Category: Politics


he has a good point The Net neutrality issue is complicated and somewhat misunderstood-  but it is potentially far more important that most people realize. This post attempts to explain the issue.

Imagine if you were driving your new Ford Fusion, about to enter the highway and you were met with a barrier saying “Fords not allowed on the highway – Ford drivers must use local roads”


You would be outraged.

Imagine if you were flying your usual airline from NY to Chicago and during the flight it was announced that the flight will take 4 hours as that airline is no longer allowed to fly directly.

You would be angry.

Internet service providers are like the highway or the airways – they provide a medium for transportation. In the case of the highway it is a medium for cars to travel on and similartly ISP’s provide a medium for data to travel on the internet.

We all expect such utilities like highways or an ISP to provide us unbiased access – i.e to be neutral.   As the highway should not decide which car brand should have access, an ISP should not decide which streaming music service should have access or better access than another.   The consumer should be free to decide which brand of car or which flight they choose or which streaming service they want to use. Whether to buy a truck or a sports car, whether to buy a Ford or Mercedes – that is a consumer choice, depending on their needs and budget – knowing that any of them can be driven on the highway.  Choosing a shorter or longer flight, choosing United or American – that is a consumer choice, knowing that both have equal right to fly in the sky.

This is the crux of the net neutrality debate.   The current administration and the FCC chairman, Mr. Ajit Pai, want to undue net neutrality.  What they are proposing is that the ISP does not have to be unbiased – they can decide not to allow a Ford to travel on it, they can decide which service they will give better or worse access to. They can sell access or quality of access to the highest bidder.  They are being allowed to be the highway that denies access to your Ford because Ford did not pay the highway more than another car company.

So as a consumer when you are trying to choose a service, you will lose the ability to make your own choice. You will not be able to choose a service based on its merit or quality or value – as the ability for that company to provide you the service will depend on whether they can pay enough money to the ISPs.  Thus your choice will be dictated and influenced by the ISPs.

Well you can simply dismiss this as “big business” – but this very different. Yes, different companies have different ability to influence a consumer by advertising – but the difference is that the choice is still yours.  If you are not allowed to drive that Ford on the highway, the choice is effectively taken away from you.

Net neutrality is a complex topic and thus somewhat misunderstood.  A wireless company that throttles your bandwidth speed after a certain amount of usage or charges you more – is not a net neutrality issue – those are just the terms of service of that company.  There is still a significant amount of misinformation on the meaning of net neutrality as it is some nuanced and complicated.  Recently Verizon announced they would throttle streaming access and cap certain streaming quality and several articles said that this was an affront to net neutrality.  That is not true at all.   The ISP’s are access companies providing access to content.  Access providers may have different service levels and quality, similarly Content providers may have different quality and service levels – but Access should not be biased to one Content or another.  Verizon’s throttling applies to all streaming content – it does not distinguish between one or another, i.e. it is still neutral.   Verizon is simply making a business decision on their service and pricing, similar to airlines charging different amounts for baggage – they don’t care what the color or brand of your luggage is.

Ajit Pai is not a technologist.  He is a lawyer that worked for Verizon.  He doesn’t really understand technology, he is just thinking about companies like Verizon who are stand to be the biggest beneficiaries of his rolling back net neutrality.  Start up and small businesses lose – as they will not be able to compete with the larger established companies – it stifles innovation.  Imagine if a new innovative video streaming company is launched with a fantastic product.  But they have to pay the ISP a ton of money to allow their service to be delivered at the same speed as an established company – well guess what – as a consumer you will never see the new company’s service.  To you, their service will appear slow as they were unable to buy equal speed of delivery on the ISP.

The common argument I hear is “ what if one music or video streaming company is impacted…there are more important issues facing us today…”  This is one of the reasons that Ajit Pai is able to try and roll back these regulations so easily – the broader impact is not fully understood.  It is not about music of videos – it is about a much larger issue – the control of dissemination of information on the internet. The media is called the third pillar of democracy – as the media creates checks and balances by providing information to the public.  The internet has become a dominant part of the media, overtaking traditional print and TV. No matter what, we all rely on some ISP to give us access to the internet.  If the ISP can influence what and how information flows through to us, and this can be bought, then we run a major risk of losing control of the media.

Ajit Pai may just be a pawn in a much larger game – a much more dangerous game. One of the first steps in the loss of a democracy, to a dictator, tyrant etc – is the loss of an unbiased media. Once the media can be controlled, it just becomes a propaganda machine.  If the ISP’s neutrality is for sale, it opens up the possibility for bad actors to disseminate their own news and information with priority over others – de facto controlling the media.

The irony is that Ajit Pai’s parents emigrated from India – a country that prides itself on its determination to maintain net neutrality.  A few years ago, Facebook offered free internet access in India with the caveat that FB would control the content that was accessible and it had to be via FB. It was rejected by the people and the government keeping in line with its fierce protection of net neutrality. Ajit Pai should maybe talk to his parents.

Cartoon courtesy Steve Sack, Star Tribune editorial cartoons

Look in the mirror

Just before the elections, I wrote a short note called “My Fears…” and sent it out to some friends.  It described my fears of the implication of a Trump presidency to our society and urged my friends not to vote for Trump. You can read this note here.

The note was partly in response to a sense I had that a larger number of people of South Asian heritage were voting for Trump than expected – a similar trend in with other minority communities.  Over the last several months I have found out that there were many Indian-American voters who actually voted for Trump.  This posting is for them.

To all the Indian-Americans that voted for Trump, I ask you a simple question – can you buy Lyrica online Look at yourself in the mirror and tell me what you see? 

Is there a big sign on your head saying you are a Trump supporter? I doubt it.  But I am sure you see a brown skinned person.  Now think about this – what do you think Adam Purinton or Chester Doles or Richard Lloyd or Deep Rai’s shooter sees?

Trump and his associates like Bannon and Miller have popularized and legitimized xenophobia, racism and hate. As someone aptly said, the stigma of being a racist has been lifted – it is now getting to be “OK” and “cool” to openly spew the vitriol of racism.

Jewish home spray painted with swastikas,   flyers distributed in several neighborhoods with the words, “Make America WHITE again-and greatness will follow”, notes in community center that read “WERE GONNA BLOW UP ALL OF YOU REFUGEES”, Swastikas all over a subway car,  attempted fire in Indian-American grocery saying “run the Arabs out of the country” – the list goes on.  The number of incidents of hate crimes against south Asians has risen to post-9/11 levels, however hundreds of smaller incidents are going unreported. You can read the article and download a report on this here

Across America, the rise in the populism of racism has emboldened certain people to come out of the margins and shadows.  For many years there has been the very slow process of marginalization of racists – however Trump and his gang have disrupted this progress and as Van Jones said, American is facing a “white-lash”.

So when they see a brown person it’s ok to shoot them as they may be muslim who Trump says are bad; when they see a brown person, they can blow them up as they may be refugees, who they are told are not wanted in American; when they see a brown person they can harass them as they may be illegal immigrants whom they are told are responsible for their job loss; when they a brown person its ok to set fire to their store as they may be Arab and should driven out and now it is ok for the police to take in a brown person going for a walk, albeit a respected scientist, for questioning for suspicious behavior  – and it goes on and on.

I have tried hard to understand why any Indian-American would have voted for Trump with this backdrop. The answers mostly seem based on a misguided view that Trump will be better economically and for their bottom line.  Even if that was true (which is highly debatable), what use is a few extra dollars if the society is torn apart, if you have no dignity and safety and are a third class citizen? What will those extra dollars do when your kids are harassed in school or when you are told to get out of this country?

Some of those that voted for Trump were swayed by the rhetoric of Islamophobia.  To those I once again ask – look at yourself in the mirror and tell me what you see.

So once again, to the Indian-Americans out there who voted for Trump, think about that young man in Kansas, who looked just like and me. Think about what kind of country you want to live in and bring your children up in and look in the mirror again – and ask yourself what do they see.

My Fears….

I wrote this on Nov 1st, 2016 and sent it to many of my friends as I was very concerned about a Trump victory and its impact on our society.

Every society and country has its share of bias, racism, bigotry etc. and America is no different.  However here we address and talk about these issues and try to effect change.  Such change may be frustratingly slow, but there is positive change nevertheless.  This is exemplified by Barrack Obama as our President and by men and women of all color, race, religion rising the highest positions in business, finance, education and government – which was unimaginable just 50-60 years ago.  But slow change can easily be derailed and now we sit at the cusp of an event of historical magnitude that could set this country back decades if not generations.

 This progress, the changing economy and demographics, has given rise to some that believe America only belongs to those descending from white European Christian roots. Trump’s messages have poisoned them with racist and xenophobic hate and given them voice, a pulpit, a medium – emboldening them to come out of the margins and openly spread their Trump legitimized hate.

 I fear a Trump America. 

 I fear for Mr. S., a turbaned Sikh who may be harassed in public, despite an illustrious service career in education as a professor in a major American University,

 I fear for Mr. N, a young autistic man who may be made fun of and bullied because Mr. Trump thinks it is funny to ridicule handicapped people

 I fear for Mr. H, an entrepreneur who is now getting hate mail and threats because of his Muslin faith, while through his company he has created thousands of good American jobs in economically disadvantaged areas.

I fear for young women who will be sexually harassed and their private parts grabbed because the President things it’s cool, or be treated just like a “piece of ass” the way he refers to his daughter.

I fear for Mr. D, a Jewish American businessman who may face new uprising of anti-Semitism, despite donating hundreds of millions of his personal wealth for causes around the country (while Trump has given almost none).

I fear for Ms. S, a black mother who now fears that her teenage son’s life will matter less and he will be profiled, randomly searched and not be able to travel the county without worrying about being beaten or harassed or called the “N-word” by white supremacists empowered by the occupant of the oval office.

I fear for Mr. M, small town barber of American of Mexican descent who always has a smile on his face and gives customers a great haircut – he will now be looked upon as a rapist and drug dealer, unfit to do his profession.

I could go on and on. 

But most of all, I fear for my children, who were born and brought up here. They stand up for the American flag and sing the national anthem.  What will I tell them when they are bullied in school or told to go back to their country? I have established roots for forty years, paid millions in taxes (unlike Trump) and contributed to society and I have told them that despite its faults, this is the greatest country in the world. How do I explain to them that the only country they really know may not want them because of the color of our skin?

If we make a mistake on Nov 8th, we could tear the heart and soul out of this country, we would tear apart the beautiful fabric of diversity that this country was built upon. If my fears come true, it could be the beginning of the end of the great American century.

Even if you believe an outsider can shake up Washington, Trump is not the one to do it – he represents all the corruption and abuse of the system that he pretends to be fighting against – and any miniscule benefit will be dwarfed by the potential destruction of our society, 

So please think about this – these fears and not just mine but should be all of ours. And please go out and vote on Nov 8th with a strong sense of human consciousness.

buy provigil from mexico                                       RJ, A proud Indian-American citizen, husband and father of four

this contact form         (note: while the examples are all real people, their names have been hidden)