I hate money. I really, honestly do. I hate that not having enough of it stresses me out, because otherwise I’m super laid-back. It pisses me off that money does that to me. And it’s not that I want lots of things or fancy things. I’m perfectly happy only owning one pair of jeans. But knowing that I will eventually need another pair when these give out makes me twitchy. I may not be able to afford them. That’s all I want from money, to be assured that I can get the stuff I need when I need it. Keep my tummy full on a semi-regular basis. Keep the heat on. Keep my dogs healthy. Keep my car running. I’m a simple person. Furthermore, I’m not judgmental about other peoples’ lives. Do your thing. I don’t care about race, religion, sexuality, whatever, so long as nobody’s telling me what to do. But I do have one prejudice that I can’t shake, try as I might. I fucking hate rich people. Not your average, normal rich person. I’ve known lots of awesome folks who happened to have quite a bit of money.
No, the sort of rich people I can’t stand are those who purposefully and willfully swindle and scam and climb to great heights on the backs of other people. Those who always want more, more, more, who are never satisfied, despite having so much they couldn’t ever spend it in their lifetime. Those who fuck over people without enough and couldn’t care less. CEOs who cut hours or benefits for wage workers while paying themselves and their cohorts huge bonuses. Politicians who pay millions for campaigns wherein they say they want to cut welfare and healthcare because if you’re poor you must be lazy. The white-collar fucks at the Giant Evil Bookstore who routinely keep employees at thirty-eight hours a week so they won’t have to offer health insurance, and who held sales contests where the winning store would get an all-expenses-paid vacation for the manager – a dude who makes six figures and I couldn’t afford groceries. Those kinds of rich people? Fuck those people.
All of which is to say: the elimination of Net Neutrality is class warfare and blatant corporate power grabbing. (Sorry I sort of buried the lede with my little rant there.) If you don’t know about Net Neutrality, you’re probably not going to have to worry. The odds are it won’t exist for too much longer. But here’s a basic rundown: The FCC classifies certain systems, like phone lines and radio waves, as common carriers. That means that, in addition to limiting the market share any one provider may have, all information transmitted by those systems must be treated equally. As of right now, internet service providers are common carriers. They want to change that. Their proposal involves creating a two-tiered internet, where some websites will be given priority over others. Those sites will pay to have their information sent to the front of the line, so to speak. Additionally, internet service providers will offer a high-speed connection to those who can afford to pay more. That last thing might sound like it’s already the case, and in some areas, that’s true. But most places in the US only have one or two ISPs available, and their services aren’t different enough to really matter. There is no legitimate competition. If this goes through, and Net Neutrality is eliminated, then everyone everywhere will feel the slowdown unless they can pay to get in the fast lane. Also, if you run a website or an online business and can’t afford to get onto the faster tier, but your competition can, you will pretty much become invisible. The FCC is accepting open comments on this issue until September 15th. I suggest you get thee to fcc.gov/comments or email firstname.lastname@example.org ASAP, friends, and tell them what you think.
This is abject fuckery. It’s like saying you can only use the passing lane if you drive a certain brand of luxury sedan. And why? I don’t feel like it’s necessarily intended specifically to squeeze money out of the lower classes, although that will certainly happen and the fallout from it is going to be incredible. Rather, I think this whole situation is yet another example of telling the rich that they deserve better than the rest of us. More to the point, it’s telling the rest of us that we don’t deserve what the rich have. We are, simply, not good enough.
Now, this may just sound like some techy, geeky thing that I’m upset about because I live on the internet. You may not think you should care. But let me tell you how this is going to go down. Say there’s a small business owner. Future Vanessa, let’s say, with her little used bookstore and online rare and collectible book business. Old FV can’t afford to get her website on the top tier, even though she does a healthy trade. Some other behemoth company, let’s call them Cramazon, they’re obviously on the top tier. FV’s website is slow and at the bottom of all the Google searches. Cramazon is quick, which, because we’ve trained our monkey brains toward instant gratification, is going to seem like better customer service. Therefore, people will go there instead. Because FV’s losing money, she can’t afford top-tier internet access anymore, either. Her email, banking, business, and entertainment are all painfully slow and little FV, Jr. can’t do her homework because everything takes a million years to download. You’re like, “So what?” at this point in my story. What I’m saying is that we increasingly rely on technology for every single aspect of our lives, and those resources should be equally accessible by everyone, and not give any one business an unfair advantage over another. What’s the endgame here? What is the goal of this change? Why would anyone want to make it harder for small businesses to have an online presence? Why would we want to make it easier and faster for businesses that are already successful to get even bigger? If we’re going to say that we’re capitalists, we shouldn’t be putting up roadblocks that prevent people from making money. That’s absurd. The bottom line is that people with money want more money. And yeah, sure, nice stuff is great. I love a man in a beautiful bespoke suit. Granted. But I like poor kids having shoes and books more.
Have you ever noticed that rich people don’t look at how much things cost? That they have no idea what’s in their bank account? Because it doesn’t matter, there’s always enough. When I worked at the Giant Evil Bookstore, I knew to the penny how much I had at any given time. I also knew what city all my bills were mailed to, so that I knew which day to post what, according to when payday was. “If this smaller bill is due before the big one, I can mail the small one on Tuesday so it’ll come out of the bank account on Thursday, leaving me $4 until I get paid on Friday, so let’s cross our fingers that the big bill I mailed on Thursday doesn’t come out until Monday, and maybe we’ll have enough left to buy gas to get to work this week.” It’s constant and it’s fucking exhausting. Rich people don’t deal with that. The point I’m trying to make is that there’s not only a monetary gap between the upper and lower classes, but an ideological one, as well. A psychological one. When you tell the guy on the street who just asked for a dollar to get a job, do you realize what that entails? A shower, clean and presentable clothes, enough food to think straight in an interview, and possibly a printout of a CV. Oh, and a job to apply for. It’s not like they’re just handing those out lately. When you say that people on welfare are lazy and don’t want to work, that may be true for some of them. But others are already working, working their asses off, and minimum wage is a fat fucking joke. When you say folks should go back to school so they can get a better job, realize that there are only so many hours in the day, rent still needs paid, and student loans are a crippling debt that can stick around for the rest of one’s life. Going back to school doesn’t guarantee a better job. It’s a huge gamble, and often a risk not worth taking. Meanwhile, bullshit like this Net Neutrality thing just reinforces what poor people are told every day: We don’t care about you. You aren’t worth caring about. You’re less than us and you always will be.
So, to whomever came up with this brilliant fucking moneymaking scheme, to whatever minions of Satan decided this was a good idea, to whichever group of capitalist scumfucks run the world from a series smoky backrooms, to the sorts of bigwigs who treat people like commodities and regularly step on others for the sake of your bottom line, I have this to say to all of you, a story I hope with all the hope I can muster comes true: One day, in the not-too-distant future, both you and your corporation are going to have top-tier internet access, as befits your rank in society. Some poor person, some anonymous genius hacker with a piece of shit, obsolete laptop and a lot of time on his hands, hacks your service. Maybe he’ll start just to see if he can do it. Maybe he wants to look for jobs or apply to school or just get some pirated Game of Thrones or something. Whatever. Oh, but once he’s in he’ll become mad with fast service. The power! And he’s going to go exploring. He’s going to backtrack from your wifi to your harddrive. He’s going to spelunk about in your email and your address book and your bank accounts. Ooh, the bank accounts. The investments. The credit cards. He’s going to drain them, slowly at first, so you don’t become alarmed. He’s not greedy, he doesn’t take it all for himself. He doesn’t want to be rich. He doesn’t want to be like you. Just a little donation to a local homeless shelter here, a tiny endowment for a scholarship there, the sorts of things a fucker like you would do to try to look good in your community. For the tax writeoffs, of course. And since it looks innocuous enough, your accountant doesn’t send up any red flags. But then, as our hacker hero’s confidence grows, there will come a day when you are bled dry. You’ll go to buy another car you don’t need or go to a fancy meal with no intention of tipping your server. And lo! Your card will be declined. And your other card. And your other card. You’ll figure out that something’s wrong and you’ll head home, only to find that everything you own is being repossessed. You didn’t pay your bills. Your lights are off. Your phone’s disconnected. You don’t have any food. Your house is in foreclosure. How do people live like this? you think. Then, oh, what a sweet, sweet plot twist, and this is my favorite part, really: the FBI shows up. Seems that they have some questions about your former computer’s harddrive. There was some truly evil, sick shit on there, my man. I don’t know where it came from, you say. I’m innocent, you say. Too fucking bad. Because our hacker friend, as I believe I mentioned, is a genius. A genius with a grudge, no less. So, now, you can’t afford your high-powered attorney. You get the same exhausted, overworked, court-appointed schlub as all the indigents you never cared about. You go to prison. Of course you do. You’ve lost it all. You’re surrounded, day in and day out, by people who have been routinely fucked over by yourself and others like you their entire lives. And boy, do they hate you. They make your life a living hell. And, while I’m not a spiteful person most days, when I hear about how far you’ve fallen? I. Will. Laugh.