Have you noticed how the GOP is exploiting the jobs issue – the problem they caused – as a club to fight off everything that worries their corporate friends no matter how weak the connection? Roy Blunt is no exception. Section 6 of his six point jobs creation plan offers this little favor for his long-time pals and clients of his lobbyist son in the telecommunications industry.
FCC Regulation of the Internet – Over the past two decades, the country’s telecommunications providers have taken advantage of a light regulatory environment to invest in and expand access to wide varieties of high-speed communications. Unfortunately certain voices within the Democrat-controlled Federal Communications Commission (FCC) are determined to impose sweeping government regulations on the Internet. This will result in slower investment and innovation in this critical industry and fewer jobs of all levels.
What Blunt is talking about here is net neutrality – as in killing net neutrality, which is something that the big telecoms and Internet Service providers (ISPs) really, really want their pet politicians to do. If you’re not up on what net neutrality is and why it is important, take a look at this brief video:
Currently, as Blunt indicates, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is considering new rules that would preserve net neutrality. In response, the ISPs recently debuted the “net neutrality will cost jobs” line of attack, and Blunt, like a good little toady, is simply parroting the industry line.
Prior to launching their attack, the industry commissioned several “studies” that attempt to show a connection between job loss and the FCC’s proposed rules. Needless to say, none of the studies stand up to serious scrutiny, nor do they need to do so to serve their purpose. They are intended to bamboozle poorly informed but well-intentioned politicians like Missouri’s Russ Carnahan, Lacy Clay, and Emanuel Cleaver while providing some media talking points for the Blunts of the world, a way to muddy the waters in discussions where real scrutiny is almost always lacking.
At first glance, the three most ballyhooed studies seem to be issued by reputable sources, the New York Law School’s Advanced Communications Law & Policy Institute, the DLC affiliated Progressive Policy Institute (PPI), and by George Brazalon of the Brattle group. One should not, however, be deceived by appearances. PPI receives much of its funding from AT&T and the Bradly Group, which Timothy Karr describes as “a right-wing cabal of anti-Neutrality groups.” The other studies were commissined and paid for by the telecoms, and, in the first case, co-authored by a known industry stooge, Bret Swanson, characterized by Techdirt as “AT&T’s go to guy for pure anti-net neutrality propaganda,” who “seems to relish in totally making stuff up.”
For what it’s worth in these days of “truthiness,” these studies have all been widely debunked in terms that ought to leave those responsible writhing in shame – if they were capable of shame, that is. For example,
in the report cited above by Bret Swanson, mentined above, has:
… used completely bogus “science” to insist that network neutrality rules would result in 1.5 million job losses. He came to that number simply by adding up all of the people employed by companies that submitted comments to the FCC opposing network neutrality (seriously).
So much for net neutrality as a killer of jobs. In fact, as Karr points out, the ISPs have been busy cutting jobs for some time – a trend that will continue no matter what:
PPI’s report assumes that if the FCC has basic oversight authority, it will lead to bad outcomes. But history tells a different story. When the Bell companies were subject to the full weight of Title II, they increased employment by 15 percent, according to their own SEC filings. But once the FCC began dismantling these pro-competitive rules through massive deregulation, these companies shed nearly 40 percent of their work force, even as their revenues increased and profits soared.
AT&T and Verizon alone are responsible for tens of thousands of layoffs over the last two years. Verizon is accelerating its layoffs, while AT&T laid off 12,000 workers through 2009 and thousands more in 2010.
“Sadly, this pattern of ISPs destroying good jobs while reaping higher profits will likely continue with or without reclassification and Net Neutrality,” Turner says.
Of course, you can bet good ole Roy won’t talk about this predatory, job-killing corporate behavior, but will, instead, whenever necessary, pull out the “research” that shows that preserving the Internet for all of us will cost jobs. After all, the job that he is worried about the most is his own – and AT&T and, over the years, the Baby Bells have done him and his very good indeed in that respect.