Archive for December 21st, 2010
Barack Obama has once again invited a compromise of a compromise in order to get a bad deal done, instead of fighting for the principles he announced in his campaign speeches. This time the victim was net neutrality. The FCC’s recent decision was discussed by Amy Goodman of Democracy Now and Craig Aaron of Free Press:
There are millions and millions of Americans who have contacted the FCC. Ninety percent of the comments they received were supporting strong net neutrality. Commissioners Copps and Clyburn went across the country, heard from people all across the country about how important net neutrality is. But unfortunately, this is another example where the Obama administration has, you know, put forward a compromise on a compromise on a compromise and asked the American public to swallow it, while the companies really haven’t had to give up very much at all. And that’s where we are today.
AMY GOODMAN: Commissioner Clyburn is the daughter of the House Majority Whip, James Clyburn of South Carolina. And the Republicans are opposed to this, the two Republican appointees?
CRAIG AARON: Well, that’s right. And in the strange politics of Washington these days, the Republicans oppose any kind of regulation whatsoever, so they’re making all sorts of noise that this is some kind of massive overreach, when it couldn’t be further from the truth. But this is the game that the big phone and cable companies are playing. They’ve asked their Republican allies to make a lot of noise, talk about how any kind of regulation is bad, trying to force the FCC chairman and the Democrats on the Commission into this really false middle and trying to portray champions of net neutrality, public interest advocates, as some kind of extremists.
Unfortunately, the only thing we’re left with here is an extremely disappointing order that won’t give the American public the protections they need, that won’t give internet users the protections that they need and, I think, really jeopardizes the internet’s continued growth as an unrivaled source of economic innovation, of democratic participation, of free speech. This is a very big step in the wrong direction by the FCC today and, I think, a very big disappointment to everybody who believed not just President Obama, but Chairman Genachowski, when he, you know, spoke up and said he was going to protect the free and open internet no matter what.
With regard to the Internet, especially the wireless internet, say goodbye to the freedom to use the Internet as you choose. Say hello to an Internet that will increasingly look like cable TV, with its limited choices and price gouging. Today’s FCC decision was a despicable decision to curry even more favor with big-money telecoms and to slap down consumer choice.
Read the entire article for a description of AT&T’s massive power over Obama and Democrats.
Several years ago, my neighbor Tony and I were talking about a social issue. Tony is a good thoughtful man, and the conversation turned rather intense. In the middle of the conversation, I blurted out something like “I’m really concerned about that issue.”
Tony shot back,” No, you are not concerned. If you were, you be doing something about it.”
He caught me flat-footed, and his words have haunted me ever since. I think Tony was right. If we care about something, we should be doing something about it, or at least trying to do something about it. Further, blogging about a problem is quite often not doing too terribly much about that problem. I’m don’t mean to disparage writing, because I very much think that written information can change the world by helping people understand it better. But writing about things is a method that too often shows its limits, especially when it turns into ranting. And an especially annoying kind of ranting is when one rants to others who are already sympathetic to the cause. And the worst kind of writing is ranting to sympathetic audiences in ways that are mostly calculated to show off how much one knows or to try to draw attention an ostentatious writing style.
So here’s my resolution for 2011. Here’s to doing more than merely writing, but actually trying to change the world in physical ways. And to the extent that I choose to write, here’s to writing in a straight-forward way to audiences that are not quite sympathetic. And here’s to writing that aims to get people out of their seats and into the streets. Here’s to stepping out from behind my computer more than I have before, and trying to make a tangible difference.
I will continue to take my writing seriously next year. I have lots of ideas bubbling in my head, and many of these are ideas inspired by cognitive science ideas that bear upon the fact that human animals so often live dysfunctionally. I will try to keep my concerns in stride better than I have in the past, because being too serious is not effective, and good humor can serve as a sharp blade that often slices through close-mindedness. Here’s to the upcoming year, during which I will work harder to make my blogging process more connected and more relevant to the real life concerns I articulate.