“Ending net neutrality in the name of letting the Magical Free Market
Economics Fairy sort things out in an unregulated system, as FCC Chairman
Ajit Pai has been advocating…”
It’s worth noting that despite his rhetoric this isn’t really what Pai is intending, and your article doesn’t make this fully clear. In a free market system charges
would be by the byte, and the only worry would be preventing large players
from actively buying up all capacity to keep others out. It’s hard to see
how anyone would be able to sustain an argument for allowing that behavior:
it would be like putting jammers on public frequencies, only less sustainable
because there’s no physical limit on wire capacity. So actually the
magical free market fairy would do just fine in this case, as it generally does when supply is truly elastic (because there are no environmental limitations on inputs).
The problem is that ISPs have observed that certain (mostly decidedly
establishment) content providers have all the money, and they’d like to
shake them down. To do that, they have to be able to threaten to wreck
their services unless they cough up, exactly as they did with Netflix
(who predictably caved, so thank goodness our prize-winning white helmets
documentary is safe). In essence, they want to use their monopoly to set the
effective price-per-byte according to the richest provider’s ability to pay,
the opposite of how things works in a competitive free market system.
As far as ISP CEOs are concerned, small and non-rich content
providers are collateral damage: they would probably keep serving
them just fine if they could sort out a way to do so without compromising their ability to charge according to ability to pay. As usual, the fact
that this prospective form of establishment hegemony would work via an economic incentive rather than an explicit conspiracy or other more elaborate mechanism makes it *more* potent, not less so.
So all of your readership should indeed be able to agree on this issue, including the libertarian types for whom you show such wise and civilized tolerance :)
On another note, I also have to register slight distaste for the picking on Pai’s appearance and lack of charisma. Remember all the funny-looking awkward people in your audience. He’s not the only one with big teeth :)