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"Legislation favors socialism over capitalism" my FT letter to the editor on Lessig's Op Ed

http://www.ft.com/cms/s/fd88803c-6232-11db-af3e-0000779e2340.html

Legislation would favour socialism over capitalism

 By Scott Cleland

Published: October 23 2006 03:00 | Last updated: October 23 2006 03:00

From Mr Scott Cleland.

Sir, I have to challenge Lawrence Lessig's gross misrepresentation of net neutrality legislation in his article "Congress must keep broadband competition alive" (October 19).

Prof Lessig asserts that net neutrality legislation is "not a massive programme of regulation. Itis instead a very thin rule for broadband providers that forbids business models that favour scarcity over abundance".

First, the most draconian form of regulation possible is a ban. Second, Prof Lessig's vision of net neutrality is a "socialised internet" that would effectively outlaw capitalism for broadband in America. A fundamental incentive of capitalism is competitive differentiation and innovation which creates "scarcity" but also stimulates demand and growth. Under Prof Lessig's theory and logic, patents and trademarks should be outlawed because they "favour scarcity over abundance". That is their purpose, in order to encourage innovation, commerce and economic growth.

In sum, Prof Lessig's "very best network neutrality legislation" favours socialism over capitalism.

Scott Cleland,Chairman, NetCompetition.org(an e-forum on net neutrality funded by broadband companies),

McLean, VA 22102, US

NYT article cites allegation of Google discriminating against small websites/competitors

For those who truly believe in the principle of net neutrality, you may be troubled to read the New York Times article "We're Google. So sue us." The article provides an allegation of Google effectively blocking a small competitive search-engine/website. (Searchopolist Google's share of the sarch market is 50+% and rising steadily at the expense of faltering #2 Yahoo and fading fast #3 Microsoft.)

It will be interesting to hear what SavetheInterent, Common Cause, ItsOurNet, and the many other organizations that purport to support net neutrality on principle have to say about this. Let's see if net neutrality is truly a "principle" or just a political and competitive double standard as it unfortunately appears to be.

"Googlentitlements" -- Please read the Wash Post's "Building a 'Googley' " Workforce"

If you thought the Google founders' public fight in July in the WSJ over who got the King size bed in their custom retrofitted luxury 767 party plane was an eyebrow raiser, you have to read the Washington Post's expose on Google's culture in "Building a 'Googley' Workforce."

While the article is headlined as "Corporate culture breeds innovation" it is most interesting as a expose into how Google employees are pampered with what I call "googlentitlements."

The article starts literally with their toilets. "Every bathroom stall on the company campus holds a Japanese high tech commode with a heated seat. If a flush is not enough, a wireless button on the door activates a bidet and drying." Other generous perks reported by the Post include: "free meals three times a day, free use of an outdoor wave pool, indoor gym and large child care facility; private shuttle bus service to and from San Francisco and other residential areas." "In addition to glass cubicles, some staffers share white fabric "yurts" tentlike spaces that resemble igloos." (What's that about? Must be special.) "Outside they whiz by on company-provided motorized scooters." (Walking is so yesterday.)

"Each of its 11 campus cafes is run by an executive chef with a theme catering to the culture of people working in that building." "On a recent visit, chief executive Eric Schmidt moderated a discussion about women and war with Gloria Steinem and Jane Fonda to a standing room only crowd. In the back, a Google employee with a long silver braid held his pet African Grey parrot on his finger." (Priceless.)

Moyers: The Net @ Risk proved unabashedly biased -- Moveon.org's undisclosed infomercial?

After seeing how unabashedly one-sided and biased the preview of Moyer's show was on Net Neutrality which I described in my Blog last week -- I can't say I was surprised that the actual show proved to be equally unabashedly one-sided and biased. Â 

So what's the objective basis of my assessment of bias?

  • If you listen to the program, you will find that they devoted just under 37 minutes to Net Neutrality (excluding the segments on fiber, municipal wireless and media consolidation) and out of that time only two opponents of net neutrality regulation Mike McCurry of Hands of the Internet and Chariman Fred Upton of the House Commerce Subcommittee) got less that three minutes of air time.
  • To be fair to Mr. Moyers even though he was not fair in his program,  Mr. Moyers would sometimes say in his leading questions... Opponents of Net neutrality say... however, those bones were hardly enough for a fair airing of this important topic.

This was not journalism, but basically a paid advertisement that was not fully disclosed.

Lessig's "thin rule" for Net Neutrality is really "thin gruel" in his FT editorial

Stanford Law Professor Lessig's proposed "thin rule" on net neutrality is really "thin gruel."

I hope Professor Lawrence Lessing doesn't let his students get away with playing as fast and loose with the facts as the professor did in his Financial Times editorial: "Congress must keep broadband competition alive."  It also seems as if Professor Lessig could benefit from a brush-up tutorial from one of his colleagues on how to accurately evaluate the competitiveness of markets.

Understanding the bright line where consensus breaks down over net neutrality

Its highly instructive to see the bright line where consensus behind net neutrality breaks down and why.

There is very strong consensus behind the non-binding net neutrality principles enuciated in the August 5, 2005 FCC Policy Statement. In short, the commission unanimously agreed that the FCC has the jurisdiction necessary to ensure that "IP-enabled services are operated in a neutral manner." 

Specifically, the Commission adopted the following four principles:

"Net Neutrality freedom" is an oxymoron; the cynical deceptiveness of net neutrality language

Net neutrality proponents have embraced the buzzword "freedom," I guess its because they think it is more appealing and "politically correct" than representing net neutrality for what it truly is about -- mandated egalitarianism and forced equality.

I find the use of the word freedom in this context cynical and highly deceptive. "Net neutrality freedom" is really an oxymoron! Net neutrality is all about permanently and preemptively taking away the freedoms of people and companies that have not done anything wrong, based on feared outcomes and harms that cannot be substantiated. 

Who's keeping Common Cause accountable for supporting undisclosed astroturfing?

Common Cause claims in their tagline that they are "Holding Power Accountable." Well it appears as if Common Cause may have a double standard problem of holding others to a higher and different ethical standard than they hold themselves. 

Lets review some key facts. Fact One: Common Cause claims it is "...one of the most active, effective and respected non-profit organizations...in America."  and it claims to be "committed to honest, open and accountable government..." Part of its stated mission is "to strengthen...faith in our institutions of self government...and to promote...high ethical standards for government officials..." 

After Youtube Google CEO says Google is now a "distribution NETWORK" -- a change in identity?

The Financial Times' recent video interview with Google CEO Eric Schmidt about Youtube was very instructive in how transformative Google believes the purchase of Youtube is for Google's identity.

By far the most interesting and important thing Google CEO Schmidt said was: "We see ourselves as a technology provider and a distribution network."

Whoa! Did anyone else catch the huge significance of Google's new self-description of its identity as a "distribution NETWORK?" This is very new just since the purchase of Youtube. To drive home this point I have copied below Google's quick profile from its website of what Google says Google is -- and there is no mention of being a "distribution NETWORK." To date, Google has represented itself as the "world's best search engine," a company focused on "search services" and its mission as "organizing the world's information and making it universally accessible and useful." 

Why I find this so interesting is what type of "distribution NETWORK" does Google see itself becoming? And as a new "distribution NETWORK" with 50+% share and rising of the search business, will Google agree to the same "NETWORK neutrality" principles that they believe all other NETWORKs should abide by?

Does Google still truly believe in NETWORK neutrality now that they have transformed themselves into a self-described "distribution NETWORK" company?

Isn't what's "good for the google good for the gander"?

Quick Profile

Net Neutrality futilely fighting the tide of convergence, "inter-layer competition," vertical integration

Lost in the debate over net neutrality is the inexorability of convergence and the futility of trying outlaw convergence by the government fiat. Net neutrality proponents intuitively understand that digital/IP convergence means more change, competition, and vertical-integration of products and services -- and they have a kneejerk fear and opposition to it.  Their bias lets them see only problems and blinds them to the many consumer benefits of convergence.

My big aha! moment was realizing why net neutrality proponents are so stubborn in denying the reality of inter-modal competition. To accept the reality of inter-modal competition -- they would have to accept the reality of Â "INTER-LAYER COMPETITION" -- what I have long called "techcom," the convergence of the technology and communications sectors -- but what they call "vertical-integration." 

Tech companies routinely vertically integrate. Google loves to vertically integrate and compete accross the layers of the technology "stack" with Gmail, Google talk, youtube, as does eBay with Skype and PayPal, Microsoft with MSN and XBox and Intel with WiFi to name just a few of the many instances of tech vertical integration. Inter-layer competition/vertical integration has been a hallmark of innovation and value creation for consumers in the tech sector. Inter-layer competition fuels innovation and benefits consumers Big Time!

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Q&A One Pager Debunking Net Neutrality Myths