ISPs Ignore Toothless FCC Demand To Not Kick Users Offline During COVID-19

from the ill-communication dept

A few weeks back, the Trump FCC put on a big show about a new “Keep America Connected Pledge.” In it, the FCC proudly proclaimed that it had gotten hundreds of ISPs to agree to not disconnect users who couldn’t pay for essential broadband service during a pandemic. The problem: the 60 day pledge was entirely voluntary, temporary, and because the FCC just got done obliterating its authority over ISPs at lobbyist behest (as part of its net neutrality repeal), it’s largely impossible to actually enforce.

Well, guess what:

“Some people who just lost their jobs because of the coronavirus pandemic are finding that they have lost something else ? phone and internet access. Across the country, suddenly unemployed residents are getting threatening notices, despite an initiative from the Federal Communications Commission that pledged last month to “Keep Americans Connected.”

Yes, gosh, who could have predicted many ISPs would simply ignore voluntary guidelines from an agency that repeatedly signals that there’s no real penalty for bad behavior under the Trump administration?

As a result, Sprint, Verizon, and others are all following normal procedure and shutting down accounts, even after informing their subscribers that this most certainly wouldn’t happen:

“It was a surprise when my line was suddenly disconnected, because I had actually got an email saying that during this time there would be no interruptions to phone service,” Aaron Joshua Perra, a hairstylist from Minneapolis, told NBC News. He had his Sprint phone shut off soon after his salon closed down last month. Sprint has since reconnected him.”

Meanwhile, over in Ohio, one disabled woman tells the tale of Charter Spectrum severing her service in the middle of a telemedicine appointment, again despite insisting this would not happen:

“The phone cut out in the middle of a telemedicine visit with her brother?s doctor. Joyce Manz had called Spectrum?s customer service a few days earlier and told a representative that she would pay the phone and internet bill as soon as her disability check arrived. It would be OK, she said she was assured.

?I was in tears when the phone cut out,? the 59-year-old Cleveland resident said. ?I started panicking.”

None of this this particularly surprising. The telecom industry has some of the worst customer service in the country, in large part thanks to a lack of competition or regulatory oversight. In short: they don’t really have much of an incentive to improve it. It’s a problem that’s particularly notable during disasters, when cable and broadband companies routinely try to immediately bill disaster victims for destroyed cable boxes — even if the customer just lost everything they owned. Not because ISPs are intentionally malicious, just because they don’t give fixing these systems priority. Again, because they don’t have to.

Mergers (growth for growth’s sake) don’t usually scale customer service to handle the growth because it’s not profitable to do so. Geographical monopolies also mean there’s no organic market pressure to do so either. Then you’ve got regulatory capture, and U.S. regulators and lawmakers that are all but owned by AT&T, Verizon, and Comcast on both the state and federal level. The current FCC can’t even acknowledge there’s a broadband competition problem, or that Americans pay more for broadband than most developed nations. So it’s a problem that’s not getting fixed.

Pai, like many of his ideological bent, operates under the illusion that if you eliminate oversight of telecom, miracles happen. Except that’s never been true: when you eliminate regulatory oversight of an uncompetitive sector dominated by politically powerful monopolies like Comcast, those monopolies simply double down on bad behavior. Market based, regulatory, or antitrust, there’s no U.S. incentive to improve because corrupt lawmakers and regulators have prioritized monopoly profits over everything else, gutting all systems of accountability, then dressed this blind greed up as some kind of sophisticated, elaborate ethos.

Like much of the Trump administration, the FCC’s reply to the complaints is largely just hubris and misdirection. In short, the agency implies that the only reason we’re seeing these complaints is because the FCC brought attention to the problem:

“Although we have received some disconnection complaints recently, we think it may reflect increased attention on the FCC’s work to keep people connected,” the spokesman said.”

That’s nonsense. One, because the FCC’s “solution” to this very real problem was a voluntary proposal ISPs know they don’t have to adhere to because the current FCC is a bunch of feckless pushovers. Two, because the FCC doesn’t even collect disconnection data. It’s so typically Trumpian: coddle monopolies, then pretend said coddling is resulting in wonderful outcomes that simply aren’t supported by factual reality. Rinse, wash, repeat.

The Trump FCC and its supporters claim the net neutrality repeal was a good thing because it “freed the industry from burdensome regulations.” But that’s fantasy. The repeal gutted the FCC’s authority to hold ISPs accountable for a wide variety of bad behaviors, including obvious billing fraud. It then shoveled any remaining authority to an FTC that lacks the resources or authority to police a sector rife with hugely unpopular regional monopolies. This accountability vacuum is the entire reason the industry lobbied for the plan. All of the claims about how the repeal increased “internet freedom” encouraged “unbridled innovation” or “stoked network investment” is a heaping pile of bullshit.

It’s corruption and regulatory capture, propped up by a mountain of bogus data, magical thinking, and telecom policy concepts debunked decades ago. And as former FCC staffer Gigi Sohn pointed out a few weeks back, that discarded agency authority sure would come in useful during a pandemic where broadband connections are now widely seen as an essential cornerstone of survivability.

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Comments on “ISPs Ignore Toothless FCC Demand To Not Kick Users Offline During COVID-19”

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hij (profile) says:

Do you believe in miracles?

Pai, like many of his ideological bent, operates under the illusion that if you eliminate oversight of telecom, miracles happen.

This is a bit unfair. Eliminating oversight has resulted in relatively poor revenue performance yet strong stock price performance and ever increasing pay and benefits for management. That is clearly a miracle.

hij (profile) says:

Re: Do you believe in miracles?

I just went back and double checked the revenue, and they are doing better than I first checked. Over the last couple years they have had strong growth, but prior to that their revenue growth was anemic. During that time their cable subscription numbers were basically static, but they have pushed harder into phone service and decreasing customer service. Somewhere in there is where the miracle occurs.

Uriel-238 (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Death Cult

Do you mean Christianity? The western Church was always a death cult and has been criticized as such by multiple non-western religious institutions. It’s also been a doomsday cult since the tenth century, if not sooner, thanks to futurist interpretations of Revelations

But I remember in high-school shop / electronics / with-great-engineering-power-comes-great-engineering-responsibility class that selling (that is manipulating everyone like a giant confidence game) was considered a viable management strategy. And so long as it was, that was going to be the dominant method for corporate social climbers, since such people actively attack competitors among their peers (including those with actual competence).

And so though the Greed Is Good eighties of which American Psycho is (and remains) an apt indictment, political manipulators slowly replaced and dominated executive positions and high state official positions.

That doesn’t have to do with the death cult. That has to do with the money cult. Capitalism as an ideology. It also has to do with Pournelle’s Iron Law (which is really an explanation of how entropy affects social institutions)

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That One Guy (profile) says:

'Look at us! ... Wait, no, stop looking!'

"Although we have received some disconnection complaints recently, we think it may reflect increased attention on the FCC’s work to keep people connected," the spokesman said."

That work being… getting ISP’s to agree to a non-binding promise not to cut people off, one where there’s no penalty for violating it because it was entirely voluntary? Yeah, really putting in the extra hours there.

As for that increased attention, go figure, issue a press release boasting about how you got a bunch of ISP’s to pinky-promise that they won’t cut people’s service off during a pandemic and people pay extra attention when that promise is proven to be worthless. If people are paying extra attention it’s because you deliberately garnered that attention.

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Stephen T. Stone (profile) says:

Pai, like many of his ideological bent, operates under the illusion that if you eliminate oversight of telecom, miracles happen.

Ah yes, the Republican ideology of “the private sector will surely act in the best interests of the general public if we don’t regulate corporations in ways that will make sure they act in those interests”. (See also: Republican attempts to dismantle and defang the Environmental Protection Agency.) Surely, that line of thinking will work this time~!

ECA (profile) says:

Re: Re:

There are always two sides..At the very least.

Its like paying congress enough money that they DONT take bribes.
Or
You pay them very little, so that you can TELL when they are Taking bribes.

When we Forced them to Pay taxes, they would expand and try to create more, so that they took in more money, to pay the CEO/BOSS/OWNER more money.
So, we cut taxes, we cut the FCC out of it, we deregulate…and they raise prices on the limited number of Customers, to make money for those same people on top, as well as Bribing our states/gov. With the money we Over spent for cable TV and internet service.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

"Its like paying congress enough money that they DONT take bribes"
Yeah sure, whatever – more lies.
This lie was told to me a long time ago and being young I believed it. That did not last long however.

"you can TELL when they are Taking bribes"
One does not need control of wages in order to determine whether bribes are being taken. Why would you think this?

MayhemReignsTV (profile) says:

Re: Re:

I am what I call a Republican by default because the Democrat side is so crazy right now. I am more of a conservative. With that out of the way. The unregulated free market only works when it’s truly unregulated. What you have right now with the elimination of these regulations is a partially regulated market and not in the interest of the consumer. Those sweetheart franchise agreements and laws that make barriers to entry to competitors? They proved an obstacle even for somebody with as many resources as Google. How can you even call that free or unregulated? Free market principles only work in the presence of competition and there’s plenty of regulation that restricts or keeps out competition. That’s where the Democrat fan club gets it totally wrong and admittedly, many Republicans do not practice these principles properly. Ronald Reagan was probably one of the last Republicans to properly practice these principles but even with him, there was some precedent of competition restriction that should not have existed in the first place.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

The other consideration is that a free market does not, and never has worked for infrastructure, be that roads, electricity, gas, water, sewage or communications. At best you, under a free market, you have local monopolies, and friction at the Interfaces between those. Note, railways and canals were all built as route monopolies.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

"I am what I call a Republican by default because the Democrat side is so crazy right now"
The two sides conundrum is the crazy component here. The us system of candidate selection, vetting and election is crazy. It is no wonder that said system produces idiot civil servants who think they are dictator messiahs.

"With that out of the way."
NIce, what is the relevance to this story?

"The unregulated free market only works when it’s truly unregulated"
There is no such thing as a free market. If there were such a thing, I imagine it would be unregulated by definition.

Claiming past political parties were good at something is not only hindsight but also ignores how they change their minds on a dime. How does any of this address the present situation or even the topic of this article?

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

"If there were such a thing, I imagine it would be unregulated by definition."

Actually, the free market exists because of regulation. Without it, there would be nothing to stop collusion, price fixing and all sorts of other bad behaviour which would ensure real competition were impossible. You think it’s bad now, wait till there’s actually zero consequences for acting uncompetitively.

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Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

And the moment you’re able to do such things, it stops being a free market too, because you have the power to control the market.

The only difference is that instead of the government controlling it, it’s a private actor involved in that market the one who controls it.

And I’m pretty sure that I wouldn’t want a private actor who only has his interests in mind when controlling it, rather than a government, that allegedly, has the best interests of the people it governs in mind when controlling it.

Uriel-238 (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:4 Private actor monopolies

When a private actor has control of the market they become the government. Note how Facebook and the iTunes regulate speech on their respective platforms.

Feel free to argue one need not use Facebook or iTunes. I don’t, but at the expense of not being able to do Facebook stuff or have an iPhone (which seem like very, very popular things).

Of course I could jailbreak my iPhone, but only at the expense of making enemies of: Apple and the US Federal Government.

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:5 Private actor monopolies

"Note how Facebook and the iTunes regulate speech on their respective platforms."

Why should they not be able to moderate their own platforms?

"Feel free to argue one need not use Facebook or iTunes. I don’t, but at the expense of not being able to do Facebook stuff or have an iPhone (which seem like very, very popular things)."

If you dislike Facebook, why are you selling yourself to them for their data profiteering rather than using their many competitors? If you dislike iTunes, why would you choose a phone that depends on it for its ecosystem, rather than the many competitors that don’t require it? Offline we’d expect you to talk with your wallet and take your business away from a company if you disagree with them, why is that different online?

Also, so what if things are popular? McDonalds is popular, that doesn’t mean you should go in there and demand menu items to comply with your tastes when they don’t want to serve it and the next restaurant over already has it, even if the friends you’re with only want a McD’s.

Uriel-238 (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:6 "Why should they not be able to moderate their own platforms?"

When those platforms become large enough, it becomes the same question as to why a lord should not have the power to censor speech in own feifdom.

Here in the states, having a facebook account is often necessary for jobs or to get hired. I could advise my wife to not use Facebook, but that would be a difficult divorce, much like a religious person from their faith in an entrenched religious family. It may not be your or my problem, but it is a common problem and a common mechanism of subjugation.

I’m happy to avoid McDonalds, but for some stuff I live in a Walmart monopoly, and in circumstances that I don’t have the liberty to shop around (say under time constraints) I end up having to go to Walmart. More comparatively, I do live in a Comcast / AT&T regional duopoly, and resent every motherfucking day I have to polish their jackboots to get service.

Capitalism has to be vastly regulated and then strictly enforced in order to prevent it from reverting to feudalism. And we Americans once established that even constitutional monarchies suck like singularities.

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:7 "Why should they not be able to moderate their own platforms

"Here in the states, having a facebook account is often necessary for jobs or to get hired."

Really? That’s just weird. Is there any stated reason for that? Where I am, FB is purely for personal communication, LinkedIn would be what’s use for any professional communication, but a social media presence is not something that would or should make a difference in the hiring process

With your other examples, those are literal monopolies by the sounds of it, which neither Facebook not Apple possess (outside of the insane situation you described above)

I don’t question your situation, it’s just that if you hate iTunes and continue to use it, that’s on you for not looking at the other hundred phone manufacturers out there, not on how iTunes opt to manage their own platform.

Uriel-238 (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:5 A public-serving government

When Churchill commented democracy is the worst form of government (except for all the others we’ve tried) this was what he was talking about.

Each of these weird non-monarchy-by-force systems we imagine are yet another attempt to create a public-serving system of government for realsies this time.

The problem is, unlike a buggy computer program, we can’t simply reset and restart. The people live on and depend on systems and when those systems fail they go hungry, are not treated for plagues, attack those they dislike, dump their shit in the wrong places and so on. It gets very messy and we end up writing musicals about those eras and how messy they were.

Also people in power like staying in power and will resist changes that will upset their very-good-gig. As in massacring all the dissenters. Nothing short of protracted bombing campaigns and artillery will convince them the game is up.

My frustration is that for the inevitability of revolution (the ammunition box is looking super inviting right now for a lot of Americans) revolutions are generally terrible, and the longer we wait in discontent and misery, the more heinous it’s going to get when it finally erupts. We know this, and yet we’ve done nothing to prepare or mitigate for it.

We don’t even have a draft constitution for the new order on the table. Any table.

Scary Devil Monastery (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:6 A public-serving government

"My frustration is that for the inevitability of revolution (the ammunition box is looking super inviting right now for a lot of Americans)…"

No wonder. Out of the four boxes Americans have used the third one already and are, in the wake of Trump’s eager weaponization of SLAPP suits, shaking their heads at the smoking remains of what was in it.

"…revolutions are generally terrible, and the longer we wait in discontent and misery, the more heinous it’s going to get when it finally erupts."

Because very few are willing to admit the american dream is long dead and that the US isn’t the Greatest Place On Earth To Live In any longer. By the time the people are upset enough to actually launch a revolution my guess is the institutions they’d launch it at will have long collapsed, and the wealthy will have long fled for their Bahamas or Phuket beach front properties.

MayhemReignsTV (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:5 Re:

It’s called a monopoly in either instance. It and communism are not mutually exclusive and in fact coexist more often than not. As to your last question, the answer is no. Same applies to the private sector, only we have more tools to try to hold them accountable and functioning in our best interest.

Scary Devil Monastery (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:6 Re:

"Same applies to the private sector, only we have more tools to try to hold them accountable and functioning in our best interest."

Unless said private interests are too embedded with the political system at which point regulatory capture means the unholy merger of monopoly and corporate fascism.

In practice, of course, that becomes indistinguishable from classic communist state-run monopoly…because by that time, it is.

Scary Devil Monastery (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

"The unregulated free market only works when it’s truly unregulated."

No, that’s not how it works.

The free market, in order to work, needs a level playing field. The government’s role there is to provide that by legislating against monopolistic and unfair practices.

Without any regulation at all there won’t be a market at all. There’ll just be AT&T, saying "Who cares what they think, we’re the fscking phone company!" while stomping out any upcoming competition and gouging the consumer for all they’re worth.

And let’s not get started, as the AC just above points out, that the free market has never worked for industries which by their very natures can not compete. Infrastructure, for instance, where you just aren’t going to have multiple choices of water or power lines to choose from.

No corporation willingly abides by ethical guidelines unless forced to do so. The consumer has no power to choose when the "choice" stands between bad and worse.

A lack of regulation does grow the markets quicker, but looking at the shadow banking/insurance collapse in 2008-2009 that’s unsustainable. And sustainability is the issue we’re currently facing, because the idea that a market needs to grow every year for the economy to function is one which leads to a very bad collapse once the bubbles burst.

Anonymous Coward says:

Contrarian perspective

Yes the FCC is a problem.

However let’s remember the alternative. Exactly how responsive and forward thinking and technologically advanced was the government bureaucrat bullied Bell System? Further, exactly how responsive and forward thinking and technologically advanced was the government bureaucrat run Soviet Socialist telephone system? Again, Exactly how responsive and forward thinking and technologically advanced is the socialist Venezuelan telephone system?

The truth is that neither laissez-faire capitalism nor bureaucrat dominated socialist/communist systems work. The systems can be made to work, if the individuals involved are ethical, honest, hard working and dedicated to civilization and good sense. If the individuals involved in the above systems are not so dedicated, then the system and telephone services descend to what we see in the US, Venezuela and saw in the Soviet Union.

Nothing "just works". Something must be made to work and the making and makers are the real problem.

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Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Contrarian perspective

Ever hear of Bell Labs… Researchers working at Bell Labs are credited with the development of radio astronomy, the transistor, the laser, the photovoltaic cell, the charge-coupled device (CCD), information theory, the Unix operating system, and the programming languages C, C++, and S. Nine Nobel Prizes have been awarded for work completed at Bell Laboratories.

There used to be a ton of innovation coming out of AT&T when they being bullied as you say. Now that they are no longer being bullied they do not even own Bell Labs anymore… this was bought out by Nokia.

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genghis_uk (profile) says:

Re: Contrarian perspective

Meanwhile in the socialist / communist European countries such as the UK, France, Germany etc. the telecom sector is highly regulated and ex-state controlled services compete with necomers.

In the UK we beat up our watchdog (OFCOM) for being a bit useless but at least they make an effort – they gave the telcos a couple of years to sort out roaming charges and, when they did nothing, price caps were put in place. Ok, so the telcos sold it as ‘we are lowering your prices because we love you’ but it was definitely imposed upon them – could you say the same would happen in the US?

ECA (profile) says:

Re: Contrarian perspective

making and makers??
Generally they get bought out and never have any contact with the hardware anymore.
Even if they could improve the item in the near future. Those in charge tend to NOT want change.

Same with many of us, that Like to buy something 1 time and last forever, but the Corps changed that also. They Bought the services, they did not make/build/create much of anything in it.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Contrarian perspective

"If the individuals involved in the above systems are not so dedicated, then the system and telephone services descend to what we see in the US, Venezuela and saw in the Soviet Union."

With the difference that the US has one of the strongest economies in the world that can deal in trade in an unlimited way, while the other 2, especially Venezuela now, have their economies under a block put in place precisely by that "free trade" economy.

It’s a bit hard to thrive as a country when your foreign trade is close to none, or it’s very limited.

Anyway, it’s quite appalling that the US has had the same success as Venezuela…

ECA (profile) says:

Re: Contrarian perspective

Dear AC,
Until you know the differences of Socialism and Communism, Suggest you rethink your thought abit.

Go back and think of some other reason for Communism in Russia, being as it was. Rather then REAL communism.

There are a few dynamics happening in the USA, and part of the problem is Old.
Someone started a comment, "The Gov. is to big, the Gov. needs to keep to itself". Isnt a great comment to be made. IF the gov. is protecting us from the Corps going nuts.
Before the tax rates dropping from 90% to 30%, they HAD to make and do a bunch of things to keep making money. Esp. when Competition was Always coming around. WE had 4-6 companies making Washer/dryers, with REAL names, NOT 1 company making All those product with Names Stamped on them for 4-6 companies.
Words like inflation and recession Are nothing to the worker. They are words for the corps. And I can show many ways they have inflated things. Stock market can tell some MEAN stories of how you are paying TONS more then you should. Avg, price of fruits and veggies, is about $0.03 per pound, and in a capitalist run country, we are paying 50-100 times that price, with very little reason. Go tell me how a Bag of potato chips <1 pound is costing you $3-4 or more. When the farmers are only getting 3 cents for 1 pound.

Then we can talk about Bureaucrats.. And that the USA gov. has had a hand in Getting everything done. Not the corps. Corps might have WANTED something done, but alone they couldnt, and with OTHER corps Ideas of how they were going to make money, FEW were going to do much of anything in the end. The Intercontinental rail, would never have been made, and would be BROKE and gone, without the gov.. The Corps backed it then took their money OUT because it wasnt making them enough money.
The phone system the freeways created int he 1960-70’s.. the Whole park system created BECAUSE the corps were taking every bit of land and Mining it. really sounds like allot of communism backed by rich people Who couldnt afford it.

Scary Devil Monastery (profile) says:

Re: Contrarian perspective

"The systems can be made to work, if the individuals involved are ethical, honest, hard working and dedicated to civilization and good sense."

Well. That’s a no, then.

Because the very first thing that will happen is that the individuals involved will end up being the greediest sociopaths capable of clawing themselves into positions of power and authority. The controller or CEO governing the market will be Martin Shkreli.

The only way you make it work is by exposing the market to a system of checks and balances. Forcing a level playing field and seriously strengthened consumer protection laws.

ECA (profile) says:

Re: Re: Contrarian perspective

Anyone ever found a True meaning of FREE MARKET??
Then understand that the USA does have restrictions, Based on what the corps DONT want you to have.

Its a pet peeve, that persons declaring "Well, its made in china, crap". And i suggest to them that a USA corp had it made, and shipped to the USA, and under their inspection, sold it to us.
There there is USA Copyrights. and SOME things the corps Wont do, becaue they wont. Like DIGITAL TV recording. There is no reason we cant do it, CHEAPLY. except they dont want to fight the TV channels, like DISNEY.

Anonymous Coward says:

no surprise here then! under Pai, there may just as well be no FCC! perhaps that’s what Trump is trying to do, get rid of it completely. he wants the ‘few’ to be in charge of the ‘many’, getting extortionate salaries and power and the rest of us simply slaves, with no money, no rights, no freedom and able to be locked up indefinitely for doing even nothing!

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Stephen T. Stone (profile) says:

Re:

To be even the tiniest bit fair to our wannabe-dictator-in-chief, the dismantling/defanging of agencies like the FCC and the EPA was a GOP goal before Trump ever took office. He made that goal easier to accomplish, sure. But I doubt it was on a list of his top five priorities upon becoming president.

The GOP believes in a government that gets out of the way of corporations and the wealthy. That belief rests upon this faulty idea: “The private sector could do everything the government does, but more efficiently and with a far greater good in mind, if the government would stop regulating everything.” To that end, the GOP tries to help corporations in every possible way — loosening environmental regulations, union busting, letting corporations skirt damn near every financial code on the books, and so on.

But with all those regulations gone, corporations have free reign to practice their inherent sociopathy. They’re free to dump toxic chemicals into the water supply without so much as a slap on the wrist. They’re able to bust up unions before those unions even become a thing. And they’re free to rake in millions-to-billions in profits and hide it all away so a CEO who ends up taking the blame for a company’s bad financial year can walk away with a multi-million-dollar golden parachute while the people who do the real work to keep that company going receive nothing — or, worse yet, end up fired.

The GOP doesn’t care about any of that, though. They care about making sure their ultra-wealthy donors are happy enough to keep donating. And while I won’t say Democrats aren’t wholly innocent in this regard — that would be a lie — the Dems at least try their best to pay even lip service to the idea that corporations maybe need some regulations because maybe those corporations don’t operate in a way that represents the best interests of the general public. The GOP cares less about Amazon’s management literally working people to death in Amazon warehouses and more about whether they can convince Jeff Bezos to support GOP campaigns by donating some of his enormous (and unethical) wealth. And the best way to convince him is to lighten the burdens his company has to shoulder…even if that means fucking over the people he exploits every day.

Because, hey, what’s a few dead bodies compared to making sure billionaires can stay billionaires~?

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Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: GOP moral relativism

The GOP cares about ‘people’ just in a kind of moral relativistic way, they look at people as $$$ (Wealth), not as individuals.

Since 50 Billionaires = 50% of the rest of the world’s popluation.

If lives only matter based on the value they can provide to the party/individual/dictator, then it’s easy to see why certain lives (and the things they own and want) matter more than you or I.

Billionaire lives matter…. Won’t someone consider the poor billionaires… hahahahah not until they are all gone, excessive wealth for wealth’s sake is useless and should be re-distributed to those who need it to survive.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 GOP moral relativism

"the big two are like two large corporations"
They are corporations my friend.

"You just pick the one that reflects your personal interests"
The cult of personality has run its course and needs to be put out to pasture. We should vote on the issues, not the talking heads. I guess we would first need to fix our voting system.

Scary Devil Monastery (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 GOP moral relativism

"You just pick the one that reflects your personal interests the most and hope for the best."

Actually it’s more like "You hold your nose and pick the one you feel stinks least".

It’s an easier hurdle to meet when it comes to the parties putting up their candidates and the high US voter apathy and various roadblocks rendering voting harder than it has to be (mass disenfranchisement, gerrymandering, scarcity of accessible voting booths) makes this oh so much easier for both parties.

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Bruce C. says:

Re: Re: Re:

The GOP has governed by Ronald Reagan’s quote for about 40 years…
“In this present crisis, government is not the solution to our problem, government IS the problem. It isn’t so much that liberals are ignorant, it’s just that they know so much that isn’t so.”

A couple of problems with this:
a) They ignore the part about "In this present crisis…" In other words, Reagan wasn’t describing a permanent condition, he was describing Washington under Jimmy Carter and Tip O’Neill.
b) If you believe that the government is the problem, what is your incentive to actually govern when you are in office? Personal enrichment? Perhaps Reagan had a true motive to reform government, but now? Drain the swamp and you’ll find a bunch of Trump’s cronies and family members flopping around in the sun.

MayhemReignsTV (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

Reagan was most definitely principally a conservative. A strong supporter of capitalism and free market principles. He was also a very big nationalist, which is in stark contrast to the current Democrat platform. Democrats used to have very much more in common with Republicans. In fact, modern conservatism is more closely related to classical liberalism than current liberalism is to classical liberalism. But back in those days and earlier, there was less differences between the two principles than there is currently.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

I am continually frustrated by the efforts of many to force the viewing of everything thru their two sides political shades. Obviously, there are multiple differing points of view on any subject, why do we limit ourselves to two of them? Because the entrenched two party political system likes it that way as it allows them much latitude, (aka not telling the truth).

But again, what does any of this have to do with the story?

Stephen T. Stone (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3

modern conservatism is more closely related to classical liberalism

Does “classical liberalism” advocate for eliminating the social safety net, legalizing forced births (i.e., outlawing abortion to control women’s bodies), enacting laws that would punish queer people for daring to exist in society, and trying to rig elections in favor of a single political party through gerrymandering and voter suppression tactics? Because modern U.S. conservatism advocates for those things and I’d really like to know how close that comes to “classical liberalism”.

Scary Devil Monastery (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:4 Re:

"Because modern U.S. conservatism advocates for those things…"

It’s interesting to note that conservatism couldn’t very well advocate for most of those things.
Todays GOP isn’t run by actual conservatives. No matter that they love to pay lip service to the legacies of actual conservative predecessors – who by now are probably rotating so fast in their graves hooking their corpses up to dynamos might be a viable way of turning US power markets green.

The current GOP is torn between the principles of bigotry and religious hysteria. Any other philosophy has no place at their table anymore.

Stephen T. Stone (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:5

It’s interesting to note that conservatism couldn’t very well advocate for most of those things.

The root word of “conservatism” is “conserve”, and modern U.S. conservatism is about the conservation of two things:

  • power and authority in the hands of a specific group of people (rich White guys), and…
  • a cultural worldview and lifestyle they deem the most “normal” or “correct” (the hypothetical “average life experience” of a middle- to upper-class straight White cisgender conservative Christian male)

So telling me…

conservatism couldn’t very well advocate

…for forced births, legalized “conversion ‘therapy’ ” for minors, voter suppression techniques designed to marginalize people of color (who are more likely to vote Democrat), and what is essentially the turning of Christian doctrine into secular law that affects all people? That shit is a gotdamn lie, and you should know better than to spread that lie by now.

Scary Devil Monastery (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:6 Re:

"…for forced births, legalized “conversion ‘therapy’ ” for minors, voter suppression techniques designed to marginalize people of color (who are more likely to vote Democrat), and what is essentially the turning of Christian doctrine into secular law that affects all people?"

As a liberal conservative I’d like to point out that;

  • Abortions have been around since the damn of man and the preponderance of evidence suggests prohibiting it cause societal harm and allowing it does not. The conservative view? It stays.
  • Homosexuality has similarly been around for just as long. Preponderance of evidence suggests it causes no harm to society, whereas repression of it does. The conservative view? No need for prohibition.
  • Marginalizing people of color? Again, slavery and discrimination were proven wrong and harmful centuries ago. The conservative view? Stay that course.

I think you’ll find that what the US self-styled "conservatives" are advocating isn’t conservatism. I’d call it outright anachronism because what they are aiming for is the reimplementation of principles which have been proven wrong for extensive time periods.

They’re "conserving" nothing. They’re trying to take back the plantation, send the black guy back to the fields, the women back to the kitchen, and their children back to the pulpit thumping preacher railing about sin and hellfire.

A better definition of "conservative" would be the guy who thinks twice before deciding whether something actually needs to be changed lest the change brings a worse outcome than what you’re currently sitting in.

That’s not what the GOP does. They’re trying, for all they’re worth, to go backwards into the good old days of the confederacy. In some cases all the way back to the days of King George or, (in the case of the neocons") all the way back to queen Victoria and the english-speaking empire.

"That shit is a gotdamn lie, and you should know better than to spread that lie by now."

People are indeed lying about political keywords but it seems I have to say this once again – those lies are most heavily used and accepted in the US. As a european i neither subscribe to the definition of "liberal" as a baby-eating junkie or a "conservative" as a card-carrying KKK or nazi party member.

The GOP can call themselves "conservative" all they like but that doesn’t make it any more correct than when USSR commissars tried to discuss the workers Utopia.

I suggest another term for the GOP; Anachronistic Tribalists.

Stephen T. Stone (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:7

Modern U.S. conservatism is about, as you put it, “think[ing] twice before deciding whether something actually needs to be changed”. The problem is, what they’re trying to stop from changing is society itself.

Since I’ve been alive, U.S. conservatives have fought against the Equal Rights Amendment, various civil rights movements (especially the LGBTQ civil rights movement), what I would call “people-first” tax reform (i.e., raising taxes wealthy people and corporations), the separation of church and state, and…well, practically anything that could be seen as a threat to a specific worldview/lifestyle in which their values, their beliefs, and (most importantly) their control of a society that they believe only they are allowed to rule—I mean, govern.

Modern U.S. conservatism is about conservation — that is, the conservation oF a worldview which cannot coexist with, and will utlimately be felled by, modern society. The conservation comes from their trying to stop modern society in its tracks through the law — outlawing abortion, fighting the E.R.A., passing anti–same sex marriage laws, etc. — because they believe any change is bad change.

Uriel-238 (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:8 Conservatism

In the US conservative policy seems to go further than that in trying to criminalize all but a specific selection of Christian religions and undo over a century of social advancement (disenfranchising non-whites, rechattelizing women and so on).

But again people are miserable and inaction regarding the most marginalized of us (such as the immigrants packed into our detention camps or our workers who have to expose themselves to plague in order to earn a living) is nothing short of regarding those people as outlaws or enemies.

As such, our society doesn’t regard them as human beings, and so long as we continue to fail to do so, their only option is to bring down our society and erect one that does. Our negligence (often in the name of conservatism) justifies any kind of retaliation they may take against those of us who benefit from the current institutions, even if that means a violent campaign of terror and sabotage.

MayhemReignsTV (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:4 Re:

Back when it existed, what social safety net? The court case on abortion had not been settled yet either, but many were against it at one time. So I don’t think classical liberalism would have had an established opinion on either of those. I disagree that conservatism advocates for the first thing. Maybe certain people in the Republican party do. But yes, it does tend to lean pro-life like much of society of the past. Outside of things like rape, you have got to see the point trying to be made there. But that is a very contentious topic. Again, I don’t think either has an inherent opinion about homosexuality, maybe certain individuals do. Some don’t believe in making certain protective laws for certain classes, which we wouldn’t need in a well-functioning society. And the last thing about gerrymandering I could swear that is what the current Democrats have been doing in places like Texas and elsewhere, along with advocating for illegals to vote. Where do you figure that is a Republican or conservative thing?

Stephen T. Stone (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:5

Republicans have generally been chomping at the bit for years — decades, even! — to undercut, underfund, and ultimately dismantle Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and welfare programs such as SNAP. Yes, some Democrats have wanted to do the same, but not nearly to the same degree or with the same fervor as Republicans.

Republicans generally advocate for the outlawing of abortion, which will lead to a new rise in back-alley/illegal abortions. Several such advocates also call for most or even all abortion “exceptions” — rape, incest, life of the mother — to be closed. Either way, such advocacy is not about “pro-life”, but about control of women’s bodies from a conservative Christian worldview.

The GOP advocates for overturning Obergefell v Hodges, legalizing discrimination against queer people, and legalizing the physical and psychological torture known as “conversion ‘therapy’ ” (which has long been debunked as an effective “treatment” for anything, much less “curing homosexuality”). Don’t believe me? Read about the 2016 GOP platform, quotes and all.

The GOP does more to suppress votes and inhibit free and fair elections when it is in power in a given state. All the evidence you need is in the 2018 George gubernatorial election. Brian Kemp, as the acting Secretary of State of Georgia, oversaw his victory in that election — an election that featured numerous voting irregularities that disproportionately affected people of color, including the closing of polling places. Republicans don’t like it when their opponents get a chance to vote, or when that vote could potentially cost them a seat of power. That is why they gerrymander. That is why they close polling places and cut early voting times. Even Donald Trump came out against mail-in voting because he (wrongly) believes Republicans would never win elections again if it were to become the norm.

(As for your claims about Democrats: Evidence or GTFO.)

Everything I accuse Republicans/the GOP of supporting has a basis in fact: The actions of Republicans/the GOP across my lifetime. I don’t proclaim Democrats/the DNC to be walk-on-water angels in any way; sleazy Democrats exist and they’re not going to get my support. But to say, or even imply, “both parties are different” ignores the truth. The GOP is pro-forced birth, anti-welfare(/pro-poverty), pro-voter suppression, and anti-queer. Anyone who says otherwise is fooling themselves; why they’re doing that, I have no idea.

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