Shouldn't the Internet be part of the Commons?

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captbebops
captbebops's picture

The access to information is now so vital to our society and economy that it is probably time to take the Internet out the hands of private interests, the telecoms, who view it as nothing but THEIR cash cow.  It is the "information highway" and like any other highway should be in the commons.

 

 

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Paleo-con
It is precisely because

It is precisely because information is so vital to our society and economy that the Internet must never be in the hands of the Government.  Egypt is the most recent demonstration of why.  Our own Congress has already floated ideas that range from kill switches, flow control, and mandatory data collection on browsing habits.  Why would such an important information highway be handed over to people who have already indicated they want to undo the open access we have now?

Rather than make assumptions, could I get some clarity as to your objections to an open Internet?  Are you bothered by workers at a private enterprise earning a living?  Do you feel the Government needs to be in control of information flow?  Is something broken that only the Government can fix?  Or is seeing your suggestion as being under the light of "private = bad, Government=good" an error on my behalf?

bobbler
bobbler's picture
Todays internet may become a

Todays internet may become a "cornerstone of a free democracy," as it replaces the "free press."  

I believe this is why they want to shut it down (for any effective means of people communicating with each other)..   Talking on the street corner is not the way things are done anymore..  Big money bought the media (they virtually own it all) because they want to control the flow of information, and lately they became aware they also need to control the internet for the same reason..

captbebops
captbebops's picture
Paleo, Egypt's Internet was

Paleo, Egypt's Internet was run by four telecoms who caved in to Mubarek's pressure.   Do you think that AT&T, Comcast, Verizon and other providers would ignore such a request if it came from the US government?  Remember  what happened to the Qwest CEO when he didn't comply with the Bush administration.   The Internet was originally government anyway as the ARPANET.  And it might be as hard for the government to shut it down as the interstate highway system.  I thought that allowing telecoms to run the Internet should have come with some strict regulations anyway keeping them more competitive and giving us service better than what we have now.  Some third world countries have better broadband service than the US due to the greed of the corporations.

 

Yammerman
That the internet would be of

That the internet would be of by and for the people, by way of The Commons, to the point where the fiber optic enters a home, and that the Person of the home selects from, a free markett, what service's are on that FOp, is a thing that some folks (Paleo-con) can not, or will not, get their minds around.

Paleo-con
captbepops, no, I don't think

captbepops, no, I don't think the US companies would shutdown in response to a Government request.  For one thing, they would like to still be in business when the next Government is in place, and two, there is low risk that Obama would send a goon to shoot them for non compliance. 

I am no conspiracy fan, so I lean towards accepting that Nacchio was guilty of insider trading.

Yes, the Internet itself would be hard to shutdown as it has no central control points.  But as the Chinese demonstrated, it can be made barely usable by shutting down the few primary DNS servers.  How many people would know to access this site by using 173.231.136.186 instead of thomhartmann.com?

I think we previously beat the last point to death.  That communication companies would resist submitting to government rape is hardly "greed".  Broadband would flourish if local Governments would keep their hands in their own pockets.

Paleo-con
Yammerman, what I can get my

Yammerman, what I can get my mind around is that we already get to choose how to access the Internet via a free market; there is no need to hope for it in the future.

bobbler
bobbler's picture
Easy to shut down the

Easy to shut down the internet it is.. All the companies that operate the internet use servers that act as bottlenecks, and the servers probably use the same software.   And big companies typically collude on somthing like this..  All they need to do is write a software patch for the servers to control things any way they want to..  Its in the digital domain where blocks of data in headers can control things down to the individual (because the servers do what the header tells it to do).. 

Paleo-con wrote:

Yes, the Internet itself would be hard to shutdown as it has no central control points. 

Paleo-con
Well, it looks like you will

Well, it looks like you will need to change the "all" to "some".  As an operator and provider of internet services, I have no such thing as bottleneck servers.  I have a certificate server that my customers must touch at least once for authentication, is that what you are referring to?  If so, shutting down a certificate server will not stop the Internet traffic.  If fact just the opposite will happen.  Without the certificate server acting as the gatekeeper, anyone would have free access to my lines.  99% of my traffic and the traffic of my fellow providers goes through routers and switches, very little touches a server.

Even if one of the big guys like ATT shutdown their backbone, all of us little guys already have backup plans that involve microwave repeaters, satellite, and relay switches.  It may cost a little more, but the Internet will be alive and un-killed.  One does not operate a business without a plan b.

bobbler
bobbler's picture
Maybe we are having semantics

Maybe we are having semantics difficulty here..  I made up the term bottleneck..  Because I assume everyone needs permissions from some server to use the internet at all..  And I know enough about it to know people have permissions what they can do, etc.. All controlled by software..   So the back bone wouldnt need to be shut down at all..  Yes there are ways around it, but just the same as with FOX news, when BIG MONEY puts fox on all the cable channels/ 24 hours a day, etc (in a sense we cant stop the news either, but FOX is successful because it is backed by big money)..  People become misinformed..  I believe this is the bottom line goal with BIG MONEY tinkering with the internet.. 

Paleo-con wrote:

Well, it looks like you will need to change the "all" to "some".  As an operator and provider of internet services, I have no such thing as bottleneck servers.  I have a certificate server that my customers must touch at least once for authentication, is that what you are referring to?  If so, shutting down a certificate server will not stop the Internet traffic.  If fact just the opposite will happen.  Without the certificate server acting as the gatekeeper, anyone would have free access to my lines.  99% of my traffic and the traffic of my fellow providers goes through routers and switches, very little touches a server.

Yammerman
Are you bothered by workers

Are you bothered by workers at a private enterprise earning a living?
Oh, not a bit of it. Neither do I have a problem with a worker, at the tasks of maintaining the basic infrastructure, and installation and maintenance, from the street to the Home, being a Public, or Co-Op worker.
Do you feel the Government needs to be in control of information flow?
No. Oh, hell no! What does concern me, Is the notion that Law, insuring net neutrality (see Senator Al Frankin) is being spun as Government control of The Internet. Private enterprise, as in such ilk as Verizon, ATT et. all, Do want to assert control, rather than free, unfettered flow over The Net. 
Is something broken that only the Government can fix?
Not broken, not yet I don't think. There is something to be said for getting ahead of a problem, rather than wrangling with it later. Sorta like, I'd rather have the benefit of Tick repellent, than have to extract the burrowed in little beasts after the fact.
I'd be unduly presumptuous to think that the question was pitched to me, and I don't believe that it was. Hoping you don't mind my offering my bit though;
Or is seeing your suggestion as being under the light of "private = bad, Government=good" an error on my behalf?
Please pardon my addressing a ? with a ? , but, we're not having a Private=Alwase good & best, Government=Bad & evil problem here, are we?
I'm all for Private enterprise, in matters were the consumer has a choice. In some maters, such as, the water and sewer service, an intrinsic monopoly is the case. In said case, by way of my local Government, I want to Own my share of that water & sewer system. I believe that the French demonstrate a Best practice example for the provision of Internet Service.

captbebops
captbebops's picture
The problem is the "big guys"

The problem is the "big guys" are just too big to exist.  They should have been broken up long ago or run into a wall where they wouldn't have been allowed to get any larger.  It's funny when the people defend them being that big that they are often people without a pot to piss in and dreaming that they will be at the helm of a "big company" some day.  Dream on.

 

Paleo-con
bobbler wrote: So the back

bobbler wrote:

So the back bone wouldnt need to be shut down at all.. 

Agreed.  My earlier point was the same.  DNS (Domain Name Server) attacks are just the easiest way to stop meaningful traffic.  Rather than trying to stop traffic, just reroute it to the bit bucket. 

Paleo-con
Yammerman wrote: Do you feel

Yammerman wrote:

Do you feel the Government needs to be in control of information flow?
No. Oh, hell no! What does concern me, Is the notion that Law, insuring net neutrality (see Senator Al Frankin) is being spun as Government control of The Internet. Private enterprise, as in such ilk as Verizon, ATT et. all, Do want to assert control, rather than free, unfettered flow over The Net. 

Perhaps this just comes down to a matter of faith.  I have faith that private enterprise will always look for a way to make more money.  More network traffic is how they make money.  I have faith that government bureaucrats are more interested in regulation than income.

Yammerman wrote:
Is something broken that only the Government can fix?
Not broken, not yet I don't think. There is something to be said for getting ahead of a problem, rather than wrangling with it later. Sorta like, I'd rather have the benefit of Tick repellent, than have to extract the burrowed in little beasts after the fact.

Thanks for the honesty, very refreshing.  I share the goal of getting ahead of a problem, but any problem here is perceived rather than indicated.  A better analogy would be to wear elbow pads all the time just in case you might fall off a bike someday and skin your elbow.

Yammerman wrote:
I'd be unduly presumptuous to think that the question was pitched to me, and I don't believe that it was. Hoping you don't mind my offering my bit though;
Or is seeing your suggestion as being under the light of "private = bad, Government=good" an error on my behalf?
Please pardon my addressing a ? with a ? , but, we're not having a Private=Alwase good & best, Government=Bad & evil problem here, are we?

Not at all.  I do not exercise a "all in, or all out" philosophy.  The Government does some things well, and private enterprise does some things well.  Each should stick to their strengths and interfere with the other as little as necessary.  If a situation arises that could go either way, I would give deference to the private enterprise.  As I mentioned before, it comes down to faith.

Here is the thesis of many of my liberal friends:  Although there is nothing actually broken with the Internet, big business cannot be trusted to keep it that way.  Therefore, the prudent thing to do is ti insert preemptive regulations that will force them to behave.  In my eyes, that thesis requires a business=bad, government=good philosophy.

Paleo-con
captbebops wrote: The problem

captbebops wrote:

The problem is the "big guys" are just too big to exist.  They should have been broken up long ago or run into a wall where they wouldn't have been allowed to get any larger.  It's funny when the people defend them being that big that they are often people without a pot to piss in and dreaming that they will be at the helm of a "big company" some day.  Dream on.

I will defer to you on the too big to exist notion.  I have read the too big to exist thread, and although I agree that the "big guys" can become too big, I don't claim to know where the line is drawn.  On the other hand, my business exists because the big guys are too big to bring service to everyone.  They like to service the high density areas.  I pick up the homes, they can't be bothered with.  So in the interest of self preservation, I would prefer they keep their business model.

planetxan
planetxan's picture
Paleo-con wrote: I will defer

Paleo-con wrote:

I will defer to you on the too big to exist notion.  I have read the too big to exist thread, and although I agree that the "big guys" can become too big, I don't claim to know where the line is drawn.  On the other hand, my business exists because the big guys are too big to bring service to everyone.  They like to service the high density areas.  I pick up the homes, they can't be bothered with.  So in the interest of self preservation, I would prefer they keep their business model.

Who wires the homes you serve? Who owns the wires?

Paleo-con
Wireless is prefered, but if

Wireless is prefered, but if I run a wire, it is mine.

captbebops
captbebops's picture
Paleo, I can laughingly think

Paleo, I can laughingly think of phone poles about to fall over because if they had 16 fiber cables on them.  In this suburb AT&T buries their fiber cable downtown but it's strung on poles elsewhere sometimes along with the twisted pair cables.   Of course communities won't allow a bunch of cables on the poles and that's one reason why we might like the cables to be in the commons. I wish we had a third small company with their own wire where I am.  Tired of making the already too rich richer.

 

 

 

Yammerman
As I understand this matter,

As I understand this matter, France is only one of a few, or perhaps many nations that have the Internet within The Peoples commons, & where in, individual consumers select from a broad range of Private Enterprise providers, the service, or service's that they will have.
As such, private enterprises are about their business in a market that is a good deal more free & varied. Spared the cost of the mass distribution, in addition to the major players, little, so to put it, Mom & Pops can get in on it. All sorts of little niche markets are serviceable.
That the basics are provided, via The Commons, the concept of a free market within  the system of classic capitalism is well accommodated.

planetxan
planetxan's picture
Paleo-con wrote: Wireless is

Paleo-con wrote:

Wireless is prefered, but if I run a wire, it is mine.

How long are your wires? I am trying to understand your work and what you do because from what I can tell there is nothing like it where I live nor have I ever heard of a business such as yours. I have two wires that come into my apartment. One is owned by the phone company, one is owned by the cable company up to the building and then the property owners own what is in the building. There is a wireless system city-wide that an isp owns, however they use an underground fiber optics network owned by the city.

planetxan
planetxan's picture
I should point out that the

I should point out that the wireless company's ads were refused by the local cable tv provider/monopoly that goes by the name of Comcast. http://www.startribune.com/business/111090469.html

Comcast currently charges more than $60 for internet if you do not buy cable from them. Theirs is the fastest option because they have the coax that runs into the house.

bobbler
bobbler's picture
GOVT or BIG business making

GOVT or BIG business making the rules.   I cant believe people still think we should trust big business..  The government is clearly the best choice because we the people "theoretically" should have control..  The only time the government makes poor rules is then big business money bribes the politicians (commonplace today)..  Big business on the other hand makes decisions based on profit, and nothing else. 

Paleo-con
bobbler wrote: GOVT or BIG

bobbler wrote:

GOVT or BIG business making the rules.   I cant believe people still think we should trust big business..  The government is clearly the best choice because we the people "theoretically" should have control..  The only time the government makes poor rules is then big business money bribes the politicians (commonplace today)..  Big business on the other hand makes decisions based on profit, and nothing else. 

At the risk of taking into an off topic rat hole, I’ll respond to this subject just once.  I can't believe people actually think we should trust big government; and thus the line that separates us.  As you said, people running the government is the theory, but as you can read from most posters on this board, there is not really anyone who is buying into it happening in practice. 

In the end, government has badges and guns, business does not.  Therefore, government can compel us to do things, business cannot.  "Big business on the other hand makes decisions based on profit, and nothing else." EXACTLY!  No people buying their product means no profit.  No profit equals no business.  The people have all the power in the business relationship; they have only theoretical power in the government relationship.

Paleo-con
planetxan wrote: How long are

planetxan wrote:

How long are your wires? I am trying to understand your work and what you do because from what I can tell there is nothing like it where I live nor have I ever heard of a business such as yours. I have two wires that come into my apartment. One is owned by the phone company, one is owned by the cable company up to the building and then the property owners own what is in the building. There is a wireless system city-wide that an isp owns, however they use an underground fiber optics network owned by the city.

Let me be clear, I don't compete against the big guys; they would squash me like a bug.  I pick up the business where they don't feel like going.  For instance, Comcast or ATT will be happy to service a housing development with 500 homes in it, but they will bypass all the side streets on the way.  I side street may only have 6-10 homes on it, and it is not worth the big guys time.  In the Internet business, we call it "last mile" business.  Also, let me be clear on wireless; I am referring to point to point microwave links like cell towers use.

DRC
DRC's picture
Paleo, you share an

Paleo, you share an irrational faith with many Americans about the private owned businesses and pleasing the public to make money.  For some reason, if we taxpayers and voters "own" and "operate" the Commons, you believe we will not care about the value of our investments or that the workers and managers will not either.  The WHOLE POINT of the Commons is that we can do it better and cheaper than we can rent it from a private contractor.

If you want a list of badly done privatized Commons "entitlements," begin with health insurance.  But add the whole pharm industry because they use our university research to own patents to extract profit from us.  They don't pay attention to public health priorities unless they get paid to produce anything for the poor.  So we get hair loss and penis enlargement.  And very expensive high tech medicine.

How could government do worse or abuse the public, controlling life and death, etc.?  With the internet, we are asking for a referee and independent agent instead of trusting the private providers to put public service over profit.  Why don't we trust them?

I suppose were there a very broad network of Ma and Pa local providers bound together by a public utility internet, we would not need to worry as much about neutrality.  But we would still have to check to be sure it was being maintained by "the market."  So why is it tyranny to establish the neutrality by democratic government?  I think it is absurd to expect concentrations of private money to behave if left to themselves.  When they own the consumers, they give them what they, the providers, want.

captbebops
captbebops's picture
Paleo, the big governments of

Paleo, the big governments of history were usually controlled by "big business" of the country.  Gotta look behind that curtain.  I'm all for small business as an opportunity for people who don't have the mindset to work for someone else.  But not everyone is wired that way.  But laissez-faire capitalism has been shown to create chaos in the economy and needs to be banned.  I have a vision of a very lean and simple government that maintains and regulates the infrastructure.  It also would ban people from becoming too wealthy to exist maybe limiting people personal wealth to around $10 million.  Isn't that enough?  Anyone wanting more should be carted off to the loony bin as delusional.  People like Rupert Murdoch and the Koch brothers are demonstrating how damaging delusional wealthy people can be to society.

The auctioning off of the lower VHF TV spectrum was supposed to open up more opportunity for more broadband selection.  But the usual suspect bought that spectrum mainly to pull the ladder up on any competition.

 

 

Yammerman
-Here is the thesis of many

-Here is the thesis of many of my liberal friends:  Although there is nothing actually broken with the Internet, big business cannot be trusted to keep it that way.  Therefore, the prudent thing to do is to insert preemptive regulations that will force them to behave.  In my eyes, that thesis requires a business=bad, government=good philosophy.-
An other presumption is that business will pursue best practice in the interest of providing the best possible service or product for a consuming public. and yet;
-The auctioning off of the lower VHF TV spectrum was supposed to open up more opportunity for more broadband selection.  But the usual suspect bought that spectrum mainly to pull the ladder up on any competition.-
Time over and over we have demonstrated for us that business of a particular magnitude, will pursue hegemony in the pursuit of economic empire. At the end of that, with no other choice, the consumer will take whatever crap is the Only crap, and like it.
Are we to trust that such likes as Verison, Comcast, AT&T. et. all, are not at all interested in establishing internet choke points, and set up conditions after which, If any of us want the Internet, as we have it now, we'll have to pay premium for it? Are we to believe that they would never exercise to squelch political use of the Internet, such a Thom's site here? For now, I want Internet neutrality Law. That the Internet might become publicly owned, of The Commons, can be realized later.
How many folks in this country shop at Wall-Mart because, near where they live, there's no other deal in town. As the memory of little Mom & Pop shops and Main St. business' fades away.

adamf
adamf's picture
Paleo-con wrote: bobbler

Paleo-con wrote:

bobbler wrote:

GOVT or BIG business making the rules.   I cant believe people still think we should trust big business..  The government is clearly the best choice because we the people "theoretically" should have control..  The only time the government makes poor rules is then big business money bribes the politicians (commonplace today)..  Big business on the other hand makes decisions based on profit, and nothing else. 

At the risk of taking into an off topic rat hole, I’ll respond to this subject just once.  I can't believe people actually think we should trust big government; and thus the line that separates us.  As you said, people running the government is the theory, but as you can read from most posters on this board, there is not really anyone who is buying into it happening in practice. 

In the end, government has badges and guns, business does not.  Therefore, government can compel us to do things, business cannot.  "Big business on the other hand makes decisions based on profit, and nothing else." EXACTLY!  No people buying their product means no profit.  No profit equals no business.  The people have all the power in the business relationship; they have only theoretical power in the government relationship.

 

I find it interesting how many people refer to "Big Government" as some separate entity. As if the people who serve in the government aren't We the people - responsible and accountable to We the people. What I think you're failing to realize is there is an inherent flaw in free-market capitalism that allows for bigger and bigger businesses. While you accurately claim that, "No profit equals no business.” you're not taking into account the effect of monopolies on the business relationship. The people only have the power in the business relationship if there are other viable options available to choose from. While this may have been the case years ago, and to a degree still is today, it's slowly changing for the worse. 

What I think at heart you are trying to argue is that government is itself a monopoly. Whatever endeavor it takes on, it has no competition, and has the means to compel you to comply (To which I agree is true). The irony is that many businesses in America are the same way, or at least coming close to it. The only difference is I have the power to vote out my representative from the local to federal level. But unless I own massive amounts of shares in Monopoly Company A, I have no say in their daily operation.

Now, where I think you and I may agree, I don't want my Government in the business of making cars, radios, computers, etc. But I do want my government to play a role in keeping our economy flush with competition. I think you and I can agree that, logically, having only one place to shop for any item or service, whether it be Big Business or Big Government, would strip away all the power the consumer has in the business relationship.

 

ah2
I think it is a good idea to

I think it is a good idea to have the government control the infrastructure but to give the ISP responsibility over to private corporations.   Many places already do this and it works pretty well as long as you have robust competition between many ISPs.  Becoming THE ISP is not really something the government would do all that well and because of the nature of that particular good, it probably isn't necessary.  Saying that, keep in mind I have strongly argued for single payer health care and other centralization agendas elsewhere so I do not say this out of dogma.

I will say this, however, in regards to what I call "The Big Lie" - the idea that has convinced conservative voters across the nation that somehow the interests of multinational corporations are in alignment with the common citizen (and I will add small business here).  Part of this lie is that when corporations compete in a rich market (which I define as a market which a lot of competition, low congestions, and goods that lend themselves to market competition - I have talked about the nature of goods elsewhere), they will always strive to bring a better service/product to the consumer in an effort to grab market-share.  Thus, the theory goes that rich markets will always bring better and better products and services to the consumer as companies compete in a rich market.

This isn't quite true, however.  Because when companies compete, the interests they are truly concerned with are NEVER the consumers but their own.  Certainly, what they attempt to do is try to find some form of INTEREST CONVERGENCE between their interests and their consumers.  Where there is interest convergence, this is where you are likely to see improvements in products/services.  However, the issue with this is that these "improvements" often have deleterious side effects that are not readily apparent. 

The most glaring of these would be the outsourcing of jobs.  During the 1990s, people were not overly concerned about unemployment because the economy in general was so good.  As companies outsourced jobs, we had interest convergence - lower costs of production converged with consumers' desire for lower prices.  At that point, you didn't find a vast majority of the country complaining about the fact that their Nike gear was cheaper and even aware that it was because it was made in sweat shops.  They just loved that it was cheap enough for them to afford.  Fast forward a decade and now we are conerned about unemployment due to outsourcing.

Another might be when companies take shortcuts in production to improve productive intensity.  This results in more supply which generally equates to lower prices.  Consumers love this until they find out that the short cuts taken make the product unsafe and they all have to be recalled.

Anyway, the point here is that companies will ALWAYS be looking out for themselves first.  This sometimes results in very good things but sometimes comes with a price.  The additional point here is that companies will NEVER do anything that is in the consumers' best interest but not in their own interests but they WILL do things that are in their interests but not in the consumers' best interests.  So, the end result is ALWAYS that markets will tend to favor the producers and NOT the consumers if you think in terms of net gain.

Consumers tend to get screwed in all this largely because individuals do not have the resources to get the big picture.  For example, I don't personally own the equipment to test if the paint on my kids toys are poisonous.  This is the rationale for governmental regulation.

I guess this is the long way of saying.  ISPs should be private but regulated at least moderately to insure some consumer protection.

 

leftofhell
leftofhell's picture
ah2 wrote: ... Certainly,

ah2 wrote:

... Certainly, what they attempt to do is try to find some form of INTEREST CONVERGENCE between their interests and their consumers.  Where there is interest convergence, this is where you are likely to see improvements in products/services.  However, the issue with this is that these "improvements" often have deleterious side effects that are not readily apparent. ...

Anyway, the point here is that companies will ALWAYS be looking out for themselves first.  This sometimes results in very good things but sometimes comes with a price.  The additional point here is that companies will NEVER do anything that is in the consumers' best interest but not in their own interests but they WILL do things that are in their interests but not in the consumers' best interests.  So, the end result is ALWAYS that markets will tend to favor the producers and NOT the consumers if you think in terms of net gain.

ah2 has hit the nail on the head.  Private enterprise has taken Michael Porter's competitive advantage ideas to a new level.  No stone has been left unturned in maximizing profit and eliminating competitors.  There needs to be a balance between private enterprise profit behavior and public social needs.  I see this being achieved via the "Commons" and meaningful regulation.  As far as ISPs are concerned, I'd like to see the infrastructure - cable/wire/wireless access to homes and public buildings as part of the "Commons", along with interconnectivity standards for Internet access and fairness regulation that supports net neutrality concepts.