Government

Net neutrality: are you a Socialist and you don’t know it?

Liberals favor net neutrality. But some Christians and Conservatives do, too, even though they shouldn’t. Here’s why…

The chairman of Trump’s FCC, Ajit Pai, recently wrote a good editorial for the Wall Street Journal: “How the FCC Can Save the Open Internet.

The FCC plans to vote on gutting the regulations in December. Except, the whole Internet is now up in arms. Google, Facebook, and Apple want the government regulations to stay (“Save net neutrality.”). Comcast and Verizon, the Internet service providers, want them to go.

The Bible can clear this mess up for us rather quickly.

A TIMELESS PARABLE

Jesus told a famous parable about private property, known as the workers in the vineyard (Mat. 20:1-16). The Jewish leaders of his day did not like it. I think many people today still do not like it.

In it, the master of the house hires a series of workers throughout the day. He pays the workers who start at the beginning of the day the same wage as those who he hires at the end of the day. Then, as the day ends, and payment time comes, those who worked all day for the same amount of money become indignant.

But Jesus was prepared with a response:

But he replied to one of them, ‘Friend, I am doing you no wrong. Did you not agree with me for a denarius? Take what belongs to you and go. I choose to give to this last worker as I give to you. Am I not allowed to do what I choose with what belongs to me? Or do you begrudge my generosity?’

Those last two sentences are probably one of the Bible’s strongest arguments in favor of private property: Am I not allowed to do what I choose with what belongs to me?

APPLYING THE PARABLE TO NET NEUTRALITY

This is all you need to know to understand the issue at the heart of “net neutrality.” Advocates for net neutrality focus on emotional, ideological aspects of the argument. They ignore the economic ones. They also ignore discussing the principles of private property.

The liberals claim the government needs to regulate the internet and make sure the internet service providers can’t block the sites consumers want to use.

They say they want to keep the internet free and open. So-called net “neutrality” regulation will enable that.

If Obama’s net neutrality regulations are rolled back by the Trump Administration, they say, then it will no longer be the consumer in control, but big companies like Comcast and AT&T.

Consumers will be deprived of choice.

Competition and innovation will be stifled.

On and on the complaints go. But they have it exactly wrong.

First, let’s remember something: consumers are in possession of the most marketable commodity: money. That means they are in control, not the Internet companies. They are not being forced to buy monthly Internet access.

The Declaration of Independence omitted “cheap, high-speed Internet access” from its list of inalienable rights. But it did mention liberty. And liberty means, in part, doing whatever you wish with whatever you own.

CONSEQUENCS OF OBAMA’S FCC RULES

Do you want to pay higher prices for your internet service?

I doubt you or anyone else will like the long-term consequences of the federal government leaving “net neutrality” rules in place:

But the reality of the scarcity of internet bandwidth cannot be legislated away. If Net Neutrality were to become policy, internet service providers will have to find alternative solutions for allocating bandwidth in an industry now contending with a disrupted price mechanism. Most likely, this would mean charging consumers higher prices for faster speeds than would otherwise be necessary, or placing data caps on home internet, as some service providers have already started to do.

SUCKING IN THE CONSERVATIVES

But the liberal, big-government arguments sound persuasive. Just read the title of this over-the-top headline at NBC News: “Ending net neutrality will destroy everything that makes the Internet great.”

Everyone wants a “free and open” internet.

Liberals say we must preserve FCC regulation to save the Internet.

Ajit Pai says we must delete FCC regulations to save the Internet.

I’ve even recently seen otherwise Obama-hating Conservatives get confused about the issue and join the liberals in denouncing Trump’s FCC for trying to remove regulations.

Why should Conservatives be upset about the government reducing regulations? That Conservatives are outraged by an FCC that is attempting to delete regulations absolutely perplexes me.

Even the Christian Coalition has trouble applying Jesus’ simple words to the issue. They have a whole page dedicated to short talking points aimed directly at the confused Conservative.

Their talking points sound just like the liberal talking points.

They also don’t ever mention private property rights.

THE BOTTOM LINE

So, what it comes down to is this: are the companies who own the internet networks and bandwidth not allowed to do what they choose with what belongs to them?

If you think they are not, then you have the heart of a socialist.

Bandwidth is not free. It is not a public resource. It is a scarce, private resource leased to consumers at prices they mostly agree with:

The economic reality of bandwidth scarcity is the source of hostility between companies and consumers. When cell phone companies started limiting the amount of data their customers could consume each month, many people were outraged. But data caps were the natural result of internet use shifting away from computers and onto mobile devices. The change in prices reflected a change in demand. By limiting data, bandwidth provided through these companies was rationed so that customers could enjoy higher speeds.

Do you keep your phone connected to wifi when you’re at home to conserve data? That’s the beauty of the price system as a rationing mechanism. It’s similar to taking a detour in your car to save the cost of tolls on a more direct route. This prevents congestion and enhances user experience (even as the customer is outraged at no longer having unlimited data . . . or toll free roadways).

Compared to 15 years ago, bandwidth is way faster than it used to be, at more or less the same prices. Scare economic resources are allocated based on the price mechanism. Not liberal-leaning bureaucrats and politicians who claim to be “neutral.”

Listen to the words of Jesus. He had it right: personal property means that you can exclude whomever you want. That’s what makes America great. It’s what keeps it innovative.

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