Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Net Neutrality: A Noxious Combination of Liberal Ignorance and Radical Egalitarianism

About once a week, Alternet, Mother Jones, Feministing, and other major liberal websites publish an article or blog post promoting "net neutrality." The idea behind net neutrality is that it is unfair for Internet service providers to treat different uses for Internet access differently. This seemingly-benign concept has pushed by liberals for close to five years.

With net neutrality, liberals take egalitarianism to an extreme. Now, not only are all human beings equal, but all forms of Internet data transfer are as well. Advocates for net neutrality are ignorant of one of the modern principles of electronic communications: quality of service (QoS). This is essentially an idea that acknowledges that the various means of Internet communication have different needs and resources should be allocated accordingly.

There are several components to QoS, with these being among the most common:

Bandwidth: Essentially how much data and how fast it can be sent, often measured in bits per second (bps) or bytes per second (Bps; equal to bps/8).

Jitter: Over the Internet, large chunks of data are broken up into smaller blocks of data called packets and sent. Sometimes packets may arrive out of order, this is called jitter.

How long it takes for a packet to be delivered.

Reliability/Loss: How many packets are lost during transit.

Different applications have different QoS requirements. E-mail deals with relatively small amounts of data, so it does not need much bandwidth. But if a frame is lost, then part of the message is gone so it must be very reliable. Voice over IP needs more bandwidth than e-mail, but if a few packets are lost, it does not prevent the receivers from understanding what is being said, so its reliability requirement is low. Anything involving video would need more bandwidth than audio, and much more than e-mail. However, real-time communication such as video and audio would require low delay, as if it takes packets too long to reach their destination, it leads to lag and words might be difficult or impossible to understand. But when it comes to e-mail, a high delay is acceptable because if it takes an e-mail a few extra seconds to be delivered, it usually does not matter.

But according to liberals, this just isn't fair! Just as we have to pretend that blacks and whites commit the same amount of crime, we have to pretend like the 14-year old boy Torrenting porn and pirated games is entitled to the same amount of bandwidth as a corporate executive using VoIP. Network resources are not unlimited. Private companies who operate networks must efficiently manage all of the requests for their resources. If that means a Torrenter has to wait an extra half hour before he gets his pirated game so someone using VoIP can carry on an intelligible conversation, then so be it. If they have a problem with current networking principles, they should start their own telecommunications company with an entirely QoS-free network and see how many days it lasts before going bankrupt.

Naturally, most of the liberals who discuss net neutrality know absolutely nothing about computer networking. See, liberals love to think that they are experts in everything, which is why we get to read articles by sociology majors who don't know the difference between packet- and circuit-switching explaining why it's necessary to treat every packet the same.

Liberals do not understand scarcity. They think that everything is free. If they need money for a social program, they just tax the "wealthy" and don't think any further. They want to move from coal and nuclear power plants to solar power, because they view it as "free" (though I doubt any of the liberal arts graduates who call for the government to spend gigadollars on "green energy" could even describe how the photoelectric effect works). Likewise, when it comes to bandwidth, they don't understand that bandwidth is limited.

Liberalism is essentially an ideology that seeks to ignore the constraints of reality. Net neutrality is just another example of this.


  1. Ignoring all your childish overwrought generalizations I think you have a point.

    I'm a leftist (who has little in common with what you call liberalism) and I support a version of net neutrality.

    I think if you bothered to read the opinions of people who take this issue seriously and are full time advocates of it then you would see that the problem isn't that all packets are not created equal but it's a problem of corruption and ISP monopoly.

    In most places there are only a few ISPs and if there was no net neutrality then my ISP could start charging me extra to access sites like google and yahoo. Or they could strike a deal with Yahoo to make Google load slower, or not at all. It's censorship by highest bidder.

    That is what I object to, that is what the EFF objects to, and that is not what you have addressed here at all.

  2. "all your childish overwrought generalizations"

    Such as?

  3. ESPN3.com only works if you are signed up with a service provider they have a deal with.