Beyond the Cusp

February 19, 2015

Washington Wants to Rope the Internet

 

There is a urging in Washington D.C. to place the Internet under Federal Communications Commission (FCC) jurisdiction so that the federal government will be permitted to regulate the speeds, bandwidth and allocation of resources. Part of the ground items to be placed under regulation has virtually nothing to do with the average private person using the Internet except that their rates would rise very likely exponentially, not merely linearly. The crux of the argument is who should have to pay for their use of bandwidth, especially when it comes to commercial rates. The fight is between the bandwidth providers, your Internet provider company, or the user, such as Netflix, Amazon, EBay and other retailers whose need for additional bandwidth in order to provide their services to the public. Needless to point out, the Internet providers are demanding that retailers and web services pay for their greater need for bandwidth while the retailers and web services feel that the Internet providers should have to provide access not by bandwidth but at one price as if all users are created equal regardless of bandwidth demands. Should the Internet come under federal regulation then we can all expect whichever side can influence the most numbers of Congress-critters to rule the day. The real problem is that each side just might have sufficient influence that some grand bargain will be found, and grand bargains seldom work out to the advantage of those who have minimal lobbying influence, the average private citizen who uses the Internet for any purpose.

 

The idea of free website services such as the one this blog is carried on would be a thing of the past really fast. Free e-mail, forget about it! Other free services currently offered will all by necessity carry a price-tag sufficiently high that the providers would no longer offer such goodies. Everything would have to come with a price because the Internet providers would be forced to become very stingy with their bandwidth usage as those large bandwidth users whose use of bandwidth so outweighs any average private user would also be capable of lobbying Congress and thus they would at the very least force that every customer pay for bandwidth in preset allocations where there would be a significant entry level and additional bandwidth use would be charged according to the use of additional set blocks which the Internet providers would charge according to regulations setting the sizes. Perhaps an example might help.

 

Bandwidth is measured by bits per second of usage. When an individual is using the Internet their bandwidth varies by activity. To read articles their bandwidth usage is virtually zero, to read your e-mail is also negligible, to download pictures it is a little higher and potentially speed will be sacrificed if one is to use a lower bandwidth, to watch a YouTube video it is considerably larger and to watch a hi-definition movie the bandwidth usage would be at the highest end of the scale as it is passing data in real time and the service is not going to burden their customers demanding they allow for buffering interrupting the movie at different stages when the bandwidth is exceeded by the requirement to transfer the necessary data. Now imagine the bandwidth requirement for a music provider where they download music to their customers in the millions twenty-four hours a day. Their bandwidth requirement dwarfs that of the average user and even the bandwidth required by any single user of their service. Add in video for the music or a movie averaging two to three hours straight of hi-definition video and surround sound which is likely the highest bandwidth and individual user could demand. The providers of each of these services from the news article or encyclopedia site downloading mostly text and the occasional JPEG to thousands or even millions of users simultaneously would exceed that of any individual user of their service which is obvious. The same ratio or even a higher ratio is required by the providers of each of the other services, downloading music, add in video with the music and make all of that hi-definition with surround sound for hours at a time to millions on a busy Saturday night during a blizzard and you can barely imagine the required bandwidth for the on-line movies provider. If these high end demand for bandwidth providers get their way they will place a fairly significant share of their bandwidth payment down to the users and away from themselves. The easiest way for them to achieve this is to set a high basic bandwidth amount as the minimal bandwidth package that can be offered. They might even go so far as to set the price of this basic bandwidth package around three times what it might cost currently despite the fact that very few, actually probably none, of private users ever even approached that level of usage even at their highest usage times. They would then have additional packets of bandwidth which many of the high demand services require but those would be at a minimal profit for the service providers as an exchange for the additional cash inflow provided by the upgrade of the basic package to a point beyond the average person’s imagination, let alone use.

 

They might make the basic bandwidth package be equal to approximately one-half-of-one percent of the price for running a T-3 connection, a connection which currently provides the average private household’s internet demand as high as one-third of a million users. So by making the basic package priced higher and providing data rates well beyond private demands they will be laying off a fair share of their usage off on private users by which they can make their purchase of their required excess usage rates of bandwidth more affordable for them and thus they will be able to provide their services at a lesser rate. In exchange the service providers will now be required to sell a far higher service level than anybody could ever use to their base users. The end result will be the introduction of lower rate service providers in local areas who will purchase a set of base lines and use that bandwidth to sell to people locally which will require their laying cable or using phone connections by also purchasing a bank of phone lines as under a business usage service. This will mean a step backwards for people who use these services until they find the best balance of internet access and ability to provide access leaving the higher priced providers who are under federal regulations as the other choice. But there is another side that could change the entire package and service. Just in case nobody has noticed, the internet is an international network and thus the providers could simply move their servers outside the United States and run distributive services through a branch office within the United States which is tied to their actual servers outside of the United States thus beyond federal regulations. Granted, such would require an initial investment to relocate their servers but after that they would be free from the heavy hand of the federal government. The guarantee in the case of the implementation of net neutrality is a double sided sword. The first blade will make internet access multiples of the current rates followed, as rapidly as the providers are capable of making the transference, the moving of all internet servers and hubs to nations who provide a more business friendly attitude and the setting up of a network connection system so as to provide their services within the United States from locations over the borders or the setting up of new secondary companies which are subsets of the current providers who will offer more friendly priced Internet access and accounts with a slightly longer delay or lag in connections which will be imperceptible except possibly in some of the most intense and graphically heavy, such as a game using hi-definition rendering or other high-speed graphic requirements. In the end all that federal regulation of the Internet will accomplish is a renaming of the current private user accounts and a minimal increased lag playing World of Warcraft and other such games. This will be similar to when the federal government set price controls on many foods back in the early 1970s where they set the price of apples and within a few weeks you could not buy an apple, you had to buy a Red Delicious, a Golden Delicious, a Red Granny Smith, a Yellow Granny Smith but you could no longer buy just a plain old apple as no such produce existed any longer, the same happened to virtually every item which was placed under price controls and is why there are so many choices in produce in the supermarket today. It even affected beef as now you had ground chuck, ground round, ground sirloin and lean ground beef. Isn’t the federal government just so wonderful as their attempts to place their heavy hand on our food resulted in our having such a wide variety of foods which were not included in the federal government price controls, just wonderful. No wonder shopping has become so confusing for the average man and just one more reason that women rule, they can actually tell the difference between a Golden Delicious and a Yellow Granny Smith.

 

Beyond the Cusp

 

January 9, 2015

We Have Awakened but for How Long This Time?

 

This latest insult to the sensitivities of Western culture with the unconscionable slaughter by Islamic murderers in Paris, France of the editors, writers and cartoonists at the offices of the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo with a total toll of twelve murdered including two Parisian police officers and injuring ten with a number in serious condition has awakened the public of the free world. This severe cost in lives of these at the edge of the media who died for the freedom of thought, freedom of the press, freedom period is far from the first such spilling of innocents for thought by Islamist murderers. There was the murder of Theo Van Gough on 2 November 2004 at about 9 o’clock in the morning on the corner of the Linnaeusstraat and Tweede Oosterparkstraat in Amsterdam, Holland also stirred the ire of Western society but for only a brief period before all returned to their slumbers. Even the terrorist attacks on the United States on September 11, 2001 where almost three thousand were murdered, many burning to death while others launched themselves from the top floors to avoid such an end drove a public resolute to never forget and to fight the evils which drove this horrific act. Within a few years those who were tasked with providing the defensive actions to fight those evils lost the support as political points and winning elections and following the winds of the ever fickle and forgetful public soon sapped all the promise and impetus to fight for Western freedoms against a determined assault. Then in Madrid, Spain the slaughters came in the form of the attacks on the trains during the morning commute of 11 March 2004 where the bombs killed 191 people and wounded 1,800 more in what was the worst terror attack in the Western world outside the World Trade Center terror attacks once more waking the slumbering Western determination to defend the freedoms they enjoy and hold dear. The silence was broken next in the London, England tube terror attacks on 7 July 2005 also awakened the drive to stand up for the right of the innocent to ride the subways and busses, walk the streets and live free from the fears and horrors from Islamist terrorist onslaughts on their lives and safety but soon the daily slog dulled the sensitivities and awareness and the promises once again fell silent. Then there was Mumbai, India terror assaults of Wednesday, 26 November lasting until Saturday, 29 November 2008, killing 164 people and wounding at least 308 across a wide area and venues of assaults including tourist hotels district, the Jewish Assistance Chabad House and a major train station whose preplanned and well executed military styled assault temporarily caught the attention of the world which soon, with eyes glazed over, went back to sleep. We could continue this list with the Trolley Square terror attack of 12 February 2007, the Ft. Hood terror attack of November 5, 2009 where Army Major Nidal Malik Hasan murdered fellow soldiers, the Boston Marathon assault of 15 April 2013 and the Beslan school hostage crisis and massacre in Russia from 1 September 2004 until its tragic result on 4 September 2004 where too many of the injured and murdered were young children plus too many other terror attacks robbing people of their lives and livelihoods all through the world that it is unfathomable that somehow the world finds a path every time and everyone seems to simply return to their routine and daily lives no longer giving even a second thought to horrors which gripped them so dramatically and horrified them just a few days earlier. The cycle of the world public waking to this threat and then returning to their peaceful slumber until the next wake-up call only to fall asleep once again, is almost beyond reason.

 

There is one society which also appears to return to their routines after each Islamist terror attack as to not do so would mean there could be no routine, no normal life, no even getting from one day to the next, so finding a way to continue to return to a routine is a necessity. The difference is that in this society they do not forget even for a second that there exist terrorists who would be assaulting and murdering in terror attacks not just daily but every moment of every day thus they do not have that relative comfort to simply forget if they are to survive. The public I refer to are the Israelis, or at least the majority of Israelis realize that terrorists are attempting to murder as many as they are able and also know that their security personnel are also aware and doing that which is required to keep the people as safe as they are able. That place is, of course, Israel. Where the numbers of attacks in the Western world are on the rise, the threats of such assaults are minimal by comparison but will eventually rise to the same level frequency thus of similar importance if this awakening and the horrors being experienced from this assault do not jolt the people of the West and the world to demand that their government finally take whatever steps are necessary to protect the people and address the roots of terror. By roots of terror I do not mean that the West must forfeit their rights and freedoms and that the Western world must adopt the ways these terrorists demand we apply to and by which we must transform our societies. We must insist and protect those freedoms and liberties while fighting against those who desire to transform the Western societies into simply reflections of the oppressive realities of many of the lands from where they originate while compassionately returning those who refuse to adjust to the ways of the Western world to whence they came. It is time for the people to awaken, which most are after this terrorist slaughter of cartoonists, editors and two brave public servants, Paris gendarmes, may their memories be extolled.

 

The truth is that each and every one of us has the important responsibility to remain alert, remain awake, remain cognizant, remain the reminders to others every day in every way. We need to be living, speaking, all-alert and stalwarts as the conscience of our little corners of the world. Yes, the average person will not appreciate such efforts as they wish to remain asleep until the next Islamic terrorist assault when they will immediately become the loudest and most ardent fighter demanding actions for almost three or ten days and they return to their slumber. The daily water cooler talk will soon sound so similar to snoring once you join the alert few and your own conversations take on an urgency that standing for things truly important, life-changing and potentially societal-changing as their main topics. You will find ways with time to raise the awareness of those around you even if initially for just moments at first; continue the new task of gadfly constantly urging awareness. With time your becoming educated will grant you stories and other effective manners and subjects which imparted in an enticing and acceptable way will begin to awaken even one, as then they might awaken one and then eventually you will be surprised how contagious being part of a solution can be in spreading the cause of protecting our homes, workplaces, shopping centers and the places throughout our lives which we hold dear and protect something even more important, our ways of life and their freedoms and liberties. The other choice is to surrender to Islam. I was once threatened that I would one day surrender before Allah and accept Islam into my life. What my answer lacked in politeness it made up for in the excessive and threatening voice and mannerisms which shocked my Islamic coworker. Fortunately, when he complained to his immediate supervisor, he said he would address the situation and the result was for both of us to avoid speaking to each other. This was observed though I rarely missed a smirk when within eyeshot of this coworker. The confrontation would never have occurred had my friend whose devotion to friends overshadowed his mere five-foot and five or six-inch frame who this coworker had caused great discomfort and a feeling of a direct threat. That too ceased, remarkable. Sometimes remembering that there may be those who believe it is their urging to press their beliefs on others is another part of fighting the good fight includes and the immediate results are greatly empowering. I welcome those who share the high levels of awareness and live the life informed and informing, a sometimes lonely life but those who join you will be some of the closest and most supportive friends you will ever find.

 

Beyond the Cusp

 

February 10, 2014

Obamacare has not yet Begun to Strike

We seem to hear of a new calamity attributed to the Affordable Care Act, a.k.a. Obamacare, every week if not every few days. One of the latest is from the CBO (Congressional Budget Office) which predicted that there will be two-million fewer full-time workers by 2017 and 2-million-five-hundred-thousand fewer full-time workers by 2024. What has been even more disturbing than the CBO’s reported bad news has been the attempts to soften the impact of the report by the Obama administration and Democrat Party leaders in the House of Representatives and the Senate. The main underlying explanation that this large number of full-time job loss is that it will free people to pursue their other interests since they will no longer be required to hold a job in order to have healthcare. Also on the jobs front, a report from the retail sector found that the average hours worked weekly fell dramatically more and faster than had been expected. This report also predicted that the average retail position will be a twenty-eight hour a week job in order for retail employers to avoid the requirement to provide health insurance for their employees. This is expected to be an epidemic problem most prevalent at the lowest end of scale of hourly workers such as in retail, food service, hospitality industry and other positions which normally pay the minimum wage or slightly above the minimum wage as these employers feel they will be unable to afford to provide health insurance while making a profit without needing to drastically raise prices as higher prices would make their enterprise no longer competitive.

 

The known big lie which President Obama claimed almost incessantly when selling the public his healthcare plan was, “If you like your doctor/health insurance, then you can keep your doctor/health insurance, period.” Less stressed was the other big lie repeated almost as frequently when President Obama exclaimed first made during a State of the Union speech when referring to his healthcare initiatives he stated, “Nothing I’m proposing tonight should increase our deficit by a single dime.” President Obama was actually correct but not in any manner that could be framed as a good thing as Obamacare was predicted by the GAO (Government Accounting Office), a nonpartisan agency tasked to be the audit, evaluation, and investigative arm of the United States Congress, to cause a six-trillion-two-hundred-billion dollar addition to the national deficit. That is definitively not a single dime; it is over sixty-trillion dimes. Then there was President Obama’s promise that insurance premiums would be decreased by his healthcare initiative by two-thousand-five-hundred dollars per family per year. The unfortunate truth has been estimated that the average family healthcare premiums have increased by at least three-thousand dollars. When both the Obama prediction and the reality are combined, the result is that healthcare premiums missed the President’s predictions by a mere five-thousand dollars per family per year, a full two-hundred percent under actual cost error for the President. No matter which way one looks at the costs of Obamacare it has been nothing short of a disaster which promises to make the initial problems appear insignificant when the entirety of the law has been allowed to be implemented.

 

That brings us to another problem, implementation of the legislation which was approved by both houses of Congress and signed by the President and then it has been selectively applied with some of the most damning requirements and implementations being put on hold or even repealed due to the financial consequences of allowing them to go into effect as demanded by the law. President Obama has deferred the application of some aspects of the Affordable Care Act such as the employers’ mandate, passed out exemptions to unions and certain other groups who have special access to the President including Congressional staffers if their Representative or Senator saw fit to exempt them, or outright cancelled such as the section which pertained to extended care coverage which proved to be so fiscally demanding that it had to be dropped using a clause injected in the bill by some republicans that demanded that the extended or long time care insurance had to be proven to be deficit neutral or it had to be eliminated from the legislation. Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius tried every which way she could find and was unable to make this provision come even close to deficit neutral thus it was quashed. It really is a shame that such a clause was not placed in the Obamacare legislation covering the entirety being rescinded if it proved not to be deficit neutral.

 

There is another time bomb ticking away in Obamacare that is also being spun as the opposite of what will inevitably be the result of the clause. Insurance companies supported Obamacare for one very good reason; it provides them with a win-win situation. There is a reimbursement clause which sets up a situation where the insurance providers make an estimate within certain relatively liberal criteria of their expected payout each year. Should their actual payouts exceed their estimates by a certain percentage, then the government will compensate the insurance company for eighty percent of these losses. The clause also has stipulations that should the insurance companies have payouts sufficiently below their estimation, then the government applies an excess profits tax and this is intended to mitigate the payouts. The extended predictions through 2024 show that the government will pay out eight-billion dollars while over the same period the government will take in sixteen-billion dollars which results in an eight-billion dollar profit for the treasury. Excuse my serious reservations but I always get suspect of figures that fit so nicely together that they balance so perfectly and results show multiples of one-hundred percent as this prediction does. Also, does anybody really believe that the insurance companies have accountants, some of the most meticulous and exacting people in the universe, who would produce estimates of expenditures to insured parties knowing that their company will receive an eighty percent reimbursement for any payouts over their estimate and a penalty should payouts fall short of their estimate set their estimate at the higher? Of course not; they would low ball their estimates by as close to ninety-nine and ninety-nine-one-hundredths percent towards the low end. For an example, if the range under the guidelines provided in the Obamacare legislation calculated that their annual payouts could be estimated to be between a low end of five-hundred-billion dollars and a high end of ten-trillion dollars, where would you as an accountant for the insurance company place your estimate, at nine-trillion dollars risking an overestimate and penalty or closer to five-hundred-fifty-billion dollars and most probably receive a bailout reimbursement for excess payments to insured account holders. My suspicions is that there will be very few if any insurance company financial predictions of expected payouts that will be an overestimation rather than an underestimation. Expect the Federal Government to be reimbursing health insurance companies by very significant amounts year after year without ever bothering to investigate how such a situation could have come into being. They set this in the legislation knowing full well what the end results were going to be and honestly expected to use this as exactly what it is, a bribe to get the insurance companies on board. We can also expect at some point the government to withdraw this safety net leading to numerous health insurance companies either going out of business or nearly doubling already higher premiums in order to assure they do not go broke any faster than avoidable. That is not to claim their health is expected to be good enough for them to survive in the long run as the real aim of Obamacare is to destroy sufficient amounts of the healthcare industries as to make a government run, single-payer healthcare system appear desirable to the majority of the American population.

 

Beyond the Cusp

 

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