The right-wing mantra of “deregulate, deregulate, deregulate” is costing America one of our most important technological and cultural advantages: ubiquitous, affordable broadband internet access.
Ars Technica has an article about how we are being left behind:
Despite the repeated claims of the current administration that our “broadband policy” is working, the US actually has no broadband policy and no aggressive and inspiring goals (think “moon shot”).
Simply put: Japan, France, Sweden, Canada, and most of Asia are out-interneting us. The main reason that they have surpassed us is because their governments view fiber optics as core infrastructure issues worthy of government investment.
Meanwhile, our government is too busy selling out the public trust to the biggest corporations it can find, all in the name of “deregulation” and “smaller government.”
My view is that regulation does not stifle competition; instead, it prevents people from hurting other people. A good business can survive in nearly any regulatory climate. In general, we only hurt ourselves when we remove regulations from industry.
Furthermore, we have seen that the politicians who ran on “small government” don’t really believe in small government. What they believe in is a very large government that benefits only them and their friends, while the majority of citizens suffer from a lack of services and public resources. (Picture Hurricane Katrina alongside record profits for military contractors and oil companies and you’ve got a snapshot of the Bush legacy.)
“Small government” plus “deregulation” equals the perfect atmosphere for corruption.
Winning the fight against this type of corruption is how we will catch up with broadband access. (Support of Net Neutrality is an enormous part of this struggle, and it ranks pretty high on my list of reasons for supporting Obama.)
If we keep the internet open — both the physical medium and the data — then we can catch up and once again become the world’s internet access leader.