the 21st century is moving away from attempting to influence democracy by influencing voters, to constantly attempting (and often succeeding) at doing an end run around it all.

The TTP and the TTIP are being negotiated with elected leaders, exclusive of the public in order to establish a trade code above the sovereign laws of nations. The US federal government, on behalf of chemical and other corporations, ignores and thwarts state’s rights with the DEA ignoring or defying state level legislation legalizing different uses of cannabis, and ALEC influenced state legislators are passing laws in some states making it illegal for local municipalities to kick the big media/telecoms to the curb by instituting their own non-profit locally governed broadband ISPs.

This trend continues with new legislation before lawmakers on Beacon Hill at the current moment: SENATE BILL 2183 “An Act Upgrading Mobile Broadband Coverage in the Commonwealth.”. If this were to become law as written, all local (municipal) sovereignty would be removed from the hands of the People when it comes to cellular broadband tower placement. Local zoning laws be damned.

More internet access is a good thing, yes? Well, property rights are important, too, and if your home happens to be ideally placed for maximum new consumer exposure, you will have no choice but to give a corporation access to your property. Even if you don’t believe the American Cancer Society’s assessment that these antenna don’t increase your cancer risk. Even if you have a history of electronic sensitivity. Too darn bad.

More internet access is a good thing, yes? You might ask why legislators aren’t as eager to make it possible for someone as huge as GOOGLE to compete in the cable broadband market. Even cable that is already in place and ready to be set ablaze with lighting fast connectivity lays fallow as the big telecom/media companies use their juice to keep it all dormant So this bill isn’t necessary to expand coverage or increase competition. Competition is being stifled by long standing contracts the cable companies pushed on the municipalities back when cable was the only way to expand your TV content. This bill is also necessary to expand certain companies’ coverage and access to new consumers at the expense of all start up challengers, and at the expense of the rights of the cities and towns themselves to decide how they will receive and use the internet, and who will get paid.

Oh sure they promise you that this will lead to more and less expensive unlimited data plans. Just like deregulation of the utility companies will lead to more competition, lower prices and better customer service. (It didn’t) Just like less banking deregulation was fine because the industry has a self interest to be self regulating. (Pull the other one.) Just like the varsity quarter-back on prom night, these companies will promise you the moon to get *their* regulations passed, and this bill is full of regulations, for the cities and towns, NOT for industry. (What free market?) Any low priced, unlimited access plans they might promise while trying to get their legislation passed will quickly evaporate as soon as the bill is law, or not long after. (bait and switch)

And you like net neutrality? This bill is being brought to you by the people who killed it stone dead with their juice. If net neutrality is what you crave, less access for telecoms and more access for cities and towns is the way to go.

But it’s not just about property rights and health concerns and local democratic process. It’s about the war on general computing and the oligarchy’s constant attempt to control the flow of information, or at least get their cut of every idea and bit of culture passed between us.

You see, cellular broadband is for access through phones and tablets, and these devices, by design are meant to sell you apps, music, video. Unlocking your phone is a crime, and few know how to fiddle with the programming of a tablet. Cable broadband, on the other hand, while also being faster and cheaper, and much of the infrastructure is already in place, is ideal for providing high speed internet access to computing devices, PCs and Macs. As the sharing revolution is blooming, the need to buy information, programs (apps), and entertainment decreases. Well, the capitalists that have enriched themselves controlling our culture just can’t be having that.

“…never ever f*ck with another man’s livelihood.” is what Guido tells Joel in the iconic “Risky Business” (now a part of our collective culture and history.) The big media/telecoms would tell you the exact same thing. Well, they are telling it to your elected officials, at least. They want to put the sharers out of commission by saturating the market with devices and cellular broadband, to protect their monopoly over our information and culture. Don’t let them do this.

The means to keep the internet free and open and the best tool for a vibrant democracy is the route of locally governed CABLE (fiber optic) broadband and wifi hotspots. Once cellular broadband and locked devices dominate, this will become even harder to fight for.

Call your legislators and tell them you want *instead* of this bill are laws that will give municipalities access to the dark cables, legislation granting funding to cities and towns to create a “public-option” ISP in their town, (so that you and your neighbors will have leverage to lower prices and raise speeds from your current cable provider,) or merely OBTAIN broadband cable, as some towns in the Commonwealth are still on dial up *in the 21st century*. Better still we need to get rid of the red tape that keeps the people unable to build (or utilize!) their own internet infrastructure so that we can kick the big media/telecoms to the curb once and for all.

L. Fiero, MPP 1st Officer

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