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Tech at Night: FCC Lies, Copyright, Internet Tax, Amazon

Tech at Night

Curse Firefox. I’m getting to this much later tonight than I would have, thanks to a stinking Firefox 3.6 rendering bug, plus Firefox’s refusal to make it easy to work around Firefox rendering bugs. Microsoft Internet Explorer makes that easy with conditional comments. Firefox has no such feature, pretending it’s always right. Which is fine, except when Firefox 4 and Firefox 3.6 render the same page differently, and 3.6 does so wrongly.

Anyway. It’s still hard to argue against Free State Foundation and others who want to roll back the FCC wholesale when the FCC simply can’t tell the truth. Eight billion dollars of stimulus money went into broadband Internet in 2009. Sounds like a lot, doesn’t it? Well, consider that the industry spends seventeen billion a year on it lately. This is a thriving, competitive market rushing to get better, faster, to keep and attract ever more customers.

And yet, the FCC’s claiming the market is failing. This is ridiculous and politically motivated. I discussed this on Friday but Seton Motley has more today on the lies in the Section 706 Report the FCC is mandated to put out every year. Two years in a row, just as wireless broadband is expanding the universe of competition like never before, the FCC is set to declare the market a failure. A letter grade of F. As Motley says, “the FCC is lying through it bureaucratic teeth.”

This is a ploy to prepare for a power grab. Watch your wallet, and your market.

Beware, California, Illinois, and any other state that looks to make its own power grab and try to tax interstate commerce, and specifically aiming at firms like Amazon. The market will punish you. Ask the businesses fleeing Illinois to friendlier climates like Wisconsin. Ask the businesses that will ditch California without hesitation when their basic business models, like Amazon Associates work, are put in jeopardy. George Will sums up the situation well I think, like so:

Federalism — which serves the ability of businesses to move to greener pastures — puts state and local politicians under pressure, but that is where they should be, lest they treat businesses as hostages that can be abused.

When Ireland cut corporate taxes to compete better with its European Union siblings, business thrived there, and the core of the sclerotic union squawked. That’s competition. We, the people, do better under it, despite (or even because of) government doing worse.

Readers may get the impression that I’m a squish on copyright, but it’s not so. I support copyright when it stays within its Constitutional limits. So I strongly oppose this concept of “orphaned” works being forced into the public domain just because some businesses find it inconvenient to find the owners of the works. If big business and big government get together to let the former steal copyrights from little, hard-to-find copyright owners, then we might as well abolish copyright. It will only exist for the few who can afford enough lawyers.

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