The FCC passed a net neutrality order last week. It didn't give liberals every item on their net-regulation wishlist, but it fulfilled one of Obama's campaign promises. But as we've seen before, it doesn't appear to be very popular:
Fifty-four percent of likely voters oppose such regulation, while just 21 percent support it, according to the survey of likely voters taken just after the FCC last week approved Chairman Julius Genachowski's plan to prevent discrimination by Internet service providers against certain websites or applications.
…Republicans and independents overwhelmingly oppose the regulations, according to the survey, while Democrats are more divided. Survey respondents who are heavy Internet users are the most opposed to the FCC's approach, the survey found.
There was also a noticeable divide between mainsteam voters and the "political class," which according to Rasmussen overwhelmingly supports regulation and believes it could be handled in an unbiased manner. Fifty-six percent of voters think the FCC would use its authority to promote a political agenda
The distinction between the beliefs of the political class and mainstream voters is a telling one. There's a widespread notion in Washington that somehow, if you hire the right people and design the bureaucratic details just right, you can regulate in a way that's "unbiased" and therefore somehow objectively "correct."
But no matter how much third-way hairsplitting these agencies build into their rulings, the sorts of regulatory decisions that the FCC intends to make under the new net neutrality rules are inherently arbitrary. Some practices will be shut down; some won't be pursued at all thanks to uncertainty. Others will be tweaked to please agency overseers. Some people will like the agency-approved outcomes better, some won't. FCC officials have argued that the rules are designed to prevent anyone from picking winners and losers. Yet by giving the agency the power to determine which network management practices count as unreasonable, picking winners and losers is essentially what these rules give the FCC the power to do.