A Tim Lee Twofer

My old friend Tim Lee acts as a kind of hyper-wonky Crypt Keeper for two harrowing short tales of private interests capturing state power. At his home base of the Show-Me Institute, he reports on a paradigm case of eminent domain abuse: A Saint Louis lessee who decided he'd rather be an owner has sicced a pliant city government on the proprietors of the land his building stands on; if they won't meet his price, he'll just have it seized and turned over to him for "redevelopment." Meanwhile, over at The New York Times op-ed page, Tim notes that the proud tradition of common carrier regulation that advocates of net neutrality keep alluding to wasn't always a shining model. The Internet may not be a dumptruck, but regulation of the trucks that traveled our non-information, non-super highways became so thoroughly coopted that a report by a Ralph Nader study group dubbed the Interstate Commerce Commission "a forum at which transportation interests divide up the national transportation market." Both are worth a read.

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  • dsfgg||

    good

  • ||

    Do EDers ever get murdered for their evil deeds?

  • ||

    The internet isn't like a dump truck. It's like the road system.

    If Fed Ex owned the company that operated I-95, charged all other carriers fees 10X higher than it charged Fed Ex, and refused to allow them to use I-95 at all on Mondays and Fridays, that would equivalent to the non-neutral net.

    When state sanctioned monopoly is the operating model, the state has the responsibility to make sure the system operates like something close to an open market, instead of letting the monopolist turn it into his own sandbox. At least, if you want to see the dynammism and innovation that comes from market operations.

  • KipEsquire||

    I don't know anyone who is trying to analogize the NetNeut issue to the ICC, which set not only rates but routes. Total straw man.

    Rate regulation of government-chartered commodity monopolies -- the far better analogy -- is a hardly a betryal of libertarian principles. For better or worse, the government made Verizon et al possible. It has no obligation to make their monopoly profits possible too.

  • ||

    That NYT op-ed is pretty misleading. This:

    Last fall, the chief executive of AT&T, Ed Whitacre, argued that Internet giants like Google and Microsoft should begin paying for access to his �pipes�

    seems to imply that Google and Microsoft don't already pay for their broadband, which is simply false, and this:

    Unlike a one-railroad Western town, most broadband customers can choose between cable and D.S.L., and a growing number have access to wireless options as well

    radically overstates the amount of choice available to broadband customers. Many areas of the country don't have decent DSL available to them, cable companies are state-sponsored monopolies, and wireless, while "growing" in a decent number of urban areas, is still pretty paltry compared to wired internet.

    The comparison to the railroad industry rests on the notion that net neutrality is the evil regulatory scheme, while the telco plan is some sort of free-market alternative, which is just silly. AT&T and Verizon, in their capacity as state-sponsored monopolies, are hardly capitalist crusaders railing against the interference of big government. The internet is already regulated; the question is whether we want to stick with the status quo or tilt the odds in favor of cable company cronies.

  • Larry A||

    The internet is already regulated; the question is whether we want to stick with the status quo or tilt the odds in favor of cable company cronies.

    I'd rather be "regulated" by cable companies any day. Whichever industry analogy you draw, they all prove that government regulation sucks.

    And the cable companies can't put you in jail.

  • ||

    Come on, can't anyone defend a non-neutral net with an argument that goes beyond "I like corporations better than the government?"

    Government-created gatekeepers don't usually produce this level of support 'round these parts.

    You're seriously going to go to the mat for the right of the gatekeepers to close the gates whenever they want?

  • ||

    "he reports on a paradigm case of eminent domain abuse"

    Shouldn't that be "paradigmatic" since it's serving as an adjective here?

  • Robert||

    Attributive noun, SR. But arguably redundant, could be just plain "paradigm" instead of "paradigm case".

  • ||

    This op-ed raises a lot of good points. For me the main reasons to oppose net neutrality have to do with maintaining a high-quality, fast internet. With the large (and growing) amounts of data being sent, it is simply absurd to not differentiate between spam and VoIP. I know a little bit about this issue, I've been working with the Hands Off the Internet coalition on it, and the recent news that the quality of VoIP is already dropping is a direct result of there not being a seperate, faster tier for VoiP.

    http://www.nytimes.com/cnet/CNET_2100-73 52_3-6097912.html

    If we mandate net neutrality, you can pretty much kiss goodbye the emerging industry of VoIP...no one wants a phone that gets less and less reliable each year.

  • Paul||

    radically overstates the amount of choice available to broadband customers. Many areas of the country don't have decent DSL available to them, cable companies are state-sponsored monopolies, and wireless, while "growing" in a decent number of urban areas, is still pretty paltry compared to wired internet.

    Lungfish hit the nail on the head here... and touches the point with cable companies in particular. Seattle, one of the most progressive internet cities in the country has few real choices for broadband access- and those diminish linearly with your distance from Seattle.

    I believe in pretty much of a free-for-all, but we've got ourselves roped into a corner with the state-sponsored, state protected, and state regulated cable companies. No one has an incentive to lay new cable (fiber or otherwise) because the regulations are crushing and the one company that might risk the capital to do so, know that fifteen other smaller sharks in the water will demand open access to said cable once its laid. We really do crap up our own nests...

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