Friday, May 9, 2014

The FCC and Net Neutrality

On May 15th, the FCC will issue new proposed regulations concerning "Protecting and Promoting the Open Internet", proceeding #14-28. Comments from the public have been solicited prior to the publication of these proposed regulations. The following is a comment I submitted to the FCC about this proceeding.

The only way to insure that new pay-to-play schemes do not drive up prices for consumers is to re-classify broadband as telecommunications infrastructure. Net neutrality was promised to us by President Barack Obama, the person who nominated the current FCC Chair.

The reclassification would allow the FCC to issue regulations as needed to insure net neutrality. Retaining the current classification of broadband as an information service means that any new regulation efforts would just result in more lawsuits, and more court decisions saying that the FCC exceeded its regulatory authority.

Senator Al Franken calls net neutrality, “the free speech issue of our time. We cannot allow the FCC to implement a pay-to-play system that silences our voices and amplifies that of big corporate interests.”

"In 2012, [Comcast] imposed data caps that stifled all online video streaming -- except from Comcast-owned content provider Xfinity..." While this apparently changed because of promises that Comcast made in order to secure approval for its merger with NBC-Universal, that promise has an expiration date. There is no reason to assume that after that expiration date, Comcast will not resume its corporate favoritism in an effort to increase its profits (though we might get a short stay if Comcast needs to grease the wheels for yet another merger, this time with Time Warner Cable).

Comcast also just implemented steep rate hikes that hit independent cable companies hard, and for many consumers (myself included) that meant the loss of some popular cable channels.

Now Comcast is on track to control nearly 40 percent of the broadband market in the U.S., and its past history clearly shows that without real net neutrality, consumers will be the losers. And the same is true for other broadband providers such as Verizon.

It is time for the FCC to act in the public interest. It is time for the FCC to reclassify broadband services, and issue net neutrality regulations that will not be thrown out in court.

Monday, February 10, 2014

What's important to me in 2014

  • Expand SS & Medicare. 
  • Goods sold in US should have same standards as goods made in US (including companies costs for labor as well as environmental standards). 
  • Close some overseas military bases & pay soldiers same as contractors. 
  • Fix vets' healthcare. 
  • Single payer healthcare. 
  • Eliminate capital gains (& dividend) tax advantages (take the rich man's hand out of the poor man's pocket). 
  • Eliminate salary cap on payroll taxes. 
  • Implement transaction tax on stock trades. 
  • Establish minimum tax level for companies doing business in US. 
  • Document all changes to proposed congression bills (no more AGI bonus surprises). 
  • Prohibit congressmen (& women) from profiting from their time in congress (corruption). 
  • Extend unemployment. Raise minimum wage (or pay congresspeople minimum wage). 
  • Eliminate unpaid internships both governmental and commercial. 
  • Establish guest worker visas for foreign labor (at least in agriculture and construction). 
  • Eliminate exemptions on congresspeople to wage, labor and other laws. 
  • Impeach Scolia or have him committed for insanity (not even the appearance of corruption?!). 

Posted in response to Debbie Wasserman's survey.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Want Republican Healthcare? You Have It.

So, how is that Obamacare working out? Problems? And why are Republicans against it? It is, after all, in almost every respect, a Republican plan. There is essentially nothing socialist or progressive about it. It is a fee-based, means-tested, privatized and state-based healthcare insurance system. Instead of being a simple, universal program, it is overly complex. It requires far more information from enrollees, and uses subsidies and means-testing to vary those subsidies. It tries to match individuals with a myriad of private insurance companies with dozens of insurance plans each. It does not even have a public option.

And how about the levels of coverage offered. Do you want bronze, silver, gold or platinum coverage? Do you think you can avoid bankruptcy with a healthcare insurance plan covering only 60% of expenses should you have a devastating illness or accident? The less you can afford for coverage, the more you end up paying in healthcare expenses. Romneycare in Massachusetts has not eliminated bankruptcies due to medical expenses.

Contrast it with Social Security, which is a universal, federal, tax-based retirement and disability insurance program which has been proven to be the most successful program ever to come out of Washington, D.C. And this is in spite of Congress chipping away at benefits over the last 30 years. Congress has delayed cost-of-living increases, with those increases being less than the real inflation rate. The age at which full retirement benefits start has increased. Incomes above $113,700 have no payroll taxes applied, and the salary cap itself has not risen in step with inflation. All income from capital gains and dividends are exempt from Social Security and Medicare taxes.

And what are politicians proposing in order to fix deficits caused by unfunded wars, massive tax cuts for the wealthy, and an economy which tanked less than 10 years after massive deregulation of the banks and the financial industry? More cuts to Social Security.  

Do you like Obamacare? Then you will love the radical conservative plans to privatize Social Security and eliminate Medicare in favor of lifelong Obamacare.

The only thing worse than Obamacare is no plan at all. So until it is replaced by universal, single-payer, Medicare-for-all, the Republican healthcare plan for America will have to do.