Safford: Lobbyists Prevail With Net Neutrality


So-called “Net Neutrality” has nothing to do with regulation and everything to do with profits. What a surprise, right?

There are really four major utility giants with influence in Washington, DC.  Those are power, heat, phone, and cable. When you remove pharmaceuticals/health and finance/real estate, the top lobbyists are almost all utility corporations. As a collective, their contributions top the charts. They run this country.

The eighties saw the rise of cable television joining the ranks of the other three. The nineties brought on the first obstacle for the phone companies. But that didn’t last long enough to see any major legislation passed to force people into larger phone bills.

Dialing up to the Internet was done through local servers. With no long distance calls being made, it would have been hard to raise a bill based on local usage alone. Yet oddly enough, that is what is happening today.

Cable Internet quickly replaced dial up propelling cable utilities to the top of the food chain. The rise of cell phone usage around the same time was basically the coup de grace for landlines. Or was it?

Who Has The Power?

Phone companies landline backbones were piggybacked by the rising demand for cable access. Mergers and takeovers saw profits stabilize with ‘bundle’ packages of phone, Internet, and cable. But that didn’t last too long.

Alas, people learned how to use the Internet. Home phone lines were free if you had internet access and people took advantage of that or simply survived off of their cellphones alone.

More recently, we have seen the abandonment of analog broadcasting for digital. Local channels have seen their national counterparts selling monthly subscriptions for CBS, ABC, and NBC access. But at whose expense?

Cable companies watched services drop all the way down to basic Internet only.

There’s no need for bundles.

We Don’t Need No Stinking Bundles

Consumers can now tailor their television needs and access content directly over the internet. The utility giants that were once raking in profits for phone, television, and internet have been stripped down to one service. Say goodbye to the middleman.

Why would a service I paid $50 for in 2008 cost me more in 2018 if I was using it for all of the same things? It shouldn’t.

Cable companies don’t want to survive off of cable subscriptions alone. They want more. The big pigs up top are hungry. They want to see growth in profits, not stability.

This is what you can expect to see over the next few years. Internet usage packages that restrict bandwidth based on your data package. MB per second will cap usage out so grandma and grandpa can check their emails every other day and google the phone number to the local Chinese restaurant for their monthly culinary trip to the orient all for around $50 a month.

Millennial gamers will be crying in their pancakes over paying closer to $200 a month to access Hulu and Netflix while killing orcs in Azeroth. And the frost giants in cable land will be back to raking in the platinum.

MB per second advertisements will almost immediately be in desperate need of FCC attention similar to the way banks had to dial it back with an APR. The people need to be pushing for this. We need a Truth in Lending/Reg Z approach to cable advertising as it refers to performance. If you are advertising 150mbps you had better be providing 150mbps. Cable companies were not giving you what you paid for before net neutrality. Why do you think it would be any different after?

Escape The Partisan Mental Prison

Changes will come in baby steps as we edge closer and closer to another legislative change…but during that interim…utility giants will see an increase in profits. Money they will use to lobby for the next legislative change. Does that sound fair to you? You get gouged now so that your gouger can spend those profits to guarantee the opportunity to gouge your children?

Stop the bleeding. Let’s call lobbying what it is–legal bribery.

Please, don’t vote Coke or Pepsi next election.

Escape the bipartisan and vote outside of giant party money.

Remember, Republicans and Democrats both receive contributions from these utility giants. A vote for a candidate in either party is essentially a vote to have yourself gouged again.

America doesn’t need masochists. We need enlightened citizens. So wake up.

James Safford
James Safford is a member of the Scituate Land Trust and Conservation Commission. He has authored multiple books and sees politics though a bipartisan viewpoint. Send him email at