Free Markets, Free People

John Kerry

The politics of net neutrality

Net neutrality is back in the news.  So, are you for it or against it?

Given the debate that surrounds the subject, that’s not as easy a question to answer as you might imagine.  Because in order to answer it you have to understand what “for” and “against” even mean now.

The internet as a phenomenon broke onto the world’s stage some years ago and has been growing and improving exponentially for years.  It has not only improved the flow and availability of information but the lives of countless millions of people around the globe as well. And it has essentially accomplished all of this without any major government intervention.

Of course most knew that anything that powerful and uncontrolled must come to the attention of government at some point.  The question is – to what purpose? Why should government intrude on a network that is providing so much acknowledged good without it? The answer: because it is there. And the paranoid are sure that the corporations that are involved in it are up to no good. Thus we need government’s help to keep those evil corporations in line.

Enter the concept of “net neutrality” and the postulation that unless government steps in to ensure it remains “neutral”, greedy corporations would take advantage of the net to advance their bottom lines to the detriment of small consumers.

That’s not something made up in an effort to overstate the case. It is the argument of those who favor government’s involvement, such as Senator Al Franken. Speaking at a meeting on the subject of net neutrality on August 19th, Franken said, “When government does not act, corporations will.  And unlike government agencies which have a legal responsibility to protect consumers, the only thing corporations care about … is their bottom line.”

While it is certainly true that corporations care about their bottom line, the way corporations increase that bottom line is by making and keeping customers happy.  That critical part of how the “bottom line” is increased is somehow always lost on the “let’s get government involved” crowd who feed off of fear driven and unfounded paranoia to justify intrusion.

The debate and arguments for or against the proposed net neutrality regulation aren’t hard to find.  Google and Verizon have offered their version of net neutrality that has been seen as either corporations writing the rules to help themselves or as the maintenance of the status quo.  Frankly, the status quo seems to be working quite well for most.

Much of the “let’s get government involved” movement is led by “Free Press”, a group which has made a cottage industry of the effort. Their main effort is focused on empowering the FCC to “regulate the internet” – a broad and, frankly, scary charter.  For some reason, Free Press is under the impression the FCC has the power to do so through the 1996 Telecom Act.   But does the FCC have that power?  Most familiar with the act don’t believe so. That includes a number of groups usually associated with progressive causes.

In fact, none other than John Kerry made that point in 1999.

“The overarching policy goal of the 1996 Act is to promote a market-driven, robustly competitive environment for all communications services.  Given that, we wish to make it clear that nothing in the 1996 (Telecommunications) Act or its legislative history suggests that Congress intended to alter the current classification of Internet and other information services or to expand traditional telephone regulation to new and advanced services.”

Of course that was before net neutrality became the “top technology priority” of the Obama administration.  That prompted something for which Mr. Kerry is quite famous – a flip-flop.

“A win for the [telecommunication and cable companies] would mean that the FCC couldn’t protect Net Neutrality, so the telecoms could throttle traffic as they wish — it would be at their discretion,” Kerry wrote in an April op-ed for the Huffington Post.

“The FCC couldn’t help disabled people access the Internet, give public officials priority access to the network in times of emergency, or implement a national broadband plan….In short, it would take away a key check on the power of phone and cable corporations to do whatever they want with our Internet.”

Naturally, what this does is align the ever flexible Mr. Kerry with the White House technology priority, not the law or its intent, which, strangely, he got right in 1999.  In fact, the goal of the 1996 Act was to “diminish regulatory burdens as competition grew”.  Free Press and other progressive organizations want to add more to that burden, not lessen it all while claiming that doing so will “spur innovation” and “new technologies”.  The history of regulation doesn’t support that formula at all.

The answer to the question originally posed?

If it is Free Press’s version of net neutrality, then I am most definitely “against”.

~McQ

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Stupid voters, why don’t you believe us?

John Kerry has it all figured out. It’s not the Democrats that are the problem – it’s the voters:

“We have an electorate that doesn’t always pay that much attention to what’s going on so people are influenced by a simple slogan rather than the facts or the truth or what’s happening,” Kerry told reporters after touring the Boston Medical Center yesterday.

Simple slogans? Like "hope and change?"  “If you like your doctor…”?  Or my personal favorite, “

It’s Bush’s fault”.

Ah, the irony.

Kerry’s cluelessness is endemic within the Democratic party and, to a lesser extent, the GOP. They simply don’t get it.

They can’t imagine that it is their agenda, narrative or anything else that’s at fault.  They’re the ruling elite, for heaven sake – how could what they want to impose be anything but wonderful, well thought out and necessary?  It has to be the people’s fault for not paying attention to or understanding the issues as they should – from the elite’s point of view.

Interestingly, Kerry demonstrates the same sort of frustration the people suffer.  He believes the people aren’t listening.  The people know, given the outcome of legislation like ObamaCare, that the ruling elite aren’t listening.  The problem for Kerry and the like is the people have the final say.

I’m sure they find that fact a bit, well, distasteful.

I’m of the opinion that any politician that believes what John Kerry expresses here is vulnerable.  It may only increase vulnerability a negligible degree depending on the state, but it is an attitude that is one which definitely alienates voters.  Keep it up and even the bluest (or reddest) state will turn then out.  MA has definitely proven that Kerry’s seat is not safe.  Heck, even Barney Frank is in a race for a change.

All this to say until these nimrods in both parties figure out that blaming the public for their failures is self-defeating and, frankly, stupid, nothing will change.  If the public isn’t on board with a politicians agenda, it damn sure isn’t the public’s fault, Mr. Kerry. Oh, here’s a thought – maybe it’s the agenda!

~McQ

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John Kerry "swift boats" himself

You may have figured out by now that I think we pay much too much to government in taxes and that I’m usually all in favor of anyone who figures out how to dodge them legally.

However, there are exceptions to that rule, and all politicians are one of them. If they’re going to make tax law, pass tax law and stick it to all of the "little people", then they should strictly abide by those laws at all levels and not seek to dodge taxes. Especially if they’re the type who have never met a tax they didn’t like.

Call it part of the price they must pay – literally and figuratively – for that power.

John Kerry, or as Jules Critenden calls him, Thurston Howell III (from Gilligan’s Island) has apparently decided that taxes are strictly for the little people and, by the way, job opportunities aren’t his responsibility.

Mr. Howell, er Kerry (who, it is rumored, once served in Vietnam), recently purchased a luxury yacht. The Senator from Massachusetts, however, won’t be docking the yacht there. Instead Rhode Island is his port of choice:

News that Kerry was docking the 76-foot custom-built sloop in Newport, R.I., was first reported in the Herald Friday. Sources told the Herald the yacht cost $7 million, meaning Kerry would owe the state more than $500,000 in excise and sales taxes.

Tsk, tsk – is that a good example to set, sir?  And that’s not all that’s rankled the good folks of Massachusetts (who, by the way, with Romneycare, have the highest insurance premiums in the US).  The yacht was foreign made, while ship builders in Massachusetts claim that it could have just as easily been built there:

With the nation enduring a nasty economy, painful joblessness and extreme belt-tightening, word of the luxury yacht’s foreign construction – as Americans yearn for work – could create a political tempest for Kerry.

“The message is, ‘The American boat builders aren’t good enough, and the Massachusetts people aren’t good enough to maintain it.’ It’s just a bad message all around,” said Connecticut boater Steve Potter, who docks in Charlestown.

Mr. Kerry’s reaction?  Why the great and powerful Oz works in mysterious ways:

When asked to respond to criticism of Kerry’s decision not to buy American, his state director, Drew O’Brien, said: “When it comes to creating and preserving jobs and economic opportunity in Massachusetts, no one has worked harder in Washington than John Kerry. Sen. Kerry is using smarts, clout and good old-fashioned hard work to make the Massachusetts economy grow and prosper.”

Yeah, it’s really hopping, isn’t it?  With an unemployment rate over 9%, I guess that’s good enough that the additional jobs "created and preserved” by having the yacht built in his  home state just didn’t qualify as “smarts”.

Great example set there, Mr. Kerry.  If this is an example of the “smarts” you employ, everyone should be on their knees thanking the deity of their choice for the fact that you lost the presidential election and didn’t get anywhere near the Oval Office.

~McQ

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Cap-and-trade: And the good news is …

Cap-and-trade is on life support.  Or so says Politico, and, frankly, the clock.  With the August recess rapidly approaching and no bill yet on the floor of the Senate, it appears that the Senate won’t be passing an “Energy and Climate” bill this session.

That’s mostly because of the cap-and-trade provisions and the greenhouse emissions portion of the bill.   Because of those provisions, the necessary Republican votes simply aren’t there.  The bill, sponsored by John Kerry and Joe Lieberman, is scaled back from the original intent to have cap-and-trade apply to a broader sector of industry to only the energy industry.

As you might imagine, that industry isn’t at all pleased with the focus solely on them.  Lieberman and Kerry haven’t yet convinced them to sign on to the bill nor have they found the sweetners which would entice them.

Meanwhile, apparently some of the Republicans in the Senate have made it clear that this rush through of major legislation shouldn’t happen:

“He’s waiting until we have, like, two or three days to tackle a subject that usually takes seven or eight weeks,” GOP Conference Chairman Lamar Alexander said of Reid. “That makes it very difficult.”

“Can I be very candid with you?” Sen. George Voinovich (R-Ohio) asked. “This whole thing is very cynical. Anybody who’s been in the Senate for any period of time knows there’s no way — no way — an energy bill can get done between now and the election or even now and the end of the year.”

The “he” referred too in the quote is, of course, Senate Majority leader Reid. And apparently – at least it seems so now – the “we’ve got to rush this through” ploy is not going to carry the day. 

Some Senators think that Reid should take the cap-and-trade provisions out of the bill:

“If they’re serious about bringing it up next week, they’ve got to show it soon,” said Bill Wicker, spokesman for Energy and Natural Resources Committee Chairman Jeff Bingaman (D-N.M.). “You can’t release it late Friday and expect people to read it and be prepared to debate it on Monday.”

But of course, Reid and the Democrats have never really cared one whit about debate or, in fact, anyone having the chance to read anything.  Witness the health care fiasco and even the financial regulation bill.  Both over 2,500 pages and what passed for “debate” was a farce.

Lieberman still hopes that the Senate will deal with the bill – even in a lame duck session.  Calling them “big and important issues regarding energy independence, pollution reduction, job creation”, he hopes the Senate won’t be constrained by some “artificial schedule.”  But time doesn’t stand still for anyone and reality is reality.  The possibility that this will pass this session isn’t at all good – and that’s good.

Says one source:

A former Senate Democratic aide said climate advocates need to start gearing up for 2011, which will require a big push from Obama, Democratic control of the House and support from Senate Republicans to have any chance of success. “The window is definitely almost shut, and if it closes without action in the next few weeks, a lot of advocates will need to take stock about when this could be realistically attempted again,” the former staffer said.

When can it realistically be attempted again?  In it’s present form not until the Democrats again have an overwhelming majority in the Senate.  And that, hopefully, won’t be for decades if at all.

In a version with cap-and-trade stripped out of it?  My guess would be something heavily influenced by the GOP will pass in the next Congress (and that should be, relatively speaking, “a good thing”).

~McQ

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Zombie Cap-and-Trade coming to a utility bill near you soon

Senator’s Lindsey Graham, John Kerry and Joe Lieberman have bought the premise that “carbon = bad”.  But being politicians, looking at the economy and understanding the discontent of the voters with both health care reform and cap-and-trade, they’ve decided on a more incremental approach to implementing the latter.

First, they announce that “cap-and-trade as we know it is dead“. Of course cap-and-trade is, at base, a tax on carbon which is now considered a “pollutant” by the anointed. Apparently they believe you’ll believe that since it isn’t a comprehensive, across the board imposition of carbon taxation via the method of cap-and-trade, you’ll buy into the basic lie that this is wholly different.

Then they proffer their plan, which, of course, they claim is nothing like cap-and-trade. Really. It’s not:

Rather than include all major industrial sources of greenhouse gases in one broad economywide cap-and-trade system, the Senate trio will propose different types of limits for different sectors of the economy, beginning with electric utilities and then turning later to manufacturers such as chemical plants and pulp and paper mills.

Said another way, they prefer to tax carbon incrementally and not all at once. And that is the only real difference between Graham/Kerry/Lieberman and cap-and-trade.

The result? Read this finely wrought paragraph carefully to glean the effect:

“The bottom line with utilities is they’ll assume a compliance obligation from day one of the program,” the Senate staffer said, adding that no decisions have been made on how to allocate valuable emission allowances to the power companies except to incorporate an industry recommendation to shuttle revenue toward consumers to help pay for higher energy bills.

You have to love the “nuance” – the intent is to agree with the industry (allow them to raise their rates commensurate with the increase in cost to them) and “shuttle revenue toward consumers to help pay for higher energy bills”. In other words, subsidize consumers to pay for industry’s upgrades to cut carbon dioxide output.

The bottom line is your utility bills are going up from day one of the passage of this bill and the taxpayer – you – will be on the hook to subsidize yourself to pay for the increased cost.

Another in a long line of schemes we simply can’t afford and a convoluted and costly method of implementation.

And eventually, of course, the cost of other products (chemical companies? paper mills?) to include transportation and certainly at some point, gasoline and home heating oil will all be taxed as well.

Transportation fuels can expect a carbon tax that rises based on the compliance costs faced by the other major emitters. Several major oil companies, including Shell Oil Co., ConocoPhillips and BP America, floated the original idea on Capitol Hill, and the Senate trio has evolved their plan by funneling revenue toward transportation projects, reducing fuel consumption and lowering domestic reliance on foreign oil. The Highway Trust Fund is also a potential recipient of the carbon tax revenue, Senate aides said.

A carbon tax, by any other name, is still a carbon tax, isn’t it? And the timing of such legislation is just perfect. If passed anytime soon, the increased costs to industry should hit just about the time they’re beginning to climb out of recession.

As they make their case for the legislation, the three senators plan to tout their effort to incorporate energy and climate proposals into one overall package. And they will highlight the shift on carbon pricing away from cap and trade.

“It will be different from anything that’s been put on the table in the House or Senate to date,” Kerry said last week. “It’ll be comprehensive. And I hope it’ll change the debate.”

But it’s not “different” in the most important aspect – it taxes carbon. The premise is that carbon dioxide is a pollutant. For those who don’t accept the premise as accurate or scientifically valid, this is no different than cap-and-trade. It aims at the same result (taxing carbon) only approaching it in a slightly different and incremental manner.

~McQ

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A Million French Can’t Be Wrong …

Yes, it is spring and that means protest season in France (note the previous attempt in January didn’t turn out too well due to global warming effects).  This time, though, it’s not the “youths” doing the protesting.  Instead we are treated to union driven protests.

 The reason?

The protests, which drew substantially more people into the streets than a similar outpouring Jan. 29, were depicted by union leaders as part of a sustained campaign to pressure President Nicolas Sarkozy to do more to defend French people against the economic upheaval that has unfurled across the planet since the fall. In particular, they called on him to raise low-end wages and unemployment benefits and to make it harder for business leaders to fire employees when profits sink.

It's a win-win - Kerry goes too!

It's a win-win - Kerry goes too!

And we complain about our liberals being economic ignoramuses. Per the French mob, the ticket to recovery is to raise wages, raise unemployment benefits and prevent businesses – which most likely pay for those unemployment benefits (not to mention higher wages) – from letting workers go when their profits sink. Wow … economics worthy of Timothy Geithner, Barney Frank and Chris Dodd.

See, the French really deserve our Congress for their legislature. They’d be absolutely perfect together. Simpatico. Nancy Pelosi would be the toast of Paris and Harry Reid – ok, even the French wouldn’t put up with Harry Reid, so let’s not get too carried away. But seriously, have you ever seen a mob and a Congress (or administration for that matter) that thought so much alike?

It’s like a marriage made in heaven. The Congress and administration could transfer themselves to a country where the economic damage has already been done and the economy is already chronically lethargic, the welfare state is established to include universal health care and the control they seek over industry and business is already in place. They’d be happier (and have much less work to do ruining their economy even further), we’d be happier (trust me, we would), and my guess is the French would just swoon over Obama.

And he’s about right for them – they’ve always believed in style over substance, always thought more of themselves than others have and always had a sense of hubris which never equaled their performance.

It’s freakin’ perfect.

Why didn’t we think of this before?

~McQ