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Richard Larsen: Net Neutrality – Another Government Take-over

February 23rd, 2015 by Halli

By Richard Larsen

Like a cancerous growth spreading throughout an otherwise healthy body, government overreach, regulation, and control of every aspect of our free-market system continues to expand, infesting and damaging economic activity one organ, or industry, at a time. The Internet, that bastion of freedom and entrepreneurship, is about to become the government’s newest victim.

Federal Communications Commission (FCC) chairman, Tom Wheeler, an Obama appointee, is presenting the president’s “net neutrality” plan for the commission’s vote in two weeks. As promoted publicly by the administration, even on the White House website, the concept sounds meritoriously egalitarian, preventing internet providers from doling out more bandwidth to some paying customers, like Netflix, than others. But it’s clearly designed to facilitate much more.

fcc-chief-on-net-neutrality-trust-meThe administration’s plan calls for reclassification of the Internet, in toto, as a Title II telecommunications service. Such a designation would allow the government to regulate the Internet based on the Communications Act of 1934, just like the telephone industry.

The 332 page proposal has not yet been made public, though the recommendations are widely known. The “net neutrality” proposal wording was enough for one FCC commissioner to conduct a news conference this week to warn the public of the “secret plan to regulate the Internet.” FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai said the plan was even “worse than I imagined,” and will invariably lead to “rate regulation and taxes.”

The full report and recommendation will not be released to the public until after the FCC approves it at their Feb. 26th meeting. FCC Chairman Wheeler must subscribe to the Nancy Pelosi regulatory and legislative mantra, that it has to be passed so we can know what’s in it. Yet another administration slap in the face of “transparency.”

FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai holding the new FCC rules granting government regulatory control over the internet.
FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai holding the new FCC rules granting government regulatory control over the internet.

As reported in National Journal, commissioner Pai acknowledged that the actual regulations take up just eight pages of the document. Another 79 pages are citations of the Communications Act, which will also dictate the practices of broadband providers. The rest of the document is a summary of public feedback and reasoning for the FCC’s decision, which Pai said is “sprinkled” with unofficial rules.

According to Pai, about the worst part of the proposal is exercising FCC dominion based on Title II. By implementing “net neutrality” under Title II, regardless of the prima facie reason for the new order, the FCC is “giving itself the authority to determine whether a variety of practices—including prices—are ‘just and reasonable.’” In other words, it’s the camel nose in the tent door metaphor. Pretty soon the camel (government regulators) occupies the tent and the providers are out on their ears.

The evidence seems to be on Pai’s side. He explains specifically, “The plan repeatedly states that the FCC will apply sections 201 and 202 of the Communications Act, including their rate regulation provisions, to determine whether prices charged by broadband providers are ‘unjust or unreasonable.’”

Commissioner Pai cautioned that not only does the proposal “open the door to billions of dollars in new taxes on broadband,” but that with the Title II reclassification, technically the government could exercise control over content, as well.

87293_600Current broadband consumption illustrates how ludicrous the proposal is. According to Sandvine data, “in home data consumption is approximately 150 to 200 times greater than mobile consumption. Google (including YouTube) and Netflix account for 45% of fixed broadband traffic. iTunes, Facebook, Amazon and Hulu account for 6% in aggregate. Google and Facebook account for 42% of mobile data. Netflix, Pandora and iTunes take an additional 14%.”

According to the new rules, broadband usage must be shared equally, without allowing providers the ability to adjust for consumption and demand, and other factors. So if you think you’re sick of seeing the spinning “buffering” wheel when watching video online, you “ain’t seen nothin’ yet!” Welcome to the world of net neutrality, a euphemism for broadband socialism – everyone gets their “fair share.”

These are the reasons John Chambers, CEO of Cisco Systems, said, “To go back to a 1950s voice mentality with Title II and net neutrality would be a tremendous mistake for our country… this is a very bad decision. I think the whole country has to rally [against it]. This will cost the country jobs and economic leadership.”

net-neutrality-comic-3The first step of governmental encroachment into an area of the private sector is always the most crucial. For once the proverbial foot is in the door, they just keep pushing and shoving until the door is clear off the hinges, and they control the industry. We’ve seen it time and time again, from banking, telephony, energy, manufacturing, and most recently, health care insurance. The promises are always minimalist, yet the eventuality always exceeds even extreme expectations. Consequently control increases, costs of production and services increase, and those costs are passed from companies in the private sector down to consumers. And the process always seems most costly and punitive to the middle and lower classes.

Ronald Reagan explained this governmental cycle years ago. “If it moves, tax it. If it keeps moving, regulate it. And if it stops moving, subsidize it.” Except in the case of “net neutrality,” they’re regulating it first, and then will come the taxation, the fees, and perhaps even control over accessibility and content.

We’ve seen just recently how governmental control over private sector services changes an industry dramatically, a la Obamacare. It appears we’re about to see “Obamacare” for the Internet, if the FCC rules go into effect. But don’t worry, they promise us that everything will be just fine. If you like your broadband, you can keep it. That sounds eerily familiar.

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Posted in Constitutional Issues, Guest Posts, Pocatello Issues, Presidential Politics, Taxes | No Comments »

Rep. Tom Loertscher: House Highlights, Feb. 10, 2015

February 23rd, 2015 by Halli

By Rep. Tom Loertscher, R-BOne

This week reminded me of saying I heard once, “Ideas are like pizza dough, made to be tossed around.” There are a wide variety of topics that will probably shape the outcome of this year’s legislative session.

There are a number of ideas about how to provide additional funding for roads and bridges for the state. There has been a menu developed from which we would be able to choose. One item is to increase the fuel tax five cents per gallon this year and add an additional one cent each year thereafter. Another item is to impose large increases for registration of electric cars and hybrids. Yet another item on the menu is to impose a fuel transfer fee on each gallon of fuel including fuel used in agriculture. Since Idaho has some of the lowest vehicle registration fees in the country, (we are told) another proposal is to increase all registration fees for all types of vehicles with even heavier increases for large trucks.

Those are just a few of the ideas that are being tossed around having to do with transportation funding. While meeting with County officials last week, they put in their idea for a share of the gas tax increase to go to local governments for road construction and maintenance.

There are a few folks around here that are pushing for a separate presidential primary to be held in March of each presidential election year. There have been a lot of concerns expressed about the caucus system that is being used by both the Republican and Democratic parties. I’ve been asked by several what I thought of the idea, and I have been quite frank about it. If you think it is hard to get a good turnout at two elections in a year, just imagine how much more difficult it would be to have a large turnout three times in one year. And then there is the cost to consider. Well, at least at this point it’s just an idea.

Another issue that is getting a lot of conversation around this place is the Idaho Education Network. At this point there is so much conflicting information about where we are and what potential solutions might present themselves, that it is difficult to even come up with ideas to fix the problem. So far rather than ideas, the main focus seems to be on damage control. That lends itself to the idea of correcting problems that exist in the way services are contracted for the state. A lot of different numbers have been floating around about what it will take to keep the network operating at least until the end of the school year.

So there you have it, just a few of the ideas that are being tossed around the legislature like pizza. So far a lot of tossing to see what might stick. Ideas are like pizza in another way, some really good and others not so much.

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Posted in Constitutional Issues, Education, Idaho Legislature, Rep. Tom Loertscher | No Comments »

Rep. Tom Loertscher: House Highlights, Feb. 1, 2015

February 23rd, 2015 by Halli

by Rep. Tom Loertscher, R-Bone

We were greeted early Monday morning by a crowd of people backed up for almost the entire length of the west and east wings of the capitol. I got a few laughs along the way as I asked, “Is there a party going on somewhere?” I knew of course that they had come from all over the state to participate in the hearing for House Bill 2 (aka; add the words). It turned out to be what is thought to be the largest and longest hearing in the history of the state.

It took over 22 hours of committee time with almost 200 people testifying on the legislation. Everyone who indicated they wanted to testify had a chance to do so. the committee was preached to, castigated for waiting so long, and we even had a lecture or two from lawyers and psychologists. At the beginning of the third day I quoted a former legislator that was famous for his homey little homilies in an effort to expedite the testimony and to avoid duplication. “The oftener you run over a dead cat, the flatter it gets” was his favorite.

Testimony from both sides was passionate and very emotional. After all of the testimony was taken, the vote was to hold the bill in committee. No one in those hearings came away without having deep impressions from what was heard.

There is so much in the background that happens to facilitate a hearing like this. A huge thank you goes out to the Sergeant of Arms and support staff, the Secretaries, the Pages, Security and the State Police. Having directly seen what they did I am in awe.

Other things around this place of interest this week have mostly to do with the budget process. This was the week for education with all of the University Presidents in town to make their pitch for more money, guaranteeing no increase in tuition if the legislature appropriates the money they say they need. The Superintendent of Public Instruction presenting a budget request lower than the Governor is a first, but in either case a large increase.

Hearings will soon begin on the Idaho Education Network. There are several ideas floating around about how to fix this mess, one of which is for the local school districts to apply directly to the Feds for funds to operate the network. I keep thinking about possible outcomes for the Historical Racing issue and I am sure the State Affairs Committee has only begun with interesting hearings this year. As for Medicaid Redesign, I hear a groan every time it is brought up.

It was great to get home for the weekend and get some fresh air and prepare for the week ahead. Linda was in Boise with me last week and as we pulled into our driveway she did what she always does after being gone for a few days. She said, “This is the best place on earth.” Home always is, isn’t it?

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Posted in Constitutional Issues, Family Matters, Guest Posts, Idaho Legislature, Rep. Tom Loertscher | No Comments »

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