February 17, 2011 5:55 PM

The Nattering Nabobs of Net Neutrality

I'm gonna have a f***ing panic attack. I need four xanax and two Miller Lites.

    --an angry Kenny Powers from HBO's "Eastbound and Down"

I believe that Net Neutrality was both the wrong policy and the wrong priority.

    --a somewhat less angry Commissioner Meredith Attwell Baker in prepared testimony before the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, Subcommittee on Communications and Technology, Feb. 16, 2011

Both quotes, mixed together, kind of summarize how I feel about the ad nauseum run-on of the Net Neutrality debate two months after the FCC adopted its Open Internet Order and accompanying net neutrality rules.  In fact, just yesterday I was watching the House hearing on Net Neutrality, wearing my oh-so-Republican matching Talbots pumps and dress, and I couldn't help but reach for my xanax and Miller Lites.  My personal angst aside, law makers that don't support Net Neutrality should recognize that this post-Net Neutrality parade only plays into the hands of the pro-net neutrality advocates, who otherwise would have nothing else to do.  

More hearings equal more press equal more attention--all devoted to rules that were, and continue to be, the wrong priority.  I sympathize with the Republicans' frustration, and I fully support Chairman Walden's efforts to take whatever action he deems appropriate to eliminate rules that he believes are unnecessary and unfair, but let's just drop the hearings.  Is that so wrong?

Were the rules unnecessary?  Of course!  They made about as much sense as a law prohibiting one-armed men from stealing dental floss.  In other words, I don't quite know if ISPs would have an incentive to engage in discriminatory activities absent a legitimate business justification, but--even if they did--I'm not sure they would really get much benefit out of the conduct in question.  

So, yes, I agree with the FCC Republicans and House opponents of Net Neutrality.  It was certainly a big waste of everyone's time and resources, and it took the Commission's attention away from its largest priorities: USF Reform, intercarrier compensation reform, and increasing wireless spectrum available for commercial use.  

Is the issue of Net Neutrality frustrating?  Sure!  And, like the New York Giants, it is made even more annoying by its fans.  These people are all the more nettlesome for arguing that Net Neutrality rules were needed because there was not enough Internet access competition--and then, when rules are adopted, who do they file their first complaint against?  You guessed it . . . a new entrant into mobile broadband Internet service.  Yep, Mr. I'm-Just-Giving-Consumers-a-Choice gets told to provide competition "our way", or don't do it at all.

So, now that we can all agree that this issue is annoying, can we also agree to not let it take up any more government resources?  As noted, I fully support Chairman Walden's efforts to eliminate these rules, but can we (and by "we" I mean Republican House Members) just stop giving these interest groups and their broken record another speaker to play on?  Please, no more hearings . . . .

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