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The “Net Neutrality Scam”

FCC Chairman Pai

“Net Neutrality” a solution looking for a problem 

02/26/2015

by Ryan McMaken

https://mises.org/library/net-neutrality-scam

Yet again, the government wants to fix a problem that doesn’t exist. According to the Obama administration and the FCC, it is necessary to regulate internet service providers so that they don’t interfere with people’s access to the web. The claim immediately prompts one to ask: Who is being denied access to the web?
In the past twenty years, access to the internet has only become more widespread and service today is far faster for many people — including “ordinary” people — than it was twenty years ago, or even ten years ago. Today, broadband in Europe, where the internet is more tightly regulated, has less reach than it has in the United States.
The administration’s plan is rather innocuously called “net neutrality,” but in fact it has nothing at all to do with neutrality and is just a scheme to vastly increase the federal government’s control over the internet.

What is Net Neutrality?
We don’t know the details of the plan because the FCC refuses to let the taxpayers see the 300-page proposal before the FCC votes on it today. But, we do know a few things.
Currently, ISPs are regulated by the FCC, but as an “information service” under the less restrictive rules of so-called Title I. But now, the FCC wants to regulate ISPs as utilities under the far more restrictive Title II restrictions. For a clue as to how cutting edge this idea is, remember this switch to Title II regulation would put ISPs into the same regulatory regime as Ma Bell under the Communications Act of 1934.

So what does this mean for the FCC in practice? According to FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai, “It gives the FCC the power to micromanage virtually every aspect of how the Internet works.” More specifically, Gordon Crovitz at the Wall Street Journal writes:
[With Net Netruality,] bureaucrats can review the fairness of Google’s search results, Facebook’s news feeds and news sites’ links to one another and to advertisers. BlackBerry is already lobbying the FCC to force Apple and Netflix to offer apps for BlackBerry’s unpopular phones. Bureaucrats will oversee peering, content-delivery networks and other parts of the interconnected network that enables everything from Netflix and YouTube to security drones and online surgery.
The administration insists these measures are necessary because — even though there is no evidence that this has actually happened — it is possible that at some point in the future, internet service providers could restrict some content and apps on the internet. Thus, we are told, control of content should be handed over to the federal government to ensure that internet service providers are “neutral” when it comes to deciding what is on the internet and what is not.

Can Goods Be Allocated in a “Neutral” Way?

The problem is that there is no such thing as “neutral” allocation of resources, whether done by government or the marketplace.
In the marketplace, goods and services tend to be allocated according to those who demand the goods the most. Where demand is highest, prices are highest, so goods and services tend to go to where they are most demanded. This makes perfect sense, of course, and also reflects the inherent democracy of the markets. Where larger numbers of people put more resources is where more goods and services will head.

It is this mechanism that drives the marketplaces for food, clothing, and a host of other products. Consequently, both food and clothing have become so plentiful that obesity is a major health problem and second-hand clothing stores, selling barely-worn discarded clothing, are a boom industry, even in affluent neighborhoods. Similarly, cell phones have only become more affordable and more widespread in recent decades.

For industries where new firms may freely enter, and customers are not compelled to buy, companies or individuals that wish to make money must use their resources in ways that are freely demanded by others. Unless they have been granted monopoly power by government, no firm can simply ignore its customers. If they do, competing firms will enter the marketplace with other goods and services.

Although goods allocated in this fashion are — according to the administration — not being allocated “neutrally,” the fact is that more people now have more service at higher speeds than was the case in the past. Furthermore, even if firms (or the government) attempted to allocate goods in a neutral manner, it would be impossible to do so, because neither society nor the physical world are neutral.

In his recent interview on net neutrality, Peter Klein used the analogy of a grocery store. In modern-day grocery stores, suppliers of food and drink will negotiate with stores (using so-called “slotting allowances”) to have their goods advertised near the front of the store or have goods placed on store shelves at eye level.
If government were to tell grocery stores to start being more “neutral” about where it places goods, we can see immediately that such a thing is impossible. After all, somebody’s goods have to be at eye level or near the front of the store. Who is to decide? A handful of government bureaucrats, or thousands of consumers who with their purchases control the success and failure of firms?

In a similar way, bandwidth varies for various ISP clients depending on the infrastructure available, and the resources available to each client. And yet, in spite of the administration’s fear-mongering that ISPs will lock out clients of humble means, and the need to hand all bandwidth over to plutocrats, internet access continues to expand. And who can be surprised? Have grocery stores stopped carrying low-priced nutritious food such as bananas and oatmeal just because Nabisco Corp. pays for better product placement for its costly processed foods? Obviously not.
Who will Control the FCC?

All goods need not be allocated in response to the human-choice-driven price mechanism of the marketplace. Goods and services can also be allocated by political means. That is, states, employing coercive means can seize goods and services and allocate them according to certain political goals and the goals of people in positions of political power. There is nothing “neutral” about this method of allocating resources.

In the net neutrality debate, it’s almost risible that some are suggesting that the FCC will somehow necessarily work in the “public” interest. First of all, we can already see how the FCC regards the public with its refusal to make its own proposals public. Second, who will define who the “public” is? And finally, after identifying who the “public” is, how will the governing bodies of the FCC determine what the “public” wants?

It’s a safe bet there will be no plebiscitary process, so what mechanism will be used? In practice, bureaucratic agencies respond to lobbying and political pressure like any other political institution. Those who can most afford to lobby and provide information to the FCC, however, will not be ordinary people who have the constraints of household budgets and lives to live in places other than Washington, DC office buildings. No, the general public will be essentially powerless because regulatory regimes diminish the market power of customers.

Most of the interaction that FCC policymakers will have with the “public” will be through lobbyists working for the internet service providers, so what net neutrality does is turn the attention of the ISPs away from the consumers themselves and toward the regulatory agency. In the marketplace, a firm’s customers are the most important decision makers. But the more regulated an industry becomes, the more important the regulating agency becomes to the firm’s owners and managers.
The natural outcome will be more “regulatory capture,” in which the institutions with the most at stake in a regulatory agency’s decisions end up controlling the agencies themselves. We see this all the time in the revolving door between legislators, regulators, and lobbyists. And you can also be sure that once this happens, the industry will close itself off to new innovative firms seeking to enter the marketplace. The regulatory agencies will ensure the health of the status quo providers at the cost of new entrepreneurs and new competitors.

Nor are such regulatory regimes even “efficient” in the mainstream use of the term. As economist Douglass North noted, regulatory regimes do not improve efficiency, but serve the interests of those with political power:

Institutions are not necessarily or even usually created to be socially efficient; rather they, or at least the formal rules, are created to serve the interests of those with the bargaining power to create new rules.

So, if populists think net neutrality will somehow give “the people” greater voice in how bandwidth is allocated and ISPs function, they should think again.

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Obamacare Still Makes No Sense for Working Middle Class Taxpayer

obamacare_theridgewoodblog

December 2,2017

the staff of the Ridgewood blog

Ridgewood NJ, in an amazingly honest article about Obamacare , CNN Money (http://money.cnn.com/2016/11/04/news/economy/obamacare-affordable/index.html ) called it , “a tale of two health insurance programs. “For the 85% of enrollees with lower incomes, federal subsidies make the premiums somewhat more affordable. Those even closer to the poverty line can get additional subsidies that reduce the deductibles, which can run into the thousands of dollars. For many middle class Americans  a single person earning more than $47,520, not very much in Bergen County  or a family of four with an income of $97,200 still not a lot of money for a family of four , still not very much in Bergen County the pricey premiums and deductibles mean health care coverage remains out of reach.

Which always bring us back to the argument that defenders of Obamacare, either don’t pay for it , or they don’t have it .

For the 10.5 million enrollees on the Obamamcare exchanges, the  health insurance cost burden falls on the consumer. That is leaving an untold number of Americans opting to remain uninsured, rather than shell out thousands a year for premiums and deductibles. In 2015, 46% of uninsured adults said that they tried to get coverage but did not because it was too expensive, a Kaiser study found.

Over 150 million people have insurance through work, paying only about $440 a month for a family plan, while employers cover the rest, or about $1,075 per month.

For a 30 year old enrollee for Obmacare  your $311 a month Bronze Plan premium comes with a  $6092 deductible , ouch. This represents little sense to the average 30 year old and still amounts to nothing more than a “tax’ , on working people.
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Consumer confidence Jumps to highest level since December 2000

Trump

October 31.2017
one small voice

Ridgewood NJ, Consumer confidence rose to 125.9 in October, according to the Conference Board. The rating is at the highest level since December 2000.This accounts for Americans’ views of current economic conditions and their expectations for the next six months.

Consumers were even more optimistic in October than economists polled by Reuters expected. Boosted by the job market which had not received such favorable ratings since the summer of 2001.The economic weight of Hurricanes Harvey and Irma pulled down the spirits of U.S. consumers in September, when the index was relatively flat.The high level of confidence suggests the economy will continue to expand for the rest of 2017,

The index takes into account Americans’ views of current economic conditions and their expectations for the next six months. Economists pay close attention to the numbers because consumer spending accounts for about 70 percent of U.S. economic activity.

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The 20 N.J. industries that hired the most people last year

stripper

 

Posted September 04, 2017 at 07:00 AM | Updated September 04, 2017 at 07:04 AM

 

By Erin Petenko | NJ Advance Media for NJ.com

New Jersey’s private sector gained roughly 65,000 employees and 6,000 new establishments between 2015 and 2016, in line with the national average. It’s an improvement over the previous year, where the economy grew by only 55,000 jobs.

But annual wages increased slower here than in the rest of the country — residents gained an extra $429 per year, compared to the national average of $627.

Service-related industries dominate the state, employing nearly nine out of 10 New Jersey workers, while the manufacturing industry has experienced a long-term decline. By sector, education and health services gained the most employees, followed by professional services and the trade, transportation and utilities sector.

But what specific industries had the most growth? NJ Advance Media compared private industry data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics to learn what industries gained the most employees from 2015 to 2016.

http://www.nj.com/news/index.ssf/2017/09/the_20_nj_industries_that_hired_the_most_people_last_year.html

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Fact Check: It’s a Lie That the GOP Healthcare Bill Abandons People With Pre-Existing Conditions

jonathan_gruber_0

Obamacare Architect Jonathan Gruber Twice Admits Fooling Stupid Americans

As we described yesterday, there are some concerning policy elements of the House-passed American Health Care Act, which the Senate would be wise to explore and rectify over the coming weeks. The bill — and that’s all it is at this point: a work in progress — repeals and alters significant portions of the Democratic Party’s failing experiment in “affordability.”  But based on rhetoric from elected Democrats and the Left generally, one might assume that Obamacare was called the “Pre-existing Conditions Coverage Act” (side-stepping the whole “choice and affordability” fairy tale they peddled), and that the Republican bill obliterates those protections. The proposed law would be a “death warrant” for sick women and children, they shriek, casting Obamacare opponents as the moral equivalent of accessories to murder. This is demagogic, hyperbolic, inaccurate nonsense. To review the actual facts, even under an exceedingly unlikely scenario in which the Senate passed the House bill without making a single alteration, people with pre-existing conditions are offered several layers of protection:

https://townhall.com/tipsheet/guybenson/2017/05/05/the-left-cant-stop-lying-about-republicans-healthcare-bill-n2322786

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Documents Confirm that Obama IRS Improperly Targeted Conservatives

irs

April 8,2017

from Judicial Watch

Judicial Watch continues to undercover the details of the Obama IRS’ arbitrary and capricious behavior toward those presumed to be “enemies” of President Obama.

This week we released 695 pages of new documents containing admissions by IRS officials that the agency used “inappropriate political labels” to screen the tax-exempt applications of conservative organizations. Other records reveal that the IRS was going to require 501(c)(4) nonprofit organizations to restrict their alleged political activities if they opted for “expedited consideration” of their tax-exempt applications.

The documents were produced after a revelation by the IRS that it had located “an additional 6,924 documents of potentially responsive records” relating to a 2015 Judicial Watch Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit about the Obama IRS targeting scandal. These new records are the first batch of nearly 7,000 documents that had been hidden from JW, Congress, and the American people. (Our FOIA lawsuit seeks records about the IRS’ selection of individuals and organizations for audits based upon applications requesting nonprofit tax status filed by Tea Party and other 501(c)(4) tax-exempt organizations (Judicial Watch v. Internal Revenue Service (No. 1:15-cv-00220)).

Of the 695 pages of documents released by the IRS, 422 (61%) were completely blacked out. Again, this new material was not in the “Congressional Database,” which the IRS created in 2013 to house records responsive to congressional inquiries into the IRS scandal.

Nevertheless, we extracted some key info – such as a June 20, 2013, memo from Karen Schiller, then-acting director, EO (Exempt Organizations) Rulings and Agreements, suspending use of the controversial Be on the Lookout (BOLO) and Touch and Go (TAG) lists:

EO Rulings and Agreements is undertaking a comprehensive review of screening and identification of critical issues. We intend to develop proper procedures and uses for these types of documents. Until a more formal process for identification, approval and distribution of this type of data is established, Rulings and Agreements will not use this technique to elevate issues.

In an August 9, 2013, memo, Schiller admitted the IRS used political labels in targeting the groups for special scrutiny and possible audit and that, going forward, the agency would screen organizations based only on their activities, “not words” or “labels of any kind:”

As Acting Commissioner Danny Werfel has said, the IRS has taken decisive action to eliminate the use of inappropriate political labels in the screening of 501(c)(4) applications. IRS policy is now clear that screening is based on activity, not words in a name. The new steps and current policies were outlined in the June 24 report, which noted: “In the absence of BOLO lists, the Determinations Unit will continue to screen for information affecting the determination of applications for tax exempt status, including activity tied to political campaign intervention, but it [will] be done without regard to specific labels of any kind.” The 30-day report also reflects the June 20, 2013 memorandum, which was issued to officially suspend the use of the BOLO list in the screening process.

The documents also include a “Dear [Applicant]” letter that offers an “expedited process” for 501(c)(4) groups in exchange for restriction on their activities:

This optional expedited process is currently available only to applicants for 501(c)(4) status with applications pending for more than 120 days as of May 28, 2013, that indicate the organization may be involved in political campaign intervention.

In this optional process, an organization will represent that it satisfies, and will continue to satisfy, set percentages with respect to the level of its social welfare activities and political campaign intervention activities (as defined in the specific instructions on pages 5-7). These percentage representations are not an interpretation of law but are a safe harbor for those organizations that choose to participate in the optional process.

In short, the Obama IRS, after lawlessly delaying the approval of Tea Party group applications, tried to extort restrictions – which had no basis in law – on these very same groups.

On September 30, 2013, Acting Director, Exempt Organizations, Kenneth C. Corbin, sent a memo to IRS staff providing detailed guidance on classifying applications when “‘merit approval’ is not an option,” emphasizing that the determination is to be based on “facts and circumstances,” not “words and labels:”

Classifier reviews the application and determines if it should be routed to a specialty group. This determination is based upon facts and circumstances of the stated activities within Part II of the application rather than names or labels. This is consistent with Karen Schiller’s August 9, 2013 memorandum …

The Schiller and Corbin memos came on the heels of the May 14, 2013, Inspector General report revealing that the IRS had singled out groups using conservative-sounding terms such as “patriot” and “Tea Party” when applying for tax-exempt status. The IG probe determined that “Early in Calendar Year 2010, the IRS began using inappropriate criteria to identify organizations applying for tax-exempt status (e.g., lists of past and future donors)” and “delayed processing of targeted groups’ applications” in advance of the 2012 presidential election.

No wonder the Obama IRS hid these records. These new smoking-gun documents contain admissions by the Obama IRS that it inappropriately targeted conservative groups. But the records also show that the abuse continued – as the Obama IRS tried to force conservative applicants to give up their First Amendment rights in order to finally get their applications granted.

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$611,318,000,000: Individual Income Taxes Set Record Through February

IRS individual taxes paid

By Terence P. Jeffrey | March 10, 2017 | 4:15 PM EST

(CNSNews.com) – The federal government collected a record of approximately $611,318,000,000 in individual income tax revenues through the first five months of fiscal 2017 (Oct. 1, 2016 through the end of February), according to the Monthly Treasury Statement released today.

That is about $6,733,300,000 more than the $604,584,700,000 in individual income taxes (in constant 2017 dollars) that the federal government collected through the first five months of fiscal 2016.

Despite collecting a record amount in individual income taxes, the Treasury still ran a $348,984,000,000 deficit in the first five months of this fiscal year.

http://www.cnsnews.com/news/article/611318000000-feds-collect-record-income-taxes-through-february-still-run-348984000000

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NJ girls worse off than a decade ago, report claims

kids-on-smartphones

By Dino Flammia February 23, 2017 3:16 AM

New Jersey has lost a step since the Great Recession when it comes to the health and well-being of young girls.

In “The State of Girls,” a 2017 report from the Girl Scout Research Institute, New Jersey ranked 12th among the states for girls’ well-being. The state ranked third in 2007.

Compared to a decade ago, a higher percentage of New Jersey girls are suffering from emotional, behavioral or developmental issues, the report states. Sixteen percent of girls aged 5 to 17 are living in poverty, compared to 11 percent in 2007.

According to the report, a larger percentage of girls in the 6 to 17 range watch TV or play video games at least three hours per day, while a smaller percentage are involved in community service or volunteer work, or participate in any organized activities.

“I think that has a huge impact on how the girls are feeling and their emotional well-being,” Stacy Petti, director of recruitment for Girls Scouts of the Jersey Shore, told New Jersey 101.5.

Read More: NJ girls worse off than a decade ago, report claims | http://nj1015.com/nj-girls-worse-off-than-a-decade-ago-report-claims/?trackback=tsmclip

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Obama-linked activists have a ‘training manual’ for protesting Trump

middle-east-shouts-death-to-america

By Paul Sperry

An Obama-tied activist group training tens of thousands of agitators to protest President Trump’s policies plans to hit Republican lawmakers supporting those policies even harder this week, when they return home for the congressional recess and hold town hall meetings and other functions.

Organizing for Action, a group founded by Obama and featured prominently on his new post-presidency website, is distributing a training manual to anti-Trump activists that advises them to bully GOP lawmakers into backing off support for repealing ObamaCare, curbing immigration from high-risk Islamic nations, and building a border wall.

In a new Facebook post, OFA calls on activists to mobilize against Republicans from now until Feb. 26, when “representatives are going to be in their home districts.”

http://nypost.com/2017/02/18/obama-linked-activists-have-a-training-manual-for-protesting-trump/

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The United States is now ranked 17th in economic freedom

Obama-Golf

COMMENTARY BY

Anthony B. Kim@AKFREEDOM

Anthony B. Kim researches international economic issues at The Heritage Foundation, with a strong focus on economic freedom. Kim is the research manager of the Index of Economic Freedom, the flagship product of the Heritage Foundation in partnership with The Wall Street Journal. Read his research.

It’s already been eight years since the Great Recession, yet the U.S. economy has been just inching along, with its productivity flagging and millions being locked out of the labor market.

One critical underlying factor for this lack of economic dynamism has been the startling decline of America’s economic freedom, an unfortunate legacy of Barack Obama’s eight-year presidency.

The Heritage Foundation’s 2017 Index of Economic Freedom—an annual global study that compares countries’ entrepreneurial environments—highlights the urgent need for the U.S. to change course. For the ninth time since 2008, America has lost ground.

According to the 2017 index, the U.S. ranks 17th out of 180 rated economies, lagging behind other comparable advanced economies such as Switzerland (fourth), Australia (fifth), Canada (seventh), and the United Kingdom (12th).

The U.S. remains mired in the ranks of the “mostly free,” the second-tier economic freedom status into which it dropped in 2010.

Since 1995, the index has measured a nation’s commitment to limited government and free enterprise on a scale of 0 to 100 by evaluating four critical policy pillars, including rule of law and regulatory efficiency.

These commitments have powerful effects: Countries achieving higher levels of economic freedom consistently and measurably outperform others in economic growth, long-term prosperity, and social progress. Those losing freedom, on the other hand, risk economic stagnation, high unemployment, and deteriorating social conditions.

In fact, America’s standing in the index had dwindled steadily during the Obama years. This largely owed to increased government spending, regulations, and a failed stimulus program that enriched the well-connected while leaving average Americans behind.

Registering its lowest economic freedom score ever, America continued its string of discouraging trends in the 2017 index. Obama’s Washington-first, government-centric approach to policymaking has inflicted long-term damage to U.S. economic growth.

A substantial expansion in the size and scope of government under the Obama administration—including through new and costly regulations in areas like finance, health care, and the environment—has hit wide swaths of the economy, affecting almost every American in some way and reducing opportunities for nongovernmental production and investment.

The growth of government has been accompanied by increasing cronyism that has undermined the rule of law and perceptions of fairness.

Our nation’s fiscal health has been grossly dented as well. The national debt has nearly doubled since 2009, growing from $10.6 trillion to around $20 trillion. In dollar terms, this is the largest increase in the national debt in U.S. history.

In practice, all of these negative developments that undercut America’s economic freedom have amounted to a gradual slide toward a more heavily bureaucratic state and an increasingly politicized economy over the past eight years.

Today, the imperative to restore America’s economic freedom and thereby revitalize vibrant entrepreneurial growth is stronger than ever. Americans deserve better, and they can do better.

It should be noted that free-market capitalism built on the principles of economic freedom does not just conserve the status quo. In many cases, it overturns and transforms. It pushes out the old to make way for the new so that real and true progress can take place. It leads to innovation in all realms: better jobs, better goods and services, and better societies.

The 2016 election was a game-changer. America has been given an incredible and unique opportunity to move away from Obama’s failed liberal policy agenda and toward an agenda that strives to restore America’s economic freedom and spur dynamic growth.

The Heritage Foundation has introduced such a plan, called “Blueprint for Reform: A Comprehensive Policy Agenda for a New Administration in 2017.”

It is time to act on this plan and once again unleash economic freedom and flourishing in America.