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FCC, Carriers Close To Largely Empty Neutrality Agreement
All that's left is a little fauxsumer showmanship...
by Karl Bode 11:42AM Tuesday Aug 03 2010
Industry analyst Dave Burstein drops us a line to note that all the top lobbyists for the industry's heavyweights (AT&T, Verizon, the NCTA) met with the FCC over the weekend and are very close to getting a deal done on network neutrality. With the phone companies now essentially part of our country's intelligence system, Burstein suggests that top Verizon and AT&T execs and lobbyists were able to put pressure on Chief Of Staff Rahm Emanuel to get a deal done. The deal, according to Burstein is little more than "symbolic and essentially a fig leaf."
Under pressure like that, Julius has already agreed to almost everything Cicconi (AT&T's top lobbyist) really wants, including loopholes wide enough to carry 350 TV channels. K & A say there is still some opposition so that nothing is final and that the public interest groups are ready to assail Julius. Meanwhile, Verizon and Google are discussing a separate peace that will make the FCC irrelevant. This one is about power and money, not principle. The likely outcome is an agreement that will allow everyone to say noble things, will allow Julius to look himself in the mirror, and will essentially have no substance.
The approaching deal (confirmed by a Stifel Nicolaus analyst report) comes after months of closed door meetings with carriers, which completely ran contrary to the FCC's promise of well-documented transparency. An empty network neutrality agreement would mimic our largely toothless national broadband plan, paying lip service to consumer-friendly concepts, but delivering no real substantive policy or rules. With the neutrality deal essentially done, all that's left is for the FCC and carriers to put on a good fauxsumer show over the next few weeks.

Neutrality rules might not be necessary in the first place if the FCC was willing to stand up to carriers and tackle the sector's primary problem: a lack of substantive competition in most markets. Real competition would allow consumers to vote with their wallets, organically punishing carriers who engage in poor behavior of any time (be it unreasonable capping plans, unreasonable throttling, or preferential treatment of their own content).

Instead, FCC boss Genachowski appears completely incapable of making tough decisions or taking solid positions on any subject (right around this time last year we noted how this might be a problem). The result (aside from some genuinely good new data-collection efforts) is empty policy with endless loopholes, something that certainly helps carriers more than consumers. In the end, Genachowski's efforts to please everybody may wind up pleasing nobody, though AT&T may be happy in believing they've put to bed a debate they themselves started back in 2005.

Update: We've got more detail here, for those interested.

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Champaign, IL

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Regulatory Capture

The proper term is Regulatory Capture.

And it's not just the FCC; It's happening on a much grander scale at the SEC, CFTC, and congress - all of whom have been "captured" by Wall Street and the big banks. Financial regulatory reform is a joke with just as many loopholes for the banks as Net Neutrality has for carriers.

Goldman Sachs recently got off almost scot free with a $550 million slap on the wrist. All that matters is the greedy Wall Street psychopaths get richer at the expense of Main Street while congress scrambles to line their pockets at our expense. Eventually it all collapses and we wake up one day and bow to our masters in Asia.

Look around you at all the corruption, the greed, political stupidity, dumbed-down populace (thank you, media and public education system), the rotting infrastructure, and the brain-dead garbage that passes for modern entertainment.
Just as Rome fell ...

» ··· _capture


Lake Worth, FL

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reply to nasadude

Re: What agreement?

said by nasadude See Profilebecause the govt is owned by corporations



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reply to Steve B
said by Steve B:

We're actually a constitutional republic.
That always seems like a distinction without point.

The implication of those who make the distinction is that we're a nation of laws, not pure democracy. But, laws are a result of democracy. A republic (through its constitution, which is a set of laws) makes it more difficult for the "mob" to change the law. But, that's simply the application of the will of an earlier "mob."

The more meaningful distinction of a republic comes from the political theory of Civic Republicanism (Aristotle, Cicero, Harrington, Machiavelli, Rousseau). It describes the quality of the citizen, the state, and how the two are dependent upon each other to maintain that quality through the forced (coercion) participation of citizens by the state -- and the citizens' self-sufficiency to resist unvirtuous government by returning to their lands, not needing to be dependent upon government.

Therefore, the quality of laws (and the validity of the "mob's" assent to them) was dependent upon the "virtue" of both the citizen and the state. And, perhaps more importantly, the virtue of the "mob" generations past who enacted laws binding a future generation.

Speaking less abstractly, that system which depended upon virtuous citizens was based largely upon "never ending frontiers" to supply the land to agrarian citizens who could be self sufficient. Clearly that wasn't sustainable.

Also, Civic Republicanism dependended upon self-sufficient citizens who were unspecialized and could participate in government (jury, militia and hold office). Since we've become a specialized, non-agrarian society, the vast majority of citizens spend their lives working for others in a specialized trade.

Advocates of Civic Republicanism would call such citizens "palsied." Not capable of the virtue that a republic is dependent upon.

Considering that reality, we're nothing more than a representative democracy with throwbacks to republicanism.

That may seem like a minor difference. To most it is, because they see a "republic" as nothing more than a democracy bounded by a constitution. But, that definition implies that the law is more important than the will of the majority. Which, if you dig deeper, gets into *why*. The reason the law was more important than simple majoritarianism stemmed from the origin of a republic (the political institutions and emphasis upon the citizens who were expected to animate them).

Since we've lost that origin, "republic" has been largely redefined by those who use the term today as if there's a significant difference between republic and democracy. Historically, there was a difference. Today, there's not.

Today, a "republic" is equivalent to "representative and constitutional democracy."

A system where we delegate our will to others to exercise for us. But, those representatives pander to majoritarianism in ways that true republicanism would say is contrary to a republic.

And, a system that is bound by the laws (constitution) of a previous pandered-to majority.

So, the point is, when people use the word "republic" like it signifies something, they are ignoring that in theory it means something. But, in reality it hasn't meant anything for well over 100 years. And, it couldn't because the theory didn't anticipate a modern, non-agrarian, specialized society.