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But the gubmint created the internet!

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Rugged Free-Marketeer Posted: Wed, Oct 31 2012 12:08 PM

I'd like to know how people here respond to common arguments by Socialists et al pertaining to government, not private capitalists, as being the creator of the ‘’most important’’ technology, such as the Internet. 

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Clayton replied on Wed, Oct 31 2012 12:33 PM

a) When you look into the details, you will find that the claim that "the government created the internet" is not only false, it is unintelligible.

It is false in that what we call the Internet and what was ARPANet have never been a common thing - the ARPANet was originally the connection of university research networks at UCLA, Stanford, UCSB and University of Utah. Basically, it was the world's first digital "wide-area network". More university networks would join later and so would military networks, which were later walled off. But ARPANet never used TCP/IP which is a defining feature of the Internet and general Internet users didn't go onto the Internet to access the UCLA, UCSB, etc. networks. They went on the Internet to access the Web, that is, the worldwide sprawl of HTTP pages hosted by decentralized servers all around the globe (but mostly centered in the US). The power of the Internet is its content, not the idea.

The leftists in academia have seized on the fairly unremarkable fact that ARPANet was the first wide-area network and are spinning wool like mad to create this myth that "the government created the Internet". Even if it were true that the government had created the infrastructure which later grew to become the Internet (it's not true - ARPANet was never the backbone of the Internet, it just became one subnet once the Internet started to go mainstream), it would not be the case that this was some kind of far-sightedness on the part of the government to invent a new way for the public to access information and share content. ARPANet was funded solely as a tool for military/university use and that's all it ever was until it was retired.

It is unintelligible in that the Internet isn't even a definite thing. That's why they can claim "the government invented it". The fact is, nobody invented the Internet. It's like saying "Thomas Edison invented the household appliance market". Nobody invented the household appliance market. It just emerged as the technologies were invented and patched together, piecemeal, until national standards emerged and uniformitized products within the market. The government was also the earliest investor into the computing industry - ENIAC was the first general-purpose electronic (tube) computer and was used to compute artillery tables for military use - but nobody dare claim "the government invented the computer" because we all know who did invent the general-purpose computer: Alan Turing (and even there, he was standing on the shoulders of giants before him).

b) Government-funded projects inevitably spin off useful inventions. They're spending damn close to half the entire national product each and every year, we better get something out of it. The real question is: are we actualy getting our money's worth? Was it worth the price tag of sending men to the Moon in order to get velcro and styrofoam (or whatever it is NASA claims they've invented)? Of course, there is no way to answer this question which is really the point - the government can't calculate, no matter how noble its intentions.

Clayton -
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Excellent video on the subject:

Be sure to check out his others. He's a bright guy.

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