March 6th, 2015
in Op Ed
by Reverse Engineer, Doomstead Diner
Greetings Doomfans, and welcome to another edition of the Frostbite Falls Daily Rant, here on the Doomstead Diner.
Apparently, the Media Overseers at the FCC have Approved the new "Net Neutrality" bill, which at least Mozilla (the non-profit that produces the Firefox Browser I use) I currently lauding as a "Victory", but I'm not so sure about that.
First off, the new rules are something like 300 pages in length, but besides the folks who voted on them, nobody at the moment really seems to know exactly what is inside this new piece of Regulation.
In theory, "Net Neutrality" sounds great. As I understand it, the idea here I that everybody, from Individual Doomers like me to big Content Distributors like Netflix are all on the same playing field, all with equal opportunity for bandwidth, and most critically, all charged low and affordable prices to distribute your content on the net.
While certainly there are a lot of issues as far as Political Spin is concerned and Da Goobermint would like to Muzzle annoying websites like the Diner, the real underlying battle here is as usual, all about the MONEY.
To look at the money problem of the Internet, you have to go all the way back to its beginnings with the Arpanet, which first came on line in the late 1950s and early 1960s. In those days, all the computers were at Universities and in Goobermint and in large Banks, but the banks at the time just used them for doing number crunching, not for communications.
What infrastructure was developed during these years all came on the Public Dime in some way, through research grants and so forth to the Universities, but the infrastructure was pretty small through those years.
It was only in the 1990s that the explosion of cheap personal computers made creating a vast Network a worthwhile thing to do, before that there just were not enough people who had a computer or even access to one to make such a vast network worthwhile to build.
However, once the Personal Computers were in place, the possibilities seemed ENDLESS for making MONEY with this technology. Thus was born Amazon.com during those years, and if like Nick Hanauer you were in the right place at the right time with a little money, you got richer than God as the whole thing mushroomed up.
One slight problem with the whole thing, which is that just about nobody has ever made any organic profit on this adventure into techno gadgetry, it's all been funded on gobs of DEBT from the beginning. It costs a shit load of money to send Fiber optic Cables to everybody's McMansion for Broadband Access, but you can only charge so much for this service, or "utility" as it is now thought of. Today, having a broadband internet connection is considered as necessary as having Electricity, Heat and a Phone line coming in to the McMansion. NO modern Amerikan can live without Internet!
Here's where the real problem lies. EVERYBODY needs and wants 24/7 broadband connection to the internet, but NOBODY can really afford the costs for running this huge system. Besides all the miles of fiber optic cable there are thousands of huge Cisco routers handling billions of digibits every second, burning a whole lot of energy to do that. Then there are the legions of system engineers and techies necessary to keep this thing running properly every day. Does your $50-100/month Internet Service Provider bill pay for all of that? Of course not.
Like the Railroads, the Electric Grid, the Interstate Highway system and everything else in this society, it has been built by issuing out gobs of DEBT, but it doesn't pay for itself in aggregate. A few companies find niches in the new system to sieve off some of the money being passed around here, but even really BIG companies like Yahoo and Facepalm don't generate real profits. Anytime anyone on the net tries to "Monetize" anything, they start losing Users. People like the Internet for all the FREE things you can scarf up, they don't want to PAY for the stuff.
To try to overcome this problem, the Internet has been developing ever more Advertizing methods to get people to buy things they don't really need, nowadays you get your Pop Up Ads along with the many websites where the Content fills maybe 1/3rd of the page space, while the other 2/3rds is all ads for Gold Coins, Russian Mail Order Brides and Heirloom Seeds. LOL. Ok, that's just what pops up on all the Doomer Websites.
Now, if in fact the population was ordering enough stuff from Amazon and clicking on enough Ads on Yahoo to pay for the whole bizness, there wouldn't be all this legislation about Net Neutrality ongoing. What TPTB are trying to figure out here is how to get this $Trillion$ infrastructure built on DEBT to start actually PAYING for it. Charge the Konsumers some more, give Discount prices to large users like Netflix, let's get the REVENUE STREAM going here aready!
Of course, the problem here is another one of Demand Destruction. The minute that the price for all the access goes up is the minute tapped out consumers stop visiting your website. The minute Netflix gets a Price Break for dishing out gobs of useless & worthless content is the minute that worthless shit uses up all the available bandwidth, and the minute the individual's price rises so he can't afford to drop on alternative information.
At this stage in its development, with VAST amounts of debt expended in order to build out the system, the folks who run it are trying not so much to make it profitable (which it never will be), but just enough to keep servicing the debt already accumulated on the build out.
It is presicely analogous to the Taxation situation, where the bad debts are shifted to the Taxpayer, or in this case the Net Surfer to pay off. The problem is, neither the taxpayer or the net surfer has enough money to pay off all that debt, and if you tax too high or charge too much for internet service, at a certain point they stop paying for it. Why? Because they are TAPPED OUT! They simply can't afford the higher taxes and higher usage fees for the internet!
Of course, in the relatively short time here of around 20 years, the Internet has gone from being Non-Existent in our social systems to becoming an ESSENTIAL service. All your Debit Card transactions at the grocery store are going over this network, all your email goes over it, all your orders for toys from Amazon.com go over it too. The society STOPS functioning the minute this system collapses, and collapse it will in due time.
Because of this, I find all the nail biting and angst over net neutrality to be kind of a waste of time. The net in its current form with reasonably free dissemination of information will not last too much longer. I personally pine for the early days in the 1990s, when it really was the Wild West, you didn't have bots and spiders scouring your website and the NSA was not yet cateloguing every damn email and post you ever made. Today, you can still talk freely on the net, but count on it, every damn post you make is recorded and dropped in a file on the NSA database. The real question far as the Net goes for us Bloggers and Alternative Newz Providers is just how much time is LEFT here before we are Snuffed Out? I'm hoping for another 2-3 years, but the situation could go south at any time so you just take it one day at a time. Every time I get some new Glitch on the Diner Server, I figure it is THE END. So far though, all the Ends have been Temporary. One day they will not be Temporary, when I click on my bookmark for the Diner, I will get a 404 Site Not Found error, and support will not respond to my cries for help. The Era of the Diner and of free and open discussion of the End of Industrial Civilization will be OVAH, for good.
Thankfully, that day has not arrived YET. Until it does, I will still be here, recording my rants and writing my blogs, utilizing speech synthesizer software and laser eyeball tracking if I am a Quadriplegic Vegetable.
And that's all the Doom, this time until next time, here on the Doomstead Diner.