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November 14, 2007

Bionic Obama

I've been traveling all day -- the posts you've seen were, magically, written last night, and posted with the aid of technology -- so I haven't had much time to look at this, but Matt Stoller is very impressed with Obama's speech on tech policy, and I tend to agree with him on this stuff.

November 14, 2007 | Permalink


A list blog CW in action?

Posted by: akaison | Nov 14, 2007 6:12:04 PM

Obama 08 leadership when and where it counts.

Posted by: Aaron B Brown | Nov 15, 2007 3:36:31 AM

What??? I am oh so glad to finally read something here about Obama that I tend to claim sounds almost positive...??

But the funny thing is that Obama's tech policy is a fairly market orientated strategy for a R&D initiative and at closer look - it has nothing to do with IT per se but more with Green Energy?

I don't want to pretend to be stupid but is there not some contradiction here to the "innovation and health care" debate?

I'd expected for Ezra to like Obama due to government intervention policies like raising the minimum wage etc. but not for hands off market approaches?

Damn - I really do not have the slightest idea what Ezra stands for. And I hence recommend that he considers going into politics or journalism or both. Wait...

PS: I truly believe that when the emissions tax is high enough - or when there are subsidies on green kWh - it would be even more efficient than Barack's and Hillary's R&D funds - even if they wanted to work with VC directly like Barack. But that is economics and has nothing to do with politics and this blog.

Posted by: Hugo Pottisch | Nov 15, 2007 11:31:51 AM

It's high time that someone stood up to the corporate telecom giants whose actions are retarding the education of America's children by preventing access to educational outlets, as well as the economic growth and the expansion of small-business in the United States, by blocking the implementation of free WiFi and high-speed Internet. They have hindered and undercut cities and municipalities who have attempted to set up a free WiFi networks across this country. They have also succeeded in preventing private business interests who have attemped to create low or no cost broad ranging WiFi networks in rural and urban areas, from doing so.

These monopolies act in concert to keep the price of cable television and high-speed Internet connections at levels which excludes the majority of poor and middle income Americans, thereby controlling access to information and ensuring that a large segment of the US population remains largely uninformed and uneducated. They and those who support them have a vested interest in maintaining a society that restricts access to information to an elite minority. They fear an enlightened populace, and are working hard on excluding a significant portion of America from the technological advances made in recent years. Their motives are political as well as economic.

The restriction and control of information and access is perhaps one of the greatest threats to the future of this country, it is a direct threat to the sovereignty of the American people. Those striving for greater and greater control are well aware of the value of having a controlling interest which gives them the ability to eliminate anything that is a threat to their control, and are doing everything in their power to gain a stranglehold over infrastructure and networks. They will obliterate Net Neutrality if they are allowed to do so, which would be catastrophic to free speech, free expression, free access to information, as well as to the maintenance of a free and fair marketplace.

They must be stopped, crushed under the foot of government regulation if necessary. Just by writing this I am in danger of having my ISP and cell phone service provider dump me. Don't believe me, just read your contract with AT&T, Comcast, BellSouth etc. nearly all have broad clauses which allow them to revoke service to anyone who can be deemed a threat to their business interests and political aims.

Posted by: Aaron B Brown | Nov 15, 2007 11:31:52 AM


I am not sure if you want more or less regulations?

Last time I checked Moor's law has been also applicable to the Internet as well. More bandwidth for less money?

Why would Google & Co want that the Internet is only restricted to a handful of customers?

What your private contract with a telecoms states is that you have a B2C relationship and are not allowed to resell the service to others without the permission of the ISPs.

But most backbone providers do have separate reseller contracts and I think that you could come up with an innovative low-cost Wifi business plan if you wanted to? Apple did so with iTunes and so did eMusic with mp3s? That does not mean that they can give away all the music and videos for free (unless they or somebody else pays for it first)?

Similarly - The Online WSJ and The Economist and The Atlantic charge for accessing their archives. What are we going to do? Force them through government regulations to not charge for journalism? Force Hollywood to provide movies for free?

The only realistic way to reach the lowest costs possible for society is through market competition. Any regulations that you are referring to would facilitate more market competition I suppose?

Posted by: Hugo Pottisch | Nov 15, 2007 12:20:22 PM

Hugo Pottisch

I support free markets and competition, but unfortunately that is not the aim of the current telecommunications industry, their aim is to monopolize and control access at both ends, charge people for Internet service, and then charge everyone for access to these customers, and block anyone who is unable or unwilling to pay, and block anyone who they find objectionable, for whatever reasons they deem. That is their ultimate goal, whether they state it openly are not. It's predatory and unfair, and it's why they are fighting so hard against net neutrality.

A number of entrepreneurs have been shut down by court decisions which have been instigated by Viacom and others who want to dole out access at a premium, which means that poor folks especially don't have effective access to the Internet, an Internet which would offer them numerous avenues and opportunities for self-improvement and business expansion, and the real possibility of pulling themselves out of poverty and into the middle class, which is good for everybody and the US economy.

All over southern Asia, from Japan to Malaysia and throughout southern China in most of the urban areas, free high-speed WiFi is seen by governments as an indispensable resource for improving those societies, and many of those networks are decades ahead of the pay for access networks we have throughout much of the United States, with up to three times the bandwidth available and accessible over huge areas. But here in the United States you have to go to a Starbucks or a library to be able to access something which in my opinion and the opinion of many progressive thinkers should be everywhere.

A number of entrepreneurs have proposed free WiFi, free in the sense that it's open to everyone, while generating income through advertisements, similar to the way broadcast television and radio has done for decades. This would be a limited form of high-speed Internet, .5 to 1 meg, which is pretty much the bare minimum for efficient access to most Internet content. IP providers can still charge to provide the fastest access. Unfortunately these days even though bandwidth is really no longer much of an issue from a technological perspective, numerous telecommunications providers are going after people, trying to charge them more for using the bandwidth they're already contracted for.

And cable television is ridiculously overpriced, $50 a for what was once basic cable, but which has now been defined as enhanced access, this redefined and came about as a result of the cry that one out in the 90s as cable companies were bought out and absorbed, and folks watched their cable bill literally double or triple overnight. So now what is defined as "basic cable", is really more of a stripped service, which you can get for maybe 20 bucks a month, and only gives you a couple more channels than broadcast in most areas. It's a scam, plain and simple, but a scam they can get away with because our government has been bought off by the despicable bloodsucking cockroaches who wear suits and ties and call themselves lobbyists in our nation's capital.

Same thing with basic Internet access companies like BellSouth charger a premium for a bare-bones service, $320 a year for less than 1 meg, when just five years ago you could get 1 meg service for round $200 a year. And since these companies colluded to fix prices, there really is no competition. The telecoms are going in the wrong direction because the regulation is a joke. In the state of Florida alone they could connect 5 to 10 million more people, that's schools, libraries, businesses ,restaurants with high-speed Internet if they just reduced basic service to $120 a year, $10 a month which is far more reasonable and equitable. But they won't do it because they're making too much money robbing us like bandits.

It's time that we remembered that free-market capitalism and commerce exist for the sake of the people, and not the other way around.

Posted by: Aaron B Brown | Nov 15, 2007 2:50:43 PM


we all agree that everyone should have internet access. Also the poor. But what do you want to do? How can prices go down naturally even faster than they have over the last 10 years? What service or good has ever in history reduced its price so quickly? You obviously want more competition? Me too! But I am not sure about government involvement!

But I do believe in leapfrogging - as is happening in Asia because of the lack of government cable infrastructure. The US has been late to the wireless revolution (partly because of free local calls and hence government intervention?)

Europe has arrived there DESPITE government involvement and not because of it (the 3G debacle). People there and eventually in the US will get high-speed wireless access via their phones. No need for cables, backbone and last mile fights.

And believe me - compared to big government farmers or pharma - telecoms are not robbing us like bandits. What is next - should big government buy every American a car while telling the car industries how much to charge?

And of course free-market capitalism and commerce exist for the sake of the people, and not the other way around. Nobody forced Steve Jobs to do Apple or Bill Gates to start Microsoft. Nobody in the US forces individuals to invent things and nobody forces them to trade. Freedom of expression, creativity and voluntary action is always is not even for but by the people.

We have the same goals. Help the "poor" asap. How to get there we seem to be unclear about?

What do you think of this visible hand if you do not trust the invisible too much?

Posted by: Hugo Pottisch | Nov 15, 2007 4:59:22 PM

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