Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Tech Valley Times Endorsement

The Tech Valley Times weighs in on the 20th U.S. Congressional District:

Here’s the fun race to observe. The fact that incumbent John Sweeney is in for a real dogfight against a previously unknown challenger in an overwhelmingly Republican district is testament to the widespread loathing for George Bush and the revenge being sought of his supporters. Mr Sweeney certainly falls into that classification and is paying the price. The campaign is certainly filling the bank accounts of the local media outlets, with a barrage of commercials and display ads being pushed in front of the voters' eyeballs by both parties. It acts as a perfect example of the mean spirited divide in today's public sphere. Along those lines: enough of the "Sweeney visits the frat house" focus. Sure, the internet video is pretty funny and all, but this thing has long outlived what should have been a half-day life cycle. The continued harping on it is simply proof how uptight we've become in today's neo-Puritan environment, where a public facade of being a choir boy has become a de rigueur requirement of Joe and Jane Voter, even while they're each engaging in an extramarital affair or gambling binge of their own. We actually think that a trip to a college beer blast now and then could be a healthy thing for an elected official! But that's about all the slack we're giving the Sweeney campaign. His commercials and policy statements are dishonest, deceitful, and an insult to our collective intelligence. The latest one, where he sets the wife down next to him on the couch and defends her and the rest of his family from unsubstantiated attacks and harassment from his rival's supporters, reeks of paranoia. This wife, by the way, is the one taking a commission on incoming campaign contributions. Combine these ethical lapses with the myriad of other ethical charges dogging the Congressman -- plus the fact that he refuses to debate -- and we start to get a little nervous about this guy. We've got an even bigger concern with Mr. Sweeney, though. Even though one should not put too much weight into a legislator's position on a single issue, there is one policy stance out there that troubles us deeply. It should also concern anyone remotely interested in high tech economic development. This issue is the hot button topic of Net Neutrality; the changing of current common carrier telecomm rules so that an internet service provider is set free to devise any type of multi-tiered pricing structure it deems fit. The result will be a system where you pay $X but I pay $Y for a throughput speed of Z. Those companies that can pay for highest speeds will get them while those that can't, won't. Now who do you think this is going to favor: your blog or the Times Union’s? In this world of media consolidation, we know the answer to that question. The big boys will grudgingly pay it, passing the cost on to consumers or advertisers. As the lines between carriers and content producers blur, a Time Warner will be able to give a sweetheart deal of lightning fast net service to its high volume bandwidth users--and that category might include, say, a magazine portal or shopping site that one of their subsidiaries happens to own. What does that do a guy operating out of his basement that it trying to compete in that same space? Despite the spin, Net Neutrality is not a complicated issue. The bottom line is this: there is no public good that can come out overturning it in the name of an open marketplace. Get rid of net neutrality and you've just created an impediment to innovation and economic growth that would only be matched by something equally stupid such as giving the FCC the unlimited authority to regulate the internet. John Sweeney is an opponent of Net Neutrality. Finding AT&T, Bell South, Time Warner, Cablevision and the US Telecomm Association among his campaign contributors helps to explain why. The local business lobby will certainly support Mr Sweeney based on the support he has shown for certain high tech development initiatives in the area. But while John Sweeney may appear to be good for high tech in the Capital Region, he is not so good for high tech. His opponent, Kirsten Gillibrand, is on record as being on the proper side of this issue. That, combined with the fact that she is not John Sweeney, is enough for us. OUR VOTE: Kirsten Gillibrand
For this and other races go to Tech Valley Times.

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