The Government wants to be in the Business of Tech Censorship

Tech Censorship

The Congress of the United States is haranguing the CEOs of the top technology companies in an effort to justify the tech censorship itch of every politician. The very idea of government choosing what citizens get to read should hopefully make your skin crawl as much as mine. Tech censorship is a bad idea, read on and I’ll tell you why I think so.

Basically, the internet is filled with a bunch of crazy stuff. Go figure. Some idiots choose to believe this nonsense, again, go figure. Because some people are really stupid, the government has decided that I must be protected and the way to do this is to enforce tech censorship. Now, the government has any number of methods by which they can control content, including limited liability laws, which I railed against elsewhere. I’m not going to get into why limited government is vital but I want to focus on the inherent problems with tech censorship.

I think it’s pretty easy to make my case when we simply examine the words of the politicians as they verbally assaulted the CEOs. The tech companies have “too much power.” That’s a rich one coming from politicians who have brutalized the Constitution of the United States, designed largely to limit government power, into a scrap of tissue paper. It is clear politicians don’t want anyone else to have too much power, they find the thought frightening.

The tech companies are accused of, in the same breath, spreading fake news and censoring political speech. Well, when political speech is fake news, it seems irrefutable that we’ve got a Catch 22 on our hands. The proverbial police officer telling a suspect to freeze and raise her or his hands. Tech companies can’t defeat this line of questioning, which is exactly the point. There is nothing the tech companies can do to stop the spread of false information without also censoring political speech. The result of this is that whatever political party happens to be in power can, for all practical purposes, dictate what is “political speech” and what is “fake news”. Do you want politicians making that decision? I don’t.

The answer isn’t giving censorship power to government, the answer is to stop trying to censor at all, you can’t win. The politicians are hoping to trap tech companies by forcing them to censor fake news while calling them out for censoring political speech. The politicians want more power, they want the power to control what you read, what you see. The politicians will stop at nothing to get this power. They are the evil in this situation.

We must dispense with the idea of censorship altogether; despite the fact some people will post vile lies in an attempt to incite violence. We cannot trust government to keep us safe, we must trust ourselves, we must be personally responsible.

Government’s idea of safety is to put us in a dark cave with a plate of food and a bowl of water and then harangue us when we fail to lick its boot and thank it for doing so.

Tom Liberman

Kansas and the Anti-Google Bill – Capitalism at its Finest

Ban GoogleI’ve been railing against Crony Capitalism on this blog for about as long as I’ve been writing it. There are any number of instances where a business decides that the best way to get a bigger market share is to bribe legislatures to pass laws destroying their competition.

There’s an blatant case of this going on in Kansas although because the company that was being legislated out of business is a big boy, Google, the fight just got ugly.

Basically the large cable companies that “serve” the people of Kansas; Comcast, Cox, Eagle Communications, and Time Warner Cable, submitted, on their own, a bill to the Kansas State legislature. You can read all about the bill but it basically prevents any municipality in Kansas from providing broadband service to their customers or hiring anyone to do it.

The stated reason for the bill is that legislatures, bought by campaign funds from cable companies, don’t think it’s fair for tax dollars to be used in competition with private companies. It seems reasonable on the surface but try to remember how you get your water, electric, and gas. The real reason for the bill is that communities are starting to provide, on their own, wireless access to the internet. Kansas City partnered with Google to provide fiber-optic speed internet access to their community.

This bill hasn’t passed yet and the uproar has already forced the legislature to offer tweaks but the reality is that is the way business is done in the United States and it’s not good for consumers.

The cable companies have essentially had monopolies in their communities since their inception. Read this article from the Cato Institute. Basically cable providers pay municipalities huge sums of money so they can be the only source of television in an area. Yet somehow the legislation being proposed doesn’t outlaw this sweetheart deal.

Changing technology in the form of broadband internet is altering the game organically but cable companies fear they will lose their audience because people are unhappy with the service they get. The solution, of course, is to try to legislate away competition, not actually provide a service that people like.

I strongly suspect that this particular piece of legislation will fail and their will be general rejoicing. However, the reality is that this is the way business is done in the United States and it is destroying capitalism, destroying our faith in our country, destroying our faith in elected officials, destroying our trust of the judiciary, and contributing greatly to the trend of monetary inequality.

Liberals argue that big business is the source of this inequality while conservatives cite over-regulation. The real culprit is Crony Capitalism. When a business conspires with a government agency to eliminate competition through legislation rather than providing a better product the fallout is dangerous to us all.

True competition is the best wealth distributor. Crony Capitalism concentrates wealth in the hands not of the best business but with those businesses that know best how to bribe their legislatures into eliminating competition.

Tom Liberman
Sword and Sorcery fantasy with a Libertarian Ideology
Current Release: The Spear of the Hunt
Next Release: The Broken Throne


Censorship by Country

The recent trend towards selective censorship on Twitter and Blogging is an interesting phenomenon that has many people quite upset. I don’t think it’s such a simple thing to parse but I’ll give it try today.

I don’t want to talk about the various pieces of legislation moving through the United States Congress but instead the self-imposed censorship that internet providers are putting in place because various countries are trying to suppress freedom of speech.

It’s an interesting problem because the internet spans national borders and there is obviously no way to conform to everyone’s laws. There are oppressive regimes out there that find free speech to be dangerous. Let’s face facts, free speech is dangerous. You just have to listen to a virulent racist, religious fundamentalist, or misogynist to understand that there are people out there with ideas that are violent and terrible.

You can probably guess that I’m all for freedom of speech. I think that it is important to understand all ideas, even the awful ones, so that you can come to an informed decision. But, as a Libertarian, I also respect the laws of a nation. If China or Iran or Syria doesn’t want to allow it citizens to blog their thoughts then who is the one to change that? Me? Bing? Google? Twitter?

In these cases I try to take the long view. I think trying to impose your will upon another person rarely works. I was against the U.S. led invasion of Iraq from the beginning for this very reason. I think one of the biggest mistakes the U.S. ever made was to not support the Iranian Revolution. I’ll talk about that in a future post but the point here is that trying to force something down someone’s throat rarely succeeds.

So, if the various internet entities tell China, Syrian, Iran, and any other nation; We don’t care about your laws. We’ll just pipe in internet. That just radicalizes those wayward countries.

I think a western style, representative Republic is the best form of government yet devised. One main reason so much of the world has turned to this style of government since the industrial revolution is the shining EXAMPLE of the United States. We fail when we try to impose our values on other nations. Then we succumb to the dangers of ImperialismTotalitarianism and alienate those who most desperately look to us for hope.

So, I say let nations make their own laws because it will anger their citizens enough to force change. I cannot change you, you cannot change me. We must wait for Syria and Iran and China and the rest of those countries find the power within to  join the rest of world. Maybe then people can stop killing each other and we can get to the business of greatness.

Tell me what you think in the comments.

Like, Tweet, Stumble, and all the rest if you think these ideas are worth sharing.

Tom Liberman
Sword and Sorcery fantasy with a Libertarian Twist