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Yes, it has plenty of lobbyists to try to keep government thugs off its back.

Actually, Comcast is doing a little bit more than that. It is advancing a weird concept that is full of government controls called "net neutrality." On the surface, it looks benign enough. But start digging.

One of the real deals driving this is Comcast has its eyes on Netflix and wants to take over Netflix's market on streaming video by government regulation, not by honest competition and providing a better service.

In other words, it doesn't want to take the "government thugs off its back" at all. The government thugs on its back protects the cartel it belongs to--the one that divides the country up so, for instance, Comcast and TWC don't compete with each other in the same areas. Comcast wants to put government thugs on the back of Netflix.

But before even getting to that stage, Comcast is screwing customers over who have Netflix with constant outages and crashes. There is a growing number of users complaining about this online. What's weird is if you go to Netflix, they say the problem is with Comcast. When you go to Comcast, they say the problem is with Netflix. Both say the problem should not exist. And if you want to really have a barrel of laughs, call Comcast sometime and work your way through the maze of automatic telephone operator hell.

At least when I started looking online, I was relieved to discover I was not the only one with this problem. People are getting real pissed. Here, see this guy for a little fun:

And then check this one out:

That Netflix thing is just one little beef I have with Comcast. Like I said, I have a huge list of beefs. You love that company so much, you can have it. I'm tired of dealing with government protected cartels. Imagine what will happen if it starts controlling Time-Warner's stuff that way, while the Time-Warner division starts plugging its darlings with the MSNBC touch on cartel-controlled delivery leaning toward monopoly. That will be pure propaganda by omission of the others for the progressives.

I will be moving from the Chicago area within a year or two. One of the conditions I have for choosing another place to live is that Comcast does not serve that area and there is a competitive market for the services it provides.

Brazil got that stuff right from the beginning when it privatized the telephone industry. When I got up here, I couldn't believe the number of people still using dial-up service. You may not believe it, but the USA is pretty far behind other countries for Internet and telephone coverage. It's the damn cartels that you seem to like so much.

Michael

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Merlin,

Here.

See if this doesn't sound like Comcast is already being run like a government bureaucracy.

Here's the latest of a series of stories about Comcast hell on the Verge: Comcast Confessions: growing pains of a Goliath.

I'll tell you why Comcast grows so fast.

It is NOT customer satisfaction.

It is backstage monkey-business with government protections all mixed with mergers.

Let's just say Comcast is growing the way James Taggart tried to grow the railroad.

And, of course, there are political favors to pay back--that's kind of on the "duh" level of obvious, but you seem to think this doesn't exist for some reason.

MIchael

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Actually, Comcast is doing a little bit more than that. It is advancing a weird concept that is full of government controls called "net neutrality." On the surface, it looks benign enough. But start digging.

One of the real deals driving this is Comcast has its eyes on Netflix and wants to take over Netflix's market on streaming video by government regulation, not by honest competition and providing a better service.

[snip]

You may not believe it, but the USA is pretty far behind other countries for Internet and telephone coverage. It's the damn cartels that you seem to like so much.

I think you are trying to present a very biased picture. Even the Washington Post portrays it differently, which is more like Comcast attempting to toss the government attack dogs a bone. The Post even says, "The Web doesn't need the regulations that some net neutrality advocates prefer, Comcast argues in its filings."

Net neutrality is a complicated issue. Do you know anything about managing Internet traffic and signal processing for both Internet and tv, which involves the handling of signals carrying different kinds of content, e.g. movies versus e-mail and Internet versus tv? If you don't, you can start digging by reading Tim Wu's book. Mr. Wu coined the term "net neutrality." Given the kind of content Netflix has to deliver, I will make an analogy. Comcast owns the road and is responsible for controlling the traffic flow. Netflix wants the highest priority for its own 18-wheelers and doesn't care an iota about any other traffic on the road.

Your next to last sentence suggests you buy the highly biased propaganda like in Susan P. Crawford's (ex-advisor to Obama) book Captive Audience. You can read my review of it on Amazon, among the 2-star ones dated March 19, 2014. I will ignore your last sentence, which is false and ad hominem.

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Comcast laid thousands of miles of cable, and continues to upgrade cable lines, to bring cable tv and internet to many thousands of homes and businesses. It manages the transmission of signals that pass through the cables. It acquires content and produces content of its own. It employs workers to connect individual customers and fix problems. Yes, it has plenty of lobbyists to try to keep government thugs off its back. Hank Rearden hired the Wet Nurse. No doubt Comcast gained some of its market share because many local governments allowed only one cable provider in a community. But Comcast gets blamed for what politicos did.

The public school system has constructed thousands of schools and continues to upgrade them to bring education and baby sitting services to many tens of thousands of families. It manages sports teams and entertainment groups including bands and orchestras. It acquires content and produces content of its own. It employs thousands of teachers to connect students with content produced by a wide range of individuals and enterprises. Yes, it has plenty of lobbyists to keep government cost cutting thugs off its back. No doubt the public school system gained some its market share because many local governments allowed only one education provider in a community. But the public school system gets blamed for what the politicos did.

Darrell

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1. I think it's time for someone like CATO or Reason to do a round-table on whether and to what extent the "big boys" are using government to stomp on/out their smaller competitors and/or ideological opponents. Good cases: (a) Amazon.com vs. independent publishers who (allegedly) aren't getting proper treatment in distribution of their books and/or royalties from sales of their e-books. (b) the above controversy between Glenn Beck and Comcast (in re its would-be merger with Time Warner). (It's fine for us to toss all this around and do Google searches here within our cloistered walls, but there's nothing like a good old panel discussion in front of God and everybody.)

2. I'd like to know why it's any worse for Glenn Beck to invoke anti-trust regulations to protect himself from large hostile competitors than it is for any of us to vote in elections in support of known-to-be-statist politicians to protect us from even-more-freedom-violating politicians and policies.

REB

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Concast Comcast relies on monopoly status, shady business dealings and screwing over customers as much as possible for revenues.

It's OK to hold the opinion that it doesn't if you believe in the crony capitalism stuff, but that has nothing to do with what Rand wrote about.

I always thought Merlin fell on the side of anti-big government. I have corrected my opinion.

Michael

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I'd like to know why it's any worse for Glenn Beck to invoke anti-trust regulations to protect himself from large hostile competitors than it is for any of us to vote in elections in support of known-to-be-statist politicians to protect us from even-more-freedom-violating politicians and policies.

Roger,

Good point.

As I understand it, Glenn is going that route for lack of other options if he wants to stay in the game. Not because he wants special privileges, but because the game is rigged between the government and some big players to keep everybody else out.

btw - That idea of a public discussion by people who know more is an excellent idea.

Michael

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I think you are trying to present a very biased picture. Even the Washington Post portrays it differently...

Damned straight I'm biased and I've lived in another country that is called an "emerging economy," not a first world economy, where this stuff is better than in the USA.

I've seen it with my own eyes.

But, hell, if WaPo says something, that must be the truth...

It has no big-government biases at all, huh?

Michael

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The public school system has constructed thousands of schools and continues to upgrade them to bring education and baby sitting services to many tens of thousands of families. It manages sports teams and entertainment groups including bands and orchestras. It acquires content and produces content of its own. It employs thousands of teachers to connect students with content produced by a wide range of individuals and enterprises. Yes, it has plenty of lobbyists to keep government cost cutting thugs off its back. No doubt the public school system gained some its market share because many local governments allowed only one education provider in a community. But the public school system gets blamed for what the politicos did.

Darrell,

Speaking of public education, don't forget Common Core, which was the brainchild of backstage government folks and a major crony capitalist many Objectivists adore, Bill Gates.

Michael

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Comcast laid thousands of miles of cable, and continues to upgrade cable lines, to bring cable tv and internet to many thousands of homes and businesses. It manages the transmission of signals that pass through the cables. It acquires content and produces content of its own. It employs workers to connect individual customers and fix problems. Yes, it has plenty of lobbyists to try to keep government thugs off its back. Hank Rearden hired the Wet Nurse. No doubt Comcast gained some of its market share because many local governments allowed only one cable provider in a community. But Comcast gets blamed for what politicos did.

The public school system has constructed thousands of schools and continues to upgrade them to bring education and baby sitting services to many tens of thousands of families. It manages sports teams and entertainment groups including bands and orchestras. It acquires content and produces content of its own. It employs thousands of teachers to connect students with content produced by a wide range of individuals and enterprises. Yes, it has plenty of lobbyists to keep government cost cutting thugs off its back. No doubt the public school system gained some its market share because many local governments allowed only one education provider in a community. But the public school system gets blamed for what the politicos did.

Darrell

FYI:

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I always thought Merlin fell on the side of anti-big government. I have corrected my opinion.

I did, too. Maybe I need to re-read my review of Piketty's book (link). Or did a Mr. Hyde-like creature escape from within me last night while I was sleeping and write it? :laugh:

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Darrell, the public school system relies on tax revenues. Comcast does not.

The difference between de jure socialism and de facto socialism is that de jure socialism involves government ownership of the means of production while de facto socialism exists when businesses are so highly regulated that the government, in fact, controls them.

Another name for de facto socialism is corporatism.

The cable business is so highly regulated that it might as well be controlled by the government. The main problem and it is a HUGE problem is the fact that only one cable provider is allowed in most markets.

The consumer only has two options, sign up for the one cable provider available or not sign up at all. In my area, I can only get internet service through my cable provider. I can't even get it via the telephone line unless I want a dial up connection. I'm not even sure I can get satellite service because of the lay of the land in terms of nearby hills.

It's sort of like water. I can only get running water from one provider which is, in this case, a governmental entity. My only two options are to sign up for the governmental provider or not sign up at all. Of course, I could buy bottled water at the grocery store for drinking and have it provided in a truck for my shower, but those aren't realistic options.

I'm actually better off with respect to water service because it actually is provided by a governmental entity and if the local government becomes unreasonable, angry citizens can rise up and attend local meetings of the water board, complain and even vote them out if they don't respond appropriately.

When it comes to the cable company, however, there is little power to make any changes because the cable company is nominally private and the citizens have to put up with people rushing to the defense of "private" enterprise and the "free" market.

If the market were truly free, I would agree with you, but it is so far from free because of its impenetrable governmental monopoly on service, that the cable company might as well be a government agency. The difference is that there is no public board of directors that can be voted out of office if they screw their customers.

Darrell

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But, hell, if WaPo says something, that must be the truth...

It has no big-government biases at all, huh?

But, hell, if Louie Gohmert says something, that must be the truth... He has no big-government biases at all, huh? :cool:

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The public school system has constructed thousands of schools and continues to upgrade them to bring education and baby sitting services to many tens of thousands of families. It manages sports teams and entertainment groups including bands and orchestras. It acquires content and produces content of its own. It employs thousands of teachers to connect students with content produced by a wide range of individuals and enterprises. Yes, it has plenty of lobbyists to keep government cost cutting thugs off its back. No doubt the public school system gained some its market share because many local governments allowed only one education provider in a community. But the public school system gets blamed for what the politicos did.

Darrell,

Speaking of public education, don't forget Common Core, which was the brainchild of backstage government folks and a major crony capitalist many Objectivists adore, Bill Gates.

Michael

Indeed. I quit adoring Bill Gates a long time ago.

Darrell

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I always thought Merlin fell on the side of anti-big government. I have corrected my opinion.

I did, too. Maybe I need to re-read my review of Piketty's book (link). Or did a Mr. Hyde-like creature escape from within me last night while I was sleeping and write it? :laugh:

It was a good review and I dinged it.

OL has a pretty good readership, but not big enough for most people who read that review on Amazon know you are selling out elsewhere.

:laugh:

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But, hell, if WaPo says something, that must be the truth...

It has no big-government biases at all, huh?

But, hell, if Louie Gohmert says something, that must be the truth... He has no big-government biases at all, huh? :cool:

Merlin, and this is certainly not aimed at you...

The general abhorancee that Ayn had for both psychology and politics was fatal to a mass movement.

Branden at least took the psychological area and did brilliant work with it.

However, the manner in which the Big Boy Orthodox Objectivists attempt to "sell" the product, post Ayn's death, rises to a level of philosophical malfeasance.

The idea of staying out of politics and psychology [you know, that sewer] is akin to refusing to drive because the road has potholes, or, is muddy.

You ain't gonna get to fer with the locals with that...

A...

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That's something to hate someone like Beck so much you are willing to sell out your principles.

:cool:

Or do you own stock in Comcast?

:cool:

I don't hate him. Where have I said anything about hating him? Now let's talk about Beck willing to sell out whatever libertarian principles he has to get the FCC to intrude on Comcast's business. With you cheering him on.

No, I don't own any stock in Comcast directly. I might via a mutual fund, but I am not even going to check.

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I don't hate him. Where have I said anything about hating him? Now let's talk about Beck willing to sell out whatever libertarian principles he has to get the FCC to intrude on Comcast's business. With you cheering him on.

You mean Comcast's cartel with the government? That business?

Heh.

That's not Beck selling out. He would vastly prefer to be left alone to build his thing his way and not even bother Comcast or the government. That's why he went to cable on the Internet and made such a success of it, he won prizes in the weirdest places (like the Tribeca Film Festival in 2013) and even the Google brass showed up lavishing praise:

Beck is not selling out. He is being forced into a game he doesn't want to play by gatekeepers within the "aristocracy of pull." (Recognize that phrase?)

Those who defend corporatist cartels on principle and say they are for libertarian principles sell out.

And that is what you are doing right now.

Michael

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Actually, Comcast is doing a little bit more than that. It is advancing a weird concept that is full of government controls called "net neutrality." On the surface, it looks benign enough. But start digging.

One of the real deals driving this is Comcast has its eyes on Netflix and wants to take over Netflix's market on streaming video by government regulation, not by honest competition and providing a better service.

Duh. Comcast vs. Netflix: Is this really about Net neutrality?

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Merlin,

Gimmee a break.

I gotta win an argument, so I read a commentary article. That settles a complicated issue. Take that, dude. Duh.

Really? That's all you've got?


Grasping at straws already?

If you want to play dueling commentary articles, here's a counter. btw - Marguerite Reardon is the author of the article you chose as an attack weapon--the guy below calls her a "PR flak" for Comcast and "a shill for the Telco's":

Another Love Letter to Marguerite Reardon
Michael Pellegrini
May 17, 2014

This is on Pellegrini's blog, but it is on the first page of Google results. And hell, I thought I was going to have to do some serious hairsplitting research since you went all "duh" and stuff on me. Pellegrini--who leans left fer Kerissakes--actually gets to the heart of the issue real fast in discussing a previous episode between Netflix and Comcast.

... it’s really no different than the mob guy coming into a restaurant and telling the owner, "You know this is a really bad area of town. Without our 'insurance', all sorts of bad things could happen – might have the place all busted up, get your windows broken. Hell, the place might catch fire. How many customers you gonna have then?"

Comcast got away with their extortion. Netflix paid up. They had to.

That’s what happens when a company like Comcast has no meaningful competition – they're willing to sacrifice their customer's content viewing experience, all while knowing the customers are held captive; they have no other ISP to turn to. Comcast can get away with anything they want.

In a market where there was meaningful competition that wouldn't happen. Where there’s competition, ISP’s (like in Europe, for example) are happy to carry content to their customers, knowing that if it isn't delivered flawlessly, the customers will go elsewhere. If they tried the kinda hocus-pocus Comcast did, they'd be dead in the water.

Not in the USA.

In the US, there’s no meaningful competition. The Telco’s have all carefully carved out their territories so they don't impinge on each other. It’s a duopoly. Carefully set prices all to maximize their profit. Customers are just an after-thought; something to be "tolerated." Which makes it no surprise these companies all place near the bottom of the heap in customer satisfaction surveys.

We're a Third-World nation when it comes to broadband. It’s shameful!


Pellegrini might not agree with me on how this is possible, but it is by government protection. Not just backroom deals between Telcos. It's a corporatist racket, a collusion between government and crony corporations.

Odd how you refuse to see that.

Whatever...

Now to the reader:

Here's a simplified version for the reader to understand this net neutrality thing easier. And, also, read Pellegrini's article for a clear layman's explanation of the more technical parts about routers and so on of what Comcast is actually doing. This guy did a surprisingly good job for a leftie of framing this issue in Objectivist-libertarian-friendly terms.

In an ideal world (which we are not in), net neutrality means everybody has equal access to the net, treating it as a public thoroughfare like a highway.

Comcast, by continually seeking and obtaining government cartel protection, is essentially a company charging tolls for a government highway that it helps build and maintain. And it does not want anyone else to build highways near the ones it charges tolls for. This is vastly different than the context of a privately owned road, which is what Comcast wants it to look like.

Comcast sews up this issue with regulatory smoke-and-mirrors and this tricks people in our subcommunity into saying crap like Comcast is trying to "to toss the government attack dogs a bone."

But the government attack dogs are Comcast's attack dogs, too. Just look who has the monopoly in specific geographical areas.

Duh!

Now that is not enough for Comcast. It REALLY REALLY REALLY doesn't want anyone else building a highway nearby. So this gets a little more complicated because technology advances all the time and tomorrow there might be an invention that will render Comcast's highway (cables and bands) obsolete. So it needs to make sure NOBODY is working in that area except its cartel buddies.

How to do that in addition to favoritism laws?

Price-fixing.

Oh crap. Here come the kneejerks from people brought up on Rand's defense of early capitalists, but there is a difference. This price fixing is not just between "robber barons." It is by collusion between crony corporations but protected by the government.

This is James Taggart territory, not Rearden's need to have a Wesley Mouch.

Ironically, if Comcast gets its way with its net neutrality shenanigans, Netflix will then become a cartel member (a "favored user" status so to speak). One of the main reasons Comcast is squeezing Netflix right now is to screw over end-users--not too bad at the beginning and real awful as it goes along--and get them to say, "Make it stop. Do whatever you need to do, but make it stop."

The thinking is once the public clamor grows to a tipping point of outrage, Comcast will be able to have popular support for the new cartel laws it wants to pass, in addition to other things like the merger with Time-Warner. And, I suspect, if Netflix can get past Comcast's hunger to gobble up Netflix's own business, it actually wants to be in this new cartel.

Cartel members will get faster broadband speed and everybody else will get slower. But not too many will notice since end-users will get the faster speeds served to them from the cartel members. One group will notice, though--people who are starting a new streaming business. Such people will have to serve their streaming services to the public at slower speeds than those of the members of the new catel or they will have to charge higher prices than cartel members.

Why?

Because there ain't another highway to go on and nobody can build another.

Comcast and cartel members have that all sewn up with laws and government-sanctioned price-fixing.

Simply put, in addition to making it illegal for newbies to enter the business and compete, Comcast wants to ensure through artificial legal means that it is too expensive and inconvenient for newbies to enter the game from outside the box with new technology.

Now let's ask the obvious question. Shouldn't Comcast be able to charge whatever price it wants to and slice its service up however it wants to? I say, sure. That is, if Comcast were operating as a private company. But not if it is hogging the market by law and blocking access to the business by law.

It's friggin' incredible that the USA is so socialist-thinking on this issue whereas countries that are de facto socialist are getting it right.

Paraphrasing Pellegrini, Comcast would never be able to get away with what it is doing in a free market. Users would switch to another company in the blink of an eye. I know I would. But I can't. Neither can anybody else.

Directly quoting Pellegrini: "Ain't living with monopolies grand?"

Michael

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