Friday, February 23, 2007

Corporate Ethics, Publicly Funded Campaigns

The sun is out and it's snowing which is unusual for Ellensburg, but beautiful nonetheless.


Corporate Ethics
I have been thinking about the market economy lately and its checks and balances. In a true free market economy business is only regulated by consumer purchasing habits. There are some gray areas where this regulation breaks down. The classic example is in the case of monopolies which limit choice, innovation, and quality.

Another example I would give is in regards to energy dependence. Most Americans are dependent on petrochemically generated energy for heating, food production, transportation and livelihood. It is not realistic to think that we can all live off the grid at this point. Therefore most of us are not able, for economic reasons, to use our buying power to influence the shift to more holistic energy sources. This is where governmental regulation and public pressure come into play.

I am interested in helping to shift the ethical consciousness of the corporate community such that corporate ethics align with a humanistic morality in terms of human rights and the environment.

An organization that I believe does an excellent job in helping corporatocracies to make this moral shift is


Publicly Funded Campaigns
I sent the following email to my friends and family today:
Dear Family and Friends,

I have become concerned about the influence of big money on politics and public policy. This in turn has sparked my interest in publicly funded campaigns.

The show that keyed me in to the potential of publicly funded campaigns was an episode of NOW on PBS which may be viewed at:

If you are interested in learning more and perhaps becoming involved on a state level go to:

There is also a movement at the national level. To find out more go to:

If you are local to Ellensburg, WA I invite you to attend the Washington Public Campaigns presentation to the League of Women Voters on April 17th at 7 pm in the Hal Holmes Community Center: 209 N. Ruby Street, 962-7240.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

The Net @ Risk

I just caught an episode of Moyers On America called The Net @ Risk. There were a couple of interesting segments.

Internet Connection Speed
The first segment discussed how the US is now tenth in terms of connection speed to the internet. According to the information provided the telephone companies in return for reduced regulation and lower taxes agreed to upgrade to fiber optics across the nation. This means that for the price we are paying for a 3 MBps connection we should have a 45 MBps connection.

The phone companies were previously required to reinvest a significant portion of their returns in their infrastructure ensuring that the structure was maintained and updated. The model was based on public utilities. The deregulation allowed the companies to pocket the profits instead of reinvesting them.

The companies have not been held accountable or forced to keep their promises because, according to one interviewee, they are in bed with the commissioners who are supposed to be monitoring their activities.

To add insult to injury the telecommunications companies are suing municipalities that are trying to implement fiber optic networks for their citizens.

Net Neutrality
The second segment I found of interest discussed Net Neutrality. The internet service providers currently charge us for our internet connection. They would like to be able to charge a second fee to content providers. If the content providers pay the fees their content will download faster.

Previously the ISPs were regulated by a notion called "Common Carriage" which was enacted for interstate commerce and then applied to the communication services. The idea is that some services are so important and powerful that companies should not be allowed to favor some customers over others.

Early in railroad shipping the railroads would charge different rates to different clients for the same service. Railroad companies favored those clients in whom they were invested. This caused problems for towns that were not able to receive necessary goods and thus regulation was enacted.

The regulation was later applied to telegraph companies as they charged different rates to different wire services. The AP was favored and as a result is still the dominant wire service today. The system was also used to favor certain political candidates over others. Thus the Common Carriage regulations were applied to the communications industry.

The same regulations were initially applied to the internet, but internet service providers have been fighting successfully to have the regulations removed. This means that they can promote certain companies over others. They can provide exclusive high speed transmission to one company and deny it to another which in an internet dependent society effectively destroys the potential of the company that is not being favored.

Rick Karr said,
In 2002, the Federal Communications Commission decided that neutrality didn't apply to cable internet and in the summer of 2005, the FCC let phone companies off the hook, too. Suddenly, there were no more net neutrality rules. The FCC replaced them with suggested "principles" for an open Internet.
For more information on what you can do to restore internet neutrality go to: