[governance] FW: TP: city government exercising policy on Google Applications / consumer rights / Consumer Protection Act / trial period

Milton L Mueller mueller at syr.edu
Tue Jul 12 12:22:42 EDT 2011

> -----Original Message-----
> From: Paul Lehto [mailto:lehto.paul at gmail.com]
> I'm not saying this was Milton's intent in his expression (to equate
> all taxation with "parasitism") but this is the political bell that's
> rung in my mind and I believe the minds of others as well, whenever
> the idea of "parasitism" is attached to government taxation without
> careful restriction of the scope of that word to specific facts of
> specific cases of opportunistic over-taxation.

This discussion is rapidly descending toward posturing and silliness. I did attach a very specific restriction on the scope of the word. I asserted that a government that tries to regulate a virtual business - basically, software downloaded from the internet - with no physical presence in its jurisdiction is being parasitical. Actually governments can and often are parasitical even when they confine their activities to entities in their own space. If you are not familiar with this phenomenon you haven't read much about some of the problems developing countries have had getting their economies going (including Western developing countries in the early stages of their development prior to hard-won battles over democracy and the rule of law). 

> Applied to the internet, the metaphor of parasitism can have more
> power than it deserves.  When users get accustomed to "free" internet
> access they may start to erroneously believe that the internet happens
> without government services in the form of telecommunications
> infrastructure

Most telecom infrastructure is no longer provided by government, indeed, we just went through three decades of the fastest growth in communications infra in human history precisely because we moved away from state-owned Post, Telephone and Telegraph monopolies.  

What people need from governments is stable rules, fair enforcement of rules that protect and liberate humans. Sometimes they get that, sometimes they don't. It would be uncontroversial on this list to say that private corporations can be greedy and exploitive. It ought to be equally uncontroversial to say that governments can be, too. 

> mistakenly oppose proposals to secure continued support for these
> things to keep the internet well.

Did you forget what we are talking about? Please tell me how 100,000 different local governments "exercising policy on Google applications" keeps the internet "well." You can start with that example, and perhaps move on to the Chinese GFW from there. Let's see how convincing a case you can make. Use facts, not generalities, for a change. 

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