The 30,000-foot view of the net neutrality debate is much like every other policy question; do you want private entities in a marketplace in charge or do you want government regulators calling the shots?
Given the record of free markets versus that of government programs, the answer seems obvious to some of us. But betting on the world’s greatest economic success story shouldn’t stop us from enjoying the panicked irrationality of those well-meaning souls who want to double down on the technocrats. See, public policy is fun!
Please to enjoy our favorite headline from this week’s news coverage of the FCC planned roll back of net neutrality: FCC Revving Up to Destroy the Internet As We Know It
It’s a bold assertion considering the Internet thrived with innovations and expansions for twenty years before the net neutrality rules were adopted in 2015. Before the federal government intervened to solve a problem that hadn’t actually occurred, the very nearly lone incident of a service provider favoring a content provider was when Metro PCS offered unlimited streaming of YouTube. If you’re confused about why giving something to consumers for free is a problem, let the author of our featured article explain:
These promotions are especially insidious because they appear to be terrifically consumer-friendly at first glance (and, in the short term, they are!) while they hide a stultifying shift that concentrates power around the companies that already have money and prominence, shielding them from the full brunt of meaningful competition that could unseat them or force them to improve.
Perhaps it would comfort the author to know that, despite this (isolated) incident of consumer-benefitting corporate tyranny, Netflix and Hulu continue to operate seemingly unscathed and Metro PCS has ceased to exist.
Different pricing packages exist for countless other products. Often that serves consumers well. For example, no-frills airlines (or airline tickets) make air travel possible for those who may not otherwise be able to afford it. No one is suggesting a major public pressure campaign to eradicate these options for consumers.
Suffice it to say, removing net neutrality regulations will not destroy the Internet. Just the opposite, in fact; innovation and investment will flourish in the absence of regulatory uncertainty and government red tape. So enjoy your Thanksgiving secure in the knowledge that the Internet is no exception to the marvel of free markets. And be gentle with the net neutrality advocate in your family—he read online that he should be worried.