Ed Driscoll

NYT and Fortune Agree: You Didn't Build That


“Sorry, NY Times, It’s the Private Sector, Not Obama, Which Has Successfully Wired America,” Seton Motley corrects the Gray Lady at Newsbusters:

The Gray Lady on Sunday packed a tremendous amount of bias into the opening sentence of their “Most of U.S. Is Wired, but Millions Aren’t Plugged In.”

Brace yourself – here goes:

“The Obama administration has poured billions of dollars into expanding the reach of the Internet, and nearly 98 percent of American homes now have access to some form of high-speed broadband.”

Yes, the private sector had NOTHING to do with that.  It was all due to President Barack Obama’s beneficence – and the glorious power of big government.  Like all good Leftists, the Times is not allowing the facts to get in the way of a good beating.

Behold some inconvenient truths.

We were already incredibly close to 98 percent of American homes having access to some form of broadband – wired or wireless – when President Obama was still Senator Obama.

In 2010, there were a total of 114.8 million U.S. households.  In 2011, somewhere between two and five million didn’t have access to government-defined broadband.   That’s already between 95.6% and 98.3% access – just two years into the Age of Obama.

So President Obama’s “billions of dollars poured” into broadband had nearly nothing to do with it.  Which becomes blatantly obvious when you look at how incredibly wasteful, destructive – and tiny – that government money was.

Folded into the fatty, flabby folds of the 2009 $787 billion “Stimulus” bill was…$7.2 billion for broadband.  Compare that to private sector investment of more than $1 trillion since 1996 – and $66 billion just in 2011.  For the Times to imply that the President’s money was the lead cause for access success is…absurd on stilts.

Meanwhile, Fortune magazine, which is published by Time-Warner-CNN-HBO, tells Jeff Bezos that he didn’t build his empire, as James Pethokoukis writes at the American Enterprise Institute:

It’s a tired, tired debate: is government or business most responsible for this or that revolutionary technology? Industrial policy or markets: choose one, please.

And thanks to Fortune magazine columnist Alan Sloan, we get to have this misframed argument of false choices yet again. Sloan mocks the idea that Amazon.com boss Jeff Bezos might be a libertarian. Smelling a potential lack of self awareness (at best) or hypocrisy (at worst) by Bezos, Sloan matter-of-factly notes that Amazon “after all, is based on the Internet, which was created during the Cold War by a military research-and-development arm of the federal government, the Advanced Research Projects Agency. No Arpanet, no Internet. No Internet, no Amazon, no $25 billion personal fortune for Jeff Bezos.”

Sloan, shorter …. wait for it … “You didn’t build that, Bezos!”

But Sloan’s simplistic, daisy-chain analysis doesn’t quite hold up. (My pal John Tamny calls the column a “hit piece.”) Robert Taylor, who ran ARPA in the 1960s before leaving to run Xerox’s famed PARC lab, put it this way: “The origins of the Internet include work both sponsored by the government and Xerox PARC, so you can’t say that the internet was invented by either one alone.”

And it was Xerox PARC that decided that they couldn’t wait for ARPA to get its act together, as Rush Limbaugh, who’s been online since starting on CompuServe back in the 1980s, mentioned last summer, when Mr. Obama first committed his infamous “You didn’t built that” gaffe:

So, Crovitz writes, “If the government didn’t invent the Internet, who did? Vinton Cerf developed the TCP/IP protocol, the Internet’s backbone, and Tim Berners-Lee gets credit for hyperlinks.” Do you know what TCP/IP is?  What? How would you explain TCP/IP to somebody?  Somebody in Rio Linda. (interruption) It’s like the phone number of a computer network.  It’s like the phone number of a computer. Okay, TCP/IP.  And hyperlinks, it’s obvious.  That’s the link in a story that you click to take you to some other site.  Tim Berners-Lee gets credit for creating the hyperlink.

“According to a book about Xerox PARC, ‘Dealers of Lightning’ (by Michael Hiltzik), its top researchers realized they couldn’t wait for the government to connect different networks, so would have to do it themselves.”  I mean, the government did create this labyrinth, but they didn’t know what to do with it. At no time were they even pondering commercial applications for this, which is the point.  Ah, you can debate — and people are gonna debate this ’til the end of time — whether it was a network communications system for nuclear attack; whether it was this or whether it was that.

The point that Crovitz is making here is that whatever it was and why it ever was invented, it was never intended by the government for commercial application.  And had it been left to the government and had it remained the sole property of the government, it wouldn’t exist today.  That’s all you really need to know about this.  And yet Obama is running around claiming credit for it, as Algore did, and making it one of the reasons businesses — (whispers) “corporations” — are successful.

Speaking of El Rushbo, he had a fascinating segment on his show today encapsulated on his website on a page titled, “You Can’t Wake Someone Up Who’s Just Pretending to Be Asleep:”

There was, over the weekend, in the Los Angeles Times a column by a woman who told the story of how her father just loved and adored me, and she hated me.  And she writes the most amazing things. I don’t remember her name.  Doesn’t matter.  She writes that her father is a military guy, devoted fan, and she’s telling him, “No, he hates women,” meaning me, “Limbaugh hates women. He’s a racist. He’s an extremist.”  And when I was reading this, the take I got, “Look at what this woman thinks of her father.”

This woman was dead set.  Her father could not change her mind about me.  I was racist, I hated women, but he, her father, loved me.  Well, now, what must she think of her father?  Now think about that father trying to persuade his daughter. She’s got these obviously erroneous, totally wrong emotional attitudes about me.  Her dad’s a big fan.  The way this thing ends, she has to put him into assisted living, if I remember this right.  I may get some details wrong.  She has to put him in an assisted living center, and there are some things — like Rush caps.  I mean, she writes that he donated to all of the Rush charities, which would be leukemia, Marine Corps-Law Enforcement.  That made no impression on her at all.  None.  I still hated women. I was an extremist.

Her dad donated to all my charities.  He had Rush paraphernalia from the EIB Store. I think he had a bunch of Rush caps.  And she writes that near the end of his life, he said to her, “You know, you, as my daughter, are more important to me than Rush Limbaugh is, so I’ll throw this Limbaugh stuff away,” moving into the assisted living center.  And then she goes on to conclude, “Why is it this way?  Why can’t we all put aside our partisanship and get along,” kind of thing.  But as I’m reading this, her father, by her own description, was an accomplished — he was 87 or 85 when he died, but I think he was a military guy.  He wasn’t a kook is my point, even in her eyes, but I am.  And when you talk about the art of persuasion, here’s a woman, a daughter, who has these horrible, totally inaccurate, wrong attitudes about me, her father, who listens every day, loves me, she can’t believe, I guess, how he’s been fooled or whatever.  But while she thinks of me in these horrible ways, what must have she thought of her father?  That’s what I wondered.  She didn’t write about that.

Read the whole thing.