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View Diary: FCC Sources: Chair Leaning toward Breaking Obama's Net Neutrality Promise (111 comments)

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  •  The Wonks May Be the Problem Here (9+ / 0-)

    During the late '90s the argument over how to consider the internet in terms of policy arose.  I was in Austin, serving on a city level telecommunications commission at the time.  One of my colleagues is now an FCC staffer.

    It happens that Austin was the site of some stirring telecommunications history.

    In the 1920s, the city council adopted a policy document stating that precincts on the east side of the city were areas outside of zones for investing in infrastructure, which at that time meant power lines, telephone lines, and other municipal services that the west side was a high priority for.  

    The prevailing philosophy was exactly what today's Republicans would come up with.  The east side was deemed to be poor people, mostly Hispanic and Black, and therefore full of people of "no account."  

    Universal service began with politicians like Lyndon Johnson, who campaigned in a spectacular way that people in their '90s might still recall.  He would appear on a farm out in the hill country.  Someone would be washing clothes in an old washtub, since they didn't have electric service.  He would dramatically upend the tub and, standing on it, point to power lines going overhead.  

    The service companies back then didn't think it was cost effective to drop lines to farms to serve individual families in rural areas.  The lines went from generation facilities to cities where the well-to-do were bunched in clumps of densely populated neighborhoods.  

    Universal service, under the Roosevelt administration, created a scenario in which urban consumers partly paid for rural consumers.  The real benefit to society overall was that this arrangement was a foundation of middle class prosperity in ensuing decades.  

    Now, we have a similar situation.  Broadband is the foundation of 21st century prosperity.  

    Unfortunately, I think the telecom policy wonks at the center of the scholarly debate over the legalities and technicalities think universal service is too old fashioned.  

    hope that the idiots who have no constructive and creative solutions but only look to tear down will not win the day.

    by Stuart Heady on Mon May 03, 2010 at 09:59:12 AM PDT

    •  the wonks are corporatist captives but they're (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      chuckvw, Dave925, geomoo

      not the problem as much as the usual industrial suspects including some serious lobbies leveraging the costs of cross-subsidies

      universal service is too old fashioned

      "...calling for a 5" deck gun is not parody. Not by a long shot." (gnaborretni)

      by annieli on Mon May 03, 2010 at 10:07:59 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Lobbying is a part of it, but wonks are a factor (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Cassandra Waites, geomoo, annieli

        The point about wonks is that, while lobbying by the telecoms is on a par with big insurance and big pharma, the FCC is staffed by graduates from various universities that have degree programs in telecommunication policy.  

        The playing field that FCC commissioners operate on, as well as members of Contress, and the staff at the White House, include hundreds, if not thousands of people with PhD pedigress who write the reports and the white papers and the policy documents.  They may or may not agree with the corporate crowd, although there probably are also a lot of lobbyists who went through those degree programs as well.

        The problem for most people on this site is that these arguments about policy can only be influenced by a public informed on a high level about what is really going on, what the assumptions are that all these players bring to the process and what the possible pressure points might really be.  

        hope that the idiots who have no constructive and creative solutions but only look to tear down will not win the day.

        by Stuart Heady on Mon May 03, 2010 at 10:22:17 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  No disagreement but much of this is also about (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          geomoo

          lawyers who overdetermine the policy discourse rather than technocrats since the commodification of spectrum has moved from administrative agency policy to implementation and legislation.

          "...calling for a 5" deck gun is not parody. Not by a long shot." (gnaborretni)

          by annieli on Mon May 03, 2010 at 10:25:26 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Ah yes, the lawyers (4+ / 0-)

            This is a class of player that is hard to distinguish from lobbyists or PhD wonks that staff the system.  

            Generally, the lawyers involved are in it for whoever serves to pay them the best.
            Usually this means there is a heavy pro-telecom bias, although those that have municipal or other public sector clients are in the system as well.  

            The problem that one finds with public sector lawyers is that they have a different concept of government than folks here do.  The Constitution is to empower government to control the population, not to liberate it.  

            hope that the idiots who have no constructive and creative solutions but only look to tear down will not win the day.

            by Stuart Heady on Mon May 03, 2010 at 10:28:12 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

    •  I'm reading these comments with ... (0+ / 0-)

      ...extreme interest. It's a subject in which I am obviously not well informed.

      I refuse to accept "no can do" as a proper slogan for progressives.

      by Meteor Blades on Mon May 03, 2010 at 11:00:24 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

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