I have written before about the crown jewel of American ingenuity – the internet. So-called “Net Neutrality” is a mortal threat to that jewel.
The rise of the internet has been an absolute miracle. The internet has given us a computer in every pocket that provides geolocation, worldwide text and voice communications, the knowledge of humanity at our fingertips, up-to-date traffic information, bill paying, and on and on. Oh, and you can use that computer as a cell phone, too.
The most amazing thing is that this “internet” does not exist. There is no “department of the internet”, and never has been. “The internet” is a voluntary collection of cooperating enterprises, both small and large, providing everything from search engines, to communications, to “server farms”, to software, to services like tech support. It is not a “system”, it is an eco-system. It is amazing, but typical of vibrant free markets – competitive, dynamic, and productive. (No, the US government neither invented nor developed “the internet”. DARPA had a role in kicking off early research that ultimately became TCP/IP, but its role was at best tiny. Wikipedia has a reasonable description of the role of government)
A merciless parody of what an internet under government control might look like can be found here.
It’s parody, so no one could mistake it for a real fear that actual agents would paw you and your computer, but we know how this works. Over time, every example of a government “fix” becomes an even bigger problem, as the bureaucrats enforce political solutions on economic problems that should be solved cooperatively. History is replete with examples. (also see this disturbing article)
Net Neutrality is a bad idea. It is the seizure of private property by the FCC. It will cripple the core of what makes the internet vibrant – vigorous competition for customers. It will cripple the crown jewel of the US economy.
Every government program should be measured by comparing what it costs versus its benefits. The supposed benefits of the PPACA have been touted for the last 6 years, but the size of the bill has been unclear. Proponents have insisted that it would add “not one dime” to the deficit, but most of us knew at the time that it would not turn out that way.
The UK daily mail reports that the US CBO projects that the PPACA outcome is far less, and the cost far more, than just about anyone predicted.
The economics is simple, and beyond question. Raise the price of hiring, you get less hiring. Raise the difficulty of starting and running a business, and you get fewer businesses. The truth is that if you raise taxes on “the rich”, you not only end up with less investment, you end up with those “rich” putting more of their effort into making sure the tax man can’t lay hands on what they’ve earned. Don’t kid yourself – they have options, which include not working so hard.
Our society is built on the idea that the limit on what you can accomplish is only you – your talent, skills, effort, and tenacity. Those who push “soak the rich” policies follow another ethic: “You didn’t earn it. If you have something I don’t, I have a right to take it from you”. Those in power get to decide what’s “fair” – a little like King George did. Nothing is safe from the envy of your neighbors. Covetousness is transformed from sin to virtue.
The reason “soak the rich” is bad policy is not because of inefficiency or bad “economic outcomes”. It’s because it’s wrong. Private property has to mean something, or we are all serfs in service of the King.
The United States of America has a remarkable history. Born in wilderness and exile from European “civilization”, settlers in the new world built the most prosperous, most tolerant and generous society the world has ever known. All this was done in freedom; built from voluntary association and cooperation. America is truly a shining example of what can be done if a community works together with a shared vision.
I believe in that vision. I believe that people, working together with a common vision, organized by voluntary association and cooperation, can accomplish amazing things.
The vision requires understanding of the fundamentals that hold us together. We hear a lot about our faults as a nation, and that is as it should be. We should be critical of ourselves, but we also need to remember our strengths, and our core values. We must celebrate what is great and good about our nation and our culture. We must never take our nation for granted. We must love our country.