I know it’s just hideously trite for my very first post on TLF to be about net neutrality, but there it is. Let it go.
I’m taking an (unintentionally) hilarious political writing class right now, so something that’s been on my mind is issue framing. Framing network pricing structures as an issue of “neutrality” has been phenomenally successful, because neutrality is a concept that is intuitively appealing. For our part, there have been sort of clumsy efforts to shift the framing by adding “regulation” to the end of it, so it’s net-neutrality-regulation-this or net-neutrality-regulation-that, but it’s a bit of a mouthful and it doesn’t really solve the problem.
So I tried to come up with something better, or at least more rhetorically effective, and I think there’s a case to be made for “network price controls,” which is basically what we’re talking about. I know it certainly doesn’t cover all the philosophical problems one might have with mandated neutrality, but it certainly covers the core of the economic problem.
Just think of the time we’ll save! Instead of saying:
“Yes, well, neutrality may seem superficially appealing, but it will create disincentives in technology investment, broadband deployment, and higher speed transmissions, all of which we’re totally going to need when the exaflood comes, not to mention the subsequent yottabyte flood that will follow once we figure out how to actually send people over the Internet or whatever,”
we can just say:
“Price controls cause shortages,”
which most people pretty well already know. And for the folks who don’t know, mention long lines at gas stations and how network price controls are sort of the equivalent of charging the same amount whether you’re filling up a Honda or a Hummer, and you’ll still come in 10-15 seconds under where you’d be with the exaflood.