The FCC yesterday made a giant decision. They agreed to reclassify broadband under Title II of the Federal Communications Act. In other words, Internet access is now a public utility. This regulation is a huge victory for advocates of net neutrality. I expect a lot of people won’t understand what this means other than the general understanding that another industry has just been put under government regulation. So before everyone reaches for their partisan pistols, let me just explain why it came to this.
The Internet Service Providers (companies that provide us with access to the Internet, such as Verizon, AT&T and Comcast) have been developing methods to tier their services where premium services would be available for higher paying customers. Such service would include faster access. So, what’s wrong with that? Well, let me state this a slightly different way. These tiered services were being developed on the basis of slowing down connections for standard customers to make more room for the premium customers on networks that are not otherwise improved.
I don’t have a problem with anyone spending money on ways to improve their Internet connections through their own equipment or even by investing in technical research and development of better compression techniques. But I do have a problem when the money is spent on the privilege to cut in line.
This is what net neutrality means… It’s another example of the push for equality… It’s the demand that Internet Service Providers keep things simple and just focus on providing Internet access to everyone, no special treatment, no judging, no schemes for squeezing money out of people, just simple and honest… Internet access.
It’s too bad it has to take the government to step in and insure things like net neutrality, but so far it appears to be the only way a democracy can extend the will of the people on a market that is tilted to the weight of the wealthy.
This chart shows government spending from 2000 – 2015. As far as I can tell, there are no tricks, no hidden or partial contexts, no percentage of GDP… Just straight up spending measured here in billions of U.S. dollars.
As you can see, there is a huge peak in 2010. This peak was in the headlines almost constantly and when it wasn’t you could still hear the hum of angry citizens fuming about government spending. Well, I just wanted to share this… Government spending appears to have been decreasing since then.
In January 2015, President Obama delivered his State of the Union address and during that speech he said that all economic indicators show that this country is better off now than it was when he took office. In the subsequent press conference a reporter asked Press Secretary Paul Earnest if Obama was including the national debt in the set of economic indicators, a question enforced by citing the 70% increase in the national debt since Obama took office.
Obama did say that all economic indicators suggest we are better off now than when he took office. Perhaps it was unfortunate that he didn’t actually explain his exclusion of the national debt as an economic indicator, but then again, he only had so much time to address the entire nation. He can’t spend all that time catering to the less-versed minds of people who don’t understand the exclusion and it makes sense to me that he would leave that task to the press conference.
I’m not that impressed by the way Paul Earnest responded to the question though. I think I would have been more prepared to answer that specific question. First, I would have started by giving the reporter a straight yes or no answer to his very simple question and THEN I would have explained the reason for it. Here’s what my response would have been along with a chart that I would have brought to the conference to make the response as clear as possible.
“No John, he did not include the national debt. He was referring to the economic indicators that reflect the performance of his administration which is after all the topic of his discussion at that point in his speech. The reason why the national debt is excluded from this set of indicators is that it does not necessarily reflect the performance of the current administration… it is instead, a running total of all obligations initiated by all administrations, past and present minus all payments made on those obligations. Now, I understand your point about the 70% increase on the President Obama’s “watch”, indeed when he took office, total debt stood at $10.6 trillion. Since then it has increased by almost $8 trillion, which is roughly 70%. At first glance, you might think the only way $8 trillion can be added to the debt is through additional spending, but it’s not. Roughly half of that $8 trillion comes from a deficit pattern that was set before 2008. In other words, when President Obama took office, he was handed a deficit created by government obligations that far exceeded government revenue. So even if we cut new spending to $0.00, that preexisting gap would continue to pile on debt and the only way to close that gap is to increase revenue by raising taxes or decrease the obligations initiated by the previous administration through a breech of contract. The other half of that $8 trillion does actually come from new spending, but that spending has dropped by two-thirds since 2008, as indicated in the current deficit.”
Now that took 211 words for me to explain… I can see why Obama decided to leave such explanations to the press secretary when so many Americans already do understand this.