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Senate votes to reinstate net neutrality (theverge.com)
754 points by kposehn 6 months ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 228 comments



This seems like the way that this should be addressed. The case against Net Neutrality was made almost strictly as a case of regulatory overreach and overly burdensome regulations that inherited irrelevant restrictions and unenforceable provisions designed for specific telecom use cases that don't apply to ISPs.

The first issue is clearly addressed by a legislative approach -- it stops being regulatory overreach when the regulators are mandated to enforce. The second issue depends on how this bill is worded, but in theory it gives an opportunity to create more specialized regulations that directly address the issue at hand without bringing on board historical cruft that applies to a different problem domain.

EDIT: after actually reading the article and the actual resolution [1], I see that the second point is unaddressed; this just directly reverses the ruling. Even the first point is barely addressed because it doesn't expand the mandate; it just asserts that the mandate means something that it arguably does not mean.

[1] https://www.congress.gov/bill/115th-congress/senate-joint-re...


I think the way you're looking at this is really important, and something that's being lost in the vehement support of NN.

Intellectual honesty demands that we admit that there really are problems with NN as it had been implemented. Trying to fit the technology of a massive packet-switched data network into very specific regulations designed for an ancient circuit-switched primarily voice network really was a kluge. The FCC while they were supporting it needed to take a lot of "poetic license" with the letter of the law just to get it to make sense at all.

While it's a a big burden being forced to start from scratch, it's also an opportunity to craft something that better matches the way our systems work today. Doing so removes the uncertainty and political caprice that comes from an unelected agency making the calls.


> Intellectual honesty demands that we admit that there really are problems with NN as it had been implemented. Trying to fit the technology of a massive packet-switched data network into very specific regulations designed for an ancient circuit-switched primarily voice network really was a kluge.

It would have been, had that been done, but it wasn't, so it wasn't.

The specific regulations applied to the telephone network under Title II weren’t applied to the internet, an entirely new set, specifically crafted for the internet and largely following the same outline as the net neutrality regulations adopted citing Title I authority in 2010 were.

The idea that PSTN regulations were being applied to the internet is an outright lie that was told by net neutrality opponents designed to manipulate the opinions of people who have ould trust the people selling the lie and not actually read the order and the regulations it included themselves.

So, while you may make the argument in good faith belief that it is true, I cannot agree that intellectual (or any other kind of) honesty required repeating this tired old lie.


Verizon was happy to use Title II provisions to access discounts for pole attachments. Regulations originally intended for classic telephony service now being used to lower costs on TV and Internet service deployments.


Your claims don't match what I'm seeing even in non-partisan sources. What I'm seeing says that the FCC's actions are specifically related to Title II - I don't see any mention of Title I being affected.

Pai's net neutrality rollback targets the FCC's February 2015 reclassification of fixed and mobile Internet providers as common carriers under Title II of the Communications Act. Title II provides the regulatory authority the FCC used to prohibit ISPs from blocking or throttling traffic and from giving priority to Web services in exchange for payment. The FCC used Title II to impose the net neutrality rules after a previous court decision struck down rules issued without the step of reclassifying ISPs as common carriers. -- https://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/2017/04/ajit-pai-announc...

and

In April 2017, it was reported that Pai had proposed that the net neutrality rules and Title II classifications be rolled back, that ISPs should instead "voluntarily" commit to the principles, and that violations of them should be enforced by the Federal Trade Commission instead of the FCC as unfair or deceptive business practices. On April 29, 2017, a clearer understanding of the latest net neutrality compromise proposal was described. On May 18, 2017, the FCC voted to move forward with Pai’s Notice of proposed rulemaking -- https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Net_neutrality_in_the_United_S...


> Your claims don't match what I'm seeing even in non-partisan sources.

Yes, they do. Particularly, you need to reread your own Wikipedia link, particularly the “Regulatory history” section, paying particular attention to the parts from 2004 forward.

The Ars piece also doesn't contradict my post, it just doesn't cover much background.

> What I'm seeing says that the FCC's actions are specifically related to Title II

The recent action is a rollback of a 2015 order classifying broadband as a Title II service and adopting specific regulations for broadband under Title II authority.

That order followed a 2010 order in which the FCC adopted mostly similar regulations to broadband as a Title I service, which was strcul down by the courts which indicated that the FCC could only adopt some parts of that regulation to broadband if it were classified under Title II, and that Title I did not authorize key elements of the regulation.

The 2010 order itself followed a period in which the FCC enforced a policy very similar to the one enshrined in the 2010 order through case by case action (also under Title I authority) without general regulation, an approach that was struck down by the courts just before the 2010 order was issued.


They simply categorized internet providers as a utility. They most certainly are since it's a natural monopoly, merely a different implementation of telecom infrastructure, and is a vital service to the underlying economy... Much like electricity. You don't see electrical companies buying say Amazon and then increasing the electrical rates to their competitors Google and Microsoft. Neither should Comcast with their Xfinity streaming service be able to block or increase the cost for connecting to Netflix. Or favor their own VOIP compared to Vonage or Callcentric. This is about stopping exploitive behavior by entities which have a lot of power right now because this specific implementation of telecommunications was never defined as a utility, simply because it's new, wasn't any essential service to the economy early on, and also didn't have these anti-competitive behaviors going on until recently.


I feel like the root problem is lack of competition at the ISP level. If we had that, net neutrality regulation would likely not be necessary. Instead we're trying to fix a bad regulatory environment with even more regulations.


I agree that lack of competition is the root problem. But it’s way harder to solve. We should not refrain from trying to fix symptoms of that while also working on the root cause.


Like the electric grid, it is a physical monopoly. Either fiber or coax, the ISPs piggy back on the utility poles of the electric grid, and those poles can only hold so many lines.

Many electric grids have gone through 'deregulation' which is actually more regulations regarding the usage and sharing of the physical lines, resulting in competition among power companies. In those areas the state essentially owns the lines now and power companies sell the power.

Why is this not true for the coax? At this point it should be reclaimed via eminent domain laws. The electric lines and poles already have been, as they have long been recognized as a physical monopoly.


The market conditions are set up for what is called a "natural monopoly". Its inefficient for new companies to build wires to an already wired up neighborhood.

Companies therefore become de-facto monopolies on a neighborhood-by-neighborhood basis. The exception are cities where a dense population of people can support additional carriers for sake of competition. But at a basic level, the economic conditions just make the ISP problem complicated.

---------

Frankly speaking, all options to deal with natural monopolies kinda suck. Socialism simply has the government take over for example, so the legal monopoly is at least owned by the people.

Capitalism can't solve the problem. Its more efficient for companies to wire up other neighborhoods. Why become a competitor when you can simply become a monopoly holder somewhere else?

An interesting blend of capitalism / socialism is to have the wires owned by the municipality, or perhaps a highly-regulated entity (such as a utility company). The law is then rewritten to state: "It is illegal to be both a physical-wire company AND an ISP at the same time", or something to that effect.

Physical wire companies are then forced to rent out their wires to different ISPs. For example, if Verizon owned the wires of an area, they'd be forced to reorganize and split-off the wire-owning portion into a "Verizon Local utility coporporation".

Then, "Verizon Local Utility Inc." (now an independent company) will sell the time on the wires to various ISPs, like Verizon or Comcast.

ISPs will still be responsible for interfacing with the population, as well as bandwidth, routers, and other such details on the data-center side. The local-utility company will be responsible for physical maintenance of the wires, with a strict regulation regime to ensure that they provide equal-opportunity access to large ISPs, as well as any startups who wish to enter the space.

Its certainly "more regulations" towards this problem. But I've never heard of a more complete solution than this kind of scheme. Its not necessarily "Socialism" either, because the US has a long-record of tightly regulating local Utility companies, due to similar economic issues (the concept of local power companies being a natural monopoly. The "deregulation" schemes that exist today to allow local residents to buy solar energy or nuclear energy, delivered by local wires under a tight regulation / utility regulation scheme)

So its American, its a familiar model to many municipalities, and it works in practice. As demonstrated by power-companies and phone companies of ages past... as well as a few European countries who have adopted this scheme.

----------

Under such a regime, "Net Neutrality" can become an ISP's defining trait. And we can let the market decide if its worth the cost. If people want a "Net Neutral ISP", they simply pay for the competitors who offer such a service. So the overall regulatory burden is lowered, IMO.


One of the problems with that approach is that a wholesale monopoly selling to various competitive retail ISPs will still end up capturing all the economic surplus.

So you end up having to regulate how much profit that wholesale monopoly is allowed to make.


The other option is to have the wholesaler owned by the govt, then the economic surplus can come off everyones tax bill.


Eventually, this is probably what needs to happen in the US to fix the market problems with ISPs. NN is a stop-gap measure to prevent a mono/duopoly from taking advantage of their position.

We should be pressing for NN right now and work towards the next steps of deregulation like the splitting of wire / ISP after this effort.


The term of art is "local loop unbundling"


Local loop unbundling was required under law wrt dial-up and DSL until 2006, when DSL was reclassified from being a Title II to Title I, service, correct?

It was my understanding that Title I service providers, like cable companies, can use the lack of LLU requirements to charge exorbitant rates to competitors who want access to someone else's local loop, which secures the incumbent's effective monopoly in a neighborhood.

Would love to be corrected here if I'm wrong so I don't spread misinformation about this elsewhere.


> as well as a few European countries who have adopted this scheme.

Do you have examples of which countries that have implemented something similar? I recall reading about this in the past, and I would like to read more about it, but I can't think off the top of my head which countries I might have read about.


afaik it’s how power distribution works in australia? i think there are energy “retailers” and energy “wholesalers”, and you legally aren’t allowed to be both. wholesalers cover plants and wires, and retailers handle billing and connection.

thats not a glowing recommendation of he system though because our electrical network is all kinds of expensive :p (but that could be for other reasons; i’m no expert on it)


thats not a glowing recommendation of he system though because our electrical network is all kinds of expensive

Yes. The distribution monopolies are only allowed to make a fair rate of return on their operating and capital expenses, as determined by the independent regulator (this is to prevent them from raising their prices to the point that they capture all the economic surplus, as they otherwise would). Unfortunately this has incentivised over-investment in the distribution networks (the more they spend, the more profit they're allowed to make) - referred to as "gold-plating" - which ends up being passed on in the prices faced by consumers.

Specific to the ISP issue, this is how the NBN works in Australia too - the NBN provides the underlying network, but isn't a retail ISP itself.


I also happen to forget the name of these countries, basically every time I read about them. :-(

Ignorant American stereotype and all that jazz. If I were to guess, I think it was someone from Norway who told me about this. But I'm not 100% sure from memory.


Well this is pretty much how it works in NZ.

We had a state owned company, telecom, which was then privatised by a National govt., and then as a response to local loop unbundling regulations from Labour, it split itself into two companies, telecom (now spark) for retail and chorus for infrastructure.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spark_New_Zealand#Industry_reg...


Germany has had this for a while. It works relatively well.


United Kingdom BT Openreach


Things aren't addressed either. Because the House still needs to vote.

Bicameral Legislative process in the USA. Laws need to be passed twice before they have any effect, and Trump has the (nearly) final say in the form of a presidential veto.

Assuming the Democrats manage to vote as a bloc in the House, there still needs to be ~25 Republicans who switch sides on this issue. Net Neutrality is... for some reason... seen as a Democrat issue.


> for some reason

Legalized bribery. The phrase you're looking for is legalized bribery.


Net neutrality is a "Democrat issue" because the companies who benefit from net neutrality primarily fund Democrats. The companies who benefit from it being repealed primarily fund Republicans.


The ISPs fund both sides [0]. Although more of a breakdown would be nice, to get an idea of who is funding who and for what.

https://www.theverge.com/2017/12/11/16746230/net-neutrality-...


Are you sure you don't have cause and effect reversed? Could it be the case that those companies donate to politicians because those politicians views naturally align with their own?


Nobody in Congress had a view on net neutrality until they were paid to. Because it's a largely invented issue between those groups of corporations. ISPs want to charge tech companies more for the traffic they generate, and tech companies don't want to pay it. Those companies were already donating to politicians which align with their own views... but primarily because of their views on other topics.


> net neutrality... [is] a largely invented issue between those groups of corporations

We've been discussing the concept of Net Neutrality for more than a decade; the 2006 Title I reclassification was the trigger that threw the concept into question. I remember debates on long-since-defunct websites (remember Digg?) about the importance of educating friends, family, and elected officials about the importance of protecting the concept in some way. (This I would later learn is called political organizing.)

There is legitimate debate to be had about how to best preserve NN, but framing it as a made up issue that corporations are inventing for political expediency is a serious mischaracterization.

This is HN after all, I'm sure many others can back me up here.


That's not how things work.

The different internet providers have peering agreements. If traffic isn't the same between the two peers, they pay the difference.

Simplified. If Netflix's service provider is Verizon and they have a peering agreement with Comcast and Netflix traffic is causing peering to become out of balance between Comcast and Verizon. Verizon pays Comcast and Verizon charges Netflix more. No one is getting a free ride.


I've heard the rhetoric. It's not relevant to my point:

Group A of companies wants B to pay a bill. Group B doesn't want to pay it. Corporate lobbying ensues, as each tries to make the other's position illegal. Who is "right" or whether or not Group B should pay Group A's bill is not relevant to the accuracy of my statement.

EDIT: Please keep this thread on the topic at hand: Why net neutrality is perceived as a liberal position. There are other subthreads where you can discuss your opinion on net neutrality itself.


That's not "rhetoric" that's how the internet has worked for decades.

Group A and Group B are already paying their own bills for internet traffic via peering agreements and cash when there is unequal traffic on one side.

It's not like there is competition for last mile internet service in most of the United States. If Comcast decided they wanted to charge netflix specifically more and not just charge the owner of the network they are peering with - what choice does Netflix or it's user have?

And if Comcast wanted to start Comflix and zero rate it and charge all other providers more, then what?

Before you bring up T-mobile's zero rating of video content, T-mobile zero rates any provider from Netflix to UGetP0rn.com (hopefully that's not a real website) as long as they meet the technical requirements and no money changes hands.


That's not how peering works, economically. When Netflix's ISP sends a movie to my ISP, is my ISP doing Netflix a favor? No, it's doing me a favor, or both of us a favor. So who should pay? Backbones who aren't either of our ISPs complicate it further.

ISP should be able to charge a fair price for providing connectivity across their networks, but it's not at all obvious what a fair price is, because it's not clear how expensive each packet delivery is and whose packet it is. That's why capitalists/right-wingers say "free market sort it out" and socialists/left-wingers say "government should decide rules about what's fair".


That's not how peering works, economically. When Netflix's ISP sends a movie to my ISP, is my ISP doing Netflix a favor? No, it's doing me a favor, or both of us a favor. So who should pay? Backbones who aren't either of our ISPs complicate it further.

The backbones charge the ISPs for traffic. That doesn't change what I said before. Instead of A and B having a peering agreement, they both have peering agreements with C. (A<->C<->B).

ISP should be able to charge a fair price for providing connectivity across their networks, but it's not at all obvious what a fair price is, because it's not clear how expensive each packet delivery is and whose packet it is. That's why capitalists/right-wingers say "free market sort it out" and socialists/left-wingers say "government should decide rules about what's fair".

Net Neutrality doesn't have anything to do with the government deciding how much ISPs and backbone providers charge each other. Net Neutrality is about charging for each packet at the same price and with some exceptions not prioritizing one packet over the other based on origin.

https://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/2011/08/tiered-pricing-c...


As always, follow the money.


The better approach seems to be "trial and error," where different states pass their own regulations. This way in 5-10 years it would become clearer what works and what does not.


It's interesting the way that the Congressional Review Act operates, to require both houses and the president to sign off on overruling the decision of an executive agency.

In bicameral Westminster-style systems, delegated legislation (ie. executive regulations) can usually be vetoed by either chamber. This being under the principle that if the regulation in question had been enacted as regular legislation it would have required the approval of both chambers to pass.


In this case, the action is repeal of net neutrality regulation. To establish net neutrality through legislation would require both house and senate.


It's a fiction either way. There's no way to decide whether the vetoed action was in or out of scope of the original delegated authority. Maybe one chamber just changed their mind.


Well, no - the idea is that the delegated authority is simply "you may make regulations without prior approval of the legislature for the sake of expediency, but it is subject to veto so you can't use it as an end-run around the legislature".


I am on the one hand happy to hear about this, but I couldn't help but laugh at the way it was reported on NPR. They said Democrats see this as an issue that can bring voters to the polls. I immediately thought of how few people even know what the heck net neutrality is (about 1 in 4 [0]). Either NPR is making stuff up or the Democrats are seriously in need of some new advice. [0]:https://americanactionnetwork.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/02....


1 in 4? That is insanely high. I would be surprised in 1 in 10 can explain what NN is properly (not "evil ISPs are gonna to make us pay for pr0n!") and about 1 in a 100 to explain what actually happened in 2015 and what happened in 2018 and what is the state of current legislation around ISP-content provider relationships. These things are complex patchwork of years of legislation and require non-trivial knowledge to understand. I rate the chance of 1 in 4 of Americans having this knowledge as the chance 1 in 4 Americans can fluently speak ancient Sumerian.


They don't need to understand in order to vote.


Young people are less likely to vote but far, far more likely to know about Net Neutrality. I think it's a shrewd strategy: it will get more young people out, who tend to vote Democrat.


I think actual concern is vastly overstated. The number of people truly willing to vote over net neutrality despite virtually none of the post-apocalyptic claims made last time around coming true has got to be borderline non-existent.

If someone's ISP starts blocking / heavily throttling Netflix or YouTube for them, I could see it becoming a voting issue. But otherwise? Meh.


Base enthusiasm matters a lot, since it drives turnout.

And the only thing that matters in elections in the US is turnout and undecideds (of whom there are very few).


Do you know how it breaks down by age group? It could help drive younger voter turnout at the midterms, which is traditionally impossible.


Isn't this how things are supposed to be done anyway? I imagine I will have to keep waiting for Congress to re-assert their authority over making war.


Again, this is meaningless. Currently the future of net neutrality is the decision of the courts, and if this miraculously passes the house and president, the future remains in the hands of the courts.

A new law is necessary to guarantee net neutrality. This has been known for over twelve years, both Clinton and Obama cosponsored a bill on it in 2006, but so far neither party has made any serious move towards passing a bill.


My rep has already sent me a firm, automated "fuck you" but I've sent him an email anyway.


Your email went into the junk folder. Send a letter and phone call.


Considering where this has been politically, this isn't going to change anything. And really all "killing" NN does is move this back to the FTC, where it was for a decade+


Internet is a utility now though and only the FCC can make network / internet a utility / common carrier.

ISPs want it at the FTC for that reason, so it isn't seen as a utility, it is.

Internet is as required as radio, phone, tv, water, electricity etc, it makes more sense under Title II and 80%+ of people support that. [1]

> Americans embrace a Title II vision of internet service. A strong majority (88 percent, 48 percent strongly) agree that “when I buy internet service, I am paying to transmit information between my computer and the websites I visit, free from interference.” This finding demonstrates that the public views internet access as a Title II telecommunications service, similar to phone service. Americans recognize the vital role the internet plays, with 83 percent agreeing that the “internet is essential infrastructure, like roads and bridges.”

[1] https://www.scribd.com/document/353285485/Freedman-Consultin...


This kind of polling really bothers me.

> when I buy internet service, I am paying to transmit information between my computer and the websites I visit, free from interference.

Of course they'll agree with that. Now ask them if they think their VoIP landline phone calls should be required to be treated with equal priority to their neighbor's cat videos or bittorrent traffic. Ask them if their provider should be able to regulate disruptive / chatty protocols used by a tiny minority to improve the quality of the service for everyone else. Ask them if it bothers them to have their Netflix traffic be zero-rated as a bundled-in perk from their ISP.

You'll then find the number much lower than 80% in "support." It's difficult to imagine a more leading question.


You have to dumb your questions down to terms "everybody" can understand, or else they won't know what the question is. The first question most people will understand.


If it has to be dumbed down and leading that much, the result of the survey is meaningless.


Just the opposite: If you ask questions they can't understand, then the survey is meaningless. You always have to make sure the respondents understand the question.


Its not a utility, thats the point. You can't truly compare it to electricity, water, etc. I understand why people want to, but its not.


Hasn't and doesn't dial-up still fall under Title II?


The root issue is entrenched (literally and figuratively) local monopolies. We want Net Neutrality because we can't switch providers when our ISPs behave badly.

I think if they go after that issue think manner they will get the votes. However, I see them going after the regulatory route, which unlikely to be pass.


They do all they can to pretend that there is "competition". It's the only way they can ignore the obvious, that opponents of Net Neutrality are simply proponents of monopolies.


I am surprised this even passed the Senate. It is almost as if Senators want to get re-elected.


The Senate has 51 Republicans but 3 of them are rather independent/centrist and sometimes vote with Democrats.


A lot of Republicans support Net Neutrality, including the stalwart conservative Scalia. The main reason so many current Republicans oppose it, is the association with Obama, and the piles of money Telecom is floating their way.


I am not in favor of government enforcement of net neutrality under libertarian/free market grounds, however, that being said, I am really happy about this vote on a ideological/philosophical level because one of my problems with government regulation is that it is often unaccountable — it’s via executive/administrative or quasi-government entities that aren’t directly accountable to voters. The Congressional Review Act (proposed and passed as part of the Republican Contract with America) is an exceptionally important law because it allows the public, through their representatives, to essentially override bad regulation (bad, as determined by voters.)

So while the outcome of this particular vote isn’t one With which I agree, I wholeheartedly agree and endorse the vote itself. My big problem with government and regulation in general is that I feel that regulations lag or exceed the will of the public and there is little recourse when those rules are made by officials removed from the direct accountability from the voter.

I could be wrong on Net Neutrality, but if it passes or is defeated, at least the process of our actual representatives voting on such an important issue is happening. Such consequential decisions ought not be at the whims of bureaucrats. Bureaucracts should implement the law, they shouldn’t be making it.


A lot of people are dismissing this as political theatre, but it serves a useful function as recording the names of everyone against reinstating net neutrality publically, so that challengers can make it a campaign issue in November. No, it probably isn’t going to pass the house, and smart money is on Trump vetoing it even if that miracle came to pass. However, Democrats are testing the waters for a campaign pledge, and some Republicans might notice. We absolutely want this represented in the midterm campaigns.


It's essentially a party line vote, so no recording is needed.


The record is important, because unlike party / representative positions, it won’t change in the midterms.


Time to call your Congressmen. I live in a purple district, and I'm going to make it clear to my Republican representative that:

1) I'm going to vote in November,

2) I will vote for him if he votes to keep the pre-existing title II net neutrality regulations, and against them if he does not, and

3) Net neutrality is even supported by a majority of Republican voters [1], so if he votes against it's clear he's voting against his constituents.

[1] http://www.publicconsultation.org/united-states/overwhelming...


For everyone's amusement, can you let us know what he says?

When I lived in Texas, the responses I got from my representatives were comically evil. Straight up bond villain.


That sounds exactly like what I got from Cathy mcmorris Rodgers in eastern Washington as well


I wonder if there's a "Letter's from my Congressman" website where random people post letters they got from their congressman.


There has got to be a reddit sub for this, right?


Time to make it happen


We’re on Hacker “I could make Airbnb in a weekend” News. Why doesn’t it exist yet?


We have something like this in Germany. It's called Abgeordnetenwatch (www.abgeordnetenwatch.de - Agbeordneter is, in this context, a member of the German parliament). You can find out who your local representatives are and ask them questions, which are hopefully publicly answered.


So bots can post fake letters there.


Same. I have to give her some credit for not pretending to care.


What was the basic gist of the response?


My response from a Texas senator was that he "supports net neutrality" and then went on define net neutrality as the exact opposite of the commonly accepted meaning.


> then went on define net neutrality as the exact opposite

This guy and my former Arizona senator must have gone to the same school. During the campaign, we listened to a PBS feature of this future senator and family from their kitchen, a happy working middle class setting, discussing their views. He was strongly against bailouts he said, and within 4 months after getting elected he voted just the opposite. The public seldom hears these in our media.


And that's probably what he honestly believes because that's how some lobbyist explained it to him. I think a huge chunk of America's problems would be solved just by getting rid of lobbyists.


You mean not explain complicated technical matters to congressmen at all, so they will be making decisions in complete ignorance? Or explain them, but people who do it would be called not "lobbyists" but "educators" and would be only allowed to say what agrees with some opinions, but not the others? Or allowing anybody explaining things to congressmen and just not calling it "lobbying" because it's a dirty word?


> You mean not explain complicated technical matters to congressmen at all, so they will be making decisions in complete ignorance?

I'm not sure you've thought this through. Consider:

1. Representatives voting in complete ignorance would vote 50/50, on average. However, some representatives will actually have the technical knowledge needed to vote properly, so the majority would probably fall in NN's favour. What do you think the vote ratio would look like if they only received biased information from lobbyists with deep pockets? Suddenly voting in ignorance doesn't sound too bad (and this applies to any issue, not just NN).

2. To further the above point, the wisdom of the crowd is a robust phenomenon whereby a group of independent voters can make better aggregate decisions than any single voter, probably for exactly the reasons I explained above. However, this breaks down if the votes are no longer independent. Lobbying destroys this property. If you look up the "wisdom of the crowds", lobbying encourages homogeneity, centralization, imitation, and emotionality.


> Representatives voting in complete ignorance would vote 50/50, on average.

Why?

> However, some representatives will actually have the technical knowledge needed to vote properly

By "properly", you mean "agreeing with me", right? This does not require any technical knowledge.

> so the majority would probably fall in NN's favour.

You implying everybody that has technical knowledge supports NN, and only reason to oppose it is ignorance. This is wrong and incredibly condescending.

> What do you think the vote ratio would look like if they only received biased information from lobbyists

Depends on how biased it is. If it's biased in favor of NN, the ratio would be something different than if it's biased against NN.

> Suddenly voting in ignorance doesn't sound too bad

Yes it does. Why would we need any Congress at all then? We could replace them with a cheap one cent coin and save a lot of money and drama. The point of representative government is that it is a focus point of an effort to figure out the right thing to do, and that all participants at least kinda trying to do it. If it's just random, there's no point of wasting effort on it, we can do much better random much cheaper.

> whereby a group of independent voters can make better aggregate decisions than any single voter,

I agree, having elections makes more sense than having a King.

> However, this breaks down if the votes are no longer independent.

Nobody is truly independent in a modern society. Not even a King - historically, there were lots of weak monarchs manipulated by their courts and seconds in command. Neither a person living in a modern society. Of course people influence other people. And this can produce negative effects like groupthink and mass panics. So what's your suggestion - ban talking about politics? Mind-wiping congressmen before voting?


> By "properly", you mean "agreeing with me", right?

I mean in the interests of their constituents.

> You implying everybody that has technical knowledge supports NN, and only reason to oppose it is ignorance. This is wrong and incredibly condescending.

I imply nothing of the sort, but the majority of people certainly favour NN.

> Yes it does. Why would we need any Congress at all then? We could replace them with a cheap one cent coin and save a lot of money and drama. [...] If it's just random, there's no point of wasting effort on it, we can do much better random much cheaper.

Except it's not random, as I explained.


> I mean in the interests of their constituents.

Constituents have different interests. Sometimes diametrically different.

> but the majority of people certainly favour NN.

The majority of the people favor a vague description of NN in the form of "do you want to access sites for free". The majority of the people has no opinion about the specific NN regulations being discussed since they don't have a slightest idea what these regulations are and how they work and what exactly changed in 2015 and 2018. It's fine to favor this specific regulation, but claiming "the majority supports it" as an argument is bullshit, the majority has no idea what it is about. It's like asking people "would you like to be murdered?" and presenting the results as support for specific crime reform or gun control proposal. This can't be taken seriously.

> Except it's not random, as I explained.

You "explained" that everybody who has technical knowledge would support NN, if only those pesky lobbyists didn't meddle. It is an unsupported statement based on fallacious premises and so far the only factual support is the abovementioned unserious polls. Not enough by far.


> The majority of the people favor a vague description of NN in the form of "do you want to access sites for free".

Please point to all the polls or surveys that framed the question this way.

> The majority of the people has no opinion about the specific NN regulations being discussed since they don't have a slightest idea what these regulations are and how they work and what exactly changed in 2015 and 2018.

And the same can be said for our elected representatives who, on the whole, are just as technologically illiterate as these other citizens you seem to disdain so much.

> You "explained" that everybody who has technical knowledge would support NN

Really? Please quote the exact text where I made that claim.

Furthermore, that explanation is completely immaterial to the point I was responding to, which was about your claim of randomized bill voting. I suggest you reread this thread.


> Representatives voting in complete ignorance would vote 50/50, on average

I suspect that there would be a strong status quo bias in ignorant votes, so 50/50 is not a realistic assumption in my opinion. Not that this is even a realistic starting point to begin with because interested parties will alway try to disseminate information to law makers (directly, or indirectly).


> I suspect that there would be a strong status quo bias in ignorant votes

Not sure about that. If the status quo were satisfactory, it's less likely there would be a vote to change it. That's a counterbalancing impetus to vote away from the status quo. Hard to quantify which way that would fall.

Furthermore, outlawing lobbying would encourage the contrary behaviour for candidates to keep their seats: the representatives visiting their constituents to hear their views. Lobbyists can voice their opinion at these town hall meetings, and I think it's clear that this makes it much harder to game the votes away from constituent interests.

The significant expansion of meetings to cover to stack the deck makes lobbying considerably more expensive, and probably not worth it unless it's a seriously important issue that would make or break a market.


>You mean not explain complicated technical matters to congressmen at all, so they will be making decisions in complete ignorance?

So the options are either

1. Get a biased source of information (along with donations $$$) from Comcast

2. Just throw your hands up in the air and declare that the problem is unknowable. Nope, Wikipedia doesn't exist. Neither does the library, your staff, or the actual bill itself. Comcast's lobbyist only. A person elected into one of the highest positions in the US is too incompetent to do their own research.


3. Require all meetings with lobbyists to be public- with video and transcript documentation. Mandatory jail time for those who don't comply.


What constitutes a lobbyist? Must a congressman record every discussion he has with every person he meets, just in case the topic of conversation turns to public policy?


Here's a start:

https://www.tripsavvy.com/faqs-about-lobbying-1039165

Example: https://lobbyingdisclosure.house.gov/register.html

There will certainly be attempts to end-run the disclosure, but in principle it's a regulated industry.


We could broadcast the video on Bravo and call it "Real Senators of the US"! It would be like a better CSPAN.

Edit: also we could call in votes like it's American Idol. I think we should try it, it couldn't be worse than what we have now


There was something like this in California, public meetings law, called Brown Act. As I heard, it's not exactly working as intended http://www.zocalopublicsquare.org/2017/03/23/californias-ope...


All human sources of information are biased. That's why we have democracy - to duke it out in a market of ideas and find some common denominator that somehow summarizes people's opinions. True, this system is not perfect. But removing inputs would not make it more perfect - unless by some magic you imagine that the only inputs left are optimal ones. But finding the optimal ones is the problem with started with! If we knew that, there would be no need for the rest - it's because there's no definite obvious way to know what is right is that we have democracy, otherwise we'd just have one law: "always do what's right" and that's it, no need for congress, elections, etc.


> America's problems

Every democracies problems. The problem with lobbies is that they allow "deeper pockets" to have "more influence", which is exactly what democracies should prevent. Thus big lobbies (especially the corporate funded ones, which ar by far teh larger part) are undermining the democratic process.

We see the results of this all over the world.


> then went on define net neutrality as the exact opposite of the commonly accepted meaning.

[Regarding Obama Administration]

"Then there was the 'fairness doctrine,' designed to limit opposing voices in radio and on television; 'net neutrality,' which promised to regulate the Internet so as to prevent, ultimately, individuals from frequenting Web sites that might disagree with an administration;"

- Larry Schweikart (What Would the Founders Say?)

[Endorsed by Glenn Beck and read by Tea Party supporters all over.]

I think if you just give them the correct definition of Net Neutrality and explain how it works and why they would be for it. But people frequently leave out the "how it works and why" part of an argument so it just defaults to polarized scream matches. If people took the time to explain things to people, IE: "speak truth to stupid", we would be much better off.

To be fair, Larry Schweikart is incredibly intelligent and well read on history.

"Mr 'Buckley' - well-spoken, intelligent, curious - had heard virtually nothing of modern science. He had a natural appetite for the wonders of the Universe. He wanted to know about science. It’s just that all the science had gotten filtered out before it reached him. Our cultural motifs, our educational system, our communications media had failed this man. What society permitted to trickle through was mainly pretence and confusion. It had never taught him how to distinguish real science from the cheap imitation. He knew nothing about how science works."

- Carl Sagan (Demon Haunted World)


That it was a non-issue for them, and that they deal with dozens of "real problems" that their constituents face every day.


How is this "straight up bond villain"? This sounds like a legitimate disagreement about the order of priorities.


What’s priority have to do with voting on the issue.” Look it’s low on my priority list I’m going to vote other way without understanding” Let’s call it as is, low priority I’ll trade my vote in exchange for something higher importance to me.


Because its not an issue about order of priorities at all. Not to mention some of the responses I've seen basically said "we know better." 80% of americans supported NN at some point, and so any one politician who votes against it is basically voting for himself.


I have hard time to believe response said "we know better". Could you quote one? I am seeing that legitimate "we have different priorities" (which is always the case - it is not humanly possible to accommodate all preferences of all voters in a way that satisfies everybody) interpreted as "bond villain" so I am suspecting there's a bunch of distortion going on here.


Having other priorities isn't a problem, meaning it's fine if they spend their time working on other issues.

But at some point they'll spend an hour or so voting, and at that point your "priorities" doesn't factor in anymore, as you should just represent your constituents. Unless you have an incredibly good reason not to. "Different priorities" isn't one, it's straight up misdirection.


> your "priorities" doesn't factor in anymore, as you should just represent your constituents

Who said they don't? We just heard from one person so far, which disagreed with the elected representative's priorities. Since they are still elected, clearly many people do agree with their priorities. Presenting this - completely routine and normal - policy disagreement as "straight up bond villain" implies that there is only one constituent that matters and only one order of priorities that is legitimate, and any disagreement is not just difference in opinion, but supreme villainy. By a weird coincidence it turns out the only legitimate priorities are exactly the ones of the author of the comment, what are the chances!


> Who said they don't?

Polling says they don't. [1]

> Since they are still elected, clearly many people do agree with their priorities.

That's not accurate. Since they are still elected, clearly enough people agree with enough of their priorities (or perceived priorities). That's not to say that they couldn't better represent their voters, when that representation is clear.

[1] https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-switch/wp/2017/12/12...


I've received a "we know better" answer before, in 2014 regarding Net Neutrality from Roy Blunt.

Thank you for contacting me regarding net neutrality.

As you know, in 2010, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) established rules to regulate the Internet. The FCC claimed it could regulate the Internet under the authority of its traditional telephone regulations developed during the monopoly-era. A DC Circuit Court recently struck down certain parts of these rules and decided the FCC does not have jurisdiction over broadband providers to implement regulations in this manner.

The Internet should certainly be free and open to those who legally provide content to consumers. This principle does not necessitate additional government regulation, particularly given the innovative and highly competitive broadband marketplace. Attempts to preemptively implement industry-wide regulations may inadvertently harm consumers by stifling competition and innovation. As a member of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation, I intend to remain fully engaged on this issue to ensure the rules governing broadband service providers maintain the flexibility needed to evolve as rapidly as the technology they provide.

Again, thank you for contacting me. I look forward to continuing our conversation on Facebook (www.facebook.com/SenatorBlunt) and Twitter (www.twitter.com/RoyBlunt) about the important issues facing Missouri and the country. I also encourage you to visit my website (blunt.senate.gov) to learn more about where I stand on the issues and sign-up for my e-newsletter.

Sincere regards,

Roy Blunt United States Senator


You're replying to a different person. The person who said "straight up bond villain" isn't the person you responded to.


My friend use to intern in a Senators office. All the responses are written by staff and not the member of congress.


I'm presuming purple (being red + blue) means a district that could either way?

Lucky you. Here we don't have elections that matter because thanks to redistricting and gerrymandering, the outcome (along party lines) is well established.


> Here we don't have elections that matter because thanks to redistricting and gerrymandering, the outcome (along party lines) is well established.

All that means is that the general election doesn't matter, and so you need to move your vote to whatever comes before the general election in your district to make it matter.

1. Register for the party that the redistricting and gerrymandering favors.

2. Vote in that party's primaries or participate in their caucuses to support candidates who are closer to center.

Some will object that step #1 is dishonest. I might agree in districts where the district boundaries are actually sensible based on economics and other demographics factors other than party. In districts where one party has redrawn the boundaries to give itself a major structural advantage, they have stolen your vote. Joining their party is simply taking it back. If they do not like that, then they can fix the district boundaries.


I’d like to hear an argument for why #1 might be dishonest. There is no definition of “registered Democrat” except for “someone who is registered as a Democrat.” I’m pretty sure you don’t have to sign anything claiming to believe in certain principles. I’m struggling to think of any way this could be considered dishonest.


Under the old rules, the "dishonest" thing to do is register for the party who's beliefs you least agree with, and then in the primary, vote for the candidate less likely to win in the general, in order for your actual preferred candidate to have a better chance at winning.

That is to say, game the system by looking at the rules and vote for someone you don't actually believe in. (In the primary.) Whether or not that rises to the level of being dishonest is up to you to decide.

(The "new" rules are that the "less likely to win" candidate may be harder to determine in the current political climate.)


Oh noes! The representatives are dealing with dishonest constituents? How ironic.


Genuine question: is there anything (technically effective) to prevent someone from registering as both a democrat and a republican? And if not, are there any existing how-to guides I could signal-boost?


In general, your registered party is part of your state voter registration. Some states use that to determine which primary you can vote in (“closed primary”), while others let you choose a party at the time of voting (“open primary”). Either way, though, voting in both parties’ primaries is operated by the state as part of a unified process, at the same location; so it shouldn’t be possible to vote more than once.

If you’re in a caucus state, that process might be different; I’m not sure.


You 'register' as one, the other, or something different (L, Green, etc.) typically at the DMV or something like it. The selection there is a radio button, not a checkbox.

Of course, nothing prevents you from being a member of whatever party you want, though there are sometimes laws prohibiting when you can change your registration. Oftentimes, you're prohibited from changing your registered party affiliation within a month or so of the primaries.


Your voter registration record says which party you're in. The election official would likely make some inquiries if yours said "all of them" on it.


State dependent. In Texas, you don’t register for a party. You just vote in the primary you want (but you can’t vote in both primaries.)


Shouldn’t who you vote for be confidential and you can change your mind till the day? And why can’t a person vote one way for local and another for state ? I don’t get the system


The party registration isn't counted as a vote for that party - when you show up on election day you can vote for whoever you want.

What it affects is which parties' primaries you can vote in.


The primaries aren't official US elections. They're unofficial elections set up by each political party (which are private, non-government entities).

You can vote however you want in official elections.


I would be careful about asserting that. In PA there can be referendums on the primary ballots. And the results can be binding (sore loser laws, etc.). They're pretty official looking around here.


This definitely differs between countries. Where I'm from, I'm a registered member of all political parties. No rules against it.


You can't be registered for multiple parties.


I did that - then I researched all the candidates and they are trying to one up each other on who is more conservative. The guy trailing behind for government just started a "Deportation Bus" and driving it around for publicity. It's amusingly sad.


You're in my state then. There is the one guy that's.. somewhat centrist, but he's pretty well back in the polling. SO now I'm figuring out what's the lesser of 3 evils that are competitively polling.

We really need Ranked Choice Voting, I really think these polls affect the actual vote tallies at the end of the day.


Couldn't the opposite work as well... choose a candidate so extreme even voters of his own party don't want to support him? Isn't that what happened with Roy Moore and Alabama? The US voting system just seems incredible bad.


In Missouri, Claire McCaskill (Democrate Senator) ran campaign ads during a Republican Primary supporting (in effect) the worst possible republican candidate. This massive spend on campaign advertising by McCaskill during the primary led to this weak Republican winning the nomination, and thus an easy victory for McCaskill during the General Election. A pretty good strategy from McCaskill, but also very underhanded.


Not quite true.

If there is a wave election in November, gerrymandering backfires and ends up losing you more seats than you hope to gain through it. You pack the districts so that you win with 55% to 45%, except for a district here or there which will go 10% to 90%.

In a wave election, it only takes a shift of 5-6% in those gerrymandered districts for them to be lost.


You are pretending that a 'wave election' is a thing that people decide to do, instead of a label applied after the fact as a descriptive aid after the occurrence of the circumstances you describe. In other words, this is circular logic.

In practice, heavily-gerrymandered districts rarely swing parties, and when they do, they almost always swing back.


You are pretending that there aren't circumstances that have an observed relation to systematic deviations from median election results that people can observe to understand that a wave election is more likely to happen in a particular election.


I'm not pretending it: I'm asserting it.


And if it doesn't hold, let there be runtime errors!


As it was written, so shall it be! Go with Root, my son.


You can still have an impact. Make noise in favor of things like open primaries, proportional representation, and instant-runoff/score/range voting.

Imo one of the biggest problems with our current system (single winner FPTP) is it results in two parties, with various side effects such as extremist candidates in primaries, complete lack of representation for minority voters, and gerrymandered districts. Moving towards better systems would help a great deal.


I fully agree with your last point. In fairly exciting news Maine has adopted Ranked Choice Voting as of the last election cycle. It was tested in the courts and survived, so they'll be using RCV for their upcoming elections (both primary and general).

If things go well, that can be an example for the rest of the country. More states should follow the Maine example!


I also live in a purple district (in a very blue state), and while my Republican Congressman has made it clear he's against Net Neutrality, he voted against the repeal of the Internet privacy regulations, so he can't be counted out entirely.

However, I'm still not all too sure whether Net Neutrality is worth promising support to existing Republicans. There are so many other issues on the table this election cycle and they next Congress is likely to be as, or more, supportive on this.


I find it useful, in politics, to keep a list of issues in respect of which I would, singularly, disregard party affiliation for. (The same with a black list. I won’t vote for a candidate on the wrong side of certain issues.)

Putting it on paper is valuable. It clarifies your thoughts. And it makes it clear how draconian these red lines are. (I constantly re-evaluate them, with the goal of talking myself out of them.)


What do you do if none of the candidates qualifies after applying white and black lists? Or, if the candidate both promises something on the while list and on the black list? Not a theoretical question, I don't have the right to vote in US, but if I did, I'd be in this situation for the most elections in the most places where I cared reading about candidates.


You tell others to make a list.

Enough people make such a list, change happens.


Provided their lists are similar. Otherwise you just get Brownian motion.


I have this problem, I usually write in some fictional characters (or someone one who isn't running or who isn't qualified to run) name in protest. For example, during our last city election, I wrote in Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump for Aldermen. I also wrote in my mother for the school board.


There are a lot of issues on the front burner right now that would fall in that bracket and net neutrality isn't the most pressing one by a very long shot so why would you let your vote hinge on that one issue?


It is not because you say to your congressman that you are a one-issue voter that you really are. Elected officials keep lying about their promises, I don't see why this should be a one-way street.


Except that they are in this game for years, and probably can play it much better than you do. But by devaluing citizens input by injecting obvious deception into it, you make it harder for others to make a difference when it does genuinely matter for them. Because on the input side, there's no way to know the difference between somebody who genuinely passionately cares for the issue and somebody who strategically lies about it. And since lying is cheaper than genuinely caring, the optimal strategy would be to assume purported one-issue voter is lying. So what exactly did you achieve by that?


I won't question the fact that they are very good at it and indeed, a lot of elected officials forget their promises immediately after that.

And yes, voters cold-calling senators is an incredibly unreliable way to know who cares about what. I am astounded that it is still that efficient. I guess many candidates haven't figured yet that a lot of people can lie.

Personally I wouldn't say "I will vote for you if you do X or Y". Given the current political climate, I would present myself as a republican voter who has doubts "and really, this net neutrality things really makes it hard for me. I don't really see why I should go vote for either side now."

They wont believe someone who pretends they can switch on a single issue but their current fear is that their base won't come on election day.


> Elected officials keep lying about their promises, I don't see why this should be a one-way street.

It's not a one way street, and never has been. Of course, neither is the disregard of what people say that isn't the supported by concrete, substantive action that it engenders.


Why do you presume that net neutrality isn’t among the most pressing for OP? There are few issues where a majority of both Republicans and Democrats both agree. It seems like a worthy issue to hinge a vote on.


I would believe it when I see a million people marching in DC for it. This issue is tiny and insignificant compared to major ones in US politics, however you personally and your peer group feel about it. And the "majority" is just a sleight of hand - you ask people "do you want to access all sites on the internet for free", people enthusiastically say "yes" and you interpret it as overwhelming support for a specific highly technical policy decision that these people never heard of, have no opinion of and probably couldn't distinguish pre-2015 internet regulations from post-2015 internet regulations even if their life depended on it. Which it most certainly doesn't, so they wouldn't really care either way.


Because I follow American politics pretty closely for a foreigner and it would appear to me that if the house is on fire the color of the sidewall isn't top priority.


That is mighty patronizing of you to tell someone that their concerns aren’t worthy enough. A majority of Americans who are registered to vote don't. There is an abundance of apathy in the U.S. toward the political process. Here we have someone willing to go so far as to contact their elected representative and you respond as you did.

Off the top of my head I can’t name another issue that has support by majorties of both parties. This is an issue that is most likely to gain sympathy of Republican senators and most likely to result in an instance of the peoples' interest outwaying corporate interests.

Instead of encouragement we have jaquesm here to let us know that you follow American politics pretty closely and we should all concentrate on something else. I do not subscribe to your patronizing attitude.


I'm not a foreigner and I think the comment you're responding to is spot on.

Are we just supposed to pretend that all issues are equal? People aren't going to die because the nets aren't neutral. People are going to die based on our health care policy, whether we go to war, whether we can prevent nuclear proliferation.

The author of the comment you call patronizing made no statement on whether or not he's happy that people are involved in the political process. I know I'm happy about it, but I also think single issue voting on net neutrality is stupid. These views are not linked.

In summary, net neutrality is important but there are more important issues in America at the moment. It's not patronizing to point that out.


Not all issues are a equal. Clearly not. But what is important changes from person to person. To suggest that your concerns and what constitutes a single voter issue for you is wrong is condescending. Since you think net neutrality is a stupid single voter issue then I suggest it not be one for you. But not everyone has your concerns.

It’s not a big issue for me but I can see why it is for others. People need to get involved and active. I’m not going to discourage anyone from doing this.

There is always a more important issue on the horizon. There’s always some cause that is more important. We don’t all get up in arms over the same things. To me climate change is the most important issue facing humans. I’ll advocate this position but my arrogance is not so great as to belittle someone else's pet cause.

So I’m not going to tell you that health care policy is a stupid issue to get energized about when the climate is changing.


Some people's ideas of what's important are stupid. Everyone has the right to an opinion but that doesn't mean we should treat every opinion as equal.

If someone was going to vote on the single issue of whether or not we should make it illegal to have more than 17,000,000 butterflies in a room smaller than 100'x100' I would have no problem telling them that their pet issue is stupid and there are other things they should care about more.

I don't see why that principle shouldn't hold for other issues. Obviously net neutrality is something we should be concerned about but a single issue voter says it's the only thing we should be concerned about. That's just not true.

If we elect a government who reinstates net neutrality and proceeds to immediately launch a nuclear missile at Moscow, will the 20 minutes that half of the US population got to enjoy net neutrality matter?


Thank you for keeping the discussion in the realm of the plausible and feasible. I'd hate for extreme situations to be brought up. A number of people have given reasons for why they think net neutrality is as important as it is to them.

Thank you for definitively letting me know that

Obviously net neutrality is something we should be concerned about but a single issue voter says it's the only thing we should be concerned about. That's just not true.

Your argument has been convincing. Convincing enough that I'll be sure to consult you on other issues in the penumbra of the hierarchy of human concerns to see if they merit being single voter issue. Perhaps you can make a flier for those of us not in the know.


> To suggest that your concerns and what constitutes a single voter issue for you is wrong is condescending.

> Since you think net neutrality is a stupid single voter issue then I suggest it not be one for you.

This argument seems to have finished on the wrong point.

It isn't that net neutrality or any other issues have more or less value (although they intrinsically do -- that's for the individual to decide). Instead it's that single issue voting is severely short-sighted since the very same politician may support several other policies contradicting your own well-being.

Yes the example above is extreme but this is what it attempts to convey.


Overall I agree with you. I agree that for me net neutrality is not that important. But in a nation with as much voter apathy, with the growing sense of voting being futile I’ll take a single issue voter that gets galvanized. If everyone were a single issue voter it’d be a mess. With a few people not so much.


I suspect very few people are truly single issue voters. There’s a difference between saying “you should only care about issue X” and saying “I will never vote for someone who doesn’t share my position on issue X.” For example, I doubt many people would vote for someone who supports net neutrality but also includes universal forced child labor in their platform.


> Obviously net neutrality is something we should be concerned about but a single issue voter says it's the only thing we should be concerned about. That's just not true.

Yes, it's not true because what you said is wrong. All a single issue voter has said is that single issue determines their vote. They doesn't say that's the only thing "we" should be concerned about. They don't even say that's the only thing they're concerned about.

Voting is not some kind of distilled expression of pure belief or priorities, it's a practical action subject to tactics, strategy, and trade-offs.


>People are going to die based on our health care policy

Yes, and people are going to die based on our self-driving car policies, our affordable housing policies, our food subsidy policies, our energy policies, our alcohol policies, our gambling policies, our foreign aid policies, etc.

The crippling of the Internet via poor net policies could hamper technologies that ultimately would have saved billions.

You are presumptuous to claim your issues are more important than any of these others.


The difference here is that you are guessing as to what might happen.

We know that some people without access to medical care will die. You're saying it's okay to gamble those people's lives on the chance that future lives might be saved. Obviously a balance between spending on research and health care must be struck so this isn't a black and white issue but you would need to put forth a pretty convincing argument that a lack of net neutrality would prevent us from saving billions for me to buy that.

For the record, I do not support single issue voting at all. There is no issue that outweighs the others.

I also think the idea that someone who was going to vote based on a single issue would choose something as trivial as net neutrality is particularly ridiculous when there are so many other issues where life hangs in the balance.


>We know that some people without access to medical care will die. You're saying it's okay to gamble those people's lives on the chance that future lives might be saved.

This happens every time a double-blind medical trial takes place.

> as trivial as net neutrality is particularly ridiculous when there are so many other issues where life hangs in the balance.

Trivial to you.

>is particularly ridiculous when there are so many other issues where life hangs in the balance.

If immediacy of life is the sole thing driving your decision behavior, you should quit your job and go help people in developing nations. Some people need to do this. But others also need to focus on longer-term things that promote a better economy that leads to new technologies and surpluses to advance the quality of human life.


> We know that some people without access to medical care will die.

That actually sounds like an argument for allowing patients the option of a "fast lane" to their hospital for telemedicine and monitoring with higher priority than Netflix and YouTube.


It doesn’t make sense for everyone to focus primarily on the political issue they deem to be the most important, for the same reason that it doesn’t make sense for everyone to choose the career they deem to be the most important. Competitive advantage applies to both of these arenas, and it is perfectly rational and prudent to focus on political issues that you do not believe to be the most important issues facing society, if you have reason to believe that your efforts can make more of a difference in some other political issue.


> Are we just supposed to pretend that all issues are equal? People aren't going to die because the nets aren't neutral.

Probably not very many as a first-order effect, no.

> People are going to die based on our health care policy, whether we go to war, whether we can prevent nuclear proliferation.

And a narrow range of corporations with a fairly tight alignment on policy preferences controlling media access affects long term ability of the public to understand thode issues, organize efforts around them, and achieve positive results.

Which is why a lot wide-view activist organizations that aren't particularly focussed on tech issues have made it a priority, when they do normally focus on the issues you have concerns about make it a priority.


To many peoole, neutrality isn't a color of the sidewalk issue, it's a house on fire issue, because it concerns control of communication content in a major channel of public communication by a narrow band of actors vs. guaranteed freedom for lawful communication on that channel.


To add to that - we already have fake news along ALL political spectrums, and propaganda and lies coming from fake and legit places, to further be told what we can / can't view because of net neutrality, or for corporations to ban content themselves or make you pay to view certain websites moves us further into censorship territory like China. -- We definitely need to ensure that the internet stays as open as possible, if not we may need to create a new decentralized uncensorable internet like in Silicon Valley where net neutrality cannot be revoked.


It is ok for net neutrality to be someone's number 1 issue as long as they recognize that they are likely viewing issues from a position of tremendous privilege.


It's okay even if they don't recognize it.

Every issue in the US is one of tremendous privilege. Recognizing that doesn't change anything.


If you're middle-class or above perhaps. The US is not a country I'd want to be poor in.


China and India are both worse to be poor in, which still makes it a position of privilege compared to a significant portion of the world population. That's why "check your privilege" is such a stupid statement.


I see the death of net neutrality as a first step toward extremely effective censorship of electronic media. Media control like what sinclair is doing is already dangerous enough. Restoring net neutrality is close to top priority.


The analogy is closer to the house being on fire, but the landlord 100% won't budge on that, so you might as well ask them for a glass of water, which you have at least some chance of getting.


> so why would you let your vote hinge on that one issue?

Single issue voters make policy, and this is a case where the small weight of my vote could tip a scale and actually accomplish something.

Plus, I hate our current state of extreme polarization, and I value politicians who have the independence to go against their party. If he'll do that, it's another aspect I'd like to reward.


Ok, I see. So this is the local equivalent for voting for a small party in a country with many more parties in the running for a coalition. That makes some sense, but at the same time it would mean that you are also voting for a lot of stuff that is reprehensible and probably against your own interest. Because once the votes are counted your vote will not be counted as a 'single issue' vote but as a total mandate for whatever that party is up to, they'll see their compromise on an issue that probably hardly moves the needle on their end as a clever tactic to get votes like yours.


Republicans are reprehensible? By your logic we can never make any progress unless citizens vote for a platform perfectly aligned with their own values. That degenerates to everyone voting for themselves.

IMO absolutist stances like this miss the entire point of politics which is to strike compromise in the face of disperate ideologies. Sure the two party system is broken, but the way to make progress is to focus on relevant issues one at a time instead of the entire platform.


I'm not sure I follow your logic. First off, he didn't say that Republicans are reprehensible. He said that voting for a Republican implies that you are voting for a lot of reprehensible stuff (by proxy through your Republican representative). Reprehensible doesn't mean "I don't agree with". Over the years I've had disagreements with both parties (and have voted for members of both parties). However, with the increased polarization in Congress, I don't think it is unfair to say that Republican behavior and the Republican platform has largely become reprehensible. That certainly doesn't mean all Republicans politicians have reprehensible views - just that they are too cowardly to vote against their party when they should be doing so.

The OP is suggesting that he wants to use his vote to encourage a Republican to do the right thing on a very narrow issue. The parent is effectively saying this focuses on a single tree instead of the entire forest. In a two-party system you are effectively voting for the entire platform and not for a single issue, so I have no idea why you consider his critique absolutist.


I understand exactly what the parent's point is. I'm just continuing the discussion. The implication (and the sibling comments agree) is that you shouldn't vote for a party if you don't agree with everything about the platform. I'm defending the GP in this case arguing that I wish collectively we would focus more on single issues and less on broad sweeping platform stereotypes (e.g. reprehensible republican). I initially commented because I've put some thought into this recently. I even commented last week here: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=17028256


> I understand exactly what the parent's point is. I'm just continuing the discussion. The implication (and the sibling comments agree) is that you shouldn't vote for a party if you don't agree with everything about the platform.

No, the implication was that you should maximize your agreement with one of the platforms available (two here). One issue voting most likely doesn't do that.


You are again conflating disagreements with "reprehensible". I disagree with lots of politicians on lots of issues. I find very few of those positions to be actually reprehensible.


I think we actually agree. Or at least that's what I'm saying too. I didn't use reprehensible, the comment I was responding too did. My point is your point, just worded differently.


The original comment said that there are some reprehensible policies.

You then treated "reprehensible" as meaning the same thing as "not perfectly aligned".

Your followup treated "reprehensible" as meaning the same thing as "don't agree with everything".

We might agree on some things, but we clearly do not agree about what jacquesm was saying, because I think the original comment was fine.


Well I am extrapolating based on the way the argument was presented, yes. I don't disagree with the essence of what jacquesm said. I think that's what's not clear. I am quibbling with the idea that we should call the republican platform reprehensible in an academic discussion about single issue voting in the US. Why? Because reprehensible carries an implication of blame and it has clearly distracted from the argument and caused at least me to extrapolate from jacquesm's comment in a way that may not have been intended.

I understand that some people will choose to minimize negatives while some will choose to advocate for positives when stepping up to the poll. We all agree on this idea and this has nothing to do with whether one person diesagrees with or isn't fully aligned with a platform. (This is where I'm losing your argument which seems to be harping on this idea.)

My meta commentary is that viewing the other side's policies (_some_) as reprehensible distracts from the politics and pushes people towards the minimizing negatives game because it inflates the impact of negatives because of the association of blame that comes with a term like reprehensible. "If you are republican and vote for their reprehensible platform then you are to blame." Now it's not just about disagreement, it's about social justice. And for that reason I prefer, of late, when people focus on advocating for positive change rather than voting against negative change. That is where the semantics do come in.

A response to this point would involve asserting that their policies are indeed reprehensible and we should treat the entire platform in such a way.


> Republicans are reprehensible?

Strawman.


You said that the Republican platform has reprehensible policy. You then criticized single issue voting because when you do so you pull in the entire platform, reprehensible policy included, which you suggest ends up being a net negative, despite whether you agree or not. Now consider another person. If they are a republican and vote for their party, even if they disagree with the reprehensible pieces, they still end up having a net negative impact on society because of their platform choice, by your logic.

I'm not sure what other conclusion someone is supposed to draw. That's how the stereotype you used works. I'm not republican, I don't care. But I do know republicans and I know that calling the platform reprehensible isn't helping anything or changing any minds.

I can excuse it if you were only intending to present an academic example supporting your general point about single issue voting in a two party system. I often do the same and have fallen into the same trap before. But if that was your intention it was lost one me. Maybe work on slightly more finessed phasing to avoid the downvotes in the future?


I don't give a fuck about downvotes and you are dishonest in your arguing, effectively you are arguing with yourself.


Stop being rude. I've lost you at this point.


So your solution is what, not vote?

Everyone in America faces this dilemma, it's the problem with our two party system.


Get involved in grassroots politics. Support municipal or state-level candidates who have potential to be federal candidates down the road. Doorknock for candidates who you feel represent you. Tell your friends and family who you're voting for and why. Vote in primaries. Always vote in general elections.


I mean, that's not exactly an either or thing... For the average voter with a family and career you have:

* Two parties

* Candidates to choose from in those parties with slightly different platforms trying to capture appeal based on big-ticket trending issues

* No one person you could possibly agree with on all things unless you are voting for a hardliner and blindly drink the party koolaid

So I mean really, if your vote is all you can offer and you have no hope of getting someone from your preferred party elected, the next best thing is to try to support your preferred candidate.

I mean, so there are two games going on here. The biggest lie is that politicians have convinced the public that they are in the same fight to get their party in control. Except really you have:

* Politicians trying to get their party in control and stay elected

* Citizens trying to get things they care about addressed, improved, whatev

It's the whole "We won't vote for Hillary 'cause Democrats even though we don't like Trump" problem, but it goes both ways..


Vote for the one that matches your interests the best. I don't understand why you would do anything else (unless you're trying to make a symbolic statement). The two-party system is not going to go away tomorrow, and it certainly will not go away because you refused to vote.


Yea... we really need to fix that one of these days with instant runoff voting. It's going to be hard to get done since both primary parties won't be in favor of it, maybe if we get public financing of elections it'll be easier.


I mean, at the end of the day, you're voting for classical liberalism either way.


Would you genuinely choose your vote on this single issue, ignoring all others, whatever may they be? And if, like many of the voters, it is not true, would it be counter-productive to lie about it as Congressmen are probably been around the block a few times and can recognize the deception? Of course, if this is true, then I do not question it, but is it?


This won't get a House vote in a Republican controlled House. But the senate vote gives you an indication on where the Republican party stands. They're not going to change their minds.


This is, after all why they are doing it at all- you should 100% call your representative, not at all because the house will pass it or because Trump is going to sign this into law, but because you are validating that this should be part of the 2018 midterm election platforms to your representative. This is an issue that will get people out to the polls. Let’s prove it to them!


Why are you trying to push your beliefs on whole country? Why not work on changing net neutrality laws in your state. This way in long run we'd have experiment comparing results in states with net neutrality laws (including different flavors) and without them.


All 49 Democratic Senators voted in favor of net neutrality. Why not vote for the Democrat?


Because they knew the vote would have no impact. Had there been real stakes you would see defectors in the re-election swing states.


[flagged]


Just because the parent claims to be a single-issue voter on the phone doesn't mean that that's true.


Not the poster but I'm normally a single issue voter and am registered just to vote no for 90% of the things the city wants to do. From a macro-perspective, in the last two years I've seen my taxes go down and unemployment drop. That's all that has personally affected me and I can say that the economic optimism in my city has sky rocket. Overall I'm pretty happy with how things are going.


Working more is important than living well?


I've never been unemployed but I imagine it would be boring. I enjoy going to work and having new problems to face everyday so for me yes, low unemployment is good. And I've noticed there are less bums when unemployment is low, which is great for me because I don't like homeless people


Single issue voter or multiple issue voter, holding someone responsible for the actions of an entire political party is shockingly stupid.


My Comcast bill, over the course of two consecutive months since the beginning of this year -- and since the apparent, "inevitable" coming end of net neutrality, increased about 25%.

My Congressmen are going to hear about this. About how, for the better part of 20 years, Ameritech/SBC/ATT refused to upgrade my neighborhood trunk line, that doesn't even support DSL. In a high-density suburban neighborhood in the home/headquarters state of the corporation.

About how Ameritech/SBC (now rebranded ATT) received the better part of three quarters of a billion dollars in tax breaks and other incentives from the State of Illinois, in return for a commitment to provide "universal" (minimum 95% coverage) broadband access throughout the State. Whereupon, they immediately turned around and lobbied the State legislature to let them out of their side of the agreement, that commitment, while keeping the tax breaks and incentives.

They're going to hear how, several years ago, I couldn't watch Netflix streaming without constant interruptions, particularly during prime viewing hours, because Comcast refused to peer with Netflix in their datacenters -- at Netflix's expense and providing of the necessary equipment and installation. That problem didn't resolve until the bad publicity and outcry was giving Comcast (and its ilk exercising similar manipulation) an enormous PR black eye.

This right at the time Comcast was attempting to launch and gain traction with one of their "competing" streaming video offers.

About paid advocacy promoting lies about support for their actions within non-profit centric communities, such as... was it the NAACP, or another organization, that was supporting Comcast quite apparently in return for contributions.

How Congressmen supporting these telcos' agenda are functioning as paid shills for these private companies. Not just lobbied. Outright bought, with no effort or success in actually understanding the issues involved.

And I don't vote for paid shills.

--

P.S. My State Democratic representative made the rounds, a couple of years ago after some heavy local storm damage. I took the opportunity to tell him about our local problem with ATT. (This was after the storm aftermath's crisis period was passed; he wasn't overloaded with it.)

He told me that actually, he had a meeting with ATT executives the following day and would bring it up. And that he'd get back to me on that.

I never heard a word. And when I followed up later with his staff, I still didn't hear anything.

I don't vote for him, any more. I faced that decision again, this past April. And no, still no vote for him.


P.S. I actually do, very occasionally, write my Congresscritters. I'm pretty careful doing so -- doing so well, I hope -- and I have some evidence of some of my correspondence having been read and paid attention to.

So when I say they will hear about this, I mean, they actually will. Though I'll write it in a fashion that is more appealing/compelling to them.

And regarding some of the history that may not seem to pertain directly to net neutrality? Look, these companies are saying a lot of things as part of their campaign to kill it. And the historical record demonstrates that, with respect to such statements, they are consistently full of shit -- in a self-serving way.

They are not to be believed. Neither the people shilling the talking points they've been handed by the companies and their lobbyists.


State reps seem much more willing to help out/listen to their constituents. Every time I've reached out with a state representative they have helped me out. One even drafted a bill and politely told the city to f* off


He sounded very interested during our conversation.

But, ATT is a very big big-money and political player in our state. Even if he wasn't originally dissembling, the ATT executives may have just shut him right down.

Part of my point: I don't care which political party it is. If a member is in bed with this crap -- or even just silently acquiescing, to hell with them.

I'd liked this rep, up to that point. If he'd told me there was nothing he could do, or hadn't specifically told me he'd follow up. Maybe I'd grant a bit more benefit of the doubt. Well, I'd still expect him to address the issue -- take a position against the behavior.

Instead, silence. Like the silence amongst our supposed "mainstream" politicians in response to the hard right pushing beliefs and policy with no backing in fact. (Or the hard left, when they do that -- although then I can usually at least sympathize with the compassion, when present.)

Democrats need to understand that their weak tea "centrist", big business trend no longer sells to the base they need and that needs effective representation.

I'm all for effective business. I'm not for monopolies and oligopolies hindering progress for their own relative advantage. Nor sucking at the teat of public money and policy while complaining about their taxes.


Can we not frontpage things that suggest happenings that aren't? As noted in the article itself, the House is not going to vote this way, and this is a largely pointless political drama thing. The headline is technically true, but has no meaningful effect whatsoever.


Ultimately it’s all pointless political drama. If it does get overturned, then “killing” net neutrality was just pointless political drama. It doesn’t mean it’s not worth paying attention to.


It is not pointless. This is signalling ahead of the midterms which representatives are pro net netrality to voters. The people voting it down will do so on the record, and in theory that will help challengers make it an issue against incumbents that voted no.


> the House is not going to vote this way

Unless you have a working crystal ball, that's a prediction, not a fact.

> and this is a largely pointless political drama thing

Not true. The repeal of net neutrality is extraordinarily unpopular (including among Republicans) and all of the House is up for re-election this year. The Republicans may lose their majority.

In my opinion, this has a better shot of getting through than most. That is, if you don't prematurely give up hope.


The Republican Party is not only against regulations in general but they have explicitly come out against Net Neutrality rules. They (House Republicans) even made it part of their demands before the 2013 federal government shutdown: https://www.nationalreview.com/corner/revealed-house-gops-de...


> They (House Republicans) even made it part of their demands before the 2013 federal government shutdown

Not the same people that are there now, and not the same political circumstances. It is unlikely but not impossible this will pass the House.


Many opinions shift in five years.


It's possible that GOP reps may let it slide just so it can't be used as a campaign issue by Dems for the midterms and later.


It's a "prediction" on the scale of how many months in advance I said Bernie Sanders was not going to be the next President of the United States. It's within the laws of physics for me to be wrong, but not a practical real world scenario here nonetheless.

Only 35 Senators are up for reelection this year, I assume you meant the House, not "all of Congress". (Note that all of the House is up for reelection every election term, and it doesn't change very quickly anyways.)

Most sane people will not hinge their vote on Internet politics. Things like healthcare, their views on whether or not killing babies is okay, if it's totally cool to be racist in 2018 or not, etc. will tend to take precedence. As those things should, because those things affect people's lives, not Google and Netflix's bandwidth bills.


>sane people will not hinge their vote on Internet politics. Things like healthcare, their views on whether or not killing babies is okay, if it's totally cool to be racist in 2018 or not, etc. will tend to take precedence. As those things should, because those things affect people's lives, not Google and Netflix's bandwidth bills.

Fortunately I can vote for all that by simply not supporting a single party in the US and voting for the other one. As far as I know there is no major party in the US that supports killing babies.


> but not a practical real world scenario here nonetheless.

That is the kind of thinking that entrenches the status quo.

Close political fights are worth fighting because there's nothing to be gained by preemptively surrendering.

> Only 35 Senators are up for reelection this year, I assume you meant the House, not "all of Congress". (Note that all of the House is up for reelection every election term, and it doesn't change very quickly anyways.)

Yes, I meant the House. Noted and corrected. The Senate already passed the needed bill, so we're past that hurdle. The Republican caucus is vulnerable next election, many of the gerrymanders probably won't hold and they know it.

> Most sane people will not hinge their vote on Internet politics.

Single issue voters make policy.


> Single issue voters make policy.

Most often, and most significantly, unintentionally, on all the issues they aren't considering when voting.

Because, actually, the policy makers they elect make policy, and and that's true whether or not the one election a single issue voter tips is enough to shift the national balance on the issue of concern.

Or whether the candidate elected on your one issue even bothers voting the way you expect on it, rather than abandoning it.

Single issue voters often don't stick with it long enough for policy makers to worry about betraying them after an election where they issue moves a small but (for reasons particular to the context of that election) decisive segment of the electorate, or if they are sticky then representatives have a strong incentive to keep them onboard with an image that victory is just over the horizon, to hold on to their vote without resolving their issue so as to enable all the other policies the representative is concerned about.


Single issue voters, if they are a large enough group that can organize themselves effectively, can have an extraordinary impact on American politics. Look at the NRA.

Yes, they won't have as much sway on the issues they aren't campaigning for, but that's a necessary consequence of voting on a single issue.


Whether this passes now or not is immaterial. Net neutrality is guaranteed to come back in the next administration, which will have as its primary agenda undoing all of Trump's damage. The question the big ISPs need to ask themselves is whether it makes any business sense to try to capitalize on this for a short time, knowing that they'll have to spend money to undo it all later.


It's a victory for Democrats today, but this'll die in the House. Still it will make for good campaign material for the Democrats in the coming midterms.


This is political noise, so some representatives can say “I voted for Net Neutrality.”


Senators, you mean, and from the party not in power so that voters know their stance and the stance of the in-power party.




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