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BLOOMFIELD: Get Ready for Inequality on the Internet. That’s Not a Bad Thing.

Net Neutrality will lead to unequal access to the Internet, but it’s no big deal. There is nothing wrong with inequality, as long as everyone can log on.

The Twitter hashtag #FucktheFCC emerged as a response to the Federal Communications Commission’s recent decision to rescind Obama-era net neutrality regulations, restoring what FCC Chairman Ajit Pai called “a free and open Internet”. When Pai was not being invited to “kill himself” by tolerant citizens of the left, many responders noted that a free and open Internet would also likely offer faster, better speeds to those who can pay.

Much of the opposition to an open internet rests on the assumption that there is something morally objectionable in the resulting inequality of access, but upon examination, it is difficult to make a coherent case supporting inequality as an inherently negative thing. That some people have access to a faster internet based on their ability and willingness to pay is not a morally significant issue, as long as everyone has some sort of access to what amounts to a vital utility in the modern world.

The framing of inequality as a moral issue structures much of the left’s understanding of how the world works. Gender inequality, racial inequality, and income inequality are all understood as morally bad things, regardless of the reason for the inequality or the individual responses to the inequality.

A woman who has freely chosen to forgo an income so she can be at home to raise her children has made a choice many women consider a luxury, but this choice is still framed by the left as an example of inequality that is inherently bad and wrong, simply because the resulting income for the woman (zero) is unequal to her husband’s income (not zero).  

This kind of gender inequality, arising from women’s specific and preferred choices, is known as the ‘wage gap.’

The vision of inequality as bad is not coherent over all examples, though.

Some racial inequalities are perceived as important and morally fraught, while other inequalities are not troubling. The dearth of women in PhD programs in STEM subjects is a morally contentious inequality, but the over-representation of both men and women from Asian backgrounds is not.  

Feminist activists express deep concern over women’s unequal burden of domestic labor especially when it comes to caring for small children, but also actively and successfully oppose shared legal custody of children. Inequality is important when the burden falls on women, but not important when the burden falls on men.

Donald Trump does not have as much money as the Queen of England, but this inequality is not generally perceived as morally significant. To the other extreme, the moral aspects of hunger confronting a family of five with a single loaf of bread to share for a meal are not in any way satisfied by forcing that family to share with another, equally disadvantaged family.

Inequality is not the morally significant issue, sufficiency is.

That some people will be able to afford faster, higher quality bandwidth does not matter, provided that all citizens have access to the Internet, such that they are able to function in society. The government has a role to play in regulating sufficient access to the Internet, but not in regulating equal access.  Previous net neutrality rules that treat each packet of digital information as if they were equal to one another do not serve any function when it comes to ensuring equal access to the Internet, nor do they serve to address the more fundamental issue of sufficient access.

Net neutrality might lead to inequality, but inequality is not a bad thing.

Janet Bloomfield is a shield maiden in the culture wars. Her book FeminISN’T is available on Amazon

Feature image via Getty Images

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23 Comments

23 Comments

  1. DaProf

    December 19, 2017 at 8:48 am

    Not quite sure why people keep claiming they have a “Right” to the Internet.
    Rights imply no cost to others for you to exercise that Right.
    Accessing the Internet does not fit that definition.

    Typical of Leftists, certainly, creating a “Right” where one doesn’t exist.
    But then, the Left always relabels things to fit their “Agenda” don’t they?

    As for Net Neutrality, it needed to be gone. Last I checked, the world hadn’t ended, Leftists hadn’t moved to Canada and I can still post on Dangerous 😉

    Parenthetic note: I must be doing something wrong…I haven’t been bounced off Twitter yet…

    • Artie Fischel

      December 19, 2017 at 3:52 pm

      I haven’t seen anyone make that argument, and if they did it would be foolish because as you say there is cost involved that has to be born by someone. I would argue that net neutrality is a good idea because the physical networks the Internet is made of are not a free market and people or businesses with a perceived advantage, even if it’s short term, will more than likely do something stupid, as they have in the past. Read the rest of my comment here http://judgybitch.com/2017/12/19/get-ready-for-inequality-on-the-internet-thats-not-a-bad-thing/#disqus_thread .

  2. Luke

    December 19, 2017 at 6:30 pm

    You US folk are crackers. Never had net neutrality here in Oz. Basic highspeed internet costs $50/month with 100gb of data. Want faster, add $20. Want more data add $20. Top of the line internet will cost between $100 and $150 a month with fibre speeds and near unlimited data. Our only restrictions usually come with the “*” that you must live in an area that has fiber internet to get the highest speeds. Govt tries its best to make sure low population and country areas have at least access to ADSL2 type connections.

    • Shadow Sandy (@Shadowsandy)

      December 20, 2017 at 4:16 pm

      We dont pay for a limit number of gbs, only bandwidth. Most of us have unlimited gbs, but only so many mbps

  3. Eileen

    December 19, 2017 at 9:14 pm

    The left has always confused equal opportunity which is giving everyone a level playing field and total equality, which is a socialist construct that assumes that everyone is the same. That is clearly not the case.

  4. Dave from Oz

    December 19, 2017 at 9:51 pm

    Same applies to education. Some people are just too poor to go to school, and that’s ok.

    • Karolina Nowicka

      December 19, 2017 at 10:24 pm

      No shit. So you think poor children should remain illiterate?

  5. Chris Hawks

    December 19, 2017 at 10:33 pm

    You folks don’t understand what Net Neutrality is about. It’s not about paying for higher speeds from your ISP, it’s about all traffic being treated the same. In other words if I attempt to watch a Netflix video on Verizon FIOS, Verizon can’t favor their own video services traffic. It is not hard to imagine ISP’s eventually doing just that, to encourage people to buy their video service from Verizon. Just because they didn’t do it before net neutrality, doesn’t mean they won’t ever do it. That’s the whole point of why Net Neutrality was necessary, ISP’s we’re testing the waters, and he FCC shut it down. Wait until an ISP can slow down traffic from this site or Judgybitch because bye don’t follow the SJW politics. Get a clue.

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      January 8, 2018 at 9:27 am

      Yes this!

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