Community Articles from 2017
Killing Net Neutrality Has Brought On a New Call for Public Broadband
by Zaid Jilani
Posted December 26, 2017
The Federal Communications Commission’s 3-2 vote to repeal net neutrality rules has many worried that Internet service providers will now build the same sort of tiered Internet that some other countries have — where individual providers can collude to throttle traffic to certain websites and services in order to shake money from consumers or the companies themselves — or both.
For instance, in Morocco last year, multiple Internet service providers worked together to briefly block voice chat services like WhatsApp and Skype, in what was interpreted by some as an attempt to push consumers to subscribe to their phone subscriptions instead.
It may sound radical but it’s not unheard of. Today, around 185 communities in the United States offer some form of public broadband service. Because these services are controlled by public entities, they are also accountable to the public — a perk that anybody who has tried to get a broadband company on the phone can appreciate. More…
6 Ways We’re Already Leading an Economic Revolution
by Gar Alperovitz
Posted December 21, 2017
From the “buy local” movement to public banking, we’re well on our way to a more democratic, cooperative, and people-centered economy.
While progress is never strictly linear, I believe that we are beginning to see an accelerating development of the foundations for a system that looks a lot like the Pluralist Commonwealth, and a growing recognition of how they begin to fit together.
So how do we maintain and deepen the momentum? Here are six areas where it’s particularly strategic to be organizing and building institutional power in the current moment. More…
Turning the tide against water privatization in Wisconsin
By John Stewart
Posted December 15, 2017
The pieces were in place for the water industry to take control of Wisconsin’s public water systems and reap a huge profit at the community’s expense.
Aqua America, one of the largest water corporations in the United States, had hired a former Wisconsin state legislator to push a bill that would make it easier for towns to sell or lease their water systems to out-of-state corporations by eliminating democratic safeguards.
The bill was close to becoming law. Neither the public nor the media had latched on to the issue. It seemed likely the bill would breeze through the state senate — that is, until the right people came together to stop it. More…
This City Hall, brought to you by Amazon
By Danny Westneat
Posted December 14, 2017
There’s rising worry that corporations are taking over America. But after reviewing a slew of the bids by cities and states wooing Amazon’s massive second headquarters, I don’t think “takeover” quite captures what’s going on.
More like “surrender.”
Last month Amazon announced it got 238 offers for its new, proposed 50,000-employee HQ2. I set out to see what’s in them, but only about 30 have been released so far under public-record acts.
Those 30, though, amply demonstrate our capitulation to corporate influence in politics. There’s a new wave, in which some City Halls seem willing to go beyond just throwing money at Amazon. They’re turning over the keys to the democracy. More…
The FCC Votes to Let Monopolies Decide What Local News You See
By Sue Wilson
Posted December 12, 2017
Ten years from now, people could look at their local news reporting and wonder how it ever went so wrong. You’ve heard of fake news? You ain’t seen nothing yet.
What would happen if the politician you love to hate were indicted, but your local news didn’t report it? No newspaper stories, no TV news, no radio news on the hour, nothing.
Couldn’t happen? Think again.
The Republican-controlled Federal Communications Commission voted on Nov. 16 to allow just one corporation to own the local newspaper plus nearly every commercial TV station in your town. Nifty way to reduce down to just one newsroom then dictate whatever information that corporation does — and does not — want you to know in this democracy. More…
Local currencies: The wasted opportunities
By Ted Trainer
Posted December 11, 2017
In the sad history of the world a major role has been played by power over currency. Those who have most of the money, or capacity to create it such as banks, have been in a position to determine what happens, simply by being able to decide what it will be lent for, and on what terms. At one point the Duke of Wellington was almost defeated but was able to go on and win when the Rothschild bank decided to lend him a lot of money. Lincoln probably would have lost the American civil war because the banks refused to lend him money (on reasonable terms), but he did what Transition Towns should do, that is, he created his own money and spent it on what he needed.
In the new sustainable, just and delightful economies we are going to create, we local citizens will be in control of just about everything, including the creation, issuing and use of money. And the new currencies we will introduce will be the most powerful device we have for developing the systems we want. But this will only be so if they are carefully designed and introduced to bring about the desired outcomes. Unfortunately most of the local currencies I am aware of are totally lacking in sensible design, reveal no understanding of how best to use a local currency, and cannot have significant effects. More…
Atlanta Police Suddenly Enforce Old Law and Hand Out Tickets to People Feeding the Homeless
by Zaid Jilani
Posted December 4, 2017
Every Sunday, like clockwork, activists Adele Maclean and Marlon Kautz distribute food to the homeless at a public park in Atlanta. But when they went out to deliver food the Sunday before Thanksgiving, taking part in a longtime American holiday season tradition, local police ticketed them for violating a county ordinance that requires a food distribution permit.
Atlanta is in Georgia’s Fulton County, which has long had a policy on the books that requires organizations that distribute food to obtain a permit before doing so. Local authorities have in the past turned a blind eye, according to groups that feed the homeless in different parts of the city. Last week, however, that changed. More…
FCC Chairman Ajit Pai announces proposal to dismantle U.S. Net Neutrality protections
by Laura Tribe
Posted November 29, 2019
If Ajit Pai succeeds in killing Net Neutrality rules, it will completely change the Internet as we know it, giving already powerful telecom companies even more power to overcharge citizens while controlling what we see and do online. This could include blocking and throttling websites at will, for the sake of maximizing profits at the expense of Internet openness and accessibility.
Pai’s plan to kill Net Neutrality is a blatant attack on foundational principles of the Internet for everyone, not just Americans. Pai has long been eager to undo his predecessor’s Open Internet Order, but it has been a highly controversial campaign with overwhelming opposition from civil society, businesses, and the public – who have been incredibly vocal in their opposition to this plan. More…
The loss of Net Neutrality would be a game changer similar to the Citizens United ruling. With Citizens United we lost “our” government to the corporations. With the loss of Net Neutrality, the people would lose the Internet to corporate interests.
If there ever was a time to call to call your legislators, the time is now. If you do not, you will have no one to blame but yourself for the results. In the US, you can call (202) 224-3121 and you will be connected based on your zip code. You can also write using this URL: https://www.house.gov/representatives/find-your-representative. Now is not the time to sit back.
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