ANOTHER LOOK AT NET NEUTRALITY

By Mike Cronin

So, the FCC decided to end Net Neutrality, and now there is an uproar. The main objection seems to be that now internet service providers (ISPs) like Cox, Comcast, and Verizon will be able to charge whatever they want for their services, block whatever sites they like, and throttle unprofitable traffic in favor of profitable traffic.   Net Neutrality prevented ISPs from doing this…at the cost of allowing the government to decide what private businesses did with their own property – namely the cables, switches, servers, and fiber optic lines they send their signals over. When people are allowed to own private property, but it can only be used in a manner specified by government, you have fascism.

Ending Net Neutrality is taking a step back from fascism, but it does not alleviate the concerns of individual/residential ISP customers.  Now we are back to the big private ISPs being able to run roughshod over us and treat us like our business doesn’t matter, right?  How can our business not matter to them? (Actually, it does matter, just not so much at the individual level, but as a mass.)  Even so, that’s not the real problem.

The real problem with internet service is that the ISPs, through agreements with various governments and established back in the pre-broadband days when they were just cable TV providers, usually have local monopolies.  That means if you want broadband internet service via cable, you usually only have one ISP option in your area.  That means you generally can’t take your business elsewhere if you are dissatisfied – which means you have little or no leverage over the ISP, unless you are willing, and financially prepared, to take them to court.

In short, Net Neutrality was a hackneyed, fascist government intrusion necessitated as a “solution” to a more basic hackneyed, “crony-capitalist” (i.e. corporatist) government problem.

Here’s an analogy. Let’s say you buy your groceries at Safeway.  They disappoint you in some fashion, so you decide to shop at Super Walmart instead, then you switch to Fry’s (or whatever).  If grocery stores were like ISPs, there would not be any other stores in your area. Safeway (for example) would be in cahoots with your local government, and you would only have one choice. Now, suppose more and more people complain to the government about how terrible the service is at the local Safeway store. The store charges different prices based on whether a given customer buys in bulk or not. In other cases, the Safeway refused to carry some customers’ favorite items, because they are obscure or hard to obtain and don’t sell at a profit. The local government decides it has to do something about the problem.  They enact “Grocery Neutrality.” They tell Safeway that they can’t discount prices to customers who buy in bulk (or they must sell to everyone at the bulk discount price, regardless of how much they actually buy). They also tell the Safeway that they must order anything a customer wants, unless it’s illegal, regardless if it will generate profit or not. Would it not be simpler and more in keeping with the spirit of a free country for the local government, instead of dictating to Safeway what it can and cannot do with its own property, to simply end Safeway’s monopoly and let in any grocery company?

The same is true of ISPs. The solution to the problem of ISPs treating smaller customers poorly (because the ISPs have a government-sponsored monopoly over the local market) isn’t more government interference in the form of Net Neutrality, it’s monopoly dissolution!

ANTI-RATIONAL LEFTISM

By Mike Cronin

It’s not always immediately obvious when the ideas of leftist lunatics are invalid. On the other hand, sometimes they build a philosophical foundation on the very thing they claim to hate – in order to achieve a slightly different (yet just as bad) version of that thing. A current case comes to mind: Antifa, the self-styled “anti-fascist” militant movement.

Merriam-Webster’s defines Fascism as: “a political philosophy, movement, or regime (such as that of the Fascisti) that exalts nation and often race above the individual and that stands for a centralized autocratic government headed by a dictatorial leader, severe economic and social regimentation, and forcible suppression of opposition.”  (Emphasis added)

Sure, Antifa is laudably against the KKK, White Supremacists, Neo-Nazis, and the so-called “alt-right,” but they are not so laudable in their choice of tactics: The exact same ones used by Hitler’s Brownshirts: protests and riots and violence employed to stifle opinions they oppose.  In other words, the “anti-fascist” Antifa groups use fascist tactics, in order to achieve…what?

Antifa groups aren’t advertising a clear end-state beyond shutting down their enemies, but the roots of the movement date to communist/socialist protests against fascism in Italy and Germany in the 1920s and 30s. You know, Communism? That “benevolent” form of human political organization which Merriam-Webster defines as “a totalitarian system of government in which a single authoritarian party controls state-owned means of production?”

Ah. It’s not that Antifa objects to central government control of everything and everybody, it’s merely not having the precisely correct flavor of that bitter sauce that gets their turbans in a twist. Because gulags are just so much better than concentration camps and plantations, right?

 

Socialism Seems Free, but You WILL Pay for it!

By Mike Cronin

No doubt you’ve heard the word socialism being bandied about a lot lately. Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders is an avowed socialist. A recent poll shows that 36% of millenials favor socialism.  And whys shouldn’t they? Free education!  Free healthcare!  Subsidized housing, food, & utilities! Socialism sounds really good. But it isn’t.

It might help if we have a common understanding of what socialism really is.

Simply, socialism is a political/economic theory where all property is owned “by the people.” What could be better than a place where all property is shared and nothing is owned?  That’s the theory.  In practice, It results in the state asserting primacy in all aspects of life and individuals having few, if any, rights. It is a form of collectivism – which means the group, or collective, is prioritized over the individual. Bee hives, ant colonies, and human “communes” are collectives. Under any form of collectivism, the majority can do away with the rights (and often lives) of the minority (of which the individual is the most basic element).

Collectivism/socialism comes in various forms, such as communism, which the Union of Soviet SOCIALIST Republics (USSR) subscribed to, and “Nationalsozialismus” (the German term for National SOCIALISM, from which the term “Nazi” is derived).  Some might argue that the Nazis were in fact fascist, not socialist.  Fascism was also the system of socialism that Mussolini oversaw in Italy. (The term fascism derives from the Latin term “fasces,” a bundle of sticks with an axe protruding from it. Fasces was the Roman symbol of power.)

Some political scientists argue that communism is on the political left, while fascism is on the right, as depicted in this graphic:

I argue that the only practical difference between communist variety of socialism practiced in Soviet Russia and the fascist-flavored socialism animating Nazi Germany and Italy was that the fascists gave lip service to the idea of private property rights – as long as the property was used at the direction of the state.   There were no private property rights at all in the Soviet Union.

Whether people have no property rights at all, or have the “right” to own property in service to the state, is a distinction without a difference. Both systems had charismatic, murderous dictators in charge. Both systems had secret police, concentration camps, and mass murders. Both systems failed to create wealth; they could only steal it or destroy it. There was no freedom in either system.

Thus, a more accurate depiction of communism and fascism on the right-left political model would be to put them both on the left under socialism, with freedom and capitalism on the right.  The diagram below is closer to the truth:

Consider that every country that has adopted any form of socialism has been degraded or destroyed in direct proportion to the degree of socialism it enacted. Nazi Germany. The Soviet Union. North Korea. Cuba. Venezuela.

China and Vietnam were once in the same boat, but both have attained some limited reversal from the crushing oppression the others experienced through adoption of limited free-market economic reforms. But make no mistake, the Chinese and Vietnamese people are not free.

Consider Karl Marx’s famous aphorism: “From each, according to his ability; to each according to his needs.” It sound so wonderful, but it glosses over the essential question: Who decides what your gifts and needs are? (Newsflash – it sure isn’t going to be you!) “From each, according to his ability” means that the state will extract every bit of use out of you that it can, and your desires are irrelevant.  “To each, according to his needs” means that the state, not you, will determine what you need, and you will be lucky to get it.

So how bad is socialism?  At it’s best, socialism creates resentment and dependency; at its worst the people living under socialist governments are slaves – the ones who survived mass murder.