Internet Being Considered a Right Instead of A Privilege
Debate Rounds (5)
I accept. Good luck!
Opalais forfeited this round.
Hopefully my opponent will be back in the next round...
Since my opponent did not start arguments, I will ask him to start in the next round. This will effectively be a two round debate. I would ask voters to ignore the forfeit in round 2.
To start off my argument, I would like everyone to look at that number (pertaining to the number of Americans that do not have what is considered "broadband" internet). The average broadband speed is, at minimum, roughly around 5-6mbs, which stands for "megabytes per second". 100,000,000 Americans do NOT have this speed, which is absolutely appalling. One reason is because of the companies that offer broadband are not wanting to come down the individual's road. A reasonable excuse for someone who lives a good mile or so from the nearest cable, but even that is absurd. We live in a technology-driven world. How is one supposed to be apart of this new society when he/she does not have the necessities? In a world where South Korea is about to release a 1GB download/1GB upload speed, companies need to provide the minimum 5mb package.
Also, one could say that it is becoming a right to have it. How is one supposed to get an education online when they don't have the option to do so in the privacy of their own home? Colleges, school, and education are becoming popular online and students must have sufficient internet access to participate in those activities.
I am not forcing the companies to come down. It's practical. It is feasible. How can people get television and even land-line, but not Internet? I sit so hard to spend an extra million to get the job done when they have $600 million in their free amounts to spend at the end of the year. Companies can save money by placing the lines over phone-lines and cables. Mega wifi hot-spots are also an option that could be taken into consideration. Placing them to be provided in every city is feasible.
I would like to propose that not having fundamental access to internet violates both the First and Ninth Amendment of the United States Constitution. We as Americans have a natural right to the world around us. A right to have fun; A right to learn; A right to speak on what one loves, like we are doing today. How are we supposed to be informed (assuming that newspapers and mail are becoming outdated and electronic mail and words are becoming current) when we do not have our information? I am not proposing an excessive amount of download speeds so that people can upload pictures to Facebook faster. I am saying that EVERYONE deserves the right to what they are entitled to, and I believe that internet is becoming implied for everyone to have with the Constitution backing up my claims.
Thanks to my opponent for his arguments.
First, I would like to point out that Pro's resolution is a bit vague. There are four main dimensions to the requirement of providing "broadband Internet access for all":
1) The first is timeliness. In other words, how quickly would this need to occur to satisfy Pro?
2) How do we define "all"?
3) The second is cost. Who would pay for this?
4) What Internet speed would satisfy the definition of broadband?
Of these four dimensions, Pro has only defined the fourth, speed, choosing 5-6 mbps as defining broadband. Personally, I think 3-4 mbps is adequate to get a great deal of internet use, but this dimension is the least important of the four.
I will start by addressing dimensions one and two: who has and needs broadband and how soon they might get it.
According to the Dept. of Commerce, broadband use in 2010 was 68% of households (1). Using that figure and the total United States population, we do indeed get a figure close to Pro's number: 100,000,000. However, this is deceiving. First, this represents how many use broadband, not how many have access. Many have access but choose to not subscribe. The DOC information (1) states that the reasons for not subscribing are:
1) lack of need or interest (47 percent)
2) lack of affordability (24 percent)
3) inadequate computer (15 percent)
Note: the 68% figure is the percentage of households with broadband overall. So, the 32% who do not have broadband includes both those who do not have the option and those who choose not to subscribe.
According to the FCC, the actual number who lack broadband access is about 19,000,000 (3). In fact, if you look at the actual report, they also report that the number with "Either Fixed or Mobile Broadband" is 5.5 million. This same report shows continued increases in broadband adoption rates from 2010 to 2011:
At least 768 kbps 62.6% to 64.0%
At least 3 mbps, 36.6% to 40.4%
Internet adoption rates have grown almost continuously since 1995 (4). While the Pew research graph shows a leveling off in the last few years, that is likely explained partially by the economy. Looking more at the Pew data, one can see that older, less educated and poorer Americans use the internet much less. Of those three categories, providing more broadband would only really address poorer Americans.
As shown above, 47% of those who opt out of subscribing do so because they lack the need or interest. Older Americans also have less interest in broadband. Of the 5.5 million who currently have no access to broadband, we can assume that 47% (2.6 million) would choose not to use it, leaving 53% (2.9 million) who lack access but desire it.
This is a classic example of government stepping in for an easy victory. The debate becomes riddled with propaganda, such as the 100,000,000 figure. When you factor in the ability to get access from friends, school and libraries, these figures drop even more.
Would Pro argue that those who do not need or desire broadband should get it anyway? As a taxpayer, I would strongly object.
Access to broadband continues to grow. The Dept. of Commerce numbers show that use grew from 64% in 2009 to 68% in 2010.
In other words, not only is the number of Americans without broadband relatively small, but progress is already being made. How soon is fast enough?
Regarding cost, we cannot ignore that this is a matter of economics. Economics, at it's heart, concerns the allocation of scarce resources. If additional taxes are spent on broadband, what other resources might have benefited more? Is it appropriate to fund this at a time when our yearly deficit is more than $1 trillion and our national debt is over $16 trillion? In addition, we will need to consider the purchase of computers to facilitate this for many Americans. Not only that, but providing access for the "last mile" of connectivity is very expensive.
Pro has also argued that broadband access is a right based on both the first and ninth amendment. This is really stretching the use of the constitution. The intent of the first amendment is to ensure that ones right to speak freely is not violated. That is, that your are not being coerced in some way in order to prevent speech. Pro's link on wikipedia seems to argue that lack of access to the internet's content violates free speech. If this is true, then surely all books ever written should be free to all. Clearly, that is not the case either now or was it anytime after 1791. It would seem Pro's argument could also apply to magazines, newspapers, telephones and telegraphs. Yet, these technologies did not need coercion in order for adoption to occur. I should also point out that Pro's wikipedia link is mainly addressing scenarios where government has used force in order to censor the internet. Clearly that isn't the same as a situation were one voluntarily chooses to live where access isn't available or chooses not to subscribe.
Regarding the ninth amendment, this is even more of a stretch. Can this amendment really be interpreted to force certain Americans to hand over payment to others so that they may have access to broadband internet? If that were true, then surely the Supreme Court would have used this argument for Obamacare instead of the commerce clause.
I personally find irony in these constitutional arguments. Our founders desired a limited government because of the experiences they had with the British crown. Today, we use this same document in order to grow a government that has already grown far beyond it's original intent. In fact, I would argue that allowing for federal funding of the internet may actually lead to abuses of power.
My core intention was to the citizens that wanted Internet, but could not get it. Are they entitled to that right, or is it something that they have to move to a different location accordingly to the provider they wish to receive service from? I believe that people should be entitled to their wants and desires in this country (presuming that the desire is sane and feasible). If someone is willing to pay the fees it takes to receive service, aren't they entitled to service? Con has said who will pay for installation, etc. and my answer is the company. They are drowning in billions of dollars that could be spent on their customers for increased satisfaction. Once all is said and done, would not the companies get all of that money back from the obscure fees they send the customer's way? To me, it's not hard to set up service to those in need when you have the billions do it.
Pro has clarified his position somewhat, focusing on those Americans who desire broadband but cannot get it. Based on Pro's language, I assume this means those who do not have service available at their home. As I've shown, the number of Americans in this category is around 2.9 million. I have also shown that this number is shrinking.
Pro states "I believe that people should be entitled to their wants and desires in this country". I would ask, why? What entitles you to these things? It seems Pro's answer would simply be that these companies have the money, therefore it should be given to them. This debate has become a question of moral obligations centered around wealth redistribution.
Pro also states these companies are "drowning in billions". Let's take a look at Comcast, the largest cable and Internet provider in the United States. Comcast currently has $9 billion in cash (1). However, they also have $17 billion in short term liabilities and $96 billion in total liabilities. Note also that Comcast's cash holdings in the recent past have been closer to $2 billion. Comcast is a publicly held company, with 2.6 billion shares outstanding. That comes to $3.46 per share. This is a reasonable amount given it's share price of $38.60. This cash is money that shareholders expect to get back in the form of dividends and is also used for long term build out of infrastructure.
Now, let's say I owned shares in Comcast and was about to sell them to pay for repairs on my broken down 95 Camry. An FCC study in 2010 indicated it would cost $23.5 billion to build out the last mile for broadband (3). Comcast has about 1/3 of the cable market so their share would be $7.8 billion. That's nearly all of Comcast's cash and cash equivalents. Comcast would likely have to discontinue dividends. Share prices would fall. Is there really any fundamental difference between Pro's argument and someone who desires broadband stealing the money from me directly?
How would we define the rules whereby it is ok to do this? Certainly this would have to be done be force and only the government could accomplish such a feat.
Additionally, Pro does not even address the issue of timeliness. In fact, the FCC's own report shows that the roll-out of broadband is progressing well (4):
Since the first cable modem was introduced in 1997, America’s broadband infrastructure has been built almost entirely with private funding. Broadband network operators have spent over $1 trillion dollars to lay cable and fiber, and upgrade network equipment to reach ever-faster Internet speeds. (The report currently defines broadband as 4 Mbps download and 1 Mbps upload, but newer networks will are capable of much faster speeds.)
Nearly 300 million Americans—roughly 95%–had access to at least one and in most cases two or more broadband providers as of June 2011.
Between June 2010 and June 2011, an additional 7.4 million Americans had access to broadband connections, the result of $66 billion in new investments by providers. That reflected a 24% increase in private infrastructure spending from the prior year.
Nearly 20% of Americans now have access to broadband from fiber-to-the-home, which today can reach speeds of up to 300 Mbps and the promise, soon, of 1 Gigabit speeds.
Despite its vast geography, sparsely populated mid-section and entirely taxpayer-free communications spending, the U.S. ranks first in the world in cable modem coverage and remains competitive on every other broadband measure.
The way politics works is you find fault somewhere and you muscle in to gain power. Given our federal governments inability to "police" the Internet by passing SOPA and PIPA, of course they will be looking to gain power any way they can.
Long term, I we will look back on this time and say that the internet was the most important tool for fighting tyranny in history. The internet must be kept free. It is simply to risky to allow governments any form of control. And to be sure, he who pays the piper calls the tune.
Thanks to Pro for the debate and welcome to DDO!
1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by OhioGary 3 years ago
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Reasons for voting decision: Welcome to DDO Pro! I sympathize with your resolution and I think I agree with it. You had great arguments by saying that Internet is needed and that the US is falling behind other countries. The 1st & 9th Amendments aren't the best arguments, though, and Con countered it by bringing up the Founding Father's vision of limits to Federal power and the practical question of who would pay for it. I think you could make a winning case by arguing that the Federal government intervened at the turn of the century to make sure that rural areas had electricity and phone lines, so now is a great time to invest in Internet infrastructure while the labor costs are low (almost like another New Deal, of sorts.) Argument to Con. Pro also had some noticeable spelling & grammar errors. S&G to Con. Tie everywhere else. Again, welcome aboard!
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