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Net Neutrality… Whom Do You Trust? – Politics

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In the beginning

Today’s Internet embodies a legacy of openness and transparency that has been critical to the network’s success as an engine for creativity, innovation, and economic growth. Imagine an entrepreneur who wants to launch a new website or online service. She faces low barriers to entering the market, in part because broadband Internet access service providers today will not charge her for the right to reach specific users, beyond the fee for connecting to the Internet.

Regulate or don’t regulate?

Try as I might, this debate cannot be boiled down to a “for” or “against”; there are details and nuances that I, not being a lobbyist, will likely never understand. So I approach this from a different tack:

Whom do you trust? The Government or the Companies?

For me, the answer is simple. Neither. And there’s the rub – whom do we trust less?

This is not a new discussion- (see AG in June).

net neutrality - Google News Archive Search.jpg

But it’s a conversation that is coming to finally coming to a (possible) conclusion.

What if … this search – “net neutrality” pros and cons – yielded results that someone else wanted you to see? Or more specifically, didn’t include information that others wanted to keep from you?

From Yahoo News:

The US telecom regulator Federal Communications Commission (“FCC) has reportedly voted unanimously for the implementation of the so-called “Net Neutrality regulation, which is aimed at preventing Internet Service Providers (ISPs) and cable companies from blocking or restricting access to legal web site contents and applications. If enacted, the open Internet rule, which is presently applicable to wireline networks, will be extended to wireless.

Follow the money. Unfortunately it flows in every direction.

Unfortunately, as with everything political (that shouldn’t be) – some are construing this as a Republican -v- Democrat debate. It’s not.

This debate is a matter of maintaining keeping speech – on the internet specifically, and therefore in general – free.

Open platforms benefit everybody, and naturally will benefit companies like Google more than they will companies like, say, mine. Government’s position is not one of “should;” it is to provide the infrastructure for people and businesses to create their own “should” –

Should Google make a ton of profit? If they’re innovative. Should you make more money? If you work smart enough and have the lines of communication you need.

Leave the interwebs open and transparent.

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Dad, Husband, Charlottesville Realtor, real estate Blogger, occasional speaker - Inman Connects, NAR Conferences - based in Charlottesville, Virginia. A native Virginian, I graduated from VMI in 1998, am a third generation Realtor (since 2001) and have been "publishing" as a real estate blogger since January 2005. I've chosen to get involved in Realtor Associations on the local, state & national levels, having served on the NAR's RPR & MLS groups. Find me in Charlottesville, Crozet and Twitter.

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10 Comments

10 Comments

  1. Joe Loomer

    October 25, 2009 at 9:13 am

    ROFLMAO – read the speech bubble on your book cover – “covers trucks, delays, and massive, tangled up tubes.” That pretty much covers it all when talking about the Government!

    This is more a free speech issue than partisan – you’re spot-on, Jim.

    Navy Chief, Navy Pride

  2. Benn Rosales

    October 25, 2009 at 11:49 am

    Get involved and Save the Internet or what you pay to utilize the internet will change dramatically in the hands of big business and taxed at the hands of big government through gigantic loopholes.

    Jim, thanks for writing about this issue, this is a fight we may lose if peeps don’t get that it absolutely impacts them.

  3. MIssy Caulk

    October 25, 2009 at 7:53 pm

    When I saw all the companies that were supporting Net Neutrality that was enough for me.

    It is one door we do NOT want to open up for the Government. What’s next?

  4. Ruthmarie Hicks

    October 25, 2009 at 10:48 pm

    Net neutrality is what we have NOW! I’ve been watching this for some time. Under Bush “free market forces” would have eventually prevailed to change the level playing field we now enjoy. The government prevents the large telecom companies from controlling the speed at which individual traffic moves through its “pipes.” If they were allowed to control the speed of web traffic – for a price of course – can you imagine what it would do to real estate? The big -box brokerages with deep pockets or slick discounters with tons of VC would swat most of us like flies!

    Regulation is not a dirty word folks! Regulated capitalism has a future. The free-for-all we’ve got now will end in an American Bolshevik revolution if it is allowed to continue without any checks and balances.

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Politics

The House Judiciary antitrust investigation holds big techs’ feet to the fire

(POLITICS) CEOs of Alphabet, Facebook, Apple, and Amazon set to testify in House Judiciary Committee antitrust investigation hearing today.

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The House Judiciary Committee is closing in on the end of a year-long investigation into tech giants Google, Facebook, Apple, and Amazon, to evaluate possible antitrust abuses. CEOs from all four companies were set to testify on Monday, July 27, 2020. The hearing has been pushed back to Wednesday, July 29, to allow members of Congress to pay respects to civil rights leader Representative John Lewis (D-GA) who died of pancreatic cancer on July 17.

Jeff Bezos of Amazon, Tim Cook of Apple, Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook, and Sundar Pichai of Alphabet (Google’s parent company) have all agreed to testify. This will be Bezos’ first time in front of Congress, whereas all the others have testified before on different matters. Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey was invited to testify by Representative Jim Jordan (R-OH), but is expected to not attend.

The Antitrust Subcommittee began the investigation in June 2019. Each business has been the subject of scrutiny for their roles in dominating their respective industries and playing an outsized role in market competition for smaller businesses. The Committee is interested in evaluating current antitrust laws and whether they apply to, or should be updated for, these mega corporations. They have already heard testimonies from smaller companies like Sonos and Tile about these companies’ alleged monopolistic practices.

The focus of the investigation for Apple is on the App Store, and whether it has implemented policies that are harmful for app developers. Google has a tight hold on the online advertising market. Amazon – which during a five-week period early in the pandemic saw an increase in value equivalent to the total value of Walmart, the world’s largest firm – has been criticized for its treatment of brands that sell on its e-commerce platform. Facebook is being investigated for its acquisition practices, cornering the social media market with purchases like Instagram.

Amazon is expected to face additional scrutiny for its treatment of warehouse workers during the pandemic. Facebook and YouTube (a subsidiary of Google) have been the subject of regular criticism about monitoring hate speech on their platforms, and their treatment of the workers responsible for doing so (Facebook in particular).

The hearing is set to occur virtually in order to adhere to social distancing guidelines. Watch the hearing live at 12:00 p.m. EST Wednesday, July 29 on the House Judiciary Committee’s YouTube channel. Please do note the hilarious irony of streaming a Congressional antitrust hearing on YouTube, which is owned by Google, which is owned by Alphabet, which is testifying at said hearing. God Bless America.

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Politics

Additional unemployment benefits outside of the CARES Act

(POLITICS) Unemployment is at an all time high in the United States and individuals need to be aware of reapplying for additional benefits.

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unemployment broke

June saw some additional jobs in the US and unemployment fell as of early July, but CNBC advised pausing on any celebration just yet, saying that “The employment crisis is still worse than any time since the Great Depression, the country’s worst economic downturn in its industrial history.”

The unemployment statistics in our country right now are really scary – especially for individuals and families that see a looming deadline of July 31 for the supplemental $600/week provided by the Federal Government through the CARES Act put in place in March. There are discussions on extending these benefits as many families have not been able to replace their incomes or find new employment opportunities, but it doesn’t seem like anything has been finalized there yet. Congress is in the middle of a variety of options:

  • Discontinue the additional $600/week but allow those on unemployment to continue to file and receive their state benefits (usually up to 26 weeks or possibly extended up to 39 weeks by The CARES act)
  • Send out additional stimulus checks (Congress is currently exploring a $X Trillion stimulus package)
  • Extend the additional funding (on top of the weekly amount allotted by state) but cut it from $600 to $200
  • It’s also been put on the table in the House of Representatives “The Heroes Act” to extend the additional $600/week until January 2021 ($3 trillion).

There are some additional benefits that are available (different than the funds by the CARES Act), but you may have to reapply for them. So, make sure to check your state’s unemployment pages and your filing status. Some states do not require you to reapply and you can continue on with extended benefits.

According to CNBC, “The additional aid expires after the end of the year. (This is a different program than the one paying an extra $600 a week through July 31.) For some reason, the [Department of Labor] has taken the position that people have to file for the additional PEUC benefits,” said Michele Evermore, a senior policy analyst at the National Employment Law Project.”

No doubt that this can cause additional stress and uncertainty especially when you have questions about your filing and are unable to get through to someone on the phone. With the way that the unemployment cycle is setup, technically July 25 is considered the last date for that cycle (and July 26 for New York), so be sure to check and see what the next steps are for you if you are currently filing.

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Politics

How will pausing the reopening of states impact the recovery of the economy?

(POLITICS) The resurgence of COVID-19 has left Americans with a lot of questions about our nation’s economic future. That ambiguity is seemingly a feature, not a bug.

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COVID-19 reopening economy

The rest of the world watched as the United States dramatically reopened “the economy” last month. Now, it seems we’ve changed our minds about that.

The White House has repeatedly said that it will be up to individual states to form their own pandemic response plans moving forward. But letting local governments devise their own solutions has produced large gaps in their preparedness, as well as profound confusion around the best practices for balancing the country’s public and economic health.

California, which represents the largest economy in the US and the fifth largest in the world, was one of the first states to put serious quarantine restrictions in place. The decision to relax those orders only came after anti-lockdown protestors demanded that Governor Gavin Newsom reopen the state’s beaches, businesses and churches. Newsom may now regret this capitulation as California just called for a second round of statewide lockdowns.

Other state legislators are slowly following their lead, as the threat is becoming very dire in some places. Florida, for instance, is now a global hotspot for COVID-19 and Miami is being called “the new Wuhan”. The state is also currently struggling against another wave of unemployment, partly because their economy is heavily dependent on summer tourism (which has persisted despite the spike in cases, but not nearly at pre-pandemic levels).

Florida, California and Texas are altogether responsible for 20 percent of all new COVID-19 cases globally.

Every state is fighting two battles here. Coronavirus relief efforts in the US are still seriously underfunded, and most health organizations here lack the resources to effectively test and treat their communities. But the problems that have emerged for workers and small business owners, like evictions and layoffs, have also been devastating in their own right.

In essence, the United States reopened in an effort to curb the nation’s financial freefall and ballooning unemployment. Economists predicted at the beginning of July that reopening would allow the US to avoid a recession, and all would go smoothly. These projections likely did not account for a spike in cases that would halt this economic rebound.

That’s not to say the circumstances here haven’t improved at all over the past months; currently there is no acute shortage of ventilators, and doctors have had some time to refine their strategies for treating the virus. Overall, the national unemployment rate is slightly declining, while working from home is going so well for companies like Twitter and Facebook that they will be permanently switching much of their staff to remote work.

By comparison, though, New Zealand took the pandemic much more seriously than the US did, and they are objectively in a better position now in all respects. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern cracked down hard and early, closing the country’s borders completely, and instituting rent freezes nationwide. As a result they have virtually eradicated COVID-19 within their borders. A report from S&P Global also expects New Zealand’s economy to recover quickly compared to the rest of the world.

While this tradeoff seems like a zero sum game – as if we have to pick either our health, or our wealth – it is not. In fact, we could very well end up with neither if our lawmakers don’t proceed with caution.

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