Free Markets, Free People

Daily Archives: August 27, 2012


FCC tries to fly an internet tax under the radar

Here we go again.  Unaccountable bureaucracy has decided it needs to tax you some more:

The Federal Communications Commission is eyeing a proposal to tax broadband Internet service.

The move would funnel money to the Connect America Fund, a subsidy the agency created last year to expand Internet access.

The FCC issued a request for comments on the proposal in April. Dozens of companies and trade associations have weighed in, but the issue has largely flown under the public’s radar.

Well, for the usual reasons, of course:

"Today we propose three goals for contribution reform: efficiency, fairness, and sustainability," Genachowski said. "And we underscore that any reforms to the contribution system must safeguard core Commission objectives, including the promotion of broadband innovation, investment, and adoption."

That’s right friends, they have first claim to your earnings out of "fairness".  Because, you know, not everyone has internet and well, it’s a "right" now, or something.

If you’ve ever looked at your phone bill, you know that you’re already paying a fee (tax) called the Universal Service Fund .  But that fund just isn’t making it:

Consumers already pay a fee on their landline and cellular phone bills to support the FCC’s Universal Service Fund. The fund was created to ensure that everyone in the country has access to telephone service, even if they live in remote areas.

So last year the FCC established the Connect America Fund to funnel subsidy money (taxes) into construction of an internet infrastructure, because, you know, private companies, the one’s who’ve made the internet what it is today, simply can’t be left to do that.

And:

And in recent years, with more people sending emails instead of making long-distance phone calls, the money flowing into the program has begun to dry up. The Universal Service fee has had to grow to a larger and larger portion of phone bills to compensate.

As more and more homes go fully wireless that fund (taxes) they had is drying up.

Time to update the fee (tax) and fund.  How?  It’s only "fair" of course.

The FCC could run into legal problems with the Internet Tax Freedom Act, a 1998 law that bans the government from taxing Internet access. But the FCC has long argued that Universal Service is a fee that the providers choose to pass on to consumers and not a tax.

Ah, providers chose to pass that along to consumers so it’s not a tax.  Right.  I see how that works.

Numerous companies, including AT&T, Sprint and even Google have expressed support for the idea.

Gee, there's a surprise (*cough* cronyism *cough*).

~McQ

Twitter: @McQandO

Facebook: QandO


Romney offers states control and the ability to create jobs, the NY Times offers spin

But remember, they’re not biased.

What’s a good way to for the Federal government to begin the long road toward economic recovery?  Do something that creates incentives for businesses to hire and expand.

Here’s one, but look how it is spun by the NY Times:

By proposing to end a century of federal control over oil and gas drilling and coal mining on government lands, Mitt Romney is making a bid for anti-Washington voters in key Western states while dangling the promise of a big reward to major campaign supporters from the energy industry.

He’s “making a bid for anti-Washington voters in key western states”  while pandering to “Big Oil”.  That’s it?  That’s what this is all about?

State control isn’t really bidding for the anti-Washington vote as much as a return to “federal” government vs.a national or “unitary” government.  Here’s the point:

The federal government owns vast portions of states like New Mexico, Nevada, Utah, Colorado and Alaska. Under President Obama, officials in Washington have played a bigger role in drilling and mining decisions on federal lands in the states, and such involvement rankles many residents and energy executives, who prefer the usually lighter touch of local officials.

It owns more than “vast portions”, the federal government owns most of the West.  And when an administration like the Obama administration takes the angle on energy it has taken, it is free to block and slow walk oil and gas exploration while carpeting vast stretches of the West with marginally efficient solar and wind farms.

Most believe those sorts of decisions should not be left up to the neer-do-wells in Washington.  Those sorts of decisions should be left to the states and those who have to live with the DC decisions.  But they’re not.  And consequently you see the difference as reflected in the progress in North Dakota (where the decisions are made by the state and local government in conjunction with private property owners) and Nevada (which is 80% owned by the Federal government and where most decisions are  made in Washington).  North Dakota is booming.  Nevada is not.

Federico Peña, secretary of energy in the Clinton administration and now a co-chairman of Mr. Obama’s re-election campaign, said Mr. Romney’s plan would cause more problems for the oil and gas industry. “I cannot imagine a world in where there are 50 different kinds of rules and regulations for industry,” Mr. Peña said. “To see Balkanization of rules and regulation I think would drive the industry crazy.”

Really?  Seems the industry is handling it just fine in those states in which it is already happening.  And, my guess is they’re willing to endure it in those states where the Federal government now restricts exploration and drilling.

“It is a preposterously bad idea — we are talking about federal trust lands that belong to the whole nation,” said Bobby McEnaney, a senior aide at the Natural Resources Defense Council, an environmental group.

Because it would be impossible to sort out those lands which should actually be in a “federal trust” and “belong to the whole nation” vs. those included just “because”, huh Mr. McEnaney?

Here there is an opportunity to a) actually return to a bit of federalism and get the federal government out of making decisions states could make and b) create incentives that would lead to expansion of an industry, jobs, revenue for the federal government and produce more domestic oil and gas (which would effect the global price of those fuels).

Win-win, yet those possible outcomes are never mentioned by the NY Times.

Instead we get the “anti- Washington” (how dare the proles question their elite masters!) and “Big Oil” spin.

Some things never change.

~McQ

Twitter: @McQandO

Facebook: QandO