While we have been listening to a flood of harsh criticism directed at the Hungarian government and the prime minister during the past years from various left-wing liberal circles in the United States, we occasionally bypass a few daunting issues and controversial political developments that curiously take place at the source of the criticism. Recently, Mike Lee, senator from the state of Utah, cogently summed up that America, being the world’s most powerful democracy, is bleeding from several wounds, since the size of the federal government and its bureaucracy have grown too big, making oversight of the same increasingly difficult, which raises questions about democratic standards. Senator Lee wrote a letter to the voters, in which he outlined that the Obama government has gradually rendered itself ineffective when it comes to its previously proclaimed battle against corruption. Lee said that the Obamacare health care overhaul, which was coerced upon the citizens without clear congressional approval, as well as the long-running political scandal around the federal tax authority’s (IRS) abusive behavior, along with the equally disturbing discrimination scandal effecting the Veteran’s Administration have all made the government’s battle against corruption less than credible.
Senator Lee reminds us that President Obama’s newest idea is creating uproars, since he directed the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to introduce a package of regulation, which will reclassify the Internet into the realm of telecommunications services, opening it up for government-imposed fees on providers. Laying the groundwork for this is the so-called “Net Neutrality Act”, which according to the senator is a rude constraint on freedom of speech and will lead to new taxes (carefully worded by the government as „fees”), which will ultimately have be paid by the consumer. This new policy bears hideous resemblance to the Hungarian idea at the end of 2014, which was aggressively opposed by the United States and the liberal community in general (we all remember Mr. Goodfriend’s participation at the huge organized demonstration against the Internet tax in Budapest). Of course, we should remember that „Quod licet Jovi, non licet bovi! That which is allowed to Jupiter is not allowed to an ox”…
According to initial estimates, the new fees (tax) could amount to 6-7 dollars per month, which the Republican Congress vehemently opposes. Of course, Republican opposition to a government-imposed new law has seldom derailed President Obama in his resolve to willingly introduce new legislation by using the politically coercive tool of „executive orders”. However, in this case, we are not only talking about new fees or taxes, but an entire new administrative technocracy (bureaucracy) superimposed on Internet providers. Hitherto, Internet companies have typically been the driving force of creativity and new business development, particularly in the Silicon Valley area in California and elsewhere, in rapidly developing, low-tax regional business hubs. The Obama administration’s plan is that large Internet providers (Verizon, AT&T and Comcast) will be treated as telecommunications service providers, placing them under FCC authority, therein reclassifying them as fee-based service providers. These providers will then have to collect government-imposed fees (taxes) on these services, which will result in rate increases for the consumer. The reorganization also means that the FCC will receive new powers and a new digital bureaucracy may be created in Washington, D.C. As a result, federal bureaucrats could monitor activities of Facebook, Google, Yahoo, Twitter, Amazon and Uber not only in the United States, but internationally as well. They will do this claiming that increased vigilance is necessary to provide better Internet security. The FCC voted to introduce these new regulations on February 26 of this year.
Amidst these fast-paced developments, we, being small cousins of Jupiter, are just wondering if the recently departed U.S. charge d’affairs will perhaps raise his voice against the new Internet tax and FCC-imposed regulations back in his home turf in Washington, D.C.? Presumably, he will reply that it is not part of his job to be critical of these new policies. Of course, we could then politely suggest that he could still raise his voice as a U.S. citizen, an avid advocate of civil liberties and freedom of speech, as he previously often defined himself. By the way, France is also preparing to introduce similar regulations. European policymakers argue that Google’s extra profits and the rapid expansion of Facebook necessitate the imposition of a new unified digital strategy, which when introduced, will not significantly curtail users’ freedom of speech and will not mean a new financial burden on their wallets.