Willy-Nilly Barricades

by Mike Wendy on October 17, 2013

Yesterday, before the federal government re-opened, you might have witnessed this scene all along the George Washington Parkway – parking lot closures, on national park land, ostensibly brought about by the Government Shutdown.


With a simple presidential signature, by 9:30 this morning, it, and other barricades like it, amazingly vanished (see below – same place, barricades gone).

OpenHow efficient…for once.

Of course, the President’s pen wasn’t needed for either situation to occur.  No law provided that the barricades must be erected when a shutdown occurs. They appeared via a simple order from the top.  And, apart from the formality of congressional legislation, they got removed that way, too.

Arbitrarily.  Capriciously.  Spitefully.

Anyway, in the Internet space, we saw a version of this Government Shutdown nearly three years prior to the barricades sprouting up along the GW Parkway.  Net Neutrality – a specious solution in search of a problem – got imposed on the whole of the Internet, essentially fulfilling an election-year promise to campaign-supportive companies like Google.  The FCC framed a false problem, created some dubious authority, and jammed an unwarranted rule down the throats of Internet consumers because, well, it could.  It had the votes.

Arbitrarily.  Capriciously.  Spitefully.

Instead of the figurative parking lots being opened, however, the FCC’s actually shut them down.  Going forward, should Net Neutrality withstand court challenge, all companies in the Internet ecosystem will have to ask the FCC for permission to invest and innovate – a strikingly different scenario than the deregulatory ethos which birthed the commercial Internet before the rule.

Americans should be worried about all this.

The more we let Uncle Sam entangle us in his clutches, the more we constrain ourselves to a fickle master who, depending on which side of the bed he awoke on, can take away what he’s “granted” at the drop of a hat, no matter how dependent we’ve become on “his” granted benefits.

Parking lot spaces.  Internet access.  Healthcare coverage.  You like these things? Then stand in line with your personal lobbyist – there are 300 million other people ahead of you.  The King will get around to your concerns when he sees fit, and not a moment sooner (unless you’re a friend).

Arbitrary, capricious and spiteful government does not serve us; these pathologies represent a fundamental affront to our liberty and freedoms.  The willy-nilly barricades must be removed for good.

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