Saturday, November 6, 2010

Net Neutrality: Not Just For Breakfast Anymore

Looking around these days, it's easy to list the obstacles to change and progress: the Citizens United decision, the corporate concentration of the media and its increasingly frank, no-holds-barred right wing stance, Fox/Beck/Olbermann, all of it. There aren't many places one can look to for change from the baleful present, short of waiting for shifting demographics. One is the possibility of a vacant Supreme Court seat amongst the Gang of Five, which makes it crucial to elect a Democrat in 2012. The other is net neutrality.

There aren't many more important issues out there than net neutrality. It doesn't get nearly the attention it deserves. For all the crazed crap on the net, it's a brake on media domination in a world otherwise governed by it. A friend of mine sends a dumb righty e-mail about the latest Obama horror, and I spend ten minutes Googling and refute it, send it back to him, post on a blog about it. A rich, wild, incoherent stew, the net, not even somewhat settled out in its social role, but offering something found nowhere else. It'd be little wonder were they to try their damndest, overtly and covertly, to rein it in. Can't let them do that.

Too, the politics of the net bears on the conservative idealization of free enterprise. The libertarian fantasy would be for multiple independent, profit-seeking entrepreneurial types, in fair competition, to offer ever better services to rational economic actors, lowering costs and increasing personal freedom. Lefties, meanwhile, would fear consolidation and increasing restriction, as ever larger entities seek ever more economic and political power. I'd think the facts favor one of these over the other.

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