As we begin to closely examine the practices of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and its massive network of influence, extortion, and coercion, we should also see the parallels with how large corporate entities (too big to fail) inside the United States practice these same tactics to elect and influence our lawmakers in Washington, D.C.
From media reports alone, it’s reasonable to consider that all of our lawmakers are targets for influence via well-funded individuals or groups (lobbies) whose sole function is to influence government policy in favor of corporate or geopolitical interests. Yes, some corporations have geopolitical interests that are not consistent with America’s best interests.
Lobbies rely on the fact that political campaigns require lots of money, and a government salary is not equal to the salaries of corporate CEOs and directors.
In some cases, these lobby interests are in alignment with the public interest at large. Deregulation and corporate tax cuts are great examples of where these influences can help corporations directly and the public in general, if, and only if, the deregulation and tax cuts are applied equally.
Once government starts targeting specific corporations for deregulation and/or tax breaks, it gets into the business of picking winners and losers. We have seen this time and time again with so-called green energy initiatives. The primary indicator of a healthy lobby is that results do not require additional government funding, and in many cases will bring increased revenue to the government via economic growth.
Far too often, however, lawmakers fall prey to lobby influence due to financial incentive, virtue signaling/shaming, or other reasons. Often times these include social engineering projects that are marketed as being for the greater good of the public at large, but in the end ensure that the lobby’s party is the beneficiary. In any case, there’s almost always some type of quid pro quo taking place. The tax-payer inevitably ends up paying to increase the profit margin of the lobby’s clientele. Failure to cooperate certainly puts at risk campaign funding and any other agreement made to ensure personal gain after public service.
One example currently unfolding was presented in the Seattle Times newspaper’s technology section on May 21, 2020, titled, “Microsoft president urges Congress to fund rural broadband internet connectivity in wake of coronavirus.” In opening, the article states, “Microsoft President Brad Smith is calling for immediate congressional action to improve broadband connectivity for rural communities by funding it as part of a coronavirus relief package.”
The article later goes on to quote Smith, writing on the Microsoft blog, “The COVID-19 virus has created a national crisis. But it has also created an important opportunity. It’s time to galvanize the nation and recognize the obvious. Broadband has become the electricity of the 21st century.”
He continues with: “Well before the end of the 20th century, we recognized that no American should live without electricity. As we embark on the third decade of the 21st century, every American deserves the opportunity to access broadband.’’ Sounds great right?
Let’s dismiss for a moment the premise that every American should have Internet service and first acknowledge the tactics that Smith is using to support his call to action.
1. Alarmism: It’s an immediate crisis. It’s an absolute necessity. It’s for our health, it’s obvious, and, of course, we can’t leave this one out, it’s for the children.
2. The straw-man equivalence: Smith raises the argument that Internet access today is as equally important as having electricity. I know many people who don’t have Internet access and don’t care to. This is certainly a matter of opinion, but one fact that’s hard to escape is that almost everyone pays for their own electricity, and those who can’t truly afford it have welfare benefits to help cover it. At best, this is a welfare issue, not a COVID-19 issue. Anyone who has been laid off from work and most who have children at home already have Internet access if they choose, and cell phones, and other luxuries, etc.
The Seattle Times article also raised another point to help support Smith’s argument.
3. Equal Outcome replacing Equal Opportunity: At the end of the article, the author quotes statistics from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), which “estimates” that there are 18 million people nationwide who don’t have access to broadband. Anyone who can do a little math realizes 5.4 percent of the population is no real justification to panic.
So the Seattle Times then goes on to quote a much larger number (42 million) from a lesser-known private company, BroadbandNow. BroadbandNow is not an unbiased source of information in that their mission statement clearly states, “We believe broadband internet should be available to all Americans.” Furthermore, their website clearly indicates their support for presidential candidates that support the Net Neutrality measure, with Bernie Sanders at the top of the list.
Regardless of the numbers, the Seattle Times article infers that people don’t have broadband because it’s not available because the federal government is not providing it.
Other than being extremely concerned for the health and well-being of each U.S. citizen, let’s consider some of the unstated motives that Microsoft, Google, Amazon, and other online content providers might have in this “broadband now” policy.
Quite simply, the number one motive is revenue and market share for the company. Nearly all their products and services require some type of Internet connection, and in most cases require a high bandwidth connection to support these services.
Using COVID-19 as a Trojan Horse to ram a bill through Congress also opens the door for supporting legislatures to slip in Net Neutrality language—nearly impossible to block without being labeled as some type of obstructionist. Remember that Obamacare was such an emergency that the bill had to be passed before it could even be read.
Another thing to consider is that these “Cloud” content providers are likely to profit from the shutdown itself because of their necessity to academia, education, business, and individuals for maintaining some sort of normalcy in teaching, corporate meetings, shopping, and so on.
Why is it a problem to have the federal government foot the bill in providing broadband services to anyone let alone everyone in this country? Actually, I would probably support it if not for two issues:
- Internet service, though extremely useful, is not a constitutional right. If local governments want to do it, that’s fine by me, but it’s not the Fed’s job.
- An equally important issue is that many of the large Internet content providers are some of the richest companies in the world. I find it insulting that they lobby congress for their benefit and primarily force the middle class to foot the bill. Indirectly, we’re paying them to make more money for themselves whether we use their products or not.
This is not the same as keeping critical infrastructure and services from going bankrupt due to the COVID-19 shutdown. I fully applaud the success of these great companies and appreciate that they can well compensate their leadership; however, the ability of corporate giants to achieve their business interests, whether it be pure profit or political ideology, should not be placed on the backs of the American tax-payer. It’s a form of legalized extortion hidden beneath a veil of virtue.
Jonathan K. Lockwood
Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.