So…what does regulating the internet have to do with “financial reform”?
Don’t know the answer to the question? Me neither, but Congress is trying to sneak in regulation of the internet in with re-re-re-re-regulating finance:
The Federal Trade Commission could become a more powerful watchdog for Internet users under a little-known provision in financial overhaul legislation that would expand the agency’s ability to create rules.
An emboldened FTC would stand in stark contrast to a besieged Federal Communications Commission, whose ability to oversee broadband providers has been cast into doubt after a federal court ruled last month that the agency lacked the ability to punish Comcast for violating open-Internet guidelines.
So here we have the Congress trying to change the rules of the game. I bold FTC and FCC for a reason. For years, the net neuts have been trying to regulate the internet through the FCC, the one who is charged with regulating the telecommunications companies (telcos, for short). However, with the recent ruling from the First Circuit Court of Appeals, the FCC has been effectively barred from regulating the Internet. Many net neuts now want to reclassify the Internet as a telecommunications service so that it may be regulated by the FCC, but that is a long slog. So, instead of having the FCC regulate the internet, the Congress will try to have the FTC regulate the internet, perhaps because it is a primary vehicle of trade. This is a huge abuse of government power: because you can’t get things your way you will connive and scheme to get it through massively complex bills that no one in their right minds will read.
If you’re a huge cynic (and I am), then you wouldn’t be surprised to find regulation of the internet in a huge bill that has nothing to do with the internet. I’ll let Contentions blogger John Steele Gordon sum up:
And insisting on a global solution also makes it much easier to appear to favor reform while assuring that nothing actually gets reformed. Everyone supposedly agrees that the borders should be secured to prevent illegal immigration. The problem has been obvious for two decades and more. But by tying border security to the political hot potato of immigration reform in general, nothing is done and the possibility of offending the increasingly important Hispanic vote is avoided.
Change the topic here from “illegal immigration” to “financial reform” or “healthcare reform” and you get the picture: the purpose of pursuing “comprehensive X reform” is not to reform anything (and it’s Orwellian to state that any extension of government power is “reform”), but to grab as much power as the government possibly can without taking responsibility for said new powers. When government can get away with this we no longer have a government by consent; we have a government who demands but doesn’t want accountability.