With one hand, Uncle Sam is ready to reach his claws deeper into what SHOULD be a private agreement between you and your internet service provider (ISP), and with the other, the self-serving government wants to pick your pocket to pay for the Internet connections of people you’ll never meet.
It’s all part of the grand new 2,700-page Senate “Infrastructure Bill” given the Orwellian title “American Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act,” it’s one facet of a $1.2 TRILLION bill that House members likely will expand with their version, prior to “reconciliation,” and it’s another car on a “long train of federal abuses,” as Jefferson might say, that stretches back nearly 100 years.
First, the major “net” welfare handouts and mandates.
The big handout is called the “Affordable Connectivity Program,” and is an extension of the so-called “Emergency Broadband Benefit" passed by Congress last December to subsidize broadband service for “low-income” households and college students getting Pell Grants.
Indeed, more permanent welfare. In the tradition of socialists Rahm Emanuel and Hillary Clinton, the feds are not “letting a good crisis go to waste” -- even though the pandemic “crisis” messaging was mostly driven by artificial government propaganda itself. Now, no shock, what was imposed as “an emergency measure” will be made permanent.
As Alex Gravely writes for InsideHigherEd:
The new program retains the eligibility of Pell recipients for monthly $30 subsidies toward purchasing high-speed internet -- down from $50 in the Emergency Broadband Benefit -- and makes the program permanent.
And, what a surprise, many broadband providers adore the idea of the feds subsidizing people’s purchases of their product.
More than 825 broadband providers across the country participated in the Emergency Broadband Benefit, which was the nation's largest-ever broadband affordability program but is set to expire after the Department of Health and Human Services declares an end to the pandemic. Considerably more funding has been appropriated for the Affordable Connectivity Program -- $14.2 billion, up from $3.2 billion for the emergency program. Those who participate in federal assistance programs, are approved to receive benefits from free and reduced lunch programs, or experienced a substantial loss of income due to the pandemic, are also eligible for the subsidy, in addition to Pell recipients.
Then there’s the welfare to state politicians and their corporate internet pals. Lots of cash there, as the now highly political ConsumerReports gushes:
The bulk of the money, $42.5 billion, will go directly (to) states and territories to fund internet improvements. The intent is to focus on unserved and underserved areas of the country—those that lack any internet access or where consumers can receive only low-bandwidth speeds. At least $100 million is reserved for each of the 50 states, and another $100 million is to be split among American territories, such as Guam and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
It’s evident that most Senators and folks working at Consumer Reports haven’t considered the reality that getting “internet access” is supposed to be a private, market-based activity, an activity that has been hampered by the 1996 federal Telecommunications Act, that allowed AT&T to retain a monopoly on the fiber-optic cables over which cable internet and television would be run, prohibited new net companies from running what were called “parallel lines” beside any AT&T (or its sub-corporations) lines, and forced those start-ups to RENT from AT&T. The feds also left it up to city and town governments to decide which internet providers and cable companies could offer you their services, which hasn’t exactly helped the competitive market for internet provision.
This Senate bill simply will increase the politicization of the net, inspiring the big corporations to turn to the feds and state politicians for more involvement and “planning” to “help” people – at the expense of consumers and freedom of speech.
Both the freedom of speech and freedom of contract are in the clutches of Uncle Sam, and this pork bill will strengthen his killer grip.
Related: The FCC Plans To Make Nearly Half of US Users Dial 10 Digits For Local Calls
In fact, any net providers getting direct or indirect federal grant money will be required to offer low-cost service to eligible low-income households.
And, of course, ConsumerReports loves the idea of increasing fascism, regardless of the immorality of it, its unconstitutional nature, or the way it will backfire by reducing options.
Advocacy groups, including CR, are hoping this rule will one day be expanded to include all internet providers, whether they receive federal funding or not.
And there’s nearly $3 billion in pork-playtime for state politicians when it comes to wifi and “digital equity.” Isn’t it nice to think that politicians and bureaucrats will decide what is “equitable” when it comes to you or others wanting to enjoy making your own decision about getting online?
The bill includes $2.75 billion to implement the Digital Equity Act, which will help states develop comprehensive plans to ensure equal access to the internet for historically underserved communities, and to fund projects that make the internet more accessible, such as WiFi hotspots in schools and digital literacy programs for seniors. The intent is to help close the digital divide, which tends to hit low-income families and communities of color the hardest.
“Historically underserved communities” translates to race-based, welfarist pandering – even more of it than the feds already spew now.
And here’s a great one. The feds have come up with a new application of their nonsensical and trouble-creating term “red-lining” – that was the term they applied to banks that wouldn’t give home loans to people who couldn’t afford them. Bill Clinton got then-Attorney General Janet Reno to attack banks in numerous cities if they didn’t give home loans to larger percentages of minority and “inner city” residents who clearly couldn’t afford the loans. Lo and behold, after a few years, many of the loan recipients defaulted as part of the giant economic collapse that began in late 2007. Anyone familiar with economics and the disastrous effects of government subsidies is well aware of this facet of the “Great Recession” – which actually was a depression, based on rigid rules of economics.
But we can trust the politicians to force anti-economic policies onto other areas of the market, like the internet, and trust ConsmerReports to push it:
The bill requires the FCC to adopt rules within two years to address ‘digital redlining,’ in which internet providers decline to build or offer access to broadband service in areas deemed unlikely to be profitable.
That would be the FCC which has no enumerated constitutional justification for existing, which was a political abuser when it started in the 1920s as the Federal Radio Commission, which held back the start of television for five years, and which forced on Americans a three-network TV oligopoly for decades.
This will not stop until people stand up against ALL the unconstitutional spending and regulating the feds assume they can do, when they cannot according to the Constitution and according to the even more important principles of human ethics. If an unconstitutional subsidy program like the FDR-era “Rural Electrification Program” can start in 1936 to supposedly “get farmers electricity” and it can continue to TODAY, does anyone think the feds will ever DECREASE their hold on the web?