Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Good Morning America!

Boy a lot is going on. I'll be posting some time later about Rep. Hostettler's comment about the long liberal war against christianity, the database the Pentagon is putting together with GoNow, and maybe even about a comment Rhandi Rhodes made on Air America. However, today I want to focus on an issue that is looming, few seem to know about, and even fewer understand.

I think the reason this issue is not understood is because we have dubbed our ability to use the computer to communicate as cyber-space. As we all know, space is limitless, and essentially empty, and we already know that radio, phone, micro, radar, and who knows what other kinds of waves waft freely through our sky and us every second. Not to mention neutrinos! However, with the computer this idea is incorrect. Even for so called wireless computers. When I type into my keyboard, that bit/byte combo is translated, sent via the cables out of my house along miles of other cables to wherever the server is that is holding my blog. Then as others log on, the same thing happens from all over the US. A wireless computer simply sends the message to the outside of the house using a low power transmitter signal that a receiver picks up and sends along on cable from the outside of the house. So the issue is, who will control this. Senate Bill 1294, co-sponsored by Frank Lautenberg and John McCain, want municipalities to have the freedom to wire their own communities and offer low-cost service. On the other hand, Representative Pete Sessions of Texas, a former telcom exec who's wife still works for SBC, wants to prohibit municipalities from offering broadband. This is is HR. 2726. So if a corporation doesn't cover your area, well, the local community can't. And already the telcoms have gotten this form of legislation passed in Florida, Louisiana, Colorado, Nebraska, and Tennessee. Notice anything similar about these states?

What is at stake here, and what I have been told is impossible, is the control and ownership of the internet by the same conglomerates that own and have watered down television, radio, and the print media. I'll come back to this later.

Alright, later is now! So it's impossible to control the internet is it? How can that be? I have to wonder then what planet these legislators are on if they are devising laws that are designed to do just that: control it. Now the Lautenberg and McCain duo are trying to maintain that local municipalities can retain control of their own telecommunications services if they choose to do so. Of course, one of the things to look for when legislation is introduced is the money that is doing the talking. So I looked up Senator Lautenbergs donors list, and in the last cycle he raised a whopping one tenth of the guy who is trying legislatively to do the opposite of Mr. Lautneberg. On Lautenbergs list were several telcom firms, ranging from $1000 to $5000. That's it, a whopping five grand. All told with all PAC money, a gigantic $100,000. So there doesn't appear to be much influence happening here. What I might check out is why he got into this issue, what example did he see that he thought it necessary to legislate this issue. Lautenberg is of course the Democrat, and McCain the Republican. So it's a bi-partisan bill at least in it's sponsorship, and it's aim is to amend the Telecommunications Act of 1996 "to preserve and protect the ability of local governments to provide broadband capability and services. "

Now if you try to read the Telcom Act of 1996, it amounts to about 128 pages of legally constructed language that details how communications are handled in this country as to low service areas, rates, eligibility and so forth. The States retain several rights to control this, and in the end the telcoms that provide the service do get paid. The upshot being that municipalities can offer telecommunications services to it's people if the telcoms decide it isn't where the money is. No big deal you say?

So let's say then that the local municipal government decides that the phone company can get involved and they decide to wire the hospital, the schools, their own offices, and the local library with the internet. Whoa! Under Sessions bill, they couldn't do that. And unless there was a corporation willing to do that, they'd be out of luck. Disconnected from the information age.

The bigger issue with corporate ownership is twofold. One is the aspect of control of information. We saw in the last election cycle how two of these large controllers of media came out in an unprecedented manner for support of President Bush. What made that support so egregious is the fact that they are large supporters of the right wing, and they relaxing of the rules of media ownership. We'll see more about this in a little while. As corporations operate today, the bottom line no matter what is profit. So if speaking the truth is deemed as harmful to making money, then the truth just doesn't come out. Corporate ownership is all about corporate needs, and in our semi-capatalist world, profit and shareholder earnings are more important than anything. Which means of course everything else is expendable, including truth. Therefore journalism takes a backseat or trunk to making money, and that money primarily goes to the very top. The second issue is accountability.


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