Category Archives: Shill Safari

Steve Pociask is Repetitive

As Paul Krugman has pointed out in many of his pieces, you can often tell when someone is arguing from ideology rather than reason. If the solution they prescribe never changes no matter what the problem is, then they don’t care about the problem; they just want to push their “solution.”

Case in point: Steve Pociask of the “American Consumer Institute Center for Citizen Research” (in quotes because the name does not describe at all what the organization actually does).

He looks at the upcoming expiration of the Internet Tax Moratorium and the FCC’s possible efforts to enforce Net Neutrality by reclassifying ISPs as telecommunications providers and sees a horrible threat!

By my estimate reclassification and end of the moratorium would eventually increase broadband prices by more than 17%, due to increases in state and local taxes traditionally imposed upon telecommunications and utility services, including property and receipts-based taxes. The increase in costs, when passed through to consumers in the form of higher prices, will lead to a decrease in the otherwise growing base of nationwide broadband subscribers by as much as 65 million by 2020.

This decrease in subscribership would affect economic output by reducing Gross Domestic Product by as much as a quarter of a trillion dollars over the next 10 years, including the loss of a half a million jobs. Finally, the effect of price increases and demand services would produce a decrease in consumer welfare by as much as $81.1 billion over the next ten years for the broadband services market. Lower levels of investment, higher prices and reduced demand are precisely the opposite outcomes that Congress and the FCC have set out to achieve in the National Broadband Plan. In short, allowing the moratorium to expire and reclassifying broadband services – would do more to make broadband unaffordable, which will discourage broadband adoption and lower consumer welfare.

Given the potential downside from the risk of increased Internet regulation and taxes, policymakers need to prevent this confluence of events. Congress is mulling over the Permanent Internet Tax Freedom Act, which would extend the tax moratorium indefinitely. On the Net Neutrality issue, the FCC needs to take a break from writing and promulgating new Internet regulations, at least until they can identify some serious violation that would require some regulatory remedy, rather than anticipating the potential for market failure. These actions would provide broadband consumers with adequate shelter from the storm.

First of all, when someone says that someone else “needs” to do something but handwaves away the specifics of why, be suspicious. The second paragraph above has the implicit assumption that (assuming that the numbers are accurate, which given that they come from the Heartland Institute, your one-stop-shop for obstructing climate change legislation) tax receipts disappear from the economy never to be seen again, which isn’t true at all. A huge part of what lengthened the recession that just happened is the mass firing of government employees at all levels, first local and state, and later federal. This meant fewer people working, fewer services being provided, and generally fewer things that need doing getting done. This despite the fact that raising taxes is a good idea given that we’ve slashed everything in state and local budgets to the bone except for law enforcement and the like. The meat of the piece is about two things: increased regulation, and taxes, both of which are Worse than Hitler in his eyes.

A compendium of wrongness:

The recession belongs to Obama, and taxes are worse than deficits.
Credit unions need to be less stable and risk people’s money the way banks do. This is a nicely done piece in that he’s sneakily trying to undermine the very thing that makes Credit Unions so attractive as well as justifying their tax break, under the guise of giving CUs FREEDOM.
Internet Freedom does not need to be preserved because FREEDOM! NOW WITH A FLAG BACKGROUND!
Municipal Wi-Fi is bad BECAUSE REASONS.
Taxes are worse than Credit Unions.
Internet access is not a utility, and having wires going to your house is the same thing as actually being connected to the Internet.

Note what he argues for in each of these things: lower taxes, more business FREEDOM, and less government. No matter the subject, those prescriptions never change.

If your doctor wanted to give you a coffee enema each and every time you visited, no matter what the visit was for, wouldn’t you start looking for another doctor?