August 11, 2017
I am deeply troubled by President Trump’s bellicose rhetoric on North Korea: it does absolutely nothing to calm tensions and I fear it is only making matters worse. That said, North Korea’s nuclear weapons and the inter-continental ballistic missiles it has developed to deliver them present a grave danger, the greatest danger to world peace today. Nonetheless, this situation does NOT authorize unilateral military action. If the President concludes an attack is necessary, both the Constitution (Article 1 Section 8) and the law (War Powers Act) clearly require him to come to the Congress for authorization BEFORE taking action. Military action absent such authorization and absent an immediate threat is illegal and unconstitutional. Instead of promising “fire and fury”, the President should be working with other countries to seek a diplomatic solution and to ensure that sanctions against North Korea are enforced. The President should also talk directly with Congress to keep us informed on any activity that may require our input.
A number of readers have requested we offer a simple explanation of Net Neutrality for their own information and so they can share with friends.
Under current rules, internet service providers (e.g. AT&T, Comcast, Verizon FIOS, etc.) must treat all internet content the same. All content must be delivered at the same speed. There are no so-called “fast lanes” that providers can establish so they can charge more money. In simple terms, internet speeds are “neutral”.
For the purposes of providing an example I will use some familiar company names – this is NOT intended to single them out, but merely to make the issue more understandable to less technologically oriented readers like myself.
Currently, Comcast must provide the same speed to both Amazon and Mike’s Blueberry Jam Company because the internet is “neutral”.
The current debate over net neutrality is about whether companies like Comcast will be allowed to negotiate the speed and price of their service amongst their users.
If “net neutrality” is repealed then Amazon and Mike’s Blueberry Jam Company would negotiate with Comcast over how fast their content would be delivered including how much it would cost to deliver it. Since Amazon is so much larger than Mike’s Blueberry Jam Company, Amazon will likely be able to negotiate a much better deal — faster speed and lower price. Mike’s Blueberry Jam Company would then be at an even bigger competitive disadvantage than they are to begin with. The internet will no longer be “neutral”. So what’s the problem with this?
Small companies will be at a significant disadvantage. New products will never reach the market, and innovation and new websites will by stymied by huge entry costs. Over time, the internet will consist of only larger corporate entities.
Already, companies can pay for better placement in your internet searches – so when shopping for shoes most of the sites on the first page of the results have paid the search website for their placement. How many of you ever make it to page 25 to find a small retailer? Cost matters — placement matters — speed matters.
The internet service providers (ISPs) are already some of the more profitable companies in the world and they already know quite a bit about you. Remember, just a few months ago the same people arguing in favor of ending net neutrality also voted in favor of allowing ISPs to search and record all your internet information — from your age and credit card numbers to underwear and shoe size.
The internet was created from YOUR tax dollars. Internet innovation is the future. Faceless bureaucrats and greedy corporations shouldn’t be given so much control over it. Spread the word about why it’s so important to preserve net neutrality.
Behind the Curtain — More House and Trump Administration Actions You Don’t Want to Miss
Here are this week’s additions. If you need to catch up or share with friends, you can find the full list here.
- According to an August 1, 2017 Washington Post report, Secretary of State Tillerson has directed State Department leaders to review and update the department’s mission statement as part of an overall internal review. The redrafted mission statement, which is not yet final, omits reference to promoting democracy abroad. The mission statement essentially sets forth the purposes of the United States foreign policy. The only major edit to the current mission statement is the removal of the phrase“. . .just, and democratic. . .” This is not simply a matter of wordsmithing or editing. The State Department is responsible for explaining to foreign governments, those who share our principles and those who do not, the way we see our role in the world. A change in its message could have ugly consequences: it could embolden tyrants and undermine supporters of human rights and the rule of law.
- An August 7, 2017 news report highlights President Trump’s practice of establishing advisory committees to supplement federal agency work in areas ranging from environmental policy and transportation to voting laws. While this practice is permitted under the Federal Advisory Committee Act, the Trump Administration is not living up to the letter or spirit of that law. There are requirements to make certain information matters of public record, such as membership and meeting details, for example. Most of these commissions are also made up of non-government employees. For example, the Manufacturing Jobs Initiative, charged with employment creation, is being led by Andrew Liveris who is the Chairman of Dow Chemical. The Administration is rarely releasing required information and some of the commissions are already targets of lawsuits because of this lack of transparency. This disregard for the Federal Advisory Committee Act adds another layer to the secrecy pervading this presidency. These commissions are reviewing and proposing federal policy and their work should not be hidden from the public.
- According to an August 7, 2017 Wall Street Journal report, financial regulators such as the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) have issued far fewer fines so far this year than during the same period last year. These entities regulate Wall Street and the financial industry. This decline in penalties issued to companies is in keeping with the Trump Administration’s prioritization of business interests over the average consumer.