by John Seiler | November 11, 2014 11:38 am
President Obama’s “net neutrality” scheme was branded “Obamacare for the Internet” by Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Tex., a 2016 presidential hopeful.
A better analogy is the double-nickle, the 55 mph speed limit President Nixon imposed on the country in 1974, just three years after I started driving at 16.
After the Arab oil embargo of 1973 and the supposed global oil shortage, Nixon panicked and imposed the 55 limit under the slogan, “55, stay alive!” The idea was to force Americans to drive incredibly slowly, supposedly saving gas and limiting accidents.
The limit also was endorsed, predictably, by Jimmy Carter, as in the picture above, which reads in full, “It’s a law we can live with.” He always was slow.
But the limit was so slow, it took longer to drive, people fell asleep at the wheel and caused accidents that way. Long-distance truckers especially were damaged. (That’s what they got for supporting Tricky Dick in 1972 as part of his deal to get Teamsters boss Jimmy Hoffa out of the klink.)
The American elites also panicked over the supposed imminent crisis of “peak oil.” Which still is a bugaboo.
In fact, we were not “running out of oil.” And although the Arab oil embargo caused temporary shortages, the real problem was Nixon’s 1971 price controls on oil, which predictably limited supplies, causing the infamous gas lines of the 1970s.
When President Reagan de-controlled oil prices in 1981, the shortages — voila! — ended, and prices even stabilized as producers could make profits again and began pumping out more of the Texas tea.
The 55 limit was raised to 65 in 1987 and 1988, and the federal limit repealed entirely in 1995. In the meantime, I got “speeding” tickets costing hundreds of dollars from Michigan, Virginia, Texas and Colorado. Those ripoff states should refund my money, with interest, to a total of at least $3,000.
As to the Internet, all major prices — for computer power, Internet speed and storage — drop by half every year to 18 months. It’s called Moore’s Law, and apparently Obama never heard of it. So there’s no need for government to “control” the prices, the way Obama seeks, by mandating the same price of Internet use for everybody — so-called “neutrality.”
It’s true the government funded research on the early Internet starting in the late 1960s. But the Internet really didn’t take off until the early 1990s, when the government cut itself loose, allowing the Net to bloom almost entirely unregulated.
Although Republicans are leading the charge against the FCC imposing “net neutrality,” opposition also is strong among Obama’s usual Democratic allies in Silicon Valley. They understand that an FCC takeover of pricing would harm their businesses.
If anything needs to be regulated it’s silly ideas from presidents, such as the double-nickel and “net neutrality.”
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