A Rebuttal to “Why Net Neutrality is a Necessity”

On July 15th, 2017, Being Libertarian published “Why Net Neutrality is a Necessity.” It made the case that net neutrality is a libertarian policy. This is, of course, wrong.

Net neutrality is not a libertarian policy for one simple reason: it violates the non-aggression axiom.

All true libertarians know (and agree) that any and all laws are implemented only by the threat and use of force. The only way the state enforces laws is by threatening you with gun and bullet. The state’s monopoly on violence is what grants it the capability to transgress against the individual and their inherent liberties, and get away with it.

What right is net neutrality aggressing against?

Property rights, of course.

Net neutrality laws act essentially as a price control, limiting what ISPs can charge for the service they provide.

Under net neutrality regulations, Comcast cannot appropriately charge companies like Netflix for the bandwidth they use, even though Netflix and others use so much bandwidth that they create a bottleneck, slowing service for others.

This is analogous to saying FedEx must charge you a flat rate, regardless of how many packages they deliver for you.

Bandwidth is not an unlimited resource. ISPs have to invest in infrastructure in order to meet bandwidth demand and should be able to supply it as they see fit. The government has no business in the mutual dealings between private actors.

If Netflix does not agree with Comcast’s pricing, they can switch to a competitor, which brings me to my second point.

Net neutrality limits competition

Under net neutrality regulations, politics will decide who has access to bandwidth and who doesn’t, and the tradition of the government picking winners and losers will prevail.

The requirements mandated by net neutrality laws will put small ISPs out of business.

ISP’s in rural areas will suffer the most. This is because small ISPs have no choice but to engage in packet discrimination of companies like Netflix. Small ISPs in rural areas have a comparatively small amount of bandwidth they are able to distribute to their customers.

Without limiting the amount of bandwidth available to Netflix in real time, small ISPs servers will crash. They cannot handle the amount of data that Netflix drops into the bandwidth pipe. Without packet discrimination, all other services will be slowed or lost, including phone calls.

Small ISPs, especially rural ones, have limited access to capital, and therefore, cannot afford to expand.

This means they are unable to invest in infrastructure that would make them capable of complying with net neutrality regulations, making it illegal for them to continue operation and effectively putting them out of business.

This is not only harmful for small ISPs, but also for rural citizens, who are more than willing to wait a little longer for a Netflix video to load if it allows them access to the internet.

Large ISPs however, already have the economies of scale and/or retained earnings to comply with Net Neutrality regulations; making the big guy the winner and the small guy the loser. This is nothing new.

Government has always granted monopolies via the means of making it impossible for the up and comers to compete.

This consequence of net neutrality is no mistake. Corporate lobbyists would love to shut down all competitors via the state, it is way cheaper than providing a better product.

Conclusion

The author of “Why Net Neutrality is Essential” has it backwards. Net neutrality is inherently crony capitalism and is just another way for the government to stick their greedy fingers in the dealings of private actors and meddle with the free market.

* Clay Huston is a recent college grad, U.S. Army aviation officer, and the creator and Editor-in-Chief of newsplug.org

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  • Scott Boyd

    “Net neutrality laws act essentially as a price control, limiting what ISPs can charge for the service they provide.” =
    Wrong. All NN laws do is treat all data as equal; so I have just as much right to access Netflix as I do Facebook as I do 4chan.

    Without these laws, that goes away. ISP can now legally suppress access to certain websites as they see fit. And I won’t have it.

    • Jon Hansen

      “But without these laws, the baker can choose whether he bakes me cake or not!”

      So very, very libertarian of you.

    • Clay Huston

      You don’t have a right to access Netflix and Facebook because someone has to provide you with that access.

      The two links included in the article do a much better job at explaining the price control idea than I do. From my interpretation, neither author agrees with you.

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  • David_LogicLodge

    Unfortunately what the author fails to realize is that ISPs, generally speaking, do not exist in a free market environment. Normally if say Lowe’s and Home Depot are together very much overcharging for say plumbing wrenches, this is a Free Market opportunity. Anyone can open up a competing store if they figure out how to sell the item cheaper. For utilities like Water, Gas, Electric, and yes Internet, this isn’t possible. Physical lines must be run under roads and such. A municipality generally will only allow 1 or two companies to do this. There are reasons for this of course, and we can debate those, but this fact CANNOT be ignored.
    Something like 90% of Americans only have access to 2 or fewer ISPs. Not because of anything free market and not because they are charging acceptable prices, but because of a government granted artificial monopoly. This isn’t “Libertarian” at all. But as long as we accept this, we have to also accept the government putting common sense restrictions on what these companies can do with their Government Sanctioned monopoly. Otherwise they can really do whatever the hell they want with no “Free Market” consequences, because there IS no “Free Market” in this case.

    • Clay Huston

      That’s a good point, but I don’t feel it justifies letting the government make it even more difficult for competitors to enter the market

      Also, I’m fairly certain that there are alternatives to physical lines

    • Otto Shade

      This exactly, I’m tired of ultra-libertarian edgelords who get their panties in a bunch solely because regulations exist without understanding why they exist in the first place.

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