Politicians love to express indignation over trivial issues

Political issues frequently pop up that allow members of Congress and other politicians to express outrage (to let constituents know they’re alive and actually doing something). But then these flavor-of-the-day issues go away, seldom to surface again.

Two examples are net neutrality and plastic guns. Both issues were hyped dramatically in newscasts for several days, featuring politicians waxing indignant and all but predicting the end of the world.

But the sky did not fall, and politicians have moved on to the next shiny object.

Net neutrality was enacted by the Obama administration to govern the internet like a public utility, prohibiting Internet service providers (like Comcast, AT&T and Verizon) from charging “tolls” (higher rates) or slowing down high-bandwidth movie streaming companies or large files that soak up a high percentage of the internet’s data capacity. 

When the Trump administration vacated the net neutrality rule to allow the free market to work, liberal politicians and some big content providers squealed like stuck pigs. “It’s the end of the internet,” they lamented.

Well, net neutrality has been gone for some time now, and I’ve heard no complaints about data speeds or bandwidth problems. The supposed greedy ISPs that were going to destroy internet freedom obviously haven’t done so, because it would damage their businesses. The reality is that internet bandwidth is increasing and the business of providing internet service is highly competitive. The marketplace will prevent abuses.

In my condo complex, we’ve used Xfinity for years. But if Xfinity starts charging too much or slowing down movie streaming, we can easily move to another service. A number of companies have announced low-orbit satellite projects that promise to flood the world with high-bandwidth internet service. The technology is advancing rapidly. Any ISP that exploits its customers or content providers won’t be around for long.

More recently, the political and media worlds have gone apoplectic over the possibility that gun nuts will download 3-D printing plans and produce plastic guns that couldn’t be detected by a metal detector. Again, the hype didn’t match the reality. Amid the hand-wringing and doomsday predictions, a few politicians like Utah Sen. Mike Lee understood this isn’t a big deal.

It’s already against the law to own a non-detectable gun. And guns entirely produced with a 3-D plastic printer would be unreliable, fragile, and highly inferior, probably falling apart after one shot. 3-D printers capable of making a gun cost thousands of dollars. Plans for such guns have been floating around on-line for years. A cheap handgun or shotgun can be purchased for a few hundred bucks and perform far better than a silly plastic gun. If I’m a bad guy, I’m certainly not going to use a plastic gun.

Newscasts actually showed people firing AR-15 type weapons purported to have been produced with a 3-D printer. But, in reality, those guns used steel for the inner workings of the weapon with perhaps the stock and a few other parts produced from plastic.

There are and have been (since the 1800s) amateur gunsmiths all over the country making weapons. Current gun laws are sufficient to cover silly plastic weapons.