In his relentless drive to leave no aspect of American life unmolested, Obama’s next stop is cyberspace. Having “reformed” U.S. medicine, Obama now aims to “repair” the World Wide Web. If you like Obamacare, you will love ObamaNet.
On February 26, the Federal Communications Commission will vote on a “net neutrality” proposal to regulate broadband networks as if they were telephone monopolies, back when copper wire was high tech. ObamaNet would let Uncle Sam intervene in the price, product-innovation, and capacity decisions of Internet Service Providers (ISPs).
Net neutrality? Let’s call it net brutality.
Like Obamacare, ObamaNet would impose complex rules via Title II of the Communications Act of 1934. FDR signed that legislation seven years after "The Jazz Singer" — the first talking picture — and seven years before Pearl Harbor. Astride this 81-year-old steed, Obama would lead the Internet’s charge into the 21st century.
Once ObamaNet ropes ISPs into Title II, they would need FCC approval for new products, business models, data-traffic operations, and more. Rather than focus on inventions and improvements, Silicon Valley executives would have to machete their way through Title II’s 682 pages and 987 rule sections.
They could ask “forbearance” from these regulations. Good luck. According to the National Cable & Telecommunications Association, the FCC makes the average applicant wait 53 weeks for an answer. Since 1996, about 69 percent of such requests have failed, at least partially.
Like ObamaCare, ObamaNet also would pick pockets. “For the first time, billions of dollars in fees will be attached to the Internet service,” warns Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah. ISPs then would “pass them on to you, the consumer.”
Liberal think-tank scholars Robert Litan of the Brookings Institution and Hal Singer of the Progressive Policy Institute (PPI) calculate annual increases in state fees of $67 for landline-broadband accounts and $72 for wireless subscriptions. Federal taxes per household will rise $17. They predict that “the new fees could reach $15 billion per year.”
Why does Obama want to squeeze $156 annually out of each typical broadband customer? What agony would ObamaNet assuage?
Give Obama this: Though unaffordable, gargantuan, and tyrannical, Obamacare does address a legitimate challenge: insuring Americans who lack health coverage. A lower-cost, pro-patient replacement remains vital. Still, Obamacare — despite countless flaws — attempts to answer a real-life problem that vexes millions of Americans.
One cannot say this about ObamaNet.
Is any American so inclined unable to go online? Cheap computers with built-in browsers grant instant access to the Internet’s treasures. If one cannot buy an Internet-capable computer or smartphone, federally subsidized libraries offer free gateways to Amazon, eBay, Hotmail, Wikipedia, YouTube, and virtually every recorded example of human wisdom and folly via Google.
Obama claims that evil ISPs are delaying faster connections and denying consumers access to their speediest networks. “You’re watching the loading icon spin,” Obama complained on January 14. “You’re waiting, and waiting, and waiting. And meanwhile, you’re wondering why your rates keep on getting jacked up when the service doesn’t seem to improve.”
Obama really should escape his socialist bubble.
As PPI’s Lindsay M. Lewis explained in Tuesday’s Wall Street Journal, “More than 90 percent of American households are now served by connections capable of neck-snapping speeds of 100 megabits per second. (Streaming a movie from Netflix on the ‘ultra high-definition’ setting requires a connection of only 25 megabits per second.)” Last month, Time Warner Cable upgraded my line from 100 megabits to 322 megabits, at no extra cost.
The once-gleaming “Digital Divide” now rusts in the left’s political-slogan junkyard. ObamaPhone.com (really) reports that ISPs offer “high-speed broadband to the very same people that [sic] qualify for the Obama Phone. Only $9.95 a month.”
ObamaNet is a monstrous “solution” desperately seeking a problem. ObamaNet is as urgently needed as a fire engine deployed to battle any blaze that might erupt at the base of Niagara Falls.
The Internet is not broken. Obama should not “fix” it.
Deroy Murdock is a media fellow with the Hoover Institution on War, Revolution, and Peace at Stanford University. Read more reports from Deroy Murdock — Click Here Now.
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