When I make a blog entry on this wordpress account, I have set it to immediately post on my Facebook account. The discussion there was lively and informative. So, I am going to repost it here for you to read!
(You will note that my presence in the discussion was tiny. I was playing Dungeons and Dragons from that afternoon until two in the morning. Yes, I am 54 years old and still play D&D – sue me.)
Bryan Aguiar How is the interent a public good? I run a server on the internet. It cost me money to buy it, me money to buy software that runs the computer, and me money to buy the router that connects it to the interent. How is freedom of speech even remotely affected by this? You can still stand on a street corner and shout out your message or pay to print it up on flyers, billboards, newspapers, etc. Where does it say anyone has a right to free interent access? Newspapers costs money, magazines cost money so why shouldn’t the internet?
Yesterday at 9:48am
Gary Bender The internet is considered a public good because it is non-rivalrous and non-excludable. By using the internet, one person does not deplete the internet so that others can’t use it. This isn’t perfectly true, for if enough people or consuming the resources of the internet, the extent with which everyone can use the internet is decreased. However, those resources are only limited by the efforts of monopolistic owners created by government in the grant of ownership to the ISPs.
Whether the internet is non-excludable is arguable. Educators and employers often argue that access to the internet is necessary for all in order to compete in the international economy. The internet is too important as a tool of economic growth to allow exclusion. There are certain special interests who see the internet as a personal cash cow and who would like to exclude some in order to drive demand by limiting supply. This is the reason that the ISPs have hired so many former members of Congress to lobby against net neutrality.
The issue isn’t whether the internet is free as in beer, but free as in speech. I believe that I should have as much right to the internet as Bill Gates without being gouged simply because I don’t generate as much profit for the ISPs as Bill does. I have the same right to drive I-520 to 1 Microsoft Way as Bill. Why should I not have the same right to use the Information Superhighway as Bill?
Yesterday at 10:30am
A.G. If you use other people/companies servers, then you will pay for the convenience. OR you could pay for your own server like Bryan does, and browse the internet as you see fit. The internet is a product just like any other.
How is this any different than posting a message on your local newspaper? If your local paper, being a private company, doesn’t like your message than they don’t have to post it. If they choose to post it, then you will pay more for a half page ad (if that’s what you want) than you will for a quarter page ad. If you don’t want to pay for your newspaper ad, then you should own the newspaper.
Yesterday at 10:46am
Bryan Aguiar The internet is very excludable just like cable TV; therefore, it is not a public good. “The internet is too important as a tool of economic growth to allow exclusion” is strictly an opinion. In the Dharavi slum of India, they export goods around the world worth 500 million per year. They have one toilet per 1,440 residents, barely have electricity, let alone internet.
“I believe that I should have as much right to the internet as Bill Gates ” You do, just pay for it like Bill Gates does. He doesn’t get it for free and neither should you. Before the internet were you saying you should get a free newspaper while Bill Gates should have to pay for it? Information is still available for free in public libraries. “Educators and employers often argue that access to the internet is necessary for all in order to compete in the international economy.” Yet we have very few computer labs and computer classrooms at NWACC. Yet thousands and thousands of workers work evryday day without using the internet. I went to taco bell for lunch yesterday and they made my lunch without having to use the interent. “The issue isn’t whether the internet is free as in beer, but free as in speech”. No, that is the issue. People are trying to make it a free speech issue so they can get something for nothing. The government provides public goods with tax money. Private goods and saome quasi-public goods (cable TV and the Internet) are paid for by the user.
Yesterday at 11:00am
Gary Bender Actually, the ISPs are trying to exclude people, not based on the fee, but on the ISPs choice. They want to decide who should use the internet. “Any entrepreneur with an idea has always been able to create a website and share their ideas globally – without paying extra tolls to have their content seen by other users.” Up until now, the users of the internet decide whose ventures succeed and whose ventures fail. The ISPs want to change this. They want to rig it so that their friends succeed and others fail. It’s political. Has nothing to do with somebody getting something for nothing. If the ISPs succeed, I won’t have the same access to the internet as Bill Gates, not because I won’t pay but because we are in different political camps. My internet provider, Cox Communications, already has tiered service. But anyone willing to pay the monthly fee can get any tier he or she desires. That is about to come to an end.
Bryan Aguiar “The ISPs want to change this. They want to rig it so that their friends succeed and others fail. It’s political. Has nothing to do with somebody getting something for nothing. If the ISPs succeed, I won’t have the same access to the internet as Bill Gates, not because I won’t pay but because we are in different political camps.” I agree that is wrong, wrong, wrong, and they should be stopped from doing that.
Yesterday at 11:48am
Gary Bender James did have a good point about economics which I think deserves an addendum. You might remember when the ISPs laid the groundwork for the internet – the fiber that makes the internet possible. Certain companies were given the contracts in exchange for promises. Those promises have not been met. Moore’s law is in effect with the internet. Excess capacity and breakthroughs such as multiplexing are allowing for a doubling in throughput every 9 months. Hence, the cost to transmit a bit decreases by half every 9 months. Has your ISP cut your rates or doubled your speed? I saw only a tiny increase over the past three years. Moreover, the government, in its foolishness, allowed for virtual monopolies. Oh, Cox will tell you that there is competition. That’s like saying that cars have competition. You can walk. The pols, by allowing the ISPs to get away with what is actually a breach of contract, have created the illusion, Americans being good capitalists, that this is about economic philosophy. It’s not. We are being gouged. While this is not the same issue as net neutrality, it is related and helps to muddle the issue. I think that $45 plus/mo. is too much for the piddling bandwidth and intermittent service that I get, but if Americans are willing to get cheated, there is not much I can do about it. Anyway, these are important topics and I’m glad to see that people are paying attention.
Yesterday at 12:06pm
James Pilant Gary, will you give me permission to put your comments up as a blog post? jp
Yesterday at 3:46pm
Bryan Aguiar Millions of people around the world survive every day without cars and internet. If $45 per month is too much, don’t pay it. And when you and others stop paying it, the price will come down. Problem is too many people think it is worth it, accept the crappy service, and are willing to pay that price or more for it. But as you said Americans are willing to get cheated. By the way cox sucks which is why I am no longer their customer.
Yesterday at 4:31pm
Gary Bender It’s not that I can’t afford $45. Nor can’t I live without the internet. I did so for almost half a century. It’s the fact that if the government hadn’t created these pseudo-monopolies, competition would drive prices down. Cox doesn’t care if I or fifty people like me quit. They will still have their monopoly and a hundred thousand customers in NWA who are too busy working to make that money to think about why they need so much money. Compared to the price of their four kids, boat, and SUVs, internet service is nothing so long as the credit card still works.
I know someone with three kids, a new house, and a new SUV worth as much as I make each year. Yet she is getting government aid. Perhaps if she were to give up some of her unnecessary goods and get off the government dole, I would consider boycotting Cox.
I checked with AT&T. No go. Not that I will ever go back to those thieves, but I checked into it anyway. I don’t know what alternative I have. I won’t go back to dial-up. I really have no choice so long as I’m an educator. I need access to email. I could move to the Midwest and go back to farming, I suppose.
James, you have my permission.
Bryan Aguiar Agreed. Competition would drive the prices down and the government created the monopolies. Fifty people, no cox could care less. 500,000 maybe.
Yesterday at 6:19pm
James Pilant I want to post the whole exchange on my blog! Any objections? jp
11 hours ago
Bryan Aguiar Fine with me
11 hours ago
Gary Bender No objections.
about an hour ago
James Pilant Thanks! I put it up. jp
2 seconds ago
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