In my 2012 book Broken Web (see “books” in menu) I forecast that the USA would, shortly after our big economic break (just ahead, though possible this Fall) that we would replay the outbreak of federal regulatory powers that culminated in the Communications Act of 1934. This Act, I noted, effectively seized and controlled the public airwaves.
The opening couple of paragraphs of Wikipedia will “read you in” to the historical import of what’s coming as the Internet is likely to head down the same path:
“The Communications Act of 1934 is a United States federal law signed by President Franklin D. Roosevelt on June 19, 1934 and codified as Chapter 5 of Title 47 of the United States Code, 47 U.S.C. § 151 et seq. The Act replaced the Federal Radio Commission with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). It also transferred regulation of interstate telephone services from the Interstate Commerce Commission to the FCC.
The first section of the Act reads: “For the purpose of regulating interstate and foreign commerce in communication by wire and radio so as to make available, so far as possible, to all the people of the United States a rapid, efficient, nationwide, and worldwide wire and radio communication service with adequate facilities at reasonable charges, for the purpose of the national defense, and for the purpose of securing a more effective execution of this policy by centralizing authority theretofore granted by law to several agencies and by granting additional authority with respect to interstate and foreign commerce in wire and radio communication, there is hereby created a commission to be known as the ‘Federal Communications Commission’, which shall be constituted as hereinafter provided, and which shall execute and enforce the provisions of this Act.”
Non-technical historians will roll-over at such a simple rhyme off history. But consider that the modern web-based analog to “pirate” and “unlicensed” radio may be found across a wide spectrum of Internet technologies.
For example, we can look at the “dark web” and imagine that the US of the early 1930s – seeing the gather storm clouds of a World War ahead in Europe – acted in part to prevent spy stations in America from radioing critical intelligence to Germany.
Like routers made in what country today?
We anticipate the internet will be used in a similar manner in the SloGloWar (slow global war) which may kick-off in the next 120-150-days if historical rhymes of the War Cycle press India and Pakistan over the nuclear brink.
The regulatory problems of the Internet may be considered in much the same manner as the Communications Act took. “Commercial Stations” required a license and part of that was the requirement that stations submit an annual filing (community ascertainment report) demonstrating their serving the public need, necessity, and concerns.
I can’t tell you how many times as a “big city news director” I sat through almost a week per year of “active listening” to what people were all worked up about. It was then part of my job to ensure that our AM/FM major market combo was responsive and covered both sides of local issues.
There is no such equivalent in today’s media especially online. It’s a largely politically-driven slug-fest between corporations more interested in maximizing revenue streams than facilitating balanced public discussion with an eye toward evolving a local or regional consensus. Yet it worked.
Licensing the Internet, when it comes, will be wildly mis-characterized as an attack on our Freedom. And yes, oddly, requiring the public discussion to be balanced worked in radio and television and the country moved forward in much more unison than today.
While it’s amusing to see what Millennials are “worried about” in a story citing something like 3 out of 5 say life is “more stressful than ever” history says the snowflakes are totally out of touch.
It seems to more mature adults, who’ve lived through things like the Vietnam draft, the Cuban Missile Crisis, and several economic calamities, would beg to differ. Even then, we’d have to give an honest nod to those under even higher stress – those who fought and died in WW II putting down the scourge of Nazism and a century before, when American families turned-on, and killed one-another, to sort out slavery. Kids today are spoiled little poo-spots.
Yet today’s Millennials are being whipped into a chest-pounding frenzy about the Internet with shock headlines like “Jail for Online Insults in Russia...” and word of how “fake news” won’t be tolerated.
Russia is merely reacting in a measured way to external web-based warfare and it’s not nearly as “scary” are the Chinese Internet Monitoring System that issues everyone in the country a “social credit score which, in turn, defines what kind of life they get to live.
Here in America, runaway online cults, such as the AOC believers and the Sanctuary City movements, do not reflect the general moods of America. These are whipped up, and fanned, by ad-selling frenzies. Is Russia’s approach any less sane than playing a game of “Burn down the house”” which the Me-Too’ers run daily.
Social Media is largely to blame. They have failed to prevent automated retweet, repost, auto-Like, and lots of other reality-distorting technology to creating a false patina that “Everything’s OK.”
No, it is NOT.
Social media is a disease that even presidents are not immune to. Just this morning we read how Kellyanne “…Conway’s husband suggests Trump has narcissistic personality disorder.”
While I can’t speak to the state of mind of the president, it’s readily apparent that perhaps 10-30 percent of America is already afflicted with what we refer to as “DPD” – digital personality disorder. It is not in the DSM-5, but we wouldn’t be surprised to see such an affliction make it into the DSM-6.
Our somewhat unplugged view of life from out in the woods aside, we see how denial is growing as a way of life. Here’s a 2016 story in The Guardian that was asking “Me! Me! Me! Are we living through a narcissism epidemic?”
As obvious as the warping of behavior is (to those standing off to the side of the fray) two years later headlines like “Are we developing Digital Narcissism?” You mean like there’s a chance we aren’t?
Digiholics, who can’t stop compulsively connecting, have the same problem as alcoholics. Everyone else has a problem but them.
There are three ways the modern analog to the Tower of Babel comes to an end. First, it’s regulated into submission. Just like the socialist (and nearly elected dictator for life) Franklin Roosevelt signed the Communications Act in 1934, the outcome of the presidential contest ahead should give us important clues to timing. We see no shortage of born-agains socialists any of which will fit the historical rhyme to a tee.
The second course is for mass media to pull back from the brink and self-impose some analog to “community ascertainment” and for the social media clown posse to kill automatic reposting and retweeting. Which will never happen, of course.
What is the third open? World War Web. That’s waged with foreign-actor controlled routers and – in the worst case – grid hacks and EMP to rein-in runaway American extremism that is wrecking the future for the whole planet.
Keep an eye out for it. Coming soon to an Internet near you.
Putin banning fake news? The Russians just got their first.
So did China. Are you still in denial about “social credits” and the Great Firewall of China? Then better brace yourself before reading up on the Chinese “Golden Shield Project” because the Great Firewall is only a small part of their web-control efforts.
The very real strategic problem for America is control of the information high ground. And the left-dominated press in cooperation with the left-leaning social media monetizers are doing a strategic disservice to America’s future. It verges on seditious.
Easy to get away with, however. We live in a country where traffic to porn.com is how many times larger than chess.com? We get what we click: screwed.
Screaming Upward Markets
Dow futures are up another 100 early which will be on top of the 65 points added on Tuesday.
Fed meeting is underway today – decision comes tomorrow afternoon.
Factory orders data is due out at 10 AM – will; it be a last splash of gas on the market move higher?
AWK (Also Worth Knowing…)
Today happens to be a “hot day” for followers of Q. Stu’s Age of Desolation website has a dandy short course on the high risks of “big events” to pop today.
The FBI may be posting unredacted details of the Michael Cohen arrests. Side bets on internal politics of the Bureau, anyone?
Historic floods are still impacting Nebraska today. 4,000 displaced and 74 cities with emergency declarations. Pales in comparison with the cyclone that just hit Mozambique, though.
Elizabeth Warren has come out against the Electoral College and says she would support eliminating it. Just one more reason I won’t vote for “pants on fire” Warren. The EC is a critical part of balancing of interests – and since the dems lost they’ve been itching to change the rules that have worked since the EC was set up in 1787…
Lemme see: No borders, no electoral college, what more will the socialists put on the free lunch menu?
Yee gads…talk about lunch already… Off to breakfast with moron ‘morrow…