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Stop Crony Capitalism: Protect the Net!

Pretty soon, we’ll all be paying a whole lot more money for Internet service. A few days ago the FCC’s repeal of Net Neutrality went into effect. If nothing is done, it easy to see the handwriting on the wall. After a waiting period of no changes (intended to diffuse public outrage), it’s expected that the telecom giants will broker deals with massive companies like Google and Amazon, giving them the virtual version of a bulk shipping discount while the rest of us pay premium rates to download, upload, and stream. It’s a death knell for struggling small businesses.

There’s still hope for the supporters of Net Neutrality, however, as a Congressional Review Act in the House could overturn the FCC’s ruling. While the left has mobilized repeatedly to defend Net Neutrality, and many conservative citizens have spoken up in earlier phases of the campaign, Republican elected officials are dragging their feet.

It’s hard to figure out why. The attack against Net Neutrality comes as a heavy-handed act of good-ol’-boy crony capitalism that favors the profits of telecom giants over small businesses’ (and everyone else’s) need for fair Internet access and affordability. Conservative voters want Net Neutrality. Senate Republicans have stepped up and helped the CRA move through the Senate. Hundreds of small to mid-size businesses across the political spectrum have demanded Net Neutrality.

One Net Neutrality advocate group is keeping trackof officials’ stances as people struggle to get the House of Representatives to use the Congressional Review Act to overturn the repeal of Net Neutrality. The Democrats are lined up in a neat little row in defense of equal access to the Internet. The Republicans, on the other hand, seem strangely reluctant to walk their talk and fight back against crony capitalism that rewards Big Business at the expense of John Q. Citizen.

It’s one of those awkward moments when the populace on the right and left shares a common protest chant: Don’t Raise Our Rates! None of us need to pay more money for worse Internet service just to satisfy telecom companies’ greed. And that’s what this is all about.

Whether you think of the Internet as a commons-based resource or an equal-access marketplace, both lovers of capitalism and the commons should know that ending Net Neutrality is just plain unfair business. The Internet is a vitally important aspect of contemporary economies, businesses, education, communication, arts and culture, politics and so much more. When fast and slow lanes (guess which one you’ll pay more for) let concentrated wealth buy Internet privileges, the little guys (and that’s the vast majority of us) are going to have a harder and harder time running our businesses, accessing information, and contributing to our society, culture, and economy. Telecom companies’ greed shouldn’t be allowed to aggravate the already horrific inequalities in our country, especially when doing so is flatly unjustified.

Conservatives, this one’s on you. House Republicans are the ones that need to move into action to stop this act of crony capitalism. They’ve certainly campaigned enough on that theme to recognize it in action; now it’s time to stop it. The Congressional Review Act is the mechanism by which they could act to ensure small businesses have a fair chance. Whether you’re on the right or left of the political spectrum, take a moment to visit the Battle for the Net websiteand contact those representatives.

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Rivera Sun is the author of The Dandelion Insurrection and other books, and the cofounder of the Love-In-Action Network.

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