Feb 282008

Comcast is accused of paying people to stand in line in order to pack the FCC hearings on its traffic management practices. (Network World URL here.)

I don’t wish Comcast well in the issue before the FCC, especially given that they do not tell the truth. They claim to be managing traffic, but what they’re really doing is interrupting certain types of traffic.

I’ve had my own experience with Comcast not telling the truth, claiming that they were blocking my outgoing mail because it had been determined that my computer was spending spam, possibly because of a virus infection, and that I needed to install a fix. But they were speaking with forked tongue. They simply decided to block port 25. There are legitimate grounds for doing that, but a company that takes my money for a service ought to tell the truth about what service it’s providing. (I figured out my own way to work around the problem, but it was especially nasty of Comcast to do this to me on a Saturday morning when I had other activities planned, and when none of their people were available to answer questions about what was going on.)

But back to the issue of packing the hearings with people paid to stand in line.

One commenter says it’s a common practice to pay people to stand in line at hearings. If so, that’s a sad commentary on our system of government regulation. If the way to get public input on a decision-making process is to turn people into unproductive drones who stand for long hours in a queue, the system needs reform. One reform would be a market system in which entrepreneurial competitors are not blocked by regulations from offering competing service. Then we could provide public input by voting with our checkbooks.

The sad thing is the cluelessness of some of the commenters who eloquently denounce the hearing-packing practice. Their solution to this sort of government inefficiency? They want more government, namely a takeover of the telecom system by the government. Yeah, that’ll give people a way to provide efficient input into decision-making processes.