Bernie Sanders isn’t exactly shy about his socialist ambitions. But even by the Vermont senator’s far-left standards, his latest proposal is a doozy.
The 2020 presidential candidate now wants to nationalize the internet. At least, that seems the inevitable result of his newly released campaign plan idealistically dubbed “High-Speed Internet for All.” As is so often the case, Sanders identifies a real problem — in this case, it’s the fact that 1 in 4 people living in rural areas of the United States still lack access to broadband internet — and immediately jumps to full government control as the only solution. This is where he gets things completely wrong.
The senator’s proposal would essentially have the federal government take control of the internet in almost Orwellian fashion. It explicitly calls for $150 billion in spending on a “publicly owned and democratically controlled, co-operative, or open access broadband network.”
So in short, Sanders wants to spend hundreds of billions creating government-run internet service providers, and put the same government bureaucrats and officials who waste our tax money on Serbian cheese and nicotine-addicted fish, lie to us about foreign wars, and are immune from consequences for violating our constitutional rights, in charge of providing our internet services.
He also wants to treat the internet as “a public utility that everyone deserves as a basic human right.” Under Sanders’s plan, the FCC would also break internet service providers he deems “monopolies,” regardless of whether consumers are being harmed or not, and set price controls on what currently existing private providers can charge consumers, likely pushing many of them out of the market in short order. This would leave his government-run providers as the only remaining option.
Sanders is pushing this radical nationalization of the internet based on a “crisis” he has wildly exaggerated. Right now, 94% of people in the U.S. have access to broadband, and that number keeps growing. In 2018, the FCC concluded that “broadband services are now being deployed to all Americans on a reasonable and timely basis.”
Plus, Sanders’ plan ignores that government interference is part of what has slowed the private sector’s expansion of broadband internet into rural America in the first place. Heavy-handed regulations and compliance costs have made it even less profitable for companies to expand into these already less-densely populated, and thus less profitable, markets in rural counties.
For instance, the unnecessary Obama-era internet regulation misleadingly dubbed “net neutrality” led to a massive decline in private sector broadband investment during the brief period while it was in place. According to the FCC, “In the following two years, after [net neutrality] was adopted, new deployments dropped 55 percent.” But after its repeal, investment has ticked back up by a whopping $1.5 billion.
So those with earnest concerns about expanding broadband access shouldn’t look to Sanders and his never-ending appetite for government control. The real solution is as simple as getting the government out of the way.
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- What’s the future of the internet — and society? – Technical.ly
- Astranis raises $90 million for its next-gen satellite broadband internet service – TechCrunch
- ‘Sonic the Hedgehog’ proves the internet wrong – Houston Chronicle
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- China to relax its internet restrictions for 100,000 students hit by Australia’s coronavirus travel ban – The Guardian
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