Thursday, February 10, 2011

Protecting The Fourth Estate

I generally avoid talking politics. A) I don't keep up on them enough to know what is going on most of the time. B) It's boooooring. C) Almost all politics disgust me and make me want to move to an uninhabited island, D) "Around here" no one wants to hear my liberal views anyway.


Today I heard something on the news that even I, an admitted Obamaphile, had to shake my head, roll my eyes, and grab my cheeks in an Edvard Munch's "Scream" sort of way over: The federal government's proposed plan to bring high speed wireless internet to 98% of the country.

It's not the money part of this issue that bothers me. Because supposedly this project will be self-funded. They plan on auctioning off 500mhz of bandwidth which will generate far more money than the cost of this project (according to their economists' calculations at least). It's the fact that I highly resent the government taking control of any of our information outlets: radio, TV, newspapers, and internet.

When I was an American history teacher, something I fell into ass-backwards when I was teaching English and World history, I learned a lot of stuff I didn't know before about the U.S.A. One of the things that impressed me most about our country was the idea of the Fourth Estate or Fourth Branch of Government. We have three branches of government that everyone knows about that create a system of checks and balances: Legislative, Judiciary, and Executive. But the last is one with unofficial status, but one which is absolutely necessary for democracy to be preserved. It is the media, the free and unhindered spread of information to the people. Because how can the people be in charge of their country unless they know the truth about what is going on in their country?

So the idea of the government sponsoring the spread of wireless internet all over America scares me. Because when the government provides it, the government can determine what happens to it. In China the government provides the internet and it determines exactly what people get to find out about and what they don't. I'm not suggesting that Obama's plan is tantamount to introducing communism into America. But it is a scary step in the wrong direction.

The thing that I find most amazing and great about our country is its freedom to choose, the fact that the people have more power than the mayors, governors, senators and presidents...IF we maintain it and don't allow it to be usurped. Sometimes giving away some of our freedoms to the government--temporarily, in order to insure our safety, in order to catch terrorists, etc.-- seems harmless. But those freedoms, held close to us, are exactly what make America unique. As soon as we give them away, for any reason, we step closer to a government that rules the people instead of the other way around. No tyrant ever got absolute power overnight. He always couched it in a desire to protect the people, provide more prosperity, ensure safety, etc., and then little by little more of the powers of the people ended up in his hands until it was too late and the people were powerless to stop him. (And I'm not referring to Obama as a tyrant here. I'm referring to the Federal Government in general, the executive branch specifically, but definitely across party lines. I mean you, Bush.)

Call me radical, but I fear ANY instance where we give the president or any other branch of government license to go outside the law (Patriot Act) or do things under the federal umbrella that we should be doing for ourselves. If we need more internet in rural places, then lets find ways to encourage the privately owned companies to do so. It's the only way to maintain control of the Fourth Estate. I appreciate Obama's desire to help those in rural areas and possibly (though I really don't buy into this part either) boost the economy in those sections of the country. But it's just anti-American to go so far out on a limb--financially and politically--when it's something the private sector should be doing for itself.

Ok...back to making peanut butter sandwiches and folding socks. I just had to get that off my chest.

(p.s. If you'd like to comment, feel free. I welcome different opinions. But please do it in a non-crazy-person tone. Crazy-people-comments will not be published. Thanks!)


Hildie said...

I have a hard time with lots of government issues. Did you know that last week Obama (who is supposed to be an environmentalist!) passed a law supporting GMO Monsanto alfalfa. This is a huge, huge blow to the Organic movement. I had really high hopes that while Obama might screw some things up, he would hopefully be an instigator for change. But it looks like Corporate America is loving Democrats as well as Republicans these days.

All politics make me sick.

Chuck said...

"or do things under the federal umbrella that we should be doing for ourselves."

That there is my big beef with the government lately. I think our country was great because of freedom, competition, and ingenuity. Piece by piece the government is taking away capitalism in order to do things themselves, and it seems they always do a poor job.

Call me whatever you want, but I believe a group of companies competing will always provide better goods/services than a government agency, and charities will always do a better job than government welfare.

Financial Aid for College said...

That was a very intelligent and thought provoking article, Arianne. I never knew WHY the 4th estate was called that. Good food for thought.

If the government giveth, can the government take away? (I'd like to have said "taketh" there, but Biblical bad grammer grinds me!)

M Mommy to 4 said...

Well, in general I consider myself a Republican, but I'm a fairly liberal Republican (especially compared to my mother! Wow!). I ABSOLUTELY agree with you! The government barged into health care (which I do agree needs fixing, but taking over isn't the answer in that instance either, IMO) and now they're trying to barge into the media. I don't think it would go so far as to turn into China, either, but look at what happened in Egypt when people started organizing against the government. Their internet was state-run and it was shut down. I think that the government needs to stick to the things that they have been given control of by the constitution and stop trying to elbow their way into what should be free enterprise's territory.

just call me jo said...

I'm so cranky today that this just gives me another reason to foam spittle from my lips. Did you see the 92 BILLION dollar light rail or train or whatever it was the our president is backing. I'm happy that you phile the O because, I can't quite get there. But you definitely have a right to be an Obamaphile and not agree with every one of his proposals. I agree that the more independent and unsupervised communication and publication system we have the more free we will be. Glory be in heaven...what more can the govertnment screw up?

Alyssa said...

Question (hopefully you realize this is not meant in any sort of crazy or accusatory tone): how do you feel about the government regulating communication? Something which is already done through the FCC - radio, television, internet. In my view (and I have only heard passing information on this new plan), if the goal is simply to provide the wireless and not exert further control or regulation beyond that which is already in place, I am not sure I see the distriubtion of wireless capacity to an expanded base of people is a government control issue unless the government will be the actual operator of the wireless system. My guess is it would be similar to the expansion of first telegraph cables, then telephone lines and cable lines where there is close government regulation but the implementation is by a private entity. But I don't know that for sure.

Interesting question though.

Najma said...

I agree with Jennie... I'm upset with the whole gm stuff going on. Irks me. Did you also know that the US government also just launched a pharmaceutical division?

Anonymous said...

I think there are much better things the gov can spend their time doing. Like getting out of debt!

I had a moment like this the other day when I found out there are tax-funded abortions. Excuse me? I'm not paying for anyone's abortion. I have NO IDEA how that became legal, but it ticked me off.