Corporate Seizure Threatens
By Edward Shanahan
It was bound to happen eventually, the freedom of the Internet is too splendid as a democratic information highway to survive in a money-driven corporate-based society like ours.
The media giants – predatory telephone and cable companies – don’t want the rest of us — downstreet.net and millions of websites like ours — to have equal, unfettered access to the Internet any longer.
What they are proposing to Congress is that Internet traffic communication be channeled into fast lanes, for large, rich users like Google or Amazon or EBay, who will pay handsomely for the privilege, with much slower paths for the rest of us.
That means it would be much more time consuming, and ultimately frustrating, for you to gain easy access to sites like downstreet.net or nohoarts.org or paradisecityforum.net where you can find alternative points of views, opinions, news and ideas that are absent from corporate communications.
Critics of this telephone and cable attempted hijacking of the Internet say that what is being proposed would essentially enable those companies to assume the role of gatekeeper or toll booth on what is now a free and open government-created communication system. Their position is that the Internet should be “network neutral,” meaning we should all have the same access to the promise and power of the Internet and not capitulate to its naked takeover by cable and phone companies.
A vote on this proposal, not widely debated or understood, might come when the post-election lame-duck Republican Congress reconvenes. So it’s time to get the word out – if you value the Internet and its democratizing role in our beleaguered nation and world.
How did I learn about this assault on my freedom and that of millions of other independent voices that look to the Internet as an open source of information and a forum for free speech?
Not from the mainstream media, not from a newspaper, cable or commercial network television, but from Bill Moyers in a riveting . PBS report on various aspects of the Internet and other evils perpetrated by U.S. media owners.
Speaking of non-mainstream media, I find I punch in # 4 on my car radio frequently these days to check on what’s cooking at Valley Free Radio WXOJ - LP, 103.3 FM.
I was especially interested in a recent discussion on the Monday morning program Parapolitics about how the minimum wage affects those who work as waiters and waitresses in our local restaurants.
According to the testimony of one of the hosts who works as a waitress, the minimum wage for that work is a miserly $2.63 an hour, so tips are crucial.
And yet, tips are erratic and mainly discretionary because most customers have no idea how little wait staff earn in the form of an actual paycheck.
This raised again the plight of those who toil in the restaurants in this city, whether they be illegal immigrants toiling in the kitchens or the young artists, musicians and free spirits working the dining areas.
A city economy based on restaurants is a fragile one for those employed in that sector, and probably not that great for the bosses and owners in the long run, or even short run as we see by the current closedsigns on the doors of some local eateries.
On a national level, it is beyond appalling, more on the order of criminality, that the minimum wage in this country has remained frozen at $5.15 for the last nine years, and taking into account inflation is now at the level it was in 1955.
Meanwhile, I went to the Valley Free Radio website and was impressed with the breadth and depth of the programming schedule which spans 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Not much of it is aimed at a 70-year-old white male, but I find a good deal I can enjoy, especially the Bread and Roses labor program, some Latin and Caribbean music, the Blues program, Democracy Now, and the corporate media watchdog take.
Florence Savings Bank thy name is vanity with those expensive and endlessly self-promotional newspaper ads yammering about how great you are and how successful you, John Heaps, has been as president of the bank during these last 11 years.
Why spend my money on these ads? You are just a bank, not a member of my family or a much pampered pet, or beloved teacher or minister.
Frankly I’d rather be earning more than the 19 cents I got in interest on a rather healthy balance in my checking account this month, than have all those dollars flow to the Daily Hampshire Gazette’s advertising department.
And when you mention being a partner in “our hometown” would that be Florence, Northampton, Easthampton, Williamsburg, Hadley, Amherst, Belchertown, West Springfield or Granby? I’d describe that line-up, specifically West Springfield, as a chain of banks operating in several counties of the state, not unlike those “out-of-the-area” banks you seem to be criticizing your ads.
And what about that come-on for new customers to “rake in the savings with free checking and free online bill pay” and up to $350 in “sign-up bonuses.” What about us long-time customers, what do we get besides the 19 cents in monthly interest?
But, I will concede that the landscaping at the bank’s main office in Florence is very attractive and always changing with the seasons. Maybe this should merit a promotional ad, too.
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