RUSH: We start on the phones today with Rob in Colorado Springs. Great to have you, sir. How you doing?
CALLER: Hey, Rush. Doing well. How are you?
RUSH: Fine and dandy. Thank you.
CALLER: I wanted to speak to you about net neutrality. Being a Millennial, I have friends who are so scared that evil corporations are going to regulate the internet now that net neutrality is not going to happen, and I was wondering if you can give me a brief synopsis of why we don’t want net neutrality that I can give to my Millennial friends —
CALLER: — instead of me trying to explain it all the time.
RUSH: Happily. But I guarantee you they are not going to accept what you tell them is true, unless you use the word “sustainability” somewhere in your answer. But first, I just ended up interviewing for the next issue of my newsletter, Thomas Hazlett. He’s a professor of the broadcast spectrum, the communications spectrum. He’s an expert. He’s written a book called The Political Spectrum, and it’s in lay terms to explain the history of regulation over the spectrum — radio, TV, two-way, internet, wireless, cellular, and all of that, so that people can understand what exactly has and has not happened.
Here it is in a nutshell. Net neutrality as advocated by the people that your friends like and support is asking for the government to regulate it. Corporations don’t regulate things; they compete. It’s the federal government that regulates, and your pals are seeking that. Your pals believe that government enforces fairness and equality and sameness, and that’s not at all what’s gonna happen; and the history of the spectrum is all the proof that you need.
The internet, up until two or three years ago when people started getting crazy about net neutrality, the internet is the one communications medium that was not regulated, and look at how it expanded, and look at how free it was, Rob. The New York Times, the Washington Post, you name it, enter the internet and everything is free. They’re charging their subscribers the same thing, but on the internet it was free. Everything was. Everybody got on board. There wasn’t any regulation. There wasn’t any limitation. It was the wild west. It was the essence of customer and market freedom. Do you know when cellular technology was invented?
CALLER: I can’t say I do.
RUSH: Well, would you be surprised to learn that it was first invented in 1940?
RUSH: It was suppressed by the government, in collusion with broadcast communities, broadcast companies, to keep it from coming to market until the nineties — well, the late eighties, actually. FM radio was invented and shelved for 30 years by a consortium of the government and AM broadcasters who did not want competition.
Net neutrality would equal the government making partnerships with various corporations based on the politics of the president and the administration at the time, and they would make deals to benefit the corporations. You do not want the government involved in this at all. If you want a free internet, if you want an internet that’s gonna be affordable at what rates you have the ability to pay, if you want different tiers. But if you want the internet to become your cable company, then support net neutrality.
RUSH: Rob, if you’re out there, I’ll delve into this a little bit more. I had to hurry through that, but you got the essence of it, if you go back to Rush Limbaugh and just reread that, you’ll be up to speed, but I’ll spend some more on it anyway.
Now, I want to go back. Our first caller today was a young man — he’s a Millennial — and his buddies very much believe in net neutrality, and he doesn’t, and he was seeking my help in persuading them that they’re wrong in what they think about it. And this is… It’s dicey. You know, people who have been propagandized or brainwashed (for lack of a better term) to believe that the government offers the solution to every injustice and every unfairness out there, it’s hard to talk people that believe that out of it.
It’s an emotional attachment that they have, and I’ve found that even a solid recitation of facts that dispel everything people believe often is also ineffective. It just causes people to become more distant and build an even bigger wall of boundaries to prevent the facts from getting in, because there has been a comfort level that has been built around the misunderstanding of false knowledge. The belief that the government is the great equalizer, the belief the government is benevolent and seeks to right injustice and to promote fairness and equality, coupled with the way everybody is raised to believe that corporations are evil…
“They kill their customers! They don’t care about anybody’s health, and they don’t care about jobs, and they don’t care about this, and they don’t care about their customers!” So you battle those two beliefs, and you’re really up against it. So I admire young Rob for taking this on. But, Rob, the way to refute the current belief system in net neutrality is to be able to expose the history of the regulation of the spectrum in this country — and by “spectrum” I mean frequencies used to communicate either one-way or two-way.
The spectrum is everything that we have commercialized in communications. The cellular cell call — the cell signals that we use — are a portion of the spectrum. FM radio is 88 to 115 megahertz. AM radio is 550 AM to 1600 AM. That is a much lower frequency than what FM is. Two-way radio for cops and EMS, that’s a whole ‘nother frequency. NASA talking to its rockets? That’s another part of the spectrum. Radar. Sonar. That’s all part of the spectrum, and it all had to be discovered. That spectrum, all of those radio waves are around us all the time.
We are awash in all of these waves. We just don’t have, in our brains, the technology to translate what’s on those waves into something we can hear. That’s why we need radios that can decode what’s on these frequencies and convert those into audio that we can then hear in a speaker. But you’re being bombarded by television, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, Bluetooth LTE, LTE on cell. You’re being inundated with radio waves from television antennas. It’s immense. We’re all inundated. It doesn’t mean anything. It’s not a health thing.
I’m just telling you that the spectrum is broad — and at first, it was totally unregulated. As it was discovered and used, it was totally unregulated. Certain… Like the radio spectrum. Marconi invents radio, and he invents it in a certain spectrum because it was the right frequency. It had the correct ground wave and sky wave to be able to actually transmit over great distances, particularly at night. FM is such high frequency, it’s only line of sight.
A radio station in a town that has a power of 5,000 watts in its transmitter and is at, say, 630 on the AM dial can easily cover 200 miles. An FM station with 200,000 watts in the same town can barely get 30 miles because it has no ground wave, which is what your radio listens to. Well, all of this had to be discovered, and it was discovered and it had to be regulated. One of the primary reasons of regulation originally was to prevent signals from competing or interfering with other signals.
So there had to be separation between the various forms of usage of spectrum so that there wouldn’t be any interference. There had to be regulation in terms of how much power a station at certain wattage would be allowed to have so it wouldn’t interfere with another station on the same frequency in another town 150 or 500 miles away. And as these frequencies began to be used — AM radio was the first — those guys became very proprietary. A man in Philadelphia came along and invented FM radio about ten years after the first AM station, KDKA, went on the air.
And the AM radio guys got together with government, and they kept FM off the market for years. The inventor got so frustrated he committed suicide! FM radio could have followed AM by 10 years, except the government didn’t permit it for many more years after that. Look, Rob, the point of this: The internet is also spectrum. Much of it is wireless. Not all of it is, obviously. But when it burst on the scene, it was totally unregulated, and look at what it was! It was the Wild West — and as people learned about it and put themselves on it, you can get anything you wanted.
And it didn’t cost you anything, because it was so new, the businesses populating didn’t stop to even formulate a business plan because at the time, nobody knew how big it was gonna get. They never thought that it would compete with their circulation of the newspaper they publish and distribute every morning. So there wasn’t any regulation, and it remained relatively free of regulation. It grew, and now it’s big and free and open — and guess what? A bunch of liberals want to now regulate it.
When liberals want to regulate something, Rob, it’s not for fairness, and it’s not for equality. It’s to punish. It is to give themselves an advantage, or it is to essentially implement socialism into whatever arena they want to regulate. Which means they want to give the government total power in determining who can do and say and provide what. And, Rob, you don’t want the government doing that in any business, and certainly not on the internet. The market will always work if you keep government and the regulators out of it. That is the history of spectrum. The history of the growth of the internet and the sustainability of wireless communications is the history of non-regulation at the outset of discovery.