|Obama Administration Imitates Hugo Chavez on Internet|
By Timothy H. Lee
Thursday, November 19 2009
When asked this week whether he planned on reading Sarah Palin’s new autobiography Going Rogue, Barack Obama curtly replied, “probably not.”
Fair enough. The President is a busy man playing pickup basketball games at the White House, whisking Michelle off to taxpayer-subsidized dates in New York City and plotting methods by which to undermine America’s national security by extending Miranda rights to protect the likes of 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheik Muhammad and, someday, Osama bin Laden.
But that wouldn’t explain why Obama has apparently read and internalized the socialist screed Open Veins of Latin America: Five Centuries of the Pillage of a Continent, which Hugo Chavez handed to him when they met like old friends last April at the Summit of the Americas. The book is well-known within leftist circles, and crudely alleges that Latin America’s poverty stems from capitalism and colonialization by the United States and Europe.
Never mind the fact that the United States was itself a European colony at one time.
Obama appears to have learned well from Chavez’s model, considering his extensive record of regulating, bullying and even nationalizing entire industries in just ten months of office. From General Motors to Chrysler to financial institutions and potentially the health care sector, Obama has brazenly imitated his Venezuelan compadre.
And now, it is increasingly clear that Obama seeks to extend his tentacles of nationalization to the Internet.
This week, Obama’s Federal Communications Commission (FCC) commenced consideration of rules that would impose greater control over the Internet and the infrastructure through which it flows, as well as forcing American consumers to pay even more fees to subsidize cheaper broadband service to others. Among other things, the FCC is deliberating whether to compel Internet service providers to share their networks with competitors and raising consumers’ telephone bills to pay for that access.
This initiative comes as part of the FCC’s National Broadband Plan, which itself derives from the Obama-Pelosi-Reid “stimulus” that has worked so splendidly in restoring employment growth and business conditions. Astonishingly, FCC officials have stated that the cost to extend broadband access to every single American household could cost between $20 billion and $350 billion – a 1,700% range so imprecise that one wonders why they bothered to state an estimate at all.
Then again, that comes from the same administration that has foisted the fraudulent “jobs saved or created” estimate upon the nation.
In order to satisfy this enormous expense, the FCC is reportedly considering several options, including a doubling of the $7 billion federal Universal Service tax that consumers pay in their monthly phone bill, or forcing Internet providers who have invested hundreds of billions of their own dollars in building infrastructure to lease their networks at federally-regulated rates.
This is nothing short of a nightmare scenario out of Atlas Shrugged – a private enterprise invests its own wealth and know-how in creating something beneficial to society at large, only to have bureaucratic leeches appropriate the fruits of that investment and hard work for redistribution to others who added nothing in its creation.
Such action by the FCC forcing Internet providers to offer below-market access rates to competitors would only destroy their incentive to invest future dollars toward expanded infrastructure. Instead, Internet providers would stand idle and await infrastructure investment by others, on which they could then piggyback as free-riders.
Moreover, this new FCC inquiry follows its decision to pursue so-called “Net Neutrality” rules, which would impose a bureaucratic one-size-fits-all delivery model that undercuts the incentive to invest in new infrastructure that will be critical as Internet use continues to increase in future years.
And how has Chavez’s own nationalization agenda worked in his country, anyway?
The results are grim.
Just this week, Venezuela announced that its third-quarter economic output plummeted a worse-than-expected 4.5%, which accelerates the 2.4% decline it suffered in the second quarter. This stands in contrast to the rest of the world, which is slowly staggering out of the global recession. Chavez’s ten-year campaign to persecute free-market entrepreneurs and nationalize entire industries has driven innovators abroad, stifled economic activity and created runaway inflation as the nation has resorted to dependence upon oil resources and irresponsible government deficit spending.
Chavez’s nationalization agenda is a wicked virus, but free market principles provide an antidote. Let’s hope that Obama gets in line for his dose at some point soon.
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