Populism began as a movement in the 1880s, when railroad monopolies were squeezing family farmers dry. The railroad companies had been given huge tracts of land to build across the prairies, and now they were raising rates where they had monopolies, while subsidizing eastern rates where there was competition. The prices farmers could get were going down, but their costs were going up.
This unregulated monopoly led many to demand change. The Interstate Commerce Commission was formed to regulate rates. The Sherman Anti-Trust Act was passed to fight monopolies. But the law ground slowly. Populism, as a political movement, was the result.
Fast forward 115 years or so. Telephone and cable companies hold a
monopoly on the "last-mile" of Internet service, thanks to a corrupt
government. Their leaders promise to use this monopoly to squeeze small
information producers, slowing their data flows while taking payments
from larger producers to speed theirs. Never mind that both sides of
every information transaction are already paying for carriage — the
monopolists always want more.
Thus we have, in the issue of network neutrality, the rise of Internet
Populism. It’s a very important tipping point. Folks have long
understood that you either have a competitive market or a regulated
one, and with the threat of Whitacre Tiering, the Bells and cable head-ends seek the very same power over you that railroads held over the farmers so long ago. An unregulated monopoly that lets them crush who they want and squeeze the rest. Just as the railroads had.
The reaction is precisely the same. I predict the result will be. We
have weapons sufficient to the threat, anti-trust law and regulation.
The Bells will not be able to prevent the use of one, or both, upon
We will not be crucified on a cross of bits.