Forward into the Past

Rich Galen
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Posted: Feb 09, 2015 12:01 AM
Forward into the Past

Last week, the Projectile Sweat Moment (henceforth known as the PSM) occurred when the Chairman of the Federal Communications Commission (henceforth known as the FCC) declared his intention of reclassifying the Internet as a Title II "Communications Service" rather than its current position as a Title I "Information Service."

Title I and Title II are sections of the Federal Communications Act of 1996.

Wait! Stay with me.

I follow this stuff pretty closely and I still get confused other than knowing that Title II deals with treating the Internet like the government treated the phone company in the 1930s and before that the telegraph company and before that the railroads. Title II dates back to the Communications Act of 1934.

That's 1934 as in 48 states. As in five years into the Great Depression. As in a Kodak Brownie camera costing three dollars. As in a typical telephone might have looked like this:

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In the 21st Century, then, President Obama's Federal government is going Forward into the Past by treating one of the most forward looking elements of human endeavor - the Internet - the way it treated the railroads back in the 1800s.

If you don't think this means anything to you, let me give you three letters to help you change your mind:

D. M. V.

DMV doesn't stand for Denny's Meal Variety. It stands for [cue the spooky music] the Department of Motor Vehicles.

Not just the DMV of the Commonwealth of Virginia, where I live, I'm talking about any DMV just about anywhere on the Planet Earth and, probably on any Earth-like planet in the universe.

Everyone has an issue with their phone service or their cable service or, for that matter, the guys who are supposed to pick up your recyclables once a week. Think about having to deal with a DMV employee to fix, add, subtract or change something dealing with your Internet service.

Here's a story that is absolutely true. I can prove it is true because it has nothing to do with a Chinook helicopter, Iraq, nor a Rocket Propelled Grenade (henceforth known as an RPG - OK, I won't do that anymore ? henceforth.)

Many of you may remember when I had a motor scooter. When I rode it, I thought I looked like some guy whose nickname was "Skippy" so I called it my "Skippy Scooter."

I really liked riding around on that scooter, but there came a time when I didn't ride it for well over a year. Maybe it was 2008 when I was on the road a good bit with Fred Thompson's campaign.

Doesn't matter.

What matter is that the stickers on the license plate had expired and were so expired that I couldn't renew them on line. I had to bring the actual plate (scooters have only one) into the DMV and get a new one.

Ok. We have all been to the DMV. You bring something to read. You bring a little something to snack on. You, maybe, bring a sleeping bag and tell your family that if they haven't heard from you by Thursday come and look for you.

I took the license plate off my scooter - which stretched my mechanical talents to their absolute limit - and went to the DMV office in the Peoples Republic of Alexandria, Virginia.

I waited the requisite 27 hours, 13 minutes before the random number generator picked the one on the piece of paper I had clutched in my hand and made my way to the appropriate window.

I told the woman behind the counter that I needed a new license plate as mine had expired.

She nodded, left, and about five minutes later came back and told me they were out of motorcycle license plates.

I suggested the Commonwealth of Virginia had a monopoly on issuing license plates. Unlike postage stamps that can be purchased at the Post Office or at a Safeway, I couldn't exactly go to License Plates R Us and get one off the shelf.

She looked at me with that glare that DMV employees (and certain airline gate agents) are trained to use when paying customers are asking for something ? like a license plate at the DMV.

The story has a happy ending because I suggested that the plate I was holding in my hand was a perfectly good model and, because it had been on my scooter for the past year, had not been issued to anyone else and, therefore, why couldn't we just re-issue this one?

She sighed deeply, took my plate and returned with it and a little plastic bag with the new stickers.

That is the future of the Internet if the FCC has its way.

Looks just like the past.