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ASK THE EXPERTS

Act takes power away from you

POSTED: August 12, 2009 4:00 a.m.

My dad used to say: “Your freedom ends where my nose begins.”

  

Last week’s article by columnist Thomas Sowell in the Gainesville Times, “Choose between Utopia, freedom,” put it another way. 

  

He reminds us that “Eternal vigilance is the price of freedom.”  We have heard that many times starting with Thomas Jefferson, but what is the price of freedom today?  According to Sowell, the price of freedom is also the “toleration of imperfections.” 

  

Sowell explains: “If everything that is wrong with the world becomes a reason to turn more power over to some political savior, then freedom is going to erode away.  While we are mindlessly repeating the catchwords ‘change, universal health care, or social justice,’ our freedoms are getting fewer and fewer.

  

“If we can be so easily stampeded by rhetoric that neither the public nor Congress bothers to read bills making massive changes in medical-care, then do not be surprised when life-and-death decisions about you or your family are taken out of your hands — and out of the hands of your doctor — and transferred to bureaucrats in Washington.”

  

Neither the universe nor human beings were made to our specifications, so we should not be surprised when things do not go our way.  We are dissatisfied with many things at many times, but are we prepared to follow any politician who claims to be able to “solve” our “problem?” 

  

If we are, “it will be a never-ending quest, costing ever increasing amounts of taxpayers’ money.” 

  

More importantly, we will have “greater losses of our freedom to live our own lives as we see fit, rather than as presumptuous elites dictate.  Ultimately, our choice is to give up Utopian quests or give up our freedom.”

  

Professor Richard Epstein of the University of Chicago writes: “The study of human institutions is always a search for the most tolerable imperfections.”  If you cannot tolerate imperfections, be prepared to kiss your freedom goodbye.

  

As Chairman of the House Committee on Science and Technology and a member of the House Energy, Utilities and Telecommunications Committee, I try to stay abreast of what is happening in those fields and keep you informed. 

  

On July 31, Reps. Edward Markey (D-MA) and Anna Eshoo (D-CA) introduced the Internet Freedom Preservation Act of 2009 (HR 3458).

  

This legislation is poorly named because it would do nothing to preserve freedom. Reps. Markey and Eshoo seem to operate under the erroneous notion that the government owns the Internet and has a right to manage broadband networks from Washington, all in the name of “network neutrality.”

  

The bill would instead strip Internet Service Providers of their right to manage traffic on the networks they have spent billions to build, assigning that right to detached government bureaucrats.

  

The concept of “net neutrality” — that ISPs must treat all Web traffic, content and customers the same, regardless of how doing so might adversely affect the Internet experience of most users — is not only counter-intuitive, it’s unnecessary.

  

In most places (not in Dahlonega until our fiber optic broadband network is up and running), if a customer is dissatisfied with the broadband provider, he switches providers (Comcast vs AT&T, etc.). Free-market pressures encourage best practices in broadband because ISPs have an enormous financial incentive to retain existing customers and attract new ones.

  

Under this bill, if a broadband customer is not satisfied, he does not have near-instant recourse. He has none, because the government will have forced every ISP to be the same after creating an “equality” of the lowest common denominator.    

  

According to James G. Lakely, research fellow on technology and telecommunications issues at The Heartland Institute: “One should not be fooled by language in the bill that allows ISPs the freedom of ‘reasonable network management’ so long as it ‘furthers a critically important interest.’  Freedom defined by government is not even a distant relative of genuine liberty.  It will fall to unaccountable bureaucrats to define what ‘reasonable’ means, instead of the market defining that term by responding to consumer choices.  Make no mistake:

  

The Internet Freedom Preservation Act takes power away from consumers and subjects them to government planning.”

  

I urge you to read and to listen to what is happening in government at all levels. 

  

Then provide feed-back to the appropriate elected officials. Attend and participate in city, county and school board budget hearings that can raise your property taxes.

  

That is the only way to keep taxing bodies from having their free will over your pocketbook. Do this and then we might start to achieve some semblance of eternal vigilance.

  

Rep. Amos Amerson can be reached at 689 N. Chestatee Street, Dahlonega, GA 30533; phone (706) 864-6589; e-mail hamerson@windstream.net. Or call Gerald Lewy at (706) 344-7788.

 

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