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Free Minds & Free Markets

What the 'Zero Rating' Debate Reveals About Net Neutrality

Net Neutrality can work against developing nations

February's vote by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to impose demanding net-neutrality rules on Internet Service Providers (ISPs) has now been followed by a 300-plus-page Report and Order. Add in more than 80 extra pages of individual Commissioner statements (including Democrats' concurrences and Republicans' dissents), and you've got 400 pages. So we've got plenty of fresh fuel for years of heated net-neutrality debate between proponents and opponents, not just at the Commission, but also in Congress and in the courts.

Understanding this particular issue, in the larger context of the FCC's assertion of public-utility regulatory authority of broadband internet access service (a.k.a. "BIAS"), is like zooming in on computer-generated fractal imagery—the closer you look, the more detail you see. But we can start picking out the details by unpacking a couple of the Commission's terms and concepts.

Take "net neutrality." Basically, this is the broad term for policy and regulation that prevents service providers from favoring some services and applications over others. Not all versions are the same—some regulators prefer a "light-touch" regulatory framework (the FCC's majority says this is what they're providing in the March 12 Report and Order). Some net neutrality advocates don't trust incumbent telecommunications companies and ISPs to do anything at all without regulatory oversight. And, perhaps unsurprisingly in the telecom world—long afflicted with captured regulators and crony capitalism—even the most free-market talk is invariably reducible to incumbents wanting different regulations rather than no regulation at all.

A big sub topic in the net-neutrality debate have been the "zero-rated" services, services whose data costs nothing at all and is exempt from the data usage count. Hungry competitors in the smartphone market here in the United States have offered services (such as music streaming) that, while providing digital content over the Internet, don't count against the "data cap" of a subscriber's plan. Phone companies argue that the freedom to make such offerings (which can be interpreted as discriminating in favor of one kind of internet service as against other kinds) allows them to be more competitive. Critics say "zero-rating" lets the providers pick winners over losers among internet content, and that giving providers this option allows them to distort the content market (and, in addition, to extract more cash from the chosen content services). The Commission appears to take arguments from both sides seriously, and expressly "forbears" (as regulators like to say) from regulating zero-rated services in any categorical way, reserving instead the right to determine on a case-by-case basis whether a particular zero-rated service is being deployed anti-competitively.

What that debate mostly won't address is an issue dear to my heart: whether "zero-rated" Wikipedia is a blessing or a curse.  My non-neutral view is that zero-rated Wikipedia is an unalloyed blessing, especially in the developing world where internet access is priced expensively by the byte, but, really, pretty much anywhere. So the FCC has wisely chosen to avoid any categorical regulation of zero-rated services in general.

While it's good to see the FCC remain agnostically "retail" on an issue where it might have chosen to regulate "wholesale," it's discomfiting to see the Commission apply the terms "sponsored data" and "zero-rated" interchangeably. The former suggests that money is changing hands between the carrier and the service, so that if you're lucky enough to have a special "zero-rated" relationship with a provider, you get to lock out competitors.  There's plenty of reason to think that muddying the waters this way does no one any good—not even net neutrality's advocates—and no example better makes this point than net-neutrality advocates' consistent, yet misguided, criticisms of the Wikipedia Zero project.

This is the heart of my concerns about net neutrality, so I should admit my own non-neutrality upfront. I served as general counsel for the Wikimedia Foundation, which operates Wikipedia and other free internet resources, for more than three years. I also admit I've favored at least some limited forms of network neutrality from time to time. But I have to be deeply skeptical of any kind of thinking that, even indirectly, could imperil or discredit Wikipedia Zero, the "zero-rated" version of Wikipedia that offers the massive online encyclopedia in developing countries in ways that don't run up against the limits of mobile users' data caps on their smartphones.

Wikipedia has had a complicated relationship with net neutrality, due in part to the way Facebook and other frankly commercial entities point to Wikipedia Zero to justify their own zero-rated services. Let me be clear: I think there really are some good arguments for zero-rated commercial services too. But whatever the arguments for and against zero-rated commercial services may be, they don't really apply to Wikipedia, whose primary mission is to make the world's information available for free to everyone.

Wikipedia, in other words, is a charity—the non-profit Wikimedia Foundation exists almost entirely on charitable donations, which average (last I checked) at around US $25 per person. As a committed Wikipedian and supporter of this charity, I have no trouble stepping away from absolutist arguments for net neutrality where doing so advances that mission. This is why I think the estimable blog Techdirt is misguided when it trashes all zero-rated offerings as inherently corrupt and anti-competitive (see "T-Mobile Still Doesn't Understand (Or Simply Doesn't Care) That Their 'Music Freedom' Plan Tramples Net Neutrality"). The normally more thoughtful Susan Crawford is similarly misguided when she crows over Chile's prohibition of zero-rated services—a prohibition she assumes includes Wikipedia Zero. (See "Zero for Conduct".)  (It turns out she got this last bit wrong; Chilean regulators welcomed Wikipedia Zero.) This attitude is especially true for citizens of the developing world and transitioning democracies, where the need for access to free knowledge is particularly acute.

In the sorts of developing countries where Wikipedia Zero is deployed, Internet access exists almost solely on mobile platforms—many of these countries skipped landline technology altogether. Mobile devices are typically saddled with data caps, in which a user pays a certain monthly rate and is allowed to use the Internet until the cap is met. Beyond that point, a user has to pay more, sometimes a lot more, for more data or web-surfing. This kind of harsh data rationing may remind you of what water rationing feels like after a year-long drought, but that's precisely what those in the developing world must contend with.

In wealthier societies like the United States, the European Union, and Japan, a rich informational resource like Wikipedia gets richer if more people use it and contribute to it.  In developing countries, data caps effectively discourage people from using Wikipedia as extensively, cheating them of the gift of a free informational resource, and thus cheating us all of their contributions.

To address this systemic problem and help citizens of developing countries along the paths of economic and democratic development, the Wikimedia Foundation makes arrangements (never based on a cash exchange, never exclusive) with mobile carriers to offer "zero-rated" access that allows Wikipedia users to dodge those killer monthly data costs. (The rules are pretty simple: in essence, if a carrier offers Wikipedia Zero, a user's use of this service does not count against his or her data cap. In return, the carrier gets to use—nonexclusively—Wikipedia trademarks like the famous puzzle-globe logo.) This result is something very closely aligned with the longstanding mission of the project: free knowledge, available to everyone, to which everyone can contribute.

Understanding that zero-rated services might actually be a good thing requires a degree of nuanced analysis that some, though not all, advocates of network neutrality either don't understand, or simply don't take the time to consider.

Those who love Wikipedia Zero, as I do, can't let arguments by net-neutrality absolutists define "zero-rated" services for us or paint the issue of net neutrality only in black and white strokes. Wikipedia is not in economic competition with, well, anyone. Legally, you can start your own Wikipedia tomorrow, lifting the content right off of Wikipedia's own pages and repurposing it for commercial uses. In particular, Wikipedia is not a market-dominant player competing against similar entities for market share and revenue, for eyeballs and advertising dollars. The encyclopedia doesn't allow advertising at all. Instead, it actively gives away the information that makes it so valuable. In economic terms, Wikipedia is as close to a "non-rivalrous" good as one can imagine. Its provision of free knowledge does not exclude other enterprises, including commercial ones, from using and sharing Wikipedia-hosted knowledge on their own sites, or re-using it in other ways.

There can be no question that Wikipedia Zero, by encouraging higher usage of Wikipedia without additional costs to users, increases demand on the mobile infrastructure. Providers will have to expand capacity to handle the increased demand, and they can't do this by demanding fees from Wikipedia, which the Wikimedia Foundation can't and won't pay in any case. In the long run, increased demand and increased capacity, together with the free informational resources that Wikipedia and its sibling projects provide, will promote increased Internet access in the developing world.

That is an unalloyed positive result, in my view. For true believers in the strongest forms of net neutrality, the necessary build-out in capacity driven by Wikipedia Zero and other similar free resources could be precisely what, in the long term, makes a neutral net more tenable in the developing world.  (I'm deliberately avoiding the first-world-problem perspective I detect in some net-neutrality absolutists.) As I've hinted, a similar argument may be advanced for Facebook Zero and other for-profit offerings, but you don't even need to ask cui bono when it comes to Wikipedia Zero. We all benefit, including those of us who never will use Wikipedia Zero.

Nor is the lesson here limited to Wikipedia Zero. While I personally think some limited forms of net neutrality promote free markets and free expression, I also see the potential for unsubtle regulation to do just the opposite. And even some free-market advocates in Congress seem to be signaling that some kinds of basic fairness-oriented regulation of Internet service providers may be ok. Like me, they may look at the market distortions already baked into our telecom laws—none of us outside of a cryogenics lab will live to see restoration of any kind of pre-regulation Golden World of Telecom—and find themselves tacitly accepting the Theory of the Second Best.

There's a higher-level free-market argument that deserves at least some consideration, and it's this: I believe Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes would agree that concepts like "net neutrality" and "common carriage" are also part of his formulation of the "free trade in ideas," even when they put some economic limits on markets. That's OK by me. In the same dissenting opinion in which he coined that phrase, Holmes reflected that the "theory of our Constitution" is "an experiment, as all life is an experiment."

We're currently in the early experimental stages of net neutrality as a policy in the United States. It's too soon to say whether our American experiment has already proved the theory right for the world.

Photo Credit: Wikipedia

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  • ||

    I really, really want to mention Hitler.

  • Plàya Manhattan.||

    You know who else really wanted to mention Hitler?

  • Porque Pig||

    Nuremberg defendants

  • Francisco d'Anconia||

    Joseph Goebbels?

  • Hamster of Doom||

    Whichever special snowflake came up with that classic internet riposte, "You're exactly like those mean girls in high school"?

  • ||

    Wait, are you not?

  • Hamster of Doom||

    I played the trombone and took weights class because that's where one finds football players. I don't think I qualify, no matter how sarcastic I am.

  • Jerry on the sea||

    It's only a small step from a zero-rated encyclopedia to zero-rated people. All we all know who was in favor of that.

  • Bill||

    Yep, this whole article was Godwined. :)

  • Notorious G.K.C.||

    You know who else was Hitler?

    Wait...darn, let me start over...

  • Hamster of Doom||

    That brings up a thought. Could you imagine being Hitler's cousin?

  • C. Anacreon||

    Could you imagine being Hitler's cousin?

    I think I saw that movie. Wasn't it with Elvis Presley?

  • Notorious G.K.C.||

    I think the family changed their name.

  • Zeb||

    I thought he changed his name. Wasn't he born a "Schicklegruber" or something like that?

  • MarkLastname||

    Well in a couple weeks he will be our birthday boy.

  • Notorious G.K.C.||

    Most people will probably be stoned that day.

  • Hamster of Doom||

    Every day, Eddie. Every day.

  • hpearce||

    If you do, remember to mention he was a socialist .... a nationalist one though

  • Agammamon||

    *All* socialists are nationalists.

  • Duelles||

    Screw up our lives. That is some legacy. Thanks Barry!

  • Gregory Kohs||

    Mike, could you perhaps comment on whether you consider Kazakhstan to be a Third World country in need of zero-rated Wikipedia content? And, with your answer, could you let us know how you feel about Jimmy Wales financially backing a Kazakh government agent's effort to replace the free and open Kazakh Wikipedia with pages of content taken from the official Kazakh government-approved encyclopedia, which contains no criticism of the Kazakh regime that has been criticized for its autocratic oppression? It's difficult for me to trust the Wikimedia Foundation to do the right thing with zero-rated deals, when they clearly did very little due diligence before getting into bed with Astana.

  • GILMORE||

    Greg, could you tell us more about why Kazakhstan has fuck-all to do with US government regulation of the internet?

  • GILMORE||

    oh, i see

    lol

  • C. Anacreon||

    This guy seems to be Wikipedia's equivalent of the moon-landing denier that
    Buzz Aldrin punched out.

  • Porque Pig||

    Is Uzbek propaganda for disparage great Kazakh nation.

  • Porque Pig||

    While it's still great for poking around at obscure scientific or historical matters, Wikipedia in general is not what it once was. Anything remotely touching something controversial has become the domain of the wikimandarins (who lean very left and very PC).

    Personally, I think the policy on "biographies of living persons" was poorly thought out and rushed into the rulebook. It's easily the favorite tool of the wikimandarins to cement whatever changes they want to make to articles without any consensus from the broader community.

  • GILMORE||

    Example?

  • Porque Pig||

    The Bradley Manning article last year had all references to "Bradley" replaced with "Chelsea", "he" changed to "she" when referring to Manning, and was then locked under WP:BLP with no reason given. No surprise that the admin responsible also happens to be a pro-transgender advocate and was not disciplined for abusing his power.

  • GILMORE||

    Ok. You don't like the pro-tranny bias.

    anything else?

  • Porque Pig||

    Carolyn McCarthy's article had her statement about "the shoulder thing that goes up" deleted and blocked on WP:BLP grounds as well.

  • GILMORE||

    Ok, that's definitely a better example for your point.

    Not to say the former isn't debate-worthy, but i think pandering to the SJW sensitivities about 'respecting trans-person's self-identifiers' is less blatantly political and more just a 'weaselly' appeal to popular sentiment.

    whereas this McCarthy thing clearly a case of trying to prevent criticism of public figures... and in this case, a public figure who isn't even widely known for anything *other* than that particular dumbass comment. Preventing its inclusion in her article is pretty horrendous.

  • Porque Pig||

    Not to say the former isn't debate-worthy, but i think pandering to the SJW sensitivities about 'respecting trans-person's self-identifiers' is less blatantly political and more just a 'weaselly' appeal to popular sentiment.

    My problem isn't that the person used "Chelsea" and "her". If you are adding material to the article and the sources support such usage that's fine. My problem is with the admin abusing his power for ideological motives. WP:AGF has its limits.

  • Porque Pig||

    Actually that one was a bit more complicated. First they objected to the fact that Breitbart was being cited (of course, the MSM outlets did not report on that story), saying that Breitbart is not a reliable source. Then somebody tried to cite the YouTube video of the quote (which was broadcast on CNN), and the wikimandarins cited policy that links to material that violates copyright are not allowed. I tried to delete the link and simply refer to the program by name and date (which is allowed under MLA standards, btw) and they said that now the cite was not verifiable.

  • Porque Pig||

    It's not "pro-tranny bias" at heart, it's modification of the article in a way that no longer lines up with the original cited sources of information. None of the cites for earlier material referred to Manning by the name "Chelsea". Of course when I brought up that point, the wikimandarins started ripping out old sources and replacing them with fresh new ones (as the MSM, including Reason, were busy doing their own historical revisionism on his gender and name past). Which of course is also against WP policy, but they're the wikimandarins.

  • GILMORE||

    'It's not "pro-tranny bias" at heart"

    regardless - very few people are going to see that argument and not see it in terms of some culture-war dispute. as i noted above.

    you may have a case on the merits, but its not particularly convincing as your first cited example. and whinging about private media (like Reason*) choosing to also refer to bradley-as-Chelsea belies your claim to a primary concern about Wikipedia editorial policy.

    *fwiw, people here bitched about that, generally finding the whole thing a little silly.

    It was recently noted that Jeb Bush at one point referred to himself as "hispanic". I (and others) noted that, per the 'Chelsea'-example, there was no reason Reason (pun intended) shouldn't be equally respectful of Signor Bush's new cultural self-identifier.

  • Porque Pig||

    Yes, I have strong opinions about the appropriateness of revising history to line up with a person's current feelings and preferences (in both the Manning and Bush cases).

    I do not agree that one must be an objective observer with no independent opinions in order to blow the whistle at abuses of power. A sustainable model for intellectual discourse is for opinionated people to be kept intellectually honest by opinionated people on the other side, not to have paragons of neutrality policing everyone.

  • GILMORE||

    "I do not agree that one must be an objective observer with no independent opinions in order to blow the whistle at abuses of power."

    I didn't say you did.

    I said your argument wouldn't be convincing. I don't think it provides an example of "abuse" that most people would necessarily agree about, and any claims that you're primarily concerned about editorial neutrality would be over-rided by the perception that you are mostly concerned with taking sides in a culture-war debate.

  • Chumby||

    The Elizabeth Warren WP only lists her fake heritage in a section regarding its controversey.

  • ||

    I just went to check that out. It's pretty awful. I feel like everything done as "Bradley" should be referred to in the masculine, and when "s/he/it" made the change to "Chelsea" it's fine to switch to feminine pronouns. But otherwise it makes it seem like Chelsea always existed, which is inaccurate at best and an outright lie at worst.

  • Porque Pig||

    There was actually a very nasty dispute when the changes first occurred, and the forces of wikitruth prevailed after a week and intervention by unaligned admins, based largely on my argument that the sources did not justify retroactively changing the name was not supported by then-cited sources (though none of the power-abusing asshole admins were disciplined). Of course, as the MSM started referring to Manning exclusively as Chelsea, they kept replacing sources and slowly took over the article.

    Wikipedia has long since become a dictatorship of people with enough time on their hands to edit constantly without getting caught. And the three-revert rule means the person who initiates a change has a huge advantage over those who disagree with the change.

  • Chumby||

    So should Muhammad Ali still be called Cassius Clay? Their pages seem identical in name change format.

  • Eggs Benedict Cumberbund||

    CAGW

  • Zeb||

    Well, science and math stuff and some history (and sometimes current culture stuff like TV shows or movies) is pretty much what I use it for, so I think it's great. Especially for math and "hard" science. You do have a point, though, I think. But it's hard for an encyclopedia that covers current events to avoid having an editorial bias of some sort.

  • Win Bear||

    So the FCC has wisely chosen to avoid any categorical regulation of zero-rated services in general.

    Really? Regulatory uncertainty is "wise"? We really want regulatory agencies that get into the business of judging whether content is worthy of a "zero rating" or not?

    I like Wikipedia. I think having it available for free is good. But I also think YouTube is at least as valuable, and I don't see it getting a zero rating. And I don't want the FCC making those determinations. Either categorically allow all "zero rated" services or categorically rule them out. Regulatory uncertainty is worse than either choice.

    We're currently in the early experimental stages of net neutrality as a policy in the United States. It's too soon to say whether our American experiment has already proved the theory right for the world.

    I really don't think America needs to be an experimental laboratory for regulation; Europe serves that purpose admirably. The "American experiment" has always been an experiment in liberty, but it's evidently coming to an end.

  • Bill||

    We want a nation of men and not laws. Everything should be decided as
    close to the top as possible, taking "special" considerations into account
    on a case by case basis. What could possible go wrong?

  • Dweebston||

    I have no doubt that's a distinction meant to placate any nascent concerns that might arise among NN devotees that reclassification isn't an entirely innocent process.

  • sarcasmic||

    The "American experiment" has always been an experiment in liberty, but it's evidently coming to an end.

    Yep. America was founded on the principles of liberty, where men should be free to do whatever the fuck they want to do, including commerce, so long as they don't harm the life, liberty, or property of anyone else.

    Now freedom means asking permission and obeying orders.

    Enumerated governmental powers and unenumerated rights have given way to enumerated rights and unlimited governmental power.

    American exceptionalism is dead.

  • GregMax||

    Sometimes I feel like I've driven down the road only to discover it's a cul-de-sac. The trajectory doesn't look good.

  • Mike Godwin||

    It's not "regulatory uncertainty" when the FCC forbears to regulate. Similarly, it's not "guilt uncertainty" when people are presumed innocent under criminal law. The precise message that zero-rated services have taken away from this is that they're presumptively "innocent" of anti-competitive behavior.

  • Paul.||

    I haven't yet read the article, doing that now, but:

    argues that zero-rated Wikipedia is an unalloyed blessing, especially in the developing world where internet access is priced expensively by the byte.

    What would a regulation in Washington DC have to do with internet provider pricing in the developing world?

  • Mike Godwin||

    The answer is that international net-neutrality activists are using the FCC report and order as a prescription for regulation in their home jurisdictions (plus internationally).

  • Paul.||

    I have no trouble stepping away from absolutist arguments for net neutrality where doing so advances that mission. This is why I think the estimable blog Techdirt is misguided when it trashes all zero-rated offerings as inherently corrupt and anti-competitive (see "T-Mobile Still Doesn't Understand (Or Simply Doesn't Care) That Their 'Music Freedom' Plan Tramples Net Neutrality").

    So what's obviously already occurring, is various supporters of NN are now in the massively predicted fight over who should qualify as a "winner" and a "loser".

    Pretty much everyone predicted here that NN would result in exactly this kind of bickering and years down the road, the proponents of NN would be loudly whining that the regulations didn't work as intended because they were 'corrupted' by interested parties.

    So let me say it: "Wow, that didn't take long"

  • setTHEline||

    Well said. "NN is good except for when it affects me or my interests in a way I don't like."

  • Hamster of Doom||

    America's "Exceptionalism" really boils down to "It's different when it's me doing it."

  • wadair||

    There is nothing neutral about Net Brutality.

  • Hamster of Doom||

    You know the order that sends us all to the cattle cars will be called the Children's Act for Affordable Relocation and Education.

  • wadair||

    I like it. It sounds nicely progressive.

  • Chumby||

    Free Everything Made Available camps

  • Bill||

    All charities are in fact discriminatory since they favor some parties
    over others. Why should they only help poor people? Why do we allow
    the American Cancer Society to only focus on cancer? Need some charity
    neutrality as well.

  • Paul.||

    (I'm deliberately avoiding the first-world-problem perspective I detect in some net-neutrality absolutists.) As I've hinted, a similar argument may be advanced for Facebook Zero and other for-profit offerings, but you don't even need to ask cui bono when it comes to Wikipedia Zero. We all benefit, including those of us who never will use Wikipedia Zero.

    You know... I may be judging Godwin too harshly here, but I'm feeling a bit assaulted by: Our stuff good, their stuff bad, so keep us unregulated!

    I'm getting the vibe that because he favors regulation on others, that's how he defines his phrase "Net Neutrality Absolutists". The absolutists want to regulate everyone, I suppose?

  • setTHEline||

    It's a delicate balance and takes some mental gymnastics. Absolutist means you've been excluded from the special interests, therefore blowing your opportunity for grafting off a piece of policy or legislation.

  • Mike Godwin||

    Keep in mind that I have no affiliation at all with Facebook Zero. So, I expressly said that Facebook Zero -- which is not "my stuff" -- is defensible. I even said so in the quotation you provided here.

  • Paul.||

    Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes would agree that concepts like "net neutrality" and "common carriage" are also part of his formulation of the "free trade in ideas,"

    Ok then, I'm sold.

  • american socialist||

    Hey Reason eds.,

    There's a tremendously encouraging story of Obama shaking hands with the leader of a country we almost launched a nuclear war against and whose leaders haven't spoke to each other in 50 years. It's here at http://mobile.nytimes.com/2015.....rism.html. I know its important to keep up with the Two Decades of Hate Movement against Leftists who do things like oppose the Drug War, campaign for gay rights, and want to reduce military spending, but maybe you can tuck this somewhere on the website where people won't read it-- like on the blog ads.

  • Sevo||

    american socialist|4.11.15 @ 1:06PM|#
    "Hey Reason eds.,
    There's a tremendously encouraging story of Obama shaking hands with the leader of a country we almost launched a nuclear war against and whose leaders haven't spoke to each other in 50 years"

    No, we never 'almost launched' a nuclear war against Cuba, and amazingly enough, most of us here favor relations with Cuba, unlike many of your proggy friends, since it will begin the process of turning current horrible socialist economy into something more liberal.
    Maybe they'll drop communism entirely, stop throwing people in jail for their opinions, and stop running a slave operation!
    And, hey, asshole, did you notice how quickly the 'historic deal' with Iran turned out to be a unicorn sighting? Have you paid your mortgage yet?

  • Jordan||

    most of us here favor relations with Cuba, unlike many of your proggy friends

    Hell, commie kid himself has lamented on these very pages that Cubans might get more freedom and more wealth and screw up his aesthetic preferences.

  • Sevo||

    "[...]screw up his aesthetic preferences."

    Commies are pretty much the stuff at the bottom of the septic tank; they love them some starving people! So "authentic"; I'll bet commie-kid's wall paper is some mass grave or other with bones sticking out.

  • sarcasmic||

    But poverty is so romantic!

  • american socialist||

    As I said, I'm for establishing diplomatic relations with Cuba and for the ability to travel there-- which I did, illegally, in 2008. I'm just not sure if I were Cuban that I would be without ambivalence at the prospect of their fanatical kinsmen in Miami-- not to mention Spring Breakers-- being able to pay so easy a visit.

    For me, I'm thrilled at the prospect of having these idiotic laws reversed. Do you think people like Marco Rubio and Jen bush would have done the same?

  • Sevo||

    american socialist|4.11.15 @ 3:57PM|#
    "For me, I'm thrilled at the prospect of having these idiotic laws reversed. Do you think people like Marco Rubio and Jen bush would have done the same?"

    Why don't you ask them? You seem to listen to the voices in your head quite often.

  • hpearce||

    The way to face down people like Rubio and Bush would be to point out that boycotts not only are against the businesses in the country being boycotted BUT ALSO against U.S. businessmen too (from doing business there) !.

    That means a state intervention into the U.S. market which supposedly Rubio and Bush would support. LOL

  • wadair||

    I'm just not sure if I were Cuban that I would be without ambivalence at the prospect of their fanatical kinsmen in Miami-- not to mention Spring Breakers-- being able to pay so easy a visit.


    How terrible: commerce. Surely the Cuban people would rather starve than to have hordes of customers coming in from Florida.

  • Chumby||

    Hey Amsoc:

    So you want it so you can legally travel there but ban anyone else that might result in more but unequal freedoms for Cubans not named Castro?

  • Jerry on the sea||

    Yeah, can we place bets on when Iran will be removed from the list of state sponsors of terrorism?!

  • Eggs Benedict Cumberbund||

    Stop stealing from me by paying your mortgage. You fucking ass wipe.

  • american socialist||

    "current horrible socialist economy into something more liberal"

    Yeah, right. Tell that to the Russians-- those that didn't steal something outright-- and watch them crack up.

  • Sevo||

    american socialist|4.11.15 @ 3:43PM|#
    "Yeah, right. Tell that to the Russians-- those that didn't steal something outright-- and watch them crack up."

    I'll bet you thought that was some sort of rejoinder to my statement, right?
    WIH is that supposed to mean?

  • wadair||

    I have a neighbor from Ukraine who'd beg to differ with you. He and his family immigrated here in about 1995.

    You really know nothing of which you speak. Many of those who could, got out when the borders opened. But you wouldn't understand that because you assume that socialism/communism is a paradise.

    Ideologically induced poverty is a crime against humanity.

  • OldMexican||

    Re: American Stolid,

    There's a tremendously encouraging story of Obama shaking hands with the leader of a country we almost launched a nuclear war against


    There is also a sale at Penny's!


    I know its important to keep up with the Two Decades of Hate Movement against Leftists who do things like oppose the Drug War


    The left opposed the Drug War? Since when?


    campaign for gay rights[...]


    ... While at the same time fucking them in the ass by campaigning against their economic freedom and property rights... along with everybody else's.

  • Sevo||

    OM, link no work.

  • OldMexican||

  • Sevo||

    Bumper's good!

  • american socialist||

    "The Left opposed the drug war"

    Yep. http://m.huffpost.com/us/entry/3504727

    I read your link below... I didn't see anything about the drug war, just the absolute horror of socialism in Spain. Have Spanish socialists renounced their austerity plan yet or no?

  • Sevo||

    "I read your link below... I didn't see anything about the drug war, just the absolute horror of socialism in Spain."

    Yeah, asshole, adding 1 and 1 and getting 2 is beyond you.

  • Zeb||

    I'll grant that some liberals have always opposed the drug war. But not so many actually oppose prohibition entirely. They just want a "kinder, gentler" drug war by another name. And maybe legal or decriminalized weed. I've convinced a few, but you don't find too many on the left who agree with libertarians about completely eliminating drug prohibition.

  • Sevo||

    Zeb|4.11.15 @ 5:20PM|#
    "I'll grant that some liberals have always opposed the drug war"

    So you're perfectly happy with words rather than action?

  • wadair||

    ...just the absolute horror of socialism in Spain.


    For some background there's a classic book titled The Revolt of the Masses by Spanish journalist and philosopher José Ortega y Gasset which describes the public rejection, in Spain, of liberal democracy in favor of an autocratic, socialist replacement of the monarchy they had just overthrown.

    The Spanish people--much like you and your ilk--could not shoulder the responsibility of liberty and chose collectivism instead. Almost a century later we easily and strikingly see the error of their cowardice. Liberty requires a backbone that too many lack. It's that lack of backbone and personal integrity that explains your affinity toward socialism/marxism.

    You should read it. Maybe you will see yourself as the irresponsible coward that you are.

  • Porque Pig||

    If the Castros are as eager to imitate America as Obama is to imitate Cuba, it's very good news for the Cubans.

  • Hamster of Doom||

    High taxes, regulatory capture, massive price inflation, hostile business environment, and a police state.

    Yeah. Run, Cuba. Run like hell. You don't want none of this.

  • Win Bear||

    I know its important to keep up with the Two Decades of Hate Movement against Leftists who do things like oppose the Drug War, campaign for gay rights, and want to reduce military spending,

    Yes, unfortunately, that's all you people ever do: "opposing", "campaigning", and "wanting". Leftists, socialists, progressives, like Christian conservatives, always have the best of intentions.

    However, when you actually govern, you end up being the biggest crony capitalists, war mongers, and totalitarians of them all.

  • GILMORE||

    "Leftists who do things like oppose the Drug War"

    Obama hasn't done shit about "opposing the drug war" and continues to come up with bullshit excuses why he should maintain this policy of pretending its not his fucking problem. And "leftists" not only *don't complain* about it... they pretend that its someone else's fault. See = Guantanamo, NSA, and pretty much every other bullshit perpetuation of the police-state.

    leftists are always congratulating themselves for their 'anti-war' stances, but seem to vanish when someone with a blue tie is doing wonderful things like "refueling the Saudi jets currently bombing Yemeni civilians" You won't even find any hand-wringing about that shit on DemocraticUnderground, alternet, or Salon, because they prefer to pretend it aint happening.

  • american socialist||

    When is the last time the Left has run anything in this country? FDR? Yeah, I'm sure he is PE#1 amongst cultists-- otherwise, I've heard, he is widely credited with ending the Great Depression and defeating Hitler-- you know, along with Stalin.

  • Sevo||

    american socialist|4.11.15 @ 3:49PM|#
    "When is the last time the Left has run anything in this country?"
    Well, let's see: LBJ, Carter, Clinton until congress pulled the plug on that hag's power grab, Obo. Gee, quite a few, asshole.

    "FDR? Yeah, I'm sure he is PE#1 amongst cultists-- "
    Slimy king wanna-be, criminally negligent in not preparing Truman. But he was kning of the Ponzi schemes, price fixing and a real try at packing the court. Real hero, you got there asshole.

    "otherwise, I've heard, he is widely credited with ending the Great Depression"
    Bullshit

    "and defeating Hitler-- you know, along with Stalin."
    Yeah, just like Obo killed Osama.
    Fortunately, FDR spent time scheming with Churchill and left the war to others, but a product of gov't schools like you wouldn't have a clue about that.
    Stalin, OTOH, finally got out of the way after managing to get about 8M of his "subjects" killed in the early going. If he'd have kept it up, they'd be speaking German all the way to the Urals.

  • american socialist||

    Sevo,

    Yes, as I said, cultists don't dig fdr. Otherwise, he's pretty much ranked #3. I say he's a spot above that as he didn't equate political democracy with the right of big business to buy off an election. I know that some of us think this is Jim dandy. Can anyone use perversely in a sentence for me? Thanks.

  • Sevo||

    american socialist|4.11.15 @ 5:29PM|#
    "Yes, as I said, cultists don't dig fdr"

    Yes, assholes do. Most of the same assholes who excused Stalins' murderous reign. I'm sure you're quite proud to be among them, asshole.
    -------------------------------
    "I say he's a spot above that as he didn't equate political democracy with the right of big business to buy off an election."

    I'll bet you think that sentence means something other than a display of your ignorance.

  • GILMORE||

    Ah, of course.

    I always forget how the Communists weren't real "socialists", and how the modern Left isnt *really* the Really Real Left either... and that no matter how enormous the failures of leftist ideology, its always the 'wrong example' because the policy wasn't "left enough" or was enacted by the "wrong people"

    The left is full of brilliant ideas, endlessly screwed up by the shortcomings of actual people.

  • american socialist||

    I'll take Obama, but sevo thinks lbj, carter and Clinton were Leftists. I don't really know where to go from there except to note that carter and Clinton actively campaigned against the left of the party-- whom they deemed mcgovernites. Apparently, this means you don't want to spend hundreds of billions of dollars on defense and/or don't want to build tens of thousands of nuclear weapons. Dreadful things, I know.

  • Zeb||

    I'll agree about Carter, anyway. He's definitely of the left now, but as president he was far from far left. He just wasn't very good at the job.

  • Sevo||

    american socialist|4.11.15 @ 5:20PM|#
    "I'll take Obama, but sevo thinks lbj, carter and Clinton were Leftists. I don't really know where to go from there"

    Sure you do, asshole; make lame excuses just like Gilmore predicted. If the left had anything worth listening to since 1917, you might have something to say. Instead it's the same, tired crap.

  • Atlas Slugged||

    By Jove, I actually think you believe FDR ended the Great Depression. Your idiocy is truly an abyss...

  • Agammamon||

    When is the last time the Left has run anything in this country?

    Uhm, President Obama and a Democratic majority in Congress ringing any bells. You know, right around 2008?

    The guy who ran two wars, pushed through an atrocious health care 'reform' system?

    The guy who says he has unilateral authority to start wars and kill Americans?

    The guy who says that if Congress won't do what he wants - well he's got a pad *full* of executive orders?

    That guy? Sound familiar?

  • Trigger Warning||

    Any POTUS should, upon assuming office, issue as his first executive order one that nullifies all the executive orders of his immediate predecessor. That would be awesome.

  • Chumby||

    Hey Amsoc:

    Obama, Pelosi, and Reid raised the costs of the health insurance that my family pays by $4,600 two years ago and we ended up with higher deductibles and lesser coverage. Or do you not remember the PPACA?

  • Win Bear||

    When is the last time the Left has run anything in this country?

    Depends on what you mean by "the Left". The American left, i.e., the Democrats, have been running things on and off for quite some time.

    Having grown up in a country where "the Left" actually ran things in a serious way, I count my lucky stars that they never did so here.

    FDR wasn't even a leftists, he was a dyed-in-the-wool progressive, which places him halfway between crony capitalism and fascism. As far as I'm concerned, that's worse than socialism. But he sounds like your kind of guy.

  • Agammamon||

    I know its important to keep up with the Two Decades of Hate Movement against Leftists who do things like oppose the Drug War, campaign for gay rights, and want to reduce military spending,

    Which leftists would that be - certainly not Obama nor either of the Clintons.

    Not Pelosi, Boxer, Feinstein, Leahy, Mikulski, Reid, Schumer, or Warren either.

    *Maaaaybe* Sanders.

  • Paul.||

    I know its important to keep up with the Two Decades of Hate Movement against Leftists who do things like oppose the Drug War,

    Wrong.

  • Sevo||

    The article seems like a very long-winded effort of justifying some regulation or other (I really have a hard time telling), but:

    "This result is something very closely aligned with the longstanding mission of the project: free knowledge, available to everyone, to which everyone can contribute."

    I use Wiki quite a bit as a starter resource; you can go to links from there and get good data, but all the gymnastics involved in the distribution suggest pretty strongly that there is a structural problem and I'm pretty sure it's the sentence above: Knowledge is NOT free. It is an economic good like many others.
    You may, as Wiki does, run begging sessions to pay for it. Or you could simply drop the anti-bizz posture and sell adds, but one way or the other, it is NOT free.

  • american socialist||

    Fuck that. Wikipedia should get a benefactor like this website does.

  • Sevo||

    american socialist|4.11.15 @ 1:15PM|#
    "Fuck that. Wikipedia should get a benefactor like this website does."

    This website runs adds, asshole.
    Pay your mortgage yet, or are you hoping for a 'benefactor1?

  • Notorious G.K.C.||

    Is George Soros available?

  • Porque Pig||

    And I'm sure that benefactor will be OK with having a criticism section in his or her article.

  • Porque Pig||

    How is it "anti-business" to refuse to sell ads?

    There's a legitimate concern that selling ads is incompatible with Wikipedia's neutral POV standards. If asking for funds works then why shouldn't they do that?

  • Sevo||

    "There's a legitimate concern that selling ads is incompatible with Wikipedia's neutral POV standards. If asking for funds works then why shouldn't they do that?"

    Yes, receiving money from begging obviously won't sway any opinions, while receiving money from trade will!
    Magically, that trade makes the money so much more powerful right?
    Care to run that through the logic machine again? Is PBS' POV "neutral" since they don't take ads?

  • Porque Pig||

    PBS' non-neutrality does not have to do with their funding source, it has to do with what TV production and journalist types do when they're given free reign. Indeed PBS is actually far less biased than most MSM TV outlets (NPR is a different story of course). Hell, the Kochs fund PBS programs and I never noticed any pro-Koch bias on PBS.

  • Sevo||

    Porque Pig|4.11.15 @ 3:18PM|#
    "PBS' non-neutrality does not have to do with their funding source, it has to do with what TV production and journalist types do when they're given free reign."

    Which doesn't back your claim that selling ads would bias the POV.

  • Porque Pig||

    An ad that doesn't have a biased POV is a pretty awful ad.

  • Sevo||

    Porque Pig|4.11.15 @ 3:43PM|#
    "An ad that doesn't have a biased POV is a pretty awful ad."

    You didn't claim an ad had a bias, you claimed:
    "There's a legitimate concern that selling ads is incompatible with Wikipedia's neutral POV standards."
    Now, prove it.

  • Zeb||

    Advertisers pressure their beneficiaries when they don't like the content adjacent to their ads. It happens. I'm obviously all for commerce and whatever it brings. But I don't think you can deny that advertisers have influence over content. I don't think it is a bad impulse to want some places to be free of that.

  • Sevo||

    Zeb|4.11.15 @ 5:33PM|#
    "Advertisers pressure their beneficiaries when they don't like the content adjacent to their ads. It happens."

    Just like Warren pressures Reason when one of her ads ends up here? And of course, those who 'donate' money never apply pressure, right?
    Sorry, try one more time: Prove that money resulting from trade is somehow more 'filthy' than money from begging.
    I'm waiting.

  • Porque Pig||

    You may have noticed that, in addition to ads, Reason has to beg for money too (and has the backing of a prestigious nonprofit org). Google ads don't pay much precisely b/c advertisers can't control what context they show up in.

    And of course Wikipedia's goal is to have a completely NPOV appearance when a user is reading an article. Pasting an ad on that destroys it, even if there's no potential for pressure.

  • Sevo||

    Ya know, you're very good as dancing around any real answer, and I presume this is so you might continue to promote your narrative:

    Porque Pig|4.11.15 @ 9:13PM|#
    "You may have noticed that, in addition to ads, Reason has to beg for money too (and has the backing of a prestigious nonprofit org

    Which is not an answer to my question at all, is it?
    ------------------------------------
    "Google ads don't pay much precisely b/c advertisers can't control what context they show up in."

    Uh, they pay Google enough to make it one of the most valuable companies in the world, regardless of the fact that, again, you haven't answered my question.
    ------------------------------------
    "And of course Wikipedia's goal is to have a completely NPOV appearance when a user is reading an article. Pasting an ad on that destroys it, even if there's no potential for pressure."
    ------------------------------------
    So, IOWs, it's bullshit to attract people like you?
    Oh, good! Now we finally get the answer: It's the proggy 'we mean well, even if the result sucks?
    Thank you; did you have to go through all that bullshit to admit you really don't have a point at all?
    Fuck you.

  • Sevo||

    Two further comments:
    1) You are a slimy piece of crap who presumes superiority over hoi poloi; someone 'anointed' to edit some Wiki misinformation and I'm sure editing it in such a way that hoi poloi is saved from thinking for themselves.
    2) Porky, I am definitely saving this under the title of "Wiki Bullshit Claims of Purity, Porque" so the next time you claim X it doesn't take nearly as much time so show you're a bullshitter.
    Fuck you.

  • Sevo||

    Oh, and Zeb, do you want to defend your claim?
    I'm waiting.

  • Win Bear||

    There's a legitimate concern that selling ads is incompatible with Wikipedia's neutral POV standards.

    Legitimate how? Wikipedia has no control over ad placement if they go with a major ad network, and the ads simply adapt to whatever POV Wikipedia has, neutral or otherwise.

  • Mike Godwin||

    If Wikipedia is costing you extra money, something has gone terribly wrong.

  • Francisco d'Anconia||

    Kiss it all goodbye.

    All the good that was the intertubez, all the liberty, all the free association, all the free commerce, free thought, free exchange of ideas, all the free porn... all of it will be gone with government regulation, just like free trade.

    Now it will be a government propaganda/spy machine right out of 1984. And with majority support...

    So this is how liberty dies...with thunderous applause.

  • sarcasmic||

    I don't know if the internet is going away, but innovation is certainly going to come to a grinding halt. Nothing new will happen unless it gets approval of federal flunkies who have no knowledge or understanding that which they are making decisions about. So decisions will be made not on the merit of the idea, but on who is best at kissing ass.

  • Francisco d'Anconia||

    I don't know if the internet is going away, but innovation is certainly going to come to a grinding halt.

    That was my inference. Didn't mean it would cease to exist, but that all the goodness that comes from it's existence will be strangled. Just as it has in the business world.

  • Francisco d'Anconia||

    *its

    Apologies to the apostrophe nazi

  • Trigger Warning||

    Forgiven.

  • Zeb||

    I think that is what will happen. Things won't change too much, that would piss too many people off. But innovation will be strangled.

    Liberty may die with thunderous applause, but you still have to keep the people applauding happy. And they won't be happy if they can't have their Netflix and free Youtube and free porn.

  • AlbedoAtoned||

    Many people are completely insane. They spend days fighting to get free shit. They are pissed when they don't get free shit. Then somebody actually offers free shit. And they are pissed they can get some free shit. If the author was trying to portray zero rated services as bad, they failed. I saw that ad for what amounts to free radio service on t-mobile. It wasn't enough to get me to switch, but I would be lying if I didn't think it could sway others. If I used internet radio enough, perhaps I would find it such a great deal. Wikipedia getting similar deals doesn't hurt me. I'm fine with businesses teaming up to offer me services at discounted or free prices (since data does cost money). And hey, at the least it costs me nothing more if I don't use it.

  • Sevo||

    AlbedoAtoned|4.11.15 @ 1:58PM|#
    "Many people are completely insane. They spend days fighting to get free shit. They are pissed when they don't get free shit. Then somebody actually offers free shit."

    There is NO free shit. Period.

  • Mike Godwin||

    Which author is trying to portray zero-rated services as bad? Just curious.

  • OldMexican||

    Take "net neutrality." Basically, this is the broad term for policy and regulation that prevents service providers from favoring some services and applications over others.


    Sorta like Affirmative Action for the needless.


    In developing countries, data caps effectively discourage people from using Wikipedia as extensively, cheating them of the gift of a free informational resource, and thus cheating us all of their contributions.


    And the solution is to do away with data caps? Isn't that like oh, I don't know - making a good free? Ins't that a guarantee of scarcity, like toilet paper in Venezuela is scarce?

  • sarcasmic||

    “The first lesson of economics is scarcity: There is never enough of anything to satisfy all those who want it. The first lesson of politics is to disregard the first lesson of economics.”

    ― Thomas Sowell

  • Scarecrow Repair||

    I have long since had one guiding experience: everything government touches, it screws up. In my case, it started with the Vietnam War, then continued with NASA post-Apollo, and has continued with such a losing streak that I have come around to the very pragmatic experience-based conclusion that government is simply incapable of doing anything well.

    So Net Neutrality .... never having really understood exactly what people want to fix, I nevertheless knew that any government "solution" would break more than it fixed. This article just confirms my belief; the thrust seems to be that whatever else the FCC does, it should leave Wikipedia Zero alone, because ... intentions? Charitable? Top.Men making decent decisions?

    So, sorry, no, there is nothing good to come from the FCC regulating the Internet.

    You know that list that comes out every fall, of things that new college kids never knew, like life without a dynastic President, phones without the internet? It will only be ten years or so until the list includes "life without a government internet". All those stories of free-wheeling innovation, of new search engines, new social media .... those kids, ten years from now, will not even understand the concept.

    Where were you on Pearl Harbor day, or 9-11? Now add Net Neutrality to that list.

  • sarcasmic||

    Government is a large, clumsy animal that tramples everything in its path. Expecting it to do anything nuanced is like expecting an ox to repair a watch.

  • Scarecrow Repair||

    Elephants, rhinos, hippos, and probably every Brontosaurus and Aptosaurus that ever lived are all more graceful and delicate than government. To call government any kind of animal is an insult to animals. Politicians, now, they can be compared to feral pigs, uprooting everything they see, but government? Government is like ... government!

  • Francisco d'Anconia||

    Regulan bloodworms?

  • Hamster of Doom||

    Gremlins.

  • Sevo||

    Scarecrow Repair|4.11.15 @ 2:22PM|#
    "I have long since had one guiding experience: everything government touches, it screws up."

    I'll add one: Any time a third-party sticks its nose in a free transaction between two parties, at least one is now going to get screwed and quite possibly both.
    What was free is now coerced, reducing the value on at least one side of the trade.

  • Scarecrow Repair||

    Good one. Reduces government to just another third party busybody. Really sums up what is wrong with government; just another busybody relative trying to run your marriage or job.

  • hpearce||

    Where was I on Pearl Harbor day ?

    I was with FDR and we were both enjoying the bombing on cable TV.

  • Trigger Warning||

    I say we find the Ark and open that fucker.

  • Viscount Irish, Slayer of Huns||

    Salon.com declares the NRA hypocrites for following laws that they don't agree with.

    The gun lobby jumps through hoops each year to comply with the same regulations they would much rather dismantle

    How is it hypocritical to follow laws you don't agree with? I'd like to pay lower taxes, but I'm not going to just not pay my mandated tax rate since I could be imprisoned for it.

    And yes, they are actually going to allow armed people to attend the speeches by the vast roster of Republican presidential candidates who have been summoned to present their bona fides. (Oddly they didn’t bother to invite Rand Paul, and if there’s a more vehement defender of gun rights in the GOP I don’t know who it would be.) But just as it’s not a great idea to allow loaded weapons in state houses (and bars and elementary schools and your local Target) it surely is not a good idea to allow them at political events, even political events featuring Republicans attempting to out-gun each other for the title of most trigger-happy politician in America.

    Oh Salon. Never change.

  • Brochettaward||

    It's the old leftist tactic. They create government programs and laws that everyone has to participate in, and then champion their value based on said participation. Like Obamacare. Or when they attack Ayn Rand for (apparently) making use of social security she paid into her entire life. I mean, she totally should not have taken back her own money because she opposed the existence of the program in the first place, in their world.

    In this case, it's just a more extreme and blatant form of such stupidity because people who own guns really have no choice in the matter at all. The gun manufacturers and sellers would be driven out of business if they didn't comply if not incarcerated.

  • lap83||

    "They create government programs and laws that everyone has to participate in, and then champion their value based on said participation. Like Obamacare. Or when they attack Ayn Rand for (apparently) making use of social security she paid into her entire life."

    I do think there is something to be said for not participating in something that you don't believe in, at least if it's legal to opt out. I wouldn't fault someone for doing it, but it's easier to make the case that it's not necessary if you don't participate in it.

  • Hamster of Doom||

    Rose Wilder Lane did that, as I recall. She refused to accept ration books, in the days of war rationing. She substituted where another was available, grew a garden, or did without. I had an old recipe reputed to belong to her, a jam which used honey instead of sugar.

    No recollection if she refused Social Security, I'd have to look that up.

  • The Tone Police||

    In a fashion antithetical to my Objectivist preferences, I think both arguments are right.

  • ||

    "The opposite of a fact is a falsehood. The opposite of a profound truth may well be another profound truth."
    Niels Bohr

  • Sevo||

    Quote Niels Bohr at you own risk. He was not a native English speaker and he regularly made comments in English that made no sense whatsoever.

  • lap83||

    I can see it being hypocritical if you think your politics trump everything, even the rule of law. If you're an aspiring dictator, basically.

  • OldMexican||

    The gun lobby jumps through hoops each year to comply with the same regulations they would much rather dismantle


    And if they don't, Salon would be there to point out their horrible anarchism.


    Can't ever with with little red Marxians.

  • Viscount Irish, Slayer of Huns||

    The entire article is idiotic. Example:

    Reports of road rage incidents resulting in gun violence are on the rise. In fact, they are now so common that newspapers report them as if they are fender benders.

    They offer no evidence that such incidents are on the rise. Literally they link to no source - she just says it and expects those of us who aren't retarded to take her at her unsourced word.

    But never let it be said that the gun rights zealots are totally rigid in their thinking and have no common sense at all. I have written in the past about the odd hypocrisy of gun proliferation advocates in Republican state houses who refuse to people the right to carry firearms in their work places, even as they pass laws making everyone else work in a world where an angry person with a gun might very well lose his or her temper and decide to make their point with a bullet.

    This is incorrect. Any business place can tell people not to carry guns inside. The building my office is in has a 'no guns' sign outside and they're well within their rights as a private establishment. So Republican law makers aren't being hypocrites by disallowing the carrying of guns in state houses since they also allow any other workplace to do the exact same thing.

    Plus, you actually are allowed to carry guns in the Texas state capitol.

  • Porque Pig||

    Presumably they're referring to states that have laws that prohibit employers from enforcing no-weapons policies in their parking lots.

    Of course very few workplaces have any means of enforcing their anti-gun policies against somebody who walks in to the office and immediately starts shooting people; they can only enforce them by randomly catching a person who forgot he or she was carrying and never intended to harm anyone.

  • Trigger Warning||

    A man intent on committing a crime prepares to walk into a Target. He is armed with a massive S&W .550. It bulges under his jacket like a tumor.

    Approaching the store, he notices a sign that reads "NO WEAPONS OF ANY KIND ALLOWED ON PREMISES."

    Defeated, he slinks back to his car like a scolded dog. Damn that sign! Damn it to hell!

    ...this scenario is what anti-guntards think their GUN FREE ZONE policies make possible.

  • Chumby||

    Just have a sign banning NRA GOA members including if they want a cake with firearm decorations.

  • The Tone Police||

    Just so I can get this straight, I'm supposed to be mad that companies like Tmobile and ATT are offering data-free usage of music? Why? "Because something something smaller streaming services?"

    Let me be clear: I don't give a fuck about some smaller streaming service. I really don't. Only in Proggyville is free stuff now bad.

  • Scarecrow Repair||

    No, free stuff is great and indeed the only way to provide stuff, but only when government magic makes it free. You know: government, what we do together, because how else would the lazy and selfish be able to steal from the hard working if the hard working weren't too busy working to keep the lazy proggies at bay?

  • Porque Pig||

    I see we're not familiar with the concept of market power created by naturally high barriers to entry.

    Oligopolies are not a friend of libertarianism.

  • The Tone Police||

    If there is a naturally high barrier to entry, the solution is to "permit" innovation until such time as that barrier erodes. See, e.g.: fracking, satellite dishes circumventing cable, online streaming services routing around traditional television, FIOS, online book publishing, online music publishing, solar panels, hybrid cars, 3D printing....

  • Francisco d'Anconia||

    Monopolies...

    The inspiration of innovation.

  • Porque Pig||

    If there is a naturally high barrier to entry, the solution is to "permit" innovation until such time as that barrier erodes.

    While the existing market players are using their market power to strangle potentially competitive innovation in its crib? Yeah, I'm sure that will work.

  • Beautiful Bean Footage||

    While the existing marketcrony players are using their marketlobbying power to strangle potentially competitive innovation in its crib? Yeah, I'm sure that will work.

  • Beautiful Bean Footage||

    Dammit, I meant to add a FIFY NTN in there too.

  • Francisco d'Anconia||

    Did you fail to notice his examples?

    Monopolies can provide completely new ways of addressing needs. I'll add Uber and Lyft.

  • Porque Pig||

    Did you fail to notice his examples?

    None of them had anything to do with barriers to entry or oligopolies. Online publishing and video are particularly poor examples, as neither the traditional book nor the video market was oligopolic when those products arose, and it's not like the Internet arose in response to book and video industry behavior anyway. I'm not sure what solar panels or fracking have to do with anything. The technology for satellite TV existed before cable TV did; it's just substituting one industry with high barriers to entry for another.

    Uber and Lyft aren't terribly innovative either; jitney services have existed almost as long as the automobile.

  • JWatts||

    Well let's be clear, free stuff from private companies is bad, but free stuff from the Government is Progtopia.

  • Sevo||

    The Tone Police|4.11.15 @ 2:36PM|#
    "Just so I can get this straight, I'm supposed to be mad that companies like Tmobile and ATT are offering data-free usage of music? Why? "Because something something smaller streaming services?""

    We might hope that you'd get straight the fact that there is no free shit. None.
    If you're getting it free, someone else is paying for it and only immoral jackasses are happy with that arrangement.
    -------------------------------
    "Let me be clear: I don't give a fuck about some smaller streaming service. I really don't. Only in Proggyville is free stuff now bad."

    Let me be clear; you're an ignoramus.

  • The Tone Police||

    Your argument makes no sense.

    Of course I know TANSTAAFL. My point was that if Tmobile wants to give me popular streaming services exempt from the cap, only in Proggyland is that now a bad thing because not every service is being treated equally. I know it's not "free", I'm still paying Tmobile to give me a contract where Pandora doesn't count on the data cap.

    This is a crystal clear example of Progs wanting every one to be equally miserable instead of some people being better off.

  • Sevo||

    I stand corrected. My apology.

  • Chumby||

    The U2 album was free to iPhone owners!

  • Eggs Benedict Cumberbund||

    I stopped reading at charity

  • Mike Godwin||

    It's just a legal term of art, like "non-profit." Nothing virtuous required.

  • Sevo||

    Missed this on the first read:
    "While I personally think some limited forms of net neutrality promote free markets and free expression,"

    I don't think this guy is at all familiar with the concept of 'free markets'.

  • Beautiful Bean Footage||

    What, you mean to tell me that federal regulations larded on top of local government created monopolies ostensibly to "fix" same do not constitute a free market? Poppycock! Next, you'll be telling me all about how there is no such thing as Santa Claus or somesuch...

  • Porque Pig||

    It's a balancing act. It's possible that imposing constraints on one segment of the market will reduce them on another segment.

  • Mike Godwin||

    I'm thinking this guy maybe knows something about free markets, including how principles like common carriage apply in free markets. Certainly this guy is routinely paid for knowing something about them.

  • Agammamon||

    Mike Godwin, director of innovation policy at The R Street Institute, argues that zero-rated Wikipedia is an unalloyed blessing, especially in the developing world where internet access is priced expensively by the byte.

    Mike - you are forgetting a couple of things.

    1. Net Neutrality and 'Zero-Rated services' and legal limits on data capping - all are meaningless outside the United States.

    2. COMPETITION MOTHERFUCKER! If a government has the power to designate a 'service' as exempt from data caps then that stifles competition. Sure, it *may* be useful in the short-term, but what about anyone trying to compete with Wikipedia? Now their service is hobbled.

    All this does is give *more* power to the government - to fix a problem that doesn't even exist.

  • Dweebston||

    And I've yet to hear a good reason why ISPs would throttle service, other than reducing peak load from entertainment sites and torrenting, which begins impinging on customer satisfaction. But the world is rife with examples of specific content that governments want stifled. So to correct a potential but unlikely source of censorship we hand the reins to a potential and likely censor. Brilliant.

    Net Neutrality really is the most flagrant bit of concern-trolling idiocy from people with a great deal of time and not a lot of common sense.

  • Porque Pig||

    what about anyone trying to compete with Wikipedia? Now their service is hobbled.

    I don't understand this. Wikipedia loses money the more people visit it -- Godwin's proposal actually would "hobble" Wikipedia if anyone. The normal instincts of market competition don't apply to this kind of nonprofit activity.

  • Sevo||

    "The normal instincts of market competition don't apply to this kind of nonprofit activity."

    Yep, that claim of non-commercial "purity" requires all sorts of gymnastics to justify.

  • Greg F||

    Wikipedia loses money the more people visit it -- Godwin's proposal actually would "hobble" Wikipedia if anyone.

    I don't know why you would think this is true unless you assume that their income has no bearing on how much traffic they generate. People tend to donate to charities they see as being successful. According to Wikimedia's 2012 990 their donations have grown from roughly $7.6 million in 2008 to over $45 million in 2012.

    The normal instincts of market competition don't apply to this kind of nonprofit activity.

    Your first mistake is thinking an IRS tax designation means they don't make a profit. In fact Wikimedia in 2012 had income of roughly $45 million and expenses of roughly $35 million. That is a profit of $10 million. They also have 8 staff members making in excess of $175K. Tell me the executive staff don't have the "normal instincts of market competition".

    I think you have Disney land view of nonprofits. Having been involved in all aspects of nonprofits from serving on a board, working for one, and doing contract work for quite a few my opinion of them is not very high.

  • Sevo||

    "Your first mistake is thinking an IRS tax designation means they don't make a profit. In fact Wikimedia in 2012 had income of roughly $45 million and expenses of roughly $35 million. That is a profit of $10 million. They also have 8 staff members making in excess of $175K. Tell me the executive staff don't have the "normal instincts of market competition"."

    I'd say that's not porky's first mistake; that one is presuming that profit-making businesses are somehow less "pure" than non-profits. Porky's kinda stupid that way.
    But you're right about the compensation for 'non-profit' staff. Wife is active in philanthropy; it is *amazing* how many 'non-profit' staffers find it necessary to fly to DC to 'consult' and somehow can't find the time to arrange that camping trip for the kids that the fund-raiser was to deliver.
    I'll add one more point: The profit motive focuses the mind. Wanna bet, if stock-holders were involved, some of those staff members wouldn't make $175K?
    With no stockholders peering over your shoulder, it's easy to give your buddy $175K; hey, he's a nice guy, right?

  • Mike Godwin||

    I didn't "forget" your points. I simply disagree with them.

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  • hpearce||

    How would recognizing freedom of internet communication have "stopped" Net Neutrality ?

    First, mandating that ISP's COMMUNICATE all sites would clearly violate freedom of internet communication.

    Second would be something like this. Consider if the state mandated you speak at a certain TONE. Would that violate freedom of speech (oral communication) ? I think it would as your tone does communicate things. Next is to relate this to internet communication

    How about dictating internet communication SPEED ? Does that work in a similar way that it can be seen as actually affecting content too ? I'm still unsure but leaning that way. Then that dictate would violate freedom of intent communication too !

    But you get the idea ..... there must be other ways were Net Neutrality rules can be seen as actually violating freedom of communication simply by doing its regulations.

  • Sevo||

    "How about dictating internet communication SPEED ? Does that work in a similar way that it can be seen as actually affecting content too ?"

    No.
    Go away.

  • hpearce||

    lol, you seem so sure.

    Or do I just suspect you wish to disagree with me ? lol :)

  • hpearce||

    so a very slow Internet playing a movie would deliver the same meaning as as a faster one ?

    Are quality and meaning related at all, do you think ?

  • Dweebston||

    You've invented a scenario in which a company might capriciously attempt to shed happy customers to its competitors as a cautionary tale to convince the rest of us to cheer on the FCC as it accrues to itself power to begin going after content providers on a political basis.

    And we're supposed to be convinced that, in all of this, cronies like Comcast and Time Warner are the villains. No, thanks, really. I think we can find our way out from here.

  • Sevo||

    hpearce|4.11.15 @ 8:01PM|#
    "so a very slow Internet playing a movie would deliver the same meaning as as a faster one ?"

    So is sophistry they only way you attempt to make a point?
    Hint: In any real-world application, what you propose is either stupid as no provider would do so, or trivial in that no one cares.
    So let me make this clear: To those of us with some modicum of intelligence, you've become insulting, regardless of what your mommy tells you about your ability to "think".
    Fuck off.

  • bassasaurusrex||

    This article reads heavily like someone who didn't completely think his pro-net neutrality stance all the way through and now regrets it. (as he should) You keep arguing about Developing countries being affected by Wiki Zero but that has ZERO (no pun intended) to do with regulations in the US. Each country set their own standards. Don't expect Zimbabwe to offer Wikipedia for free if the US makes it zero rated; unless Zimbabwe has already been offering that.

    This article should focus on the real issue; dumping net neutrality writ large. Don't think of ways to chip away at it. The complete eradication of these misguided rules are of the utmost importance.

  • Mike Godwin||

    Actually, you're mistaken. The FCC Report and Order is already being advanced around the world as a model for other governments. Yes, already. I was just in Manila talking about net-neutrality rules, and in Cambodia before that. A big chunk of my work centers on knowing how governments around the world respond to American regulation. Hence this column, which is advising people in the international space to wait before they jump onto the Report and Order bandwagon. (Perhaps I stated this too gently in the final paragraphs, but I did say it, and I kind of hoped people would read to the end.)

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