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Chavez 2.0 -- Tim Wu's Inane NY Times Op ed

Tim Wu's "OPEC 2.0" Op ed in the New York Times employs an embarrassingly inane analogy/metaphor. It also happens to be a factually bankrupt piece.  

Why is Professor Wu's political analogy comparing bandwidth to energy, and a "bandwidth cartel" to OPEC -- embarrassingly inane?

  • The vast majority of people understand that the price of gas has increased dramatically in part because the U.S. government has severely restricted supply by banning a variety of energy supply alternatives.
  • The vast majority of people also understand that the price of bandwidth usage continues to plummet in large part because the U.S. Government has NOT restricted supply; on the contrary, it has encouraged free market competition, broadband investment and innovation that in turn -- has spurred vastly more supply of bandwidth.

In his op ed Professor Wu said:  "In an information economy, the supply and price of bandwidth matters, in the way that oil prices matter: not just for gas stations, but for the whole economy."

  • How inane to employ an economic analogy for political purposes that implies the economics of bandwidth and energy are similar, when in fact, the economic situations for "supply and price" are exactly opposite!
    • Energy prices are skyrocketing while bandwidth usage prices are plummeting...
    • Energy supply is severely restricted by government, while bandwidth supply is unrestricted by government.  

If Professor Wu were to employ the accurate politcal or economic analogy/metaphor, he would have entitled his op ed: "Chavez 2.0" after the neutralism movement's ideological affinity with Venezuelan socialist Hugo Chavez, who recently nationalized Venezuela's oil industry.    

  • Wu's call-out box said: "Bandwidth is the oil of the information economy, Who owns it?"
  • Who owns it!
    • Professor Wu knows full well the bandwidth ownership facts in "The United States of America, land of the free and home of the brave"...
      • That the U.S. Internet is comprised of thousands of privately-owned, not-government-owned networks;
      • That the U.S. Internet backbone was officially privatized in the early 1990's; and that U.S. Internet policy, embedded in law since 1996, is "to preserve the...competitive free market... Internet... unfettered by Federal or State regulation.
  • By asking "who owns it?" while comparing bandwidth to energy, and broadband providers to Middle Eastern nations of the OPEC cartel, Professor Wu is championing the same expropriation thinking as Google's Vint Cerf who has been implicitly calling for nationalization of U.S. competitive broadband infrastructure in asking his own Wu-like expropriation question: "Should the Internet be owned and maintained by the government, just like the highways?"  

How is Professor Wu's op ed factually bankrupt?

  • Professor Wu totally misrepresents the U.S. government's approach to spectrum management calling it a "command and control system dating from the 1920's."... "These Soviet-style rules create waste that is worthy of Brezhnev." 
  • Professor Wu willfully ignores obvious, pertinent, contrary facts like:
    • the U.S. spectrum law of the land since 1993 has required a free market public auction of spectrum so it can reach its optimal use; 
    • the FCC under Chairman Powell lifted "command and control" limits on spectrum ownership to allow market forces to put the spectrum to optimal use; and
    • the U.S. was the first country in the world to transition powerful analog TV spectrum to wireless broadband use in last summer's trail-blazing 700 MHz spectrum auction.  

Bottom line: It is clear that the neutralism movement is floundering and groping for any political narrative and rationale to justify its radical net neutrality agenda of having the Government own and operate the Internet like the public highway system. 

  • This is yet another of the inane narratives the neutralism movement has trotted out to try and justify its radical net neutrality agenda. Remember:
    • They claimed there should never be a "two-tier Internet" when factually the Internet backbone had had three "tiers" for over a decade and there were already a variety of price tiers in the marketplace -- from free, to dial-up to a variety of broadband prices.
    • Then they claimed net neutrality was the "First Amendment of the Internet' when factually the Internet has never had a constitution let alone an "Amendment."
    • Now Professor Wu is flailing again like a fish out of water, with his new metaphor, OPEC 2.0, that is both inane and factually bankrupt.
    • What hair-brained narrative and metaphor will the neutralists think of next?