Dave Richards for December 5th
--We’ll start this week by dispelling a rumor. There is no truth to the rumor that the City of Woonsocket is in the Christmas Tree business. The attractive fir trees standing in a row where the municipal incinerator used to be are merely for decoration. The same with the Poinsettias lined up on the side.
I must say the downtown of the old city is really looking very seasonal. The window decorations inspired by the very successful Main Street Holiday Stroll last Saturday, combined with the nice decorations the City has hung upon the street light poles, and the excited bustle the Polar Express train visits bring to the Depot all contribute to a scene I wish some of my friends who grew up with me in the 1970s here could come back and see for themselves. We had a rather negative opinion of Downtown Woonsocket back then. We had reason to, there had been such a decline just in our short lifetimes. But with consistent and prolonged toil from many people who care, the downtown area shows a future which would be the envy of many an old mill city. Let’s pause for a moment to reflect on our success and then push on for more!
--I’m going to talk next about a national issue which I think will affect every American as time goes along. You’ve heard people talking about “Net Neutrality”. It is more important to you than you may think, because it will change the way you are allowed to use the Internet for many years to come. Yes, I said “allowed”.
Like most things which are valuable, the Internet has been fought over for some time. Every large corporation would like to own it. The fact is it is owned by no one entity right now, but the largest of the companies which provide connections to the Internet want to make as much money from it as they can.
On the face of things this does not sound like a bad thing until you realize what they want to do to make money. They want to get the money from you. They want to have deals with certain websites to force them and you to pay more, a kind of “protection payment” to allow all the people they connect to the Internet to access those websites. These payments are always passed down to the customer. Always. It’s not very much different from when the mob ran the shipping ports. If payments weren’t made……..well, that lettuce would just sit on the pallets until it spoiled.
Realizing that this negative form of capitalism was in the works, the concept of Net Neutrality was devised by the government to protect us. It was an extension of the Common Carrier laws which prevented the telephone company allowing or not allowing calls to be sent or received based upon how much money the parties paid the phone company. Initially the Internet was treated as a Common Carrier and in the years Mr. Obama was president that status was continued.
Mr. Trump’s administration seems to despise anything Mr. Obama did and wants to reverse it. I think he’s making a big mistake this time.
If it’s not simply because Obama liked it, I don’t know why Mr. Trump wants to abolish the rules of fairness and treat all who use the Internet equally by law. I’d hate to think he’s selling us out, really. But each time I’ve heard opponents of Net Neutrality asked, they all say it’s un-American to prevent companies from making as much profit as they can. Hmmm. There’s still something wrong with this.
The concept of capitalism, like most things on this planet, has its positive and its negative aspects. The robber barons of the 19th Century fought each other with no regard to the innocent citizens they victimized. Then the trusts were busted by the government and we entered an era of more fairness. With the loss of Net Neutrality laws so that Internet Service Providers were no longer mandated to connect everyone to everywhere equally, I believe we will return to a time when the innocent are once again victimized daily for profit. While a free market economy IS the American way…………victimizing the American public is not.
What I don’t understand is that the U.S. Government has work tirelessly over the past quarter century to connect all its parts and the American public via the Internet. Why would they now turn the controls for connectivity over to a few publicly-traded companies for their profit?
Fixing a system which wasn’t broken is not only ill advised, but very suspicious, if you ask me. And I think it is suspicious, even if you didn’t ask me.
--That’s what I think. What do you think? Comments to: email@example.com or postal mail to Dave Richards, WOON Radio, 985 Park Avenue, Woonsocket, RI 02895-6332.
Thanks for reading, and thank you for remembering The Milk Fund.