Friday, February 27, 2015

Net Neutrality, My Son, and Me


I have a very smart son. He and I discuss things political on occasion and often we disagree. We recently had a long back and forth about the “net neutrality” issue. With yesterday’s vote, his side of the argument has prevailed, so I will have to take his word for it that this is a very good thing.

Like I said, he is very bright (he takes after his mother), and also very opinionated and argumentative (he takes after me). He paints the net neutrality business as narrow corporate interests vs. the greater public good and the interests of the little guy. He accuses NN’s opponents of appealing to the public’s distrust of government with overblown rhetoric about higher taxes and a government takeover of future content. The decision came down on a strict party line vote, which should come as a surprise to no one. Is there any other kind of vote anymore that isn’t straight party line, where Republicans are in the back pocket of business and Democrats always favoring anything that empowers the regulative state?

Anyway, now that the deal is done, I will have to take my son’s word for it that everything is going to be alright, that the heavy hand of government bureaucrats aren’t going to screw up the most vibrant, creative industry in the world. I’ll have to banish visions of DMV incompetence, Postal Service inefficiency, and IRS complexity from my mind. I will have to move on from my fear that this whole NN thing is nothing more than a government money grab.

My son knows much more about the internet and technology in general than I do, so perhaps I should give his views on this subject the benefit of the doubt. However, there is a very good reason why NN’s opponents appealed to the American distrust of government. There is an awful lot to distrust. When he complains that the current system leaves too many people at the mercy of too few giant monopolistic enterprises, I counter with the observation that I would rather be at the mercy of giant companies who are at least ultimately accountable to their share-holders, than to be at the mercy of some future Department of the Internet monolith who will be accountable to absolutely no one.

Five or ten years from now, thanks to this very internet miracle, my son’s views and my fears will be a matter of public record. We will both be able to look back on this blog and decide who was right and who was wrong. Somebody will owe somebody else a beer.
 
I sincerely hope I’m the one buying.