Free the Net!
edited: Friday, May 16, 2014
By Michael S. True
Rated "G" by the Author.
Posted: Wednesday, May 14, 2014
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In response to Facebook posts regarding Net Neutrality...
Social communication and the dissemination of information have been at the center of human activities since the first words were etched in stone, thousands of years ago. The control of information and the subsequent development of propaganda and marketing strategies have seen the coming and goings of entire civilizations.
We Americans believe that we have a right to communicate with family and friends. We believe we should also have the right to know what is going on in the world around us. (This is not the case in some countries.) And to this end we actually formed a federation, a system of government based on this concept. We called at least this one aspect of it, “the freedom of speech”.
Our independence from British rule was fueled by a host of writers, many with access to small printing presses. Colonial mail and newspaper services were abundant. Town hall meetings were central to the controversy.
We recognized that we were often dependent on others to deliver our messages. Public and private delivery systems were devised. Benjamin Franklin set up the first postal system in the U.S. back in the 1700’s. Couriers like the Pony Express and Wells Fargo Became historic representations of our entrepreneurial efforts to provide this service, especially as it related to business and industry.
The American legacy seemed benign enough at first. The expanding railroads and our Civil War made conditions for the laying out of an infrastructure of poles and telegraph lines a reality during the 1800’s. Mail cars on trains and telegraph wires would eventually span the continent.
But men of money were already at work behind the scenes. Rail lines were bought up and consolidated. A.T. and T., the American Telephone and Telegraph Company was able to acquire the telegraph lines built by many pre-existing companies, including many of the early telephone coops providing services in the more isolated, rural areas of the country. For most of the 20th century this one company monopolized an entire communications-based industry. It wasn’t until 1989 that the company was forced to break itself apart. It is important to remember that for nearly one hundred years we were obliged to pay the tolls or do without. Monopolies were considered bad for consumers but that never stopped a company from trying to become one.
Similar stories can be told about the numerous radio and TV stations that were forced to become a part of a greater network if they were to get program content. NBC, CBS, and ABC, dominated until the era of the cable feeds. Independent newspapers began to disappear with the rising of publication and distribution costs fueled by the gas shortages of the mid 1970’s. Major television and newspapers survived with the advent of corporate advertising, thus reducing the visibility of small community businesses in favor of corporate produced goods and services.
Time and again we have seen the small gobbled up by the big, not as a matter of choice but as a matter of design. Now goliaths like Comcast, Time-Warner, A.T.&T., Google, Verizon, and the other “usual suspects”, (the behind closed doors dealings of banking and business consortiums seldom revealed to the general public), continue to manage their stranglehold on the exchange of information. Now we deal with a handful of providers and the not-so- unheard of possibility of collusion or conspiracy to set prices. It is a slippery slope that we continue to slide down.
Despite ongoing efforts to thwart this control, money has managed to become the primary voice of reason, and profit, the winners-take-all prize. It’s all a matter of how few times you slice the pie.
At various periods in the history of this country, efforts were made to provide public service-oriented alternatives for a fair and even-handed sharing of information, personal and commercial. This included the U.S. Post Office and the Public Broadcasting System.
However, as has certainly been the case in mainstream industry, loopholes in laws continue to be created to allow private competition an edge in labor and wage negotiations and to afford big business less regulated standards of practice. Then and now we continue to be told that this is the “American Way”.
The outcome has become a small well-appointed army of providers with no other obvious mission than to make ever larger profits at the expense of the citizens it claims to serve. In fact, services are now being auctioned to the highest bidder. We have been pounded by an unending litany of advertising propaganda skillfully designed to trick us into thinking that this is all for the best, the wave of the future, etc., etc..
The Internet, initially a military application developed with public funds from our taxes, was seen to be a whole new level of communication. With encryption, private messages could be sent virtually anywhere in the world. Communication satellites developed by both private and government organizations could piggy-back this new flow of digital data with relatively no additional infrastructure..
Once again, however, we have seen how the rich and powerful have usurped this free stream of information, challenging the access of citizens who cannot begin to compete on any level, despite the fact that the initial research and development was done with public funds! Companies known for gouging customers to the tune of millions if not billions of dollars now want to claim that it was THEIR money that brought the system into existence and THEIR communication infrastructure which allows for it to be bounced around the planet.
What it amounts to is the dressing up of the big bad wolf as the fairy god-mother. Nothing good can come of it!
Once again, many communities are trying to create or maintain their own information infrastructure. The big telecommunications companies are fighting tooth and nail against this practice, putting direct pressure on the FCC and members of Congress. Even the Supreme Court is complicit. There are three sure-fire ways to fight against this corporate dominion; vote, equalize taxes, and boycott.
We must vote out the corporate stooges within local, state, and federal government. We must tax all equally and use the money to serve the public good. We must consider what and where we purchase our services. We must support local and independent service entities, including government-run organizations. I would say that these are the ways of the true sons and daughters of democracy.
Until this movement takes form and acts we will continue to live as mindless consumers. Democracy and any semblance of freedom are drowning in this, our current state of apathy! Tomorrow we will be made to pay for the air! How is this different from servitude or slavery? Will speech continue to be free when we can’t afford to listen?
FREE THE INTERNET!
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|Reviewed by Odin Roark
|It would seem there's little relief, as your article poignantly addresses, for the merciless and most egregious vacuum separating that simple principal, regardless of intelligence, called consciousness. It is but a virtue of mind/heart that trumps the mindless greed that still believes power and money are the triumphal purpose for our species' existence. Of course, only a few of us remain who proffer such ancient understanding. Fine assessment you've penned here. Good to see you sharing your intelligence and heart again. Keep it coming.|
|Reviewed by Ronald Hull
|In the name of "free enterprise" it looks like the same entities are trying to "privatize" the backbone of communication built around the world by governments and educational institutions. If we look at it very carefully, privatizing tends to benefit the privatizor to the detriment of society, regardless of the rosy colored picture painted by the spin doctors of free enterprise and privatization.
Thank you for writing this article bringing to attention what is really going on. I can remember when a simple cable subscription could get you all the channels you would ever want. Now that Comcast has nearly taken over the entire cable network in United States, they have come up with many ways that you have to pay extra to see what you could see earlier for free. If that happens to the Internet we know, most people will be priced out of anything more than very simple, almost useless, Internet access.
|Reviewed by Jansen Estrup
|Our Constitution considers the 'Post' and postal roads more important than the Army and Navy for defense of our nation. Well done, Michael. I'm posting this article to the Web (Post) for wider distribution. Best, Jan|
Michael S. True