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Two Bills of Interest Advancing In Congress

kdawson posted more than 5 years ago | from the not-all-gloom-and-doom dept.

Communications 129

pgn674 writes "While the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008 failed to pass in the House of Representatives, two other bills of interest to this community are currently moving through the US lawmaking process. One is the Broadband Data Improvement Act, which Communications Workers of America claims will help us towards bringing high-speed Internet access to all Americans. It will have the FCC increase their granularity in reporting the Internet accessibility of an area in the US, and redefine broadband measurements. It has passed through the House and the Senate, and differences in the passed versions are currently being resolved. The other bill is the Webcaster Settlement Act of 2008. Pandora is excited for this one as it will give them time to negotiate with SoundExchange (i.e. the RIAA) for new, more affordable royalty rates. The bill is currently in the Senate, and is expected to pass with ease."

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On the Bailout plan (2, Informative)

InvisblePinkUnicorn (1126837) | more than 5 years ago | (#25213463)

To inform yourself about what is wrong with the bailout, and what caused the crisis in the first place, read these two excellent articles:

Economist: Why Bankruptcy is Better than Wall Street Bailout [cnn.com]

The Trillion-Dollar Bank Shakedown That Bodes Ill for Cities [city-journal.org] ( written EIGHT YEARS before this crisis , predicting everything down to the dollar amount)

Re:On the Bailout plan (2, Informative)

megamerican (1073936) | more than 5 years ago | (#25213887)

How to fix it?

Get this piece of legislation [govtrack.us] out of committee and just maybe we have a chance to turn this country around.

Re:On the Bailout plan (1)

InvisblePinkUnicorn (1126837) | more than 5 years ago | (#25213937)

It's interesting... all the legislation is there, sitting, waiting for a Congress willing to uphold individual rights to come along, at which point these bills, already written and filed, can be recovered from the dustbin and passed en masse.

How long will it be?

Re:On the Bailout plan (1)

Darby (84953) | more than 5 years ago | (#25217275)

How long will it be?

How long is forever?
Add a week.

Re:On the Bailout plan (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25214465)

Without the Federal Reserve? No wonder no one voted for that crackpot in the primaries.

Re:On the Bailout plan (2, Insightful)

cayenne8 (626475) | more than 5 years ago | (#25218789)

"Without the Federal Reserve? No wonder no one voted for that crackpot in the primaries."

Well, there are some pretty good arguments put forth, that the Fed. should never have been put in place...it is not a constitutional body, in fact some argue it is actually against what the constitution says with regard to issuing/printing money.

Don't forget... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25214707)

...to pay your $699b bailout fee you cock smoking teabaggers!

Re:On the Bailout plan (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25215227)

Big Jew wants your money! Big Jew is gonna take your $700 billion bailout, use it to prop up stock prices while they shift their money into commodities, foreign currencies, and gold, then let it crash again. Why not send the $700 billion to Israel, and give Ben Shalom Bernanke and Henry "Definitely a Christian Scientist from Jewish Parents" Paulson a private jet to fly there.

It's like Mutually Assured Destruction. (5, Interesting)

hey! (33014) | more than 5 years ago | (#25218091)

There's been a lot of exaggeration and misdirection on both sides of this. Credit has not completely dried up ... yet. However it is heading that way and the closer it gets the less root causes matter. You don't tell a lung cancer patient that he ought to have stopped smoking years ago. But you don't invite him to light up in his oxygen tent either.

The problem with the bailout bill is not the sheer dollar figure; the $700 billion, after all, doesn't have to be spent. The fund might accomplish what needs to by spending, say, $100 billion. The difference between what needs to be spent and what could be spent is the double edged sword of this proposal. The existence of a huge reserve creates confidence in the stabilization of credit -- very important.

This is how the Fed control the money supply: through manipulating expectations. People don't think the Fed is going to lower interest rates much, so the power of that lever on the economy is lessened. One of the bailout bill's provisions is to lower the floor on what the Fed can set the reserve rate (the cash on hand banks need to keep to cover possible withdrawals) to zero. Actually doing so would be, of course insane.

The Fed has models which say where the point of insanity comes; let's say that is 2%, and we're at 2.2%. If you know the floor is really 2%, then you know that the Fed can't lower the rate below 2%, then lowering the rate from 2.2% to 2.1% isn't going to change your behavior. If you don't know how low the Fed can go, then old Ben can simply be seen thoughtfully caressing the reserve rate lever. He doesn't actually have to push it to 2.1%, if you think he might, and go even lower, you are going to get your dollars into loans fast. If you don't their value could be seriously deflated sitting on your balance sheet.

The $700 billion figure is kind of like that. You'd be mad to set out to spend that kind of money on distressed investments. But the fact that you could is important. Suppose you really need $100 billion, and that's what you have available. You've spent $90 billion, and people are thinking "that about wraps it up for the fund." When you throw out the next five billion, people aren't even paying attention. It does very little to increase confidence in making a loan to some other institution, so you might as well not spend it at all. If you have $610 billion left, the impact of that five billion you're thinking about using is greater, even before you actually spend it, than the impact of spending five billion when it's half of what you've got left.

Unfortunately, that brings us to the other edge of the sword. Suppose we really only need to spend $100 billion, and the remaining $600 billion is there for psychology. Well, you've just created the biggest slush fund in history and handed it to an administration that is not renowned for its prudence, whatever else you may say about it. You could do a lot of favors with $600 billion.

The problem is Constitutional. The Executive isn't supposed to have a lot of leeway in how it spends money, but the size of that pot of money could buy a lot of indirect leeway.

Personally, I think the answer is to stage the funds. Wall Street does this all the time. When you buy a company, sometimes you snap it up, but frequently you stage the investment in order to make the company jump through a series of hoops.

So, let's say we created a $150 billion fund, and replenished it quarterly in each of the following quarters. If the $150 simply disappeared without a trace, then we could stop the infusion. This reduces the incentive for firms to make abusive claims because they might need the fund to be there next quarter. We can dream up new encumbrances on the funds every quarter as specific abuses arise. If in some quarter we only spent $10 billion in some quarter, we'd only put that much in, but if we spent $100 billion, there would be no question that we could do it again in a few weeks.

We should do it that way for the same reason that VCs like to do it that way. We don't hazard as much money, and we don't give too much of it at one time so that the recipient feels like he is so flush he can spend like crazy.

The psychology of the bailout is like mutually assured destruction. If you decided to go the all out nuclear option, there wouldn't be anything left to defend. On the other hand, there's a huge difference between not nuking the Soviet Union because you don't want to and not nuking them because you can't, at least with respect to how seriously your policies are taken.

Re:On the Bailout plan (1)

GooberToo (74388) | more than 5 years ago | (#25218293)

In stead of bailing out wall street directly, why not help them indirectly? With a bail out of $700,000,000,000, they can pay toward mortgages, up to a limit, for people who are in standing; since say January. People with paid off mortgages suddenly have new disposable income which can go back to both main and wall streets. Paid off mortgages means no more for closures. Better yet, it creates cash flow back to the banks, making them solvent again without rewarding them for them criminal behaviour which created this whole situation in the first place.

Obviously this is much harder to figure out who gets what but it makes a lot more sense than the plan that didn't pass. We know the Trickle Down theory doesn't work; yet that's what they are currently proposing. Essentially what I'm proposing is a trickle up theory. At least what I'm proposing immediately helps everyone that is financially suffering without rewarding those that directly caused this problem (lenders and lying customers).

Even if $10,000 is applied to outstanding mortgage debt, some 70,000,000 mortgage payments are suddenly relieved. At $20,000 max, that's some 35,000,000 mortgage payments which can be deferred. If we assume a typical mortgage is $1,000 - $1,500, that gives home owners breathing room for for 10 to 20 months. For others that's enough to pay off mortgages.

Frankly I can see how this plan is worse than what is currently being proposed.

Legislation is not free (3, Insightful)

Chairboy (88841) | more than 5 years ago | (#25213499)

What's the deliverable for things like the 'Broadband data improvement act'? Nothing, as far as I can tell, except some congressional reports about which areas of the country have high speed internet access. This is data that should be collected by the companies looking to know where to invest. That's how commerce works.

The cost? $40 million a YEAR. http://www.cbo.gov/ftpdocs/85xx/doc8587/s1492.pdf [cbo.gov]

This isn't $40 million out of the ether, it's YOUR money (if you're a US taxpayer, anyhow).

What in blue blazes are we doing? The economic crisis we're in is multi-faceted, and mad crazy spending is a big component, both privately AND governmentally.

Re:Legislation is not free (1)

isBandGeek() (1369017) | more than 5 years ago | (#25213587)

That's out of 300 million Americans. So just a little more than a dime a year. Nothing even close to the $700 billion bailout in terms of scale, and for completely different reasons.

If we are truly interested in fixing the budget, it won't be the pork barrel, though that amounts to some of the change. It's going to be major- Social Security/Medicare reform. Those two alone will soon cost the US government over half of its annual budget.

Re:Legislation is not free (0, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25214267)

I'd be for some Global War on Terror reform. There's $189 billion/year in defense spending that has done absolutely nothing but make us look like the assholes of the universe, erode our civil liberties, and widen the gap between the ruling class and everyone else.

Re:Legislation is not free (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25215291)

...has done absolutely nothing but make us look like the assholes of the universe...

That's not entirely fair: we don't know for sure about the universe, only this one planet. ;-)

Re:Legislation is not free (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25217021)

It's going to be major- Social Security/Medicare reform. Those two alone will soon cost the US government over half of its annual budget.

Not if we start killing off Baby Boomers.

I've got this plan that involves reinstating the draft for anybody over the age of 60...

Re:Legislation is not free (4, Insightful)

explosivejared (1186049) | more than 5 years ago | (#25213607)

Well this is the whole problem. We have adjusted to having such easy access to credit and capital and money in all its forms that once the credit markets seized up, the resulting deflationary pressure would be multiplied and reek havoc. The thing about the market though is that it sort of gets itself into spirals, or apparent spirals, where the exact thing that caused a problem is what we expect to solve it. Inflation of the currency and ungodly overspending results in a deflationary bomb, well the only thing that can save us is... uh more inflation of the currency and more ungodly spending. Maybe pork is the cure? I don't know anymore.

Re:your sig (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25213839)

The stars are right and the bars non-Euclidean?

Re:Legislation is not free (1)

arotenbe (1203922) | more than 5 years ago | (#25214043)

...the resulting deflationary pressure would be multiplied and reek havoc.

I know. When the havoc really starts to reek, I use a clothespin.

Re:Legislation is not free (1)

electrictroy (912290) | more than 5 years ago | (#25216427)

>>>Inflation of the currency and ungodly overspending results in a deflationary bomb, well the only thing that can save us is... uh more inflation of the currency and more ungodly spending.
>>>

You pointed-out the main flaw with our economy. We keep trying to avoid recession through bailouts, and we just keep making it worse. We postponed the 1999 crash to 2004 through a rewriting of the law (allowing banks to abandon real assets in favor of volatile stocks). We postponed the 2004-5 crash through dropping interest rates to insanely-low levels of 1%. Are we now going to postpone the 2008 crash through more careless extension of free money (credit)?

We may succeed, but that just means the crash will happen in 2010 or 11, and it will be far far worse.

Re:Legislation is not free (3, Interesting)

Sancho (17056) | more than 5 years ago | (#25217915)

Recessions are bad for morale, and bad morale means that the people are more likely to take an interest in those doing the governing. It makes sense for our absurd two-party system to play hot-potato with the recession. Put it off as long as possible, and hope that your party isn't in control when it hits.

Of course, informed people realize that recessions are a natural part of the economy. I guess it sucks to be born into one, but thems the breaks, right?

Please RTFA and contract your repesentative! (2, Interesting)

GlobalColding (1239712) | more than 5 years ago | (#25213663)

Because after RTFAing I dont feel like I am getting my moneys worth at best, and feel more like I am getting more cataloged and invaded by FCC... For the $202 MILLION dollars they blow between 2008 and 2012 they will institute more bureacracy with zero oversigt and no concrete goals. Providers will have to submit higher detail reports on broadband use (9 digit zips vs 5 digit zips), so that means their overhead will go ip as well, great since we know who will pay for that as well. Bah, time to email Feinstein again and get another spiffin canned "Yeah I hear you loud and clear, but we know whats best for you" emails reply. Anyone else tired of hemmoraging money to the goverment to help them employ more bureaucrats?

Re:Please RTFA and contract your repesentative! (2, Interesting)

zappepcs (820751) | more than 5 years ago | (#25214085)

I'm tired of sending money out in the form of taxes and seeing shit in return for it. Yes, I know I get stuff, but there is so much that doesn't make sense that it seems a waste.

As far as zip codes go, clue: they mail you a bill with that 9 digit zip code on the address. There should be NO overhead incurred in using it for reporting. Reporting with a finer grained filter on who has broadband where will help regulators adjust how licenses are granted or retained. The complaint is that ISPs report they have X percent of users with "broadband" coverage, which is a failed description at this point. In truth, the license says they have to have y% of users in a given geographic area covered with "broadband" to keep the license. So the metro areas are covered... anyone out of town is fucked. When they find it financially acceptable, whole neighborhoods can be ignored and they still meet their requirements for licensing.

The current definition of broadband was created when DSL was bleeding edge. It needs redefined in order to force acceptable pricing models in the marketplace.

The idea is to close the loophole that ISPs and telecom operators have used for decades to keep their licenses while not having to serve those areas that are financially unrewarding to serve with the same service.

In all honesty, knowing something about the business, this is stuff that they SHOULD have been doing all along, even if they reduced the granularity afterwards for reports sent to the FCC.

Businesses in the USA are broken with regard to how they handle data. I don't see the EU doing much better as a whole, but this is about the US. Data breaches, security issues, lack of reporting/archiving etc. Over the last 5-7 years, CIOs have gained more power in general, but they still do NOT have control of their data. This is one thing that excites me about Google... DATA is their entire business.... well, more or less. They are branching out, but they still seem quite focused on the data. Handling data is not easy, or cheap, and businesses try to use both of those routes when handling data: easy and cheap. I hope that this will cause them to be a bit more cogent with their data and what they can do with it.

Re:Please RTFA and contract your repesentative! (0, Troll)

Darby (84953) | more than 5 years ago | (#25217405)

The idea is to close the loophole that ISPs and telecom operators have used for decades to keep their licenses while not having to serve those areas that are financially unrewarding to serve with the same service.

How about we don't close the loophole and quit making me pay for the rural welfare leeches? Maybe if they actually paid their own way for once they'd pull their heads out of their asses and quit pretending that they are free market capitalists when they're just the recipients of welfare. Maybe they'd quit voting against their and everybody else's best interests?

Sorry, but I am sick to death of being robbed to pay welfare to a bunch of whiny bitches who refuse to deal with reality. People always end up hating those they are forced to beg for charity so let's just quit making the people who pull their own weight the targets of the hatred of ignorant extremists.

Re:Legislation is not free (2, Interesting)

CrimsonAvenger (580665) | more than 5 years ago | (#25213695)

The cost? $40 million a YEAR. http://www.cbo.gov/ftpdocs/85xx/doc8587/s1492.pdf [cbo.gov]

This isn't $40 million out of the ether, it's YOUR money (if you're a US taxpayer, anyhow).

It's peanuts. My family's share is forty cents. I'll pay it, just for the information, which ought to be available under the Freedom of Information Act.

Remember, the ISP's and such really don't have much interest in expanding access to broadband.

Not because they can't, but because they don't see a return on the required investment as ever paying off. Because it won't. Very few people are going to be willing to pay more for faster access - the few who do already are, the vast majority of internet users are still just doing web browsing and email, which really doesn't improve all that much with faster broadband.

Now, if the information gathered under this Bill results in a broadband equivalent of the Rural Electrification Act, it'll be a good thing. Annoying, to have my broadband rates raised to pay to provide broadband to the areas it isn't provided, but worth it, in the big picture.

Re:Legislation is not free (5, Insightful)

Firehed (942385) | more than 5 years ago | (#25213871)

Very few people are going to be willing to pay more for faster access - the few who do already are, the vast majority of internet users are still just doing web browsing and email, which really doesn't improve all that much with faster broadband.

That may be true today, but once you start considering high-bandwidth content (480p+ video, etc) and it's rapid growth since the availability of broadband, the demand for even faster connections will absolutely go up. With companies like Apple, Amazon, and even NBC completely legitimizing the practice thanks to iTunes, Unbox, and Hulu respectively and indeed pushing their online services, the need and desire is there. Granted NBC and the other big TV companies are a lot slower to adopt, but they are catching on and they have a hell of an influence once they REALLY start pushing it.

Of course the ISPs would absolutely hate this. Not only would it increase their bandwidth and infrastructure costs, but many of them are also TV service providers (all of the cable ISPs, and probably some of the bigger DSL companies) and that would directly target not only their cable revenues but also other services like TiVo. This heads towards the whole net neutrality issue, since content-providing ISPs would without question have financial incentive to throttle (for example) Youtube and Revver in favor of either Hulu/etc or their own tv.comcast.com type of thing.

Re:Legislation is not free (1)

CrimsonAvenger (580665) | more than 5 years ago | (#25214077)

That may be true today, but once you start considering high-bandwidth content (480p+ video, etc) and it's rapid growth since the availability of broadband, the demand for even faster connections will absolutely go up.

Absolutely agree. And if people are willing to pay for faster connections, the ISP's will provide them. It's unlikely that they'll provide them for free, though I notice that my broadband rate has tripled since I started subscribing, with no increase in rates (Hell, they didn't even tell me it had been raised, I just noticed it on a bill recently because I was bored enough to read it).

In the longer term, broadband rates will, like everything else related to modern electronics, get better, faster, and cheaper. But before that happens, a much larger fraction of the users are going to have to want faster broadband. And that won't happen this year. Or next.

Maybe in five years, more likely in ten. Certainly in twenty.

Re:Legislation is not free (1)

electrictroy (912290) | more than 5 years ago | (#25216477)

Speed has increased approximately 5000 times since I first subscribed (from 1.2k upto 6000k). And the cost actually went down from $40 to $30 a month (2008 dollars) with major improvements in service (from 16-color still images to 65000-color fullmotion video).

And this all happened without Congress' interference.

Re:Legislation is not free (1)

CrimsonAvenger (580665) | more than 5 years ago | (#25218143)

All true. How much of that was due to the telco/ISP providing new hardware, and how much was due to YOU buying a better modem? Looks like, if you toss out the modem-based improvements, the increase has only been a bit smaller than you state. From the telco's PoV of course.

Note that the telco/ISP will gladly increase bandwidth if there is demand for it. Which they did. Remember web-browsing at 28.8K? Lot of demand for improvements from 28.8K. Not so much demand for improvements from, say, 256K. Since the 99% of everyone who uses the web for email and reading the news can do so just fine with 256K.

When a significant fraction of that 99% (1/4 of them? 1/3? 1/2?) decide they really need 100M bandwidth, then it'll happen. As long as they're happy with 768K, or whatever the standard is these days, it won't.

Re:Legislation is not free (2, Insightful)

jlarocco (851450) | more than 5 years ago | (#25213973)

I'm not following. A lot of people don't think faster broadband is worth paying for. So the ISPs don't provide broadband in those areas. But you're saying that everybody else should be forced to pay the cost of installing broadband in those areas? Why?

It's peanuts. My family's share is forty cents. I'll pay it, just for the information, which ought to be available under the Freedom of Information Act.

If you really think it's that important, and you really consider $40 million "peanuts", why don't you fund it yourself? There's nothing stopping you. That way those of us who don't think it's worth even forty cents don't have to pay for it at all.

Re:Legislation is not free (3, Insightful)

CrimsonAvenger (580665) | more than 5 years ago | (#25214039)

A lot of people don't think faster broadband is worth paying for. So the ISPs don't provide broadband in those areas. But you're saying that everybody else should be forced to pay the cost of installing broadband in those areas? Why?

You should try reading with your prejudices turned off.

A lot of people don't think faster broadband is worth paying for. Absolutely true.

The ISP's don't provide broadband in those areas. Well, no. They don't provide FASTER broadband in those areas. Note the "faster", which allows the second statement to talk about the same thing as the first, unlike in your post.

That said, there are areas which have NO BROADBAND. My parents' house, as an example. It's about six miles outside town, and won't get broadband within the lifetime of the universe, if only market forces apply. Hence an equivalent to the Rural Electrification Act.

Which I support. Faster broadband for the people who already have broadband? I'm not interested in having the government provide that - if there's a demand, it'll happen. If there's not, it won't.

Re:Legislation is not free (2, Insightful)

jlarocco (851450) | more than 5 years ago | (#25215371)

That said, there are areas which have NO BROADBAND. My parents' house, as an example. It's about six miles outside town, and won't get broadband within the lifetime of the universe, if only market forces apply. Hence an equivalent to the Rural Electrification Act.

That's my point. If your parents were willing to pay enough, they could get broadband. They don't think it's worth paying, so why should we pay for them?

Maybe they want it but can't afford it? Well, sucks to be them. Wanting something really bad doesn't give them the right to force other people to buy it for them. I want a Rolls Royce, a beach front mansion and a trophy wife, that doesn't mean the government should buy them for me.

Re:Legislation is not free (1)

brainiac ghost1991 (853936) | more than 5 years ago | (#25215643)

yeah, but as the GP said, it's like the Rural Electrification Act, I might not be willing to pay the cost of installing a DSLAM/The Cable Equivilent, then linking it to the infrastructure and paying the monthly fee, but I would be willing to pay just the monthly fee for the internet access, this bill isn't providing free broadband for all, it's allowing everyone to get broadband if they are willing to pay a fair price.

Re:Legislation is not free (0)

electrictroy (912290) | more than 5 years ago | (#25216617)

>>>I might not be willing to pay the cost of installing a DSLAM..... but I would be willing to pay just the monthly fee for the internet access
>>>

AND raiding your neighbors' wallets for $3 a month to cover your costs. If I did that, I'd feel guilty of theft. If I live in no man's land, then *I* should be the one to pay for the cost of running the wires out to my home, not my neighbors.

Plus the additional fact the the electrification act encourages suburban sprawl which encourages environmental destruction & needless paving-over of valuable farmland. I'm surprised the Green Party, or the environmentalist wing of the Democrats are not petitioning to have this act repealed.

Re:Legislation is not free (1)

j_166 (1178463) | more than 5 years ago | (#25217567)

Exactly! And while we are on the topic, what the fuck is the government doing running asphalt out to these people's homes in the sticks? Or ROADS for that matter. Interstate highways, I can sort of see, but apart from that, the rest of the roads outside of major cities are essentially private driveways as far as I'll ever use them. If people want to live outside of Philadelphia, New York, and Washington, then they should pay for their own goddamned roads!

Re:Legislation is not free (1)

Sancho (17056) | more than 5 years ago | (#25217981)

Well, actually, yeah. Why is the federal government doing this at all? Shouldn't it be a state or local government thing?

Re:Legislation is not free (2, Insightful)

CrimsonAvenger (580665) | more than 5 years ago | (#25218379)

AND raiding your neighbors' wallets for $3 a month to cover your costs. If I did that, I'd feel guilty of theft. If I live in no man's land, then *I* should be the one to pay for the cost of running the wires out to my home, not my neighbors.

Plus the additional fact the the electrification act encourages suburban sprawl which encourages environmental destruction & needless paving-over of valuable farmland.

Note that without the Rural Electrification Act, most farms would not have electricity to this day. My grandfather didn't get electricity until I was a teenager, as I recall.

Note that the REA didn't actually cause the spread of the suburbs. Suburbs are densely enough populated that it is quite profitable to provide electricity and phone service to them without the REA. The REA was for the benefit of country houses in Nebraska, Kansas, Colorado. You know, those physically large States with so few people that you need a car to visit your next-door neighbor?

Yes, I'm aware that very few /.ers are aware that people still live in the country. Fact is, the food you eat was pretty much grown by people who live in the country. Mostly far enough out in the country that they'd have no phone service and no electricity without government intervention.

Don't know about you, but I'm not terribly bothered by the idea that the government required industry to provide basic amenities like electricity and phone service to ALL Americans, not just the ones who live in cities.

Note, by the way, that the REA hasn't actually provided those services to ALL Americans, though it pretty much covered the parts of the country that were part of the country when the Act was passed. Alaska is still a place where electricity and phone service can be problematic outside the cities. And given that Alaska has the fewest people of any State, and the largest land area of any State, it's likely to stay that way for a long time to come.

Re:Legislation is not free (1)

Schadrach (1042952) | more than 5 years ago | (#25216409)

For the same reason electricity and phone lines had the Rural Electrification Act and similar terms for phone expansion -- there are places that are not generally profitable that given market forces only would not have electricity still yet, barring buying the poles and lines, hiring the men to run the lines, giving the lines to the telephone/power companies as appropriate, and paying for all line maintenance after that point, so that all they have to do is flip a switch to provide service.

You literally don't get what some parts of the country are like -- as an example, my mother (she's about 50 now) grew up with spring water and an outhouse, and she lived in a place that's less than a 30 min drive from our state capital. It's the geography of Appalachia as much as anything else -- everyone lives along a waterway, either a river or one of innumerable small creeks that feed into it, because that's where all the flat land is. Feeding lines on poles through narrow forested valleys (we're talking places which have mountians, a single row of housing, a small bridge crossing a creek, a two lane road following the creek, then more mountains -- most of this covered in trees) to supply small communities (as in unincorporated groups of a dozen or so houses) to supply power/telephone/broadband is simply not profitable in itself.

Look at a map of say, WV. Consider that nearly every crease in the mountains where it looks like a small stream of some kind cut a niche in is lined with housing wherever there's a wide enough flat spot. Most "towns" are basically houses put together because there was a wider/longer flat spot. My hometown is actually incapable of growing in any direction because the mountains/river cage it in. We're bigger than many of the "towns" up in the hollows, and we have 960 people.

Re:Legislation is not free (1)

CrimsonAvenger (580665) | more than 5 years ago | (#25218229)

That's my point. If your parents were willing to pay enough, they could get broadband. They don't think it's worth paying, so why should we pay for them?

Hmm, if they were willing to pay enough. "Enough", in this case, is an upgrade to the wiring for four miles, plus the field hardware. $100,000 or so sound reasonable?

I hear a lot on /. about the notion of "infrastructure" as one of the responsibilities of government. And I agree with that completely - the government SHOULD be in the business of maintaining the infrastructure of the country. Well, the capability for broadband on any given telephone line is part of that infrastructure.

Note that I don't consider any particular speed of broadband to be "infrastructure". But a certain minimum capability (256K is about as low as I've seen, so that should work as a working minimum) is the responsibility of the government to provide, whether they do so by laying lines and building hardware themselves (the dumb way), or requiring the people already in business doing that to do it. For everyone, not just those who choose to live in the Burbs.

Re:Legislation is not free (1)

cizoozic (1196001) | more than 5 years ago | (#25218343)

That said, there are areas which have NO BROADBAND. My parents' house, as an example. It's about six miles outside town, and won't get broadband within the lifetime of the universe, if only market forces apply. Hence an equivalent to the Rural Electrification Act.

That's my point. If your parents were willing to pay enough, they could get broadband. They don't think it's worth paying, so why should we pay for them?

Maybe they want it but can't afford it? Well, sucks to be them. Wanting something really bad doesn't give them the right to force other people to buy it for them. I want a Rolls Royce, a beach front mansion and a trophy wife, that doesn't mean the government should buy them for me.

That's my point. If your parents were willing to pay enough, they could get electricity. They don't think it's worth paying, so why should we pay for them?

Maybe they want it but can't afford it? Well, sucks to be them. Wanting something really bad doesn't give them the right to force other people to buy it for them. I want a Rolls Royce, a beach front mansion and a trophy wife, that doesn't mean the government should buy them for me.

That might be why they mentioned the Rural Electrification Act. If we care about advancing our society, usable (for modern applications) speeds of internet access should be as widely available as possible. Really we're paying for the infrastructure so we have the privilege of getting charged out the rectum for the service by our corporate overlords. It's not perfect, but it's something.

Re:Legislation is not free (1, Insightful)

electrictroy (912290) | more than 5 years ago | (#25216569)

>>>My parents' house, as an example. It's about six miles outside town, and won't get broadband within the lifetime of the universe, if only market forces apply.
>>>

Nonsense. My house was situated similar to your parents' house, but last year Verizon started selling DSL over the existing phone lines. No upgrades required; I'm still using the same lines I've always used. Verizon did this, not because they had to do it, but because they wanted to do it. They saw an opportunity to make money. The free market worked.

BTW that electrification act is the greatest mistake.

It encourages suburban sprawl via government subsidies. It should be repealed and the tax removed from everybody's phone bill. If you want to live 50, 60, 70 miles away from the city, then YOU pay the costs of running the electrical wires out to your house. Or setup your own private electrical company. (Or better yet, live closer to town and discourage the environmental destruction caused by wasteful suburban development.)

Re:Legislation is not free (1)

j_166 (1178463) | more than 5 years ago | (#25217639)

Thank god the rest of the country already failed Libertarianism, or the country would be a big stretch of nothingness outside of a few major cities.

Re:Legislation is not free (1)

CrimsonAvenger (580665) | more than 5 years ago | (#25218081)

Nonsense. My house was situated similar to your parents' house, but last year Verizon started selling DSL over the existing phone lines

Alas, that's not quite the case here. My brother works for Ma Bell. He has gone to the trouble of checking, and there are no plans to EVER put DSL out to my mother's house. Or, for that matter, his own house, which is also in the country.

Adding DSL capability requires an investment. It's a profitable investment if enough customers can be served by a single upgrade. If only eight other families live within a mile of you, it doesn't work out too well.

Fact is, there are parts of the country that will NOT get broadband (except satellite, which is a poor substitute, at best) this century without government intervention. Rural Alaska comes to mind as a place where it's just not going to happen. Or New Mexico - when I drove through there earlier this year, I took the scenic route, and saw houses whose nearest neighbor was better than 50 miles away. Do you really think the telcos/ISPs are going to put together the hardware to provide ONE HOUSE DSL?

Re:Legislation is not free (1)

mordred99 (895063) | more than 5 years ago | (#25218211)

I am all for faster broadband, if it is the same price. :) But as you say - market prices will dictate that.
However back to your main point. My parents live 8 miles from the main city, their only choice is 14.4k modem. They live on an island. They are willing to pay some amount (not $100 a month) for high speed internet. They would do a triple play if they could (VOIP, internet and cable) if they could turn it off when they are not in Michigan during the winters.
Now comes the crux of your issue. Someone has to pay to get the infrastructure to them. Who is going to dig up the road and build a CO near enough to their land, for someone who is so cheap they complain about their 19 dollar a month phone line.
You take your pick when you live outside the area of normal services, and this is one of the things that you give up. Just like the corner butcher and tattoo parlor being at the local strip mall. All things are choices.

Re:Legislation is not free (1)

Darby (84953) | more than 5 years ago | (#25217473)

Now, if the information gathered under this Bill results in a broadband equivalent of the Rural Electrification Act, it'll be a good thing. Annoying, to have my broadband rates raised to pay to provide broadband to the areas it isn't provided, but worth it, in the big picture.

Not worth it in the big picture. In the big picture it leads to welfare leeches claiming that they hate socialism while remaining the largest recipients of it while not contributing at all.
This sort of delusional belief is a primary contributor to the hostility of the rural people for those who pull their own weight. It's why they keep voting for fascist Republicans against their own best interests and against everybody else's.

Sorry, but promoting ignorant and damaging behavior at my expense is complete crap if you actually look at the big picture instead of the narrow view you are taking while claiming it's the big picture.

Re:Legislation is not free (1)

CrimsonAvenger (580665) | more than 5 years ago | (#25218655)

Not worth it in the big picture. In the big picture it leads to welfare leeches claiming that they hate socialism while remaining the largest recipients of it while not contributing at all.

This sort of delusional belief is a primary contributor to the hostility of the rural people for those who pull their own weight. It's why they keep voting for fascist Republicans against their own best interests and against everybody else's.

Sorry, but promoting ignorant and damaging behavior at my expense is complete crap if you actually look at the big picture instead of the narrow view you are taking while claiming it's the big picture.

My, you have a distorted picture of the universe. HINT: the Rural Electrification Act was passed by the Democrats, not the Republicans.

Another hint: most people in the country aren't terribly interested in being part of a group that favours gun control (they pretty much all hunt), gay marriages (traditional is a way of life in the country, for good or ill), etc.

Note further that until the Democrats decided to swing to the left in the 60's, most people in the country were staunch Democrats. Hell, my grandfather would have died rather than vote Republican. (personally, I've always believed he did - he died the year that Dukakis was the Democratic candidate for President)

Note, by the way, that from the point of view of most everyone else "promoting ignorant and damaging behavior at my expense is complete crap" works nicely. Too bad they think that most of the things YOU think are important are part of "ignorant and damaging behavior at my expense" to THEM.

An example of "ignorant and damaging behaviour at my expense" is the notion that electricity is a privilege only for urban dwellers, or the very wealthy. Sorry, I think it would be nice if every farmhouse could have lights at night. Likewise phone service. I remember having to drive 20 miles to the store with my grandfather to make a phone call. I think that the idea that he be wealthy, or move to a city, to get phone service in his home is "ignorant and damaging".

And ditto for broadband. Five years ago, I considered it a luxury. Now it's a basic necessity, like phone service or electricity. or indoor plumbing, for that matter. And so it should be provided to everyone, not just to the self-serving idiots who can't imagine that some people don't live the way they do.

Re:Legislation is not free (3, Insightful)

lysergic.acid (845423) | more than 5 years ago | (#25213747)

investing in infrastructure isn't "mad crazy spending."

communications networks are already heavily subsidized, at least this will ensure that such investment is providing adequate returns. if a particular provider is not providing return value on this public investment, then they should not continue to be subsidized. likewise, these reports will allow statewide grants to be used more efficiently/effectively by focusing attention and resources on areas that are lagging behind in broadband infrastructure.

the ideal solution for this type of infrastructure is to nationalize it, but create a decentralized structure similar to the Department of Education. funding and general development goals/initiatives are set by federal and state level government, but each area's ISP and local infrastructure (like municipal wi-fi) should be managed by municipal governments.

subsidizing commercial corporations doesn't give the public any control over the management of vital public infrastructure. this has been demonstrated with the telecoms, and again with ISPs. we pay for the infrastructure, but they still charge us extortionate prices made possible by their natural monopoly.

with public utilities, which are always natural monopolies, the only ways to protect public interest is through industry regulation or have the government provide the utility. but with a pro-business government that is constantly pushing for industry deregulation, subsidizing private industries is not a viable option. so the only real way to establish a communications infrastructure which serves public interest rather than corporate interests, is to nationalize our communications infrastructure and provide broadband access through locally-managed municipal wi-fi.

Re:Legislation is not free (1)

j_166 (1178463) | more than 5 years ago | (#25217667)

And don't even get me started on bridges! If people want to live on the other side of the goddamned river, then they should pay for their own goddamned bridges, or go back to Russia, I say. I mean what the fuck? Why can't people just live exactly like I do already? Its obviously the most perfect way to live.

Re:Legislation is not free (1)

mysidia (191772) | more than 5 years ago | (#25214357)

It will be well worth it if the reports actually draw attention to US poor broadband penetration and lack of competition.

Increased competition = lower prices = savings even after the govt's added $40mil a year cost.

Even if the legislation only drops my broadband costs by $1 a year, it's still worth it to me for the percentage-wise small cost of the reporting (an order of magnitude smaller than potential savings for the consumer).

After the goals are achieved, and "broadband" companies are thoroughly embarassed/proper competition was imposed, so the extra reporting is no longer a net benefit, the legislation can be revised so that the $40mil/year cost goes away.

Re:Legislation is not free (1)

electrictroy (912290) | more than 5 years ago | (#25216633)

>>>draw attention to US poor broadband penetration

The U.S. is no worse-off than Canada, Australia, or the European Union. We all have the same average speed of 9-10 Megabit/s.

Re:Legislation is not free (1)

j_166 (1178463) | more than 5 years ago | (#25217727)

>>>draw attention to US poor broadband penetration"

"The U.S. is no worse-off than Canada, Australia, or the European Union. We all have the same average speed of 9-10 Megabit/s."

I think he was referring to the ...ahem .. size of our cable modems, which are on average a few centimeters smaller than the average Canadian, Australian or European modems. Its why our women flock to those countries. What? You thought it was the accents?

Re:Legislation is not free (3, Insightful)

bill_mcgonigle (4333) | more than 5 years ago | (#25214513)

Nothing, as far as I can tell, except some congressional reports about which areas of the country have high speed internet access.

If the Congress is going to do something about broadband deployment, they ought to at least be making decisions based on good data. Until very recently all the broadband availability reports were strictly by ZIP code, so that if somebody in a ZIP code had broadband, all residents in that ZIP were counted as having broadband available. This recently changed to ZIP+4, but the data doesn't yet exist, at least publicly. So, every statistic you've heard about broadband deployment rates is likely to be wrong, to some degree, unless it was a locally-collected local report.

If the government wasn't granting telecommunications lobbies, and the government couldn't save money by using the Internet for governance, and the government wasn't regulating any viable options away (yeah, FCC, I'm looking at you), then it would be best for them to be completely hands-off on this. That would be the best solution. But, coming out of my dream world (deferred to a future release of World), a few reports could actually be useful for deciding proper policy.

I'd much prefer this to Hank "We needed a really big number" Paulson-style legislative efforts.

Re:Legislation is not free (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25214553)

it would be best for them to be completely hands-off on this. That would be the best solution.

Sweden, Japan and Korea beg to differ.

Re:Legislation is not free (1)

electrictroy (912290) | more than 5 years ago | (#25216659)

I suspect Japan's figures to be about as accurate as China's figures on the age of its gymnasts. I suspect the Japanese government is "cooking the books" (which it has been known to do) by excluding citizens in rural communities or outlying islands. If the U.S. government did the same thing, looking only at cities or towns, our average would jump overnight from 10 megabit to 100 megabit.

$200 Billion Broadband Scandal (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25214601)

http://www.newnetworks.com/broadbandscandals.htm

Broadband improvement? (4, Interesting)

Chas (5144) | more than 5 years ago | (#25213501)

Didn't we ALREADY give the telecom industry a whole assload of cash to improve broadband in this country?

And exactly WHERE did that money go?

What?

What?

I can't hear you over that gi-normous flushing sound!

Re:Broadband improvement? (0)

freedom_india (780002) | more than 5 years ago | (#25213699)

The whole assload went directly to line up the CEO's pockets so that they could afford the cheapest condo across the 'bay and the cheapest yacht, you cheapstake.
Because of your constant meddling, my CEO was unable to purchase the BEST yacht for $2.3 million and instead settled for something far less worth.
Damn you customers. Damn you users.
May you all rot in Net Neutrality Hell.
-signed/- CEOs Group of Telecoms In America

Re:Broadband improvement? (1)

six025 (714064) | more than 5 years ago | (#25213939)

In that respect, it would be simply amazing if the government could implement just the part of the "Economic Rescue Bill" that promised to salary cap the CEO's, and also rid us of the so called "Golden Parachute" which sees even the most ludicrous failures walk away with millions.

In fact, world governments need to look at introducing a salary cap across the board - from sports to law to industry.

That would surely fix a few economic problems now and in the future.

Peace,
Andy.

Re:Broadband improvement? (1)

schnikies79 (788746) | more than 5 years ago | (#25214215)

keep salary caps OUT of the private sector. if they are government jobs, that's fine, but not otherwise, no. instead, why not let the stock-holders decide the CEO pay for the year, since they own the company.

how will you like it when some asshat in congress decides that YOUR job is only worth 60% of what you are making. have fun with that. it wouldn't fix shit, plain and simple.

Re:Broadband improvement? (1)

freedom_india (780002) | more than 5 years ago | (#25215391)

First of all, it is NOT an economic rescue bill.
It is a Financial Payout Bill where the [bought out] Govt. uses your money to buy from Wall Street some shitty assets which they cannot dispose of themselves.
At present the large banks have dead weight assets on their balance sheets which no one wants to buy at the price they paid for.
When you or me go to a bank for a loan, they ask us to pledge our Gold or some other HIGH security stuff like House to lend us money. And that too only half its market value. This way they are covered when the asset loses its value.
But now, those assets are way below anything they have seen.
This will force them to declare huge losses, which means the CEO and his cohorts do not get millions and have to live on thousands like common folk.
This situation is unbearable [for them].
They tried hoodwinking these assets to foreigners by way of CDO, Tranches and crap. But the foreign banks were wiser and refused to buy them at inflated prices these banks quoted. The foreign banks know what these are worth and were willing to pay the market price for them.
Now, these banks have zero cash and a lot of dead assets for which other banks and rich people are not willing to pay inflated prices.

These other banks and other people are willing to pay market prices: Obviously that is a LOT less than what the banks paid for them.
Naturally the banks don't want to lose money: i mean which bank does.
Now, since the wiser guys have refused to be fooled by banks, who can the banks fool into buying their dead weights???
*cha*ching*
Our Incredibly Corrupt and Stupid Government!
So they hire paulson so scare-monger the public into approving a HUGE payout to these JPMs, Citi, etc., so that they can unload their dead weights to the stupid government, get REAL money and start enjoying the party life!
Now, since it is neither paulson's personal money or Pelosi's personal money, they are more than willing to spend OUR money to pay to the rich bankers. After all, we can't take back our taxes or file court cases against Pelosi. We are the ultimate sheep.

Re:Broadband improvement? (1)

cornjones (33009) | more than 5 years ago | (#25215785)

close, but you lost it when you said the international markets refused to buy in. They bought in, and heavily. Basically every bank in the world is in trouble because of this. Maybe not asian banks who largely stayed out of it but they are heavily invested in the dollar still, hence their crash earlier this week.

I struggle w/ this a bit but i think we need the bailout. This isn't simply a case of paying huge bonuses so ceo's can get more money. From the top down, if the banks don't have cash (or easy access to source cash intrabank, what is really drying up, the LIBOR is as high as it has ever been), they cannot lend it. This means businesses cannot get it and investment does not happen. This becomes a contraction and your neighbor loses his job. Which means he can buy less stuff so your grocer loses his job. wash, rinse repeat until you lose your job. Banks are not an optional part of this economy.

Yeah it pisses me off that these bankers created a shitload of 'assets' from thin air and got rich skimming pieces of this imaginary money. There was a lack of a feedback loop, the guys giving out the money had no interest in whether it was paid back, the more they gave out the more they made. Once it was packaged up in so many sexy vehicles, many of these funds had no idea how much asset was actually involved in what they were buying. They may or may not have learned their lessons but there is need for some regulation here.

We have 2 choices, give them the money and hope we can smooth out a crash/depression (by no means certain) or don't and accept the 'correction' (cringely has a great piece last week likening this to a forest fire). The correction would work, it would hurt a lot, but at the end of the day it would work. The world would likely crash for some time. Many jobs lost, many lives lost in most estimations. America would likely lose its last claim to dominance and the balance of power would likely shift east. These things all seem pretty shit to me. I think we need to see whether we can salvage this without going through that.

Re:Broadband improvement? (1)

Darby (84953) | more than 5 years ago | (#25217707)

We have 2 choices, give them the money and hope we can smooth out a crash/depression (by no means certain) or don't and accept the 'correction' (cringely has a great piece last week likening this to a forest fire). The correction would work, it would hurt a lot, but at the end of the day it would work.

If at a bare minimum, every board member and every corporate officer are stripped of all of their assets and sent to prison for life with no possibility for parole, then and only then, is it even worth discussing. Only then would it be possible for it to have any positive effect.

Sorry, but as long as the people *responsible* for causing this problem have one penny to their names, don't you fucking dare ask me to sacrifice my future so that they can continue their failed policies living in extreme luxury. It's a completely asinine idea.

Say I made a bunch of piss poor decisions and came begging you for a handout. Would you eagerly pay up massive amounts of cash if I wasn't willing to touch my savings to cover it? I doubt it.

Don't ask me to do the same thing on a far more massive scale for people who have far more than either of us which they made through fraud.

Re:Broadband improvement? (1)

electrictroy (912290) | more than 5 years ago | (#25216723)

>>>And exactly WHERE did that money go?

Well that money was given in 1996. So first it was used to upgrade analog phone lines to digital phone lines, which improved service from 14k to 56k (a cutting-edge, brand-new standard). Next it was used to roll-out DSL, Cable Internet, and FiOS in the 2000s, which required installing millions of "node boxes" in local neighborhoods, and is still an ongoing process.

So, no, the money was not wasted. It was spent according to the rules that Congress laid-out (first improve the phone lines, then provide high-speed later). THEY made the rules; blame them if you are unhappy with the results.

Re:Broadband improvement? (1)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 5 years ago | (#25217579)

I propose a government bailout so he can afford that yacht. After all, why should he settle for second-best just because he failed?

It's our own fault... (1)

Gazzonyx (982402) | more than 5 years ago | (#25213843)

To be fair, we could have saved some cash if we had outsourced that to India :)
Yeah, that joke's going to hurt the karma.

Re:Broadband improvement? (2, Funny)

iminplaya (723125) | more than 5 years ago | (#25213881)

Reminds me of a funny interview I heard with Ringo Starr a long time ago:

"What did you do with the money?"
"What money?"
"The money your mother gave you for singing lessons."

Nervous (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25213507)

My company isn't currently profitable (though it used to be). Now it runs partly on debt.

Please fix the problem you idiots created.

Thanks.

Gotta be against at least one (2, Interesting)

jmorris42 (1458) | more than 5 years ago | (#25213537)

Go look at the CBO estimated cost of the broadband bill. $40M in federal grants per year just to get better data? I don't care to read through the text to find where that much money is actually going because I don't care. Listen up maggots, we have a huge deficit. Killing special interest pork like this is the only way we can hope to balance the budget.

Just look at the list of co-sponsors. A rogue's gallery of porkers.

Re:Gotta be against at least one (2, Insightful)

postbigbang (761081) | more than 5 years ago | (#25213697)

It's more onerous than that. The NTIA, which has been hobbled by the Bush administration, actually is the Commerce Dept wing that's supposed to be doing something, not the FCC.

The NTIA has had more Under Secretaries than (insert bad metaphor here), all of whom have paid lip service while the telcos bring out useless new wireless 'broadband' schemes while converting the US slowly to DSL in the face of cable data competition.

While keeping track of broadband penetration and use might be nice, it's in the wrong department and not charged with doing much with the data. Instead, we can get reports that will motivate Congress to take more telecom lobbying money so that they can continue to make the same decisions that got us to third-world-country status in terms of broadband.

Vote in November.

Re:Gotta be against at least one (1)

c1t1z3nk41n3 (1112059) | more than 5 years ago | (#25214097)

In a third world country you are lucky if you have ready access to electricity and clean water. Never mind high speed internet.

Re:Gotta be against at least one (1)

postbigbang (761081) | more than 5 years ago | (#25217013)

My electricity has gone off eleven times since June 1st. Now I understand that bottled water from Lake Michigan may have PCBs in them. Already, we use filters to get rid of the local crap (heavy metals) in the tap water supply.

While your measures are indeed signs of the third world, we rapidly approach it in many measures of stature. And we continue to slide down the broadband list, among others.

A nice change (2, Insightful)

Lord Byron II (671689) | more than 5 years ago | (#25213543)

In contrast to the many "doom and gloom" postings about the US government's actions, it's nice to see a story where they are doing something "right" for a change.

"Doing something right" (1)

DesScorp (410532) | more than 5 years ago | (#25213671)

In contrast to the many "doom and gloom" postings about the US government's actions, it's nice to see a story where they are doing something "right" for a change.

If you think 40 million bucks for some reports to Congress is prudent spending, then I've got a bridge to nowhere to sell you.

Re:"Doing something right" (1)

falcon5768 (629591) | more than 5 years ago | (#25213805)

oh dont worry they will get you on that, they will just build the road up to where the bridge was to be without actually building the bridge.

bad change. (1)

twitter (104583) | more than 5 years ago | (#25213849)

There's nothing good about SoundExchange. The program was drawn up by the RIAA to give them control over internet radio. People making deals with them should be ashamed.

Re:A nice change (1)

Fluffeh (1273756) | more than 5 years ago | (#25214139)

The only "right" in this is that "it isn't right wing politics".

I am never ceased to be amazed at the price tags on some government bills. I would be prepared to wager just about anything that a report similar to the one here has been developed by each major telco/isp in the US to find fresh markets. I bet if you totalled up the cost of ALL those reports and put them together, it would be a fraction of this $40 million.

The best thing about being in government these days seems to be that no-one looks at any sort of efficiency.

Don't you people ever learn? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25213655)

If you let the government build your network (for, *cough*, "free", *cough*), THEY will control it. Whether through regulation, direct ownership, surveillance or coercive influence. Fuck the government's network. We should want our own private network that we can tell them to butt out of.

Also, any bill with "Emergency" in the title should automatically be voted down. The government shouldn't respond to emergencies, unless they are military emergencies of the "foreign aggression" nature. Congress is not authorized by the Constitution to procure and expend the citizenry's property on objects of benevolence, no matter what the consequences. Which, according to them, are always shockingly dire. It's a freaking surprise I can *breath* without the government's help, to hear them tell it.

Re:Don't you people ever learn? (2, Insightful)

GodKingAmit (1192629) | more than 5 years ago | (#25213929)

Yes, by allowing the evil government to intervene we will have the same piss-poor broadband that the citizens of Japan and Finland have.

Plus the idea that the government would allow any non-trivial network operate without oversight and regulation is rather hilarious.

Re:Don't you people ever learn? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25214265)

No, if we let the U.S. government control it, we will end up with piss-poor broadband that will be laughed at worse that in it is today.

Our government is not Finland's government. Our government is not Japan's government. It's the U.S. government and it WILL fuck it up.

$202 Million kickback to a 700000+ member union?! (2, Insightful)

GlobalColding (1239712) | more than 5 years ago | (#25213717)

Hey I love giving out money as much as the next guy but isnt this just a little blatant? Why are we kicking down this $202 million dollar gift to the biggest communications and media labor union in the USA?! Seriously, RTFA and you will see this thing is of no real substance just another payola to whoever got these parasites elected.

RE: "Stabilization Act of 2008 fails to pass" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25213767)

Hooray!!!
A sudden outbreak of common sense.

Thank the Editor (4, Interesting)

pgn674 (995941) | more than 5 years ago | (#25213775)

When I wrote this up, I somehow thought that the House, the Senate, and the President were the three branches of the US government, instead of Judicial, Legislative, and Executive. I'd written saying that the House and Senate were branches, when they're both part of the Legislative branch. I thank the editor for catching that and modifying my submission a bit to fix it, thus saving my face :)

Re:Thank the Editor (2, Funny)

n dot l (1099033) | more than 5 years ago | (#25214563)

Editors...editing? On Slashdot?! You tell such sweet lies...

Wow, back to square one, or worse. (3, Informative)

DontLickJesus (1141027) | more than 5 years ago | (#25213833)

While am very much delighted with the fact that Congress has loosened the reigns a little, the Webcaster Settlement Act of 2008 (WSA) does not seem to go the direction I expected.

For those who didn't RTFA regarding WSA or just don't understand, it, the important part is this:

"This subparagraph shall not apply to the extent that the receiving agent and a webcaster that is party to an agreement entered into pursuant to subparagraph (A) expressly authorize the submission of the agreement in a proceeding under this subsection"

In short: Webcasters may now attempt to negotiate pricing with the "recieving agent" (ie SoundExchange aka RIAA), but leaves Webcasters in the same boat if an agreement isn't reached. Companies will usually go for some money instead of none, but the RIAA plays by different rules. All this legislation will do is give the RIAA the ability to pick and choose which small webcasters get to survive.

Re:Wow, back to square one, or worse. (1)

DontLickJesus (1141027) | more than 5 years ago | (#25213877)

Note: My wife is brilliant, and realized this....

..Such as a webcaster of their own creation, with uncompetitivly low rates.

Slashdot, we just don't talk like we used to. (3, Insightful)

arrenlex (994824) | more than 5 years ago | (#25213865)

We didn't have any stories on the bank collapses, we didn't have any stories on the bill itself, we didn't have any stories on Canada preparing for election... why isn't the politics section used for politics anymore? It seems we only have stories directly relating to tech these days, which is a shame as there are other categories on Slashdot and people have lots of insight about them and would like to discuss them.

Can we stop trying to artificially narrow Slashdot's audience and actually discuss things of more general interest than new developments in number crunching?

Re:Slashdot, we just don't talk like we used to. (1)

plasmacutter (901737) | more than 5 years ago | (#25213891)

we didn't even have stories on the clergy across the US using their pulpits to wage war against obama in violation of tax laws.

It's sad when /. is too lazy to even post flamebait :P

Re:Slashdot, we just don't talk like we used to. (1)

mysidia (191772) | more than 5 years ago | (#25214405)

We didn't have any stories on the bank collapses, we didn't have any stories on the bill itself, we didn't have any stories on Canada preparing for election... why isn't the politics section used for politics anymore?

Because it's News for Nerds. Stuff that matters.

Nothing too exciting politically or economically is going on other than a lot of hype. It's business as usual -- congress even adjourned for some holidays; surely they wouldn't do that if working on the bill was something that mattered....

The banks in the U.S. have some 10 trillion in assets. 700 bill is a drop in the bucket; akin to asking for a donation to get a kidney transplant, and receiving a penny.

There haven't been collapses of any major banks truly, they're getting bought out, save Lehman.

Companies of all types and all sizes fail and get bought out all the time.

Normally it only matters to nerds if the company is tech-related.

So yeah, there's your explanation.. the site is about stuff that matters, and the things not being covered are presumably things that don't matter.

Re:Slashdot, we just don't talk like we used to. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25214549)

There haven't been collapses of any major banks truly, they're getting bought out, save Lehman.

And even Lehman's assets got sold off. No one lost any money they had invested with Lehman unless they were holders Lehman stock.

Re:Slashdot, we just don't talk like we used to. (1)

Free the Cowards (1280296) | more than 5 years ago | (#25218333)

Your math is severely broken. Do you seriously think that a kidney transplant costs 14 cents, or what?

Relevancy? (1)

Gothmolly (148874) | more than 5 years ago | (#25213897)

How is establishing a commision to determine and monitor whether or not Bumfark, Arkansas has broadband access remotely relevant to anyone else in the country? How is this NOT a solution looking for a problem ?

Re:Relevancy? (1)

hairyfeet (841228) | more than 5 years ago | (#25214885)

Uh....Because the ISPs lie their asses off and that helps their little monopolies? Who is going to set up any competition if the zip code is supposedly got access to broadband? I can tell you living in AR(not Bumfark,that is two counties over) that there hasn't been a single new home offered broadband in my neighborhood in over a decade,probably closer to two.

There is ZERO competition,and while the cableco is upgrading the dead center of town(because that is the only place that the DSL doesn't suck) everybody else can p*ss up a rope. Anything that'll point out where new markets can be had is a good thing,if it brings some competition. Because otherwise if you don't live in a decent city you'll just be left out,and more and more of our daily lives are going online leaving those without broadband out of the loop.

The house I grew up in was a block and a half from the cable and DSL junction boxes. I lived there nearly 22 years. Guess what? I had to move to go back to school because after 22 years,even though a good 50-70 houses sprung up all around there,broadband still hasn't gone a single step further. Not in 22 years. So in this case something has got to be better than nothing,which is what the folks that aren't in the cities have gotten for decades.

uh...woot? (1)

minus-sign (1371393) | more than 5 years ago | (#25214109)

Well its nice to know they're going to monitor something.

Why is this a legal matter? (4, Insightful)

Reivec (607341) | more than 5 years ago | (#25214187)

Can someone explain to me why being able to negotiate royalty rates is even a matter of legislation? Why wouldn't this just be agreed upon in contract with the parties involved? Bit confused here.

Re:Why is this a legal matter? (1)

pgn674 (995941) | more than 5 years ago | (#25214489)

According to TFA at Wired, SoundExchange's originally proposed rates, which were approved by the Copyright Royalty Board in March, would have to be followed until the next time the CRB meets again, even if SoundExchange and Pandora decide to agree on some different rates before then. With this legislation, that's not the case; they get to agree on rates without the CRB's immediate approval.

Re:Why is this a legal matter? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25215553)

Why wouldn't this just be agreed upon in contract with the parties involved?

It still can be. The legislation is regarding *compulsory* license rates, which are rates at which the license holder MUST license to the distributor/webcaster if the webcaster desires. There's nothing stopping the two from coming to a different agreement.

Of course the RIAA doesn't WANT money, they want web radio to die, so they will come to no such agreement.

Re:Why is this a legal matter? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25218561)

>Why wouldn't this just be agreed upon in contract with the parties involved?

This is the very reason of the wall street crash: free market does not exists.

Open market is a lie. And you, USA people, still dont get it.

Here is a financial proposal (2, Interesting)

LetterRip (30937) | more than 5 years ago | (#25214317)

My understanding is that the readjustment in the MBS (Mortgage backed securities) ratings resulted in a reduced bank holding valuation. Also Money Market Accounts (MMAs) whose value is based on that valuation experienced for the first time in their history a decrease in valuation. Owners of MMAs seeing this decrease, pulled their money out of their MMAs.

Unfortunately almost all 'short term paper' loans are backed by MMA deposits.

Given the deposit ratio requirements, banks suddenly had far more loans out than deposits to cover them.

They were required to borrow money to have the correct deposit ratios, however, since everyone was hit at the same time, there was no one to borrow from.

My proposal, allows banks to make 'short term paper' loans based on their regular deposits (FDIC insured) and allow a temporary increase in leverage ratios for their loans. (Say 20:1, the exact ratio should probably be picked based on total short term paper that was available prior to the MMA withdrawals plus some margin for increased liquidity needs) the ratio would be ratcheted down at say 1/4 pt per month till previous ratios are returned to.

Also greater ratios for MMAs would be allowed, the more MMA deposits acquired perhaps the faster the regular deposit ratios would ratchet down.

Part two - valuation of MBSes.

MBSes are currently valued as nearly worthless in the market, thus no one is willing to sell them since the are clearly worth more than the market is willing to pay, and no one is really willing to buy them at a 'reasonable' price, because there is no clear idea of what a 'reasonable price' is. There is however, an alternative to 'valuing to market' which can be used when the prices the market is giving for something 'doesn't make sense'.

This methodology, known as 'net present value' or 'discounted net present value', evaluates an asset based on its 'stream of future income'. Essentially it gives the discounted value (a discounted value is the value of getting something right now versus getting it at a future date) of that stream of future income.

This would be done for current MBSes, and because they were reasonably valuated would no longer be toxic and untradable.

It would be best to only evaluate a percentage of the MBSes and use statistics to project the value of the remainder of MBSes so that they do not all need to be individually valuated (obviously this would increase the risk premium to buy them.)

For the future I would require a random sample of all assets/securities, etc. to be valued by the NPV method. If there is a significant difference between the two (say 5-10%) then the entity selling the security would need to publish the NPV as well as the market value. This would signal investors that something is amiss with the valuation given by the market, and would likely help to prevent bubbles.

It would probably be necessary for these valuations to be done by an outside auditor or government agency that would do the NPV evaluation to prevent a conflict of interest.

Tom Musgrove
LetterRip

Please forward this idea to your local congressman, senator, newspaper, if you think it worthwhile

other bills of interest (2, Informative)

rubah (1197475) | more than 5 years ago | (#25214567)

Figure someone needs to make a fuss on here about it;
http://wizards-keep.blogspot.com/2008/09/orphan-works-bill_30.html [blogspot.com]

people desperately wanting this orphan works bill to go down way differently than it seems to be headed atm.

you fail it? (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25215401)

about 700 0sers

yuo F4iL It! (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25215779)

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