osewalrus (osewalrus) wrote,

My rant from this morning

I started off the day with an email rant on a list I'm on dealing with the economics of broadband (which I must get fatlefty on now that I think of it). We've been debating the broadband stimulus package. I decided this rant was generally applicable beyond the issue in question.

It also highlights that a lot of people who have had leading roles in various movements for the last 15+ years are going to need to be given nice retirement jobs. They have either become broken and beg for crumbs, or are trapped fighting and disbelieving everything. They do not understand what it means to engage -- only how to surrender or how to attack. To engage is to go in focused on outcome and aware that a new environment gives new opportunities -- including how to fight better, harder and more effectively.

Italics=original post to which I responded.

It will never have oversight. History, even in the good years, shows that it requires real work and NO ONE WILL TAKE ON THE INCUMBENTS! It ain't gonna happen...

Then why do you waste your time?

As for me. Well, as I've said before -- Ive had so many people tell me I'll never get what I'm working for that I don't usually listen when they explain to me why my getting it doesn't matter.

And the real problem is the state commissions, who are now essentially working for the Bells in many states, with some exceptions...

Perhaps you miss the logic of your statement above? You either get people motivated to care -- or you don't. Final tip -- people will care much more in hard times than in good times.

And one other caveat -- We're finishing up a report on CA phone bill prices -- all services, all carriers

But why if you don't think it matters?

Enforcement is a joke. Transparency is a joke. And while I'd like to be optimistic like Harold, the only serious solution is way to radical -- divestiture/structural separation -- so that the companies can't control the agenda of broadband deployment. ---

Hmmm....taste the bitter. And I am not "optimistic" in that I am not expecting circumstances to work themselves out. I am a pragmatic idealist and a total bad-ass to boot. I see the same things you see. But it doesn't make me roll over and die or waste my time on dead end strategies. "Wisdom is better than weapons of war" and "the race is not always to the swift, nor the battle to the strong." And while I am sure The Preacher never said "because I'm tough and smart and have kicked their multibillion dollar ass before," I expect he shan't mind the addendum.

So yes, I'd like to achieve divestiture/structural separation, and I think we will. But not your way. We need to build a movement of people who are engaged and care about this. Step by step, yard by yard, policy win by policy win, always keeping in mind that the vast majority of people have much better and more pressing things on their mind than figuring out how broadband policy will improve their lives a thousand-fold or how the corporate-managed crumbs they get today are leavings from the banquet we should all enjoy.

And don't tell me not to bother because people are too stupid to understand this or because the incumbents control the mass media and have huge advertising budgets. My brother the educator likes to say: "Parents are not keeping their 'good' children at home. The ones they send to the classroom are the ones they have, so you better figure out how to teach them." The people we have are the ones out there. If we can't figure out how to motivate 'em, we can give up now. If you've been working your ass off for ten years and nothing's changed, it might be because there's no way to win. Or it might be time to think about switching tactics.

I'd like to be a believer, but actions speak louder than anything with Susan's comments, it's clear no one is watching now....

And so it shall be, and so it shall always remain? We only just started the dance and your ready to sit out because someone razzed you last year? Such counsels will make the Enemy's victory certain, proud Denethor.

But ah yes, you are the realist and I am delusional. Still, if I am delusional, I must say it has proven a rather functional delusion. It is delusional to believe that you can jump off a building and fly -- unless, of course, you actually fly, in which case it is no longer delusional. And, of course, the prudent flyer will actually trouble to assemble a hand-glider first before jumping off.

Allow me to recount a few things I have heard in the last few years:

"You will never get the FCC to take on cable."

"You will never get any conditions on the 700 MHz auction."

"Getting rid of the media ownership limits is a done deal."

"Why on Earth are you bringing a complaint against Comcast for blocking BitTorrent? Even Kevin Martin won't want to do anything on network neutrality."

"You will never get white spaces, the broadcasters are too powerful."

"There is no way you can keep 3.65 GHz from going to licensed WiMax, Intel is pushing for it."

Of course, the same folks have always rushed in to explain why actually disproving each one of those statements didn't matter. Because the FCC taking on cable was "really" just Martin working for the Bells. And getting conditions on the 700 MHz auction didn't really matter because Verizon got the spectrum and they'll figure out how to cheat us. And old media doesn't matter and cross-ownership got relaxed so who cares that you saved all the rest. And the result in the Comcast complaint didn't matter, and it's bad anyway because it derails us from real rules and blah blah blah blah.

And yes, we have lost ground too, no mistake. But after 700,000 people were willing to file comments in the 700 MHz auction proceeding on something as wonky as wireless Carterfone, I stopped listening to how the public can't get it.

There is a tide in the affairs of men, some shakey guy said. And also a good deal of inertia, I will add. Like the Hobbits of the Shire, we lived so well so long most of us forgot that getting justice and changing attitudes is a long fight measured in years -- against a well financed opposition with infinite patience and operating on multiple levels. Small wonder, as years passed and people were prosperous, that the tide flowed with the incumbents and the few reformers and opponents found it hard going indeed.

But that tide is turning and the Shire is rousing. There is an interest and an energy directed at the management of policy not seen in far too long. It is for the most part still unformed -- more an allergic reaction to the last 30 years of free market triumphalism than an organized movement. But it is a real current looking for direction, and it lies with us whether we shall ride it and shape it or whether we shall allow others to but rocks and shoals in its path.

But our worst enemy is not the Bells or cable or any other company or incumbent. It is ourselves, unable to grasp that the world is changing and the moment for action and organization has come. Like the Children of Israel taken from Egypt, we may lack the essential character to be a free people even when the Almighty hands it to us on a silver platter. Go read your Bible and you will find that no sooner had God split the Red Sea and drowned the Egyptians that the Children of Israel were bitching and moaning: "We're thirsty! What are we going to eat? We want meeeeaaaaattttt!!!! Why the heck did you bring us out of slavery to die in this miserable desert anyway? Waaaahhhhhh!!! We wannna go back to Eeeeeeeegyyyyypt!!!!!" When the spies returned from the Holy Land, they reported "it is indeed a land flowing with milk and honey -- but the inhabitants are giants. AS GRASSHOPPERS WE FELT OURSELVES TO BE, AND SO WE MUST HAVE APPEARED TO THEM."

Well, if I am a grasshopper, I mean to bring a whole swarm of my friends with me to the party. But I do not think of myself as a grasshopper, or the opponents as unbeatable giants. It's a challenge, no doubt about it. And much unfairness and waste will still happen, bad guys will still manage to lay their cuckoo eggs in our public nest, pushing out productive projects and demanding we feed them. But we can also accomplish much good.

Unless, of course, you figure yourself to be a grasshopper. Look at yourself. The stimulus bill is proposing tools that will make the job you are doing now ten times easier. But you are reflexively spitting on them. "Oh no I'm not, I'm just being realistic, this is good but it doesn't really change anything because nothing can really be changed because the way it was is the way it will always be."

So you take your reality, and I'll take mine. Feel free to pity me my naivete and to feel sorry for the inevitable crushing of my spirit. As for me, I'll find some younger grasshoppers with an appetite and a willingness to try something new. I think I see some green fields that-a-way over the Jordan River.

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