Jim Cicconi, vice president of legislative affairs for AT&T, made some extraordinarily stupid comments in London this week.

ISPs are doing a full-court press to ensure they can shape our Internet traffic to maximize their revenue. They want to do deals with media companies for preferred delivery of certain web services, or charge you for “excessive” use of your connection – basically converting your Internet connection into something more like your cable television service where your choices are restricted and metered.

“U.S. telecommunications giant AT&T has claimed that, without investment, the Internet’s current network architecture will reach the limits of its capacity by 2010.

“‘The surge in online content is at the center of the most dramatic changes affecting the Internet today,” he said. “In three years’ time, 20 typical households will generate more traffic than the entire Internet today.'”

Really? In three years, twenty typical households will generate more traffic than the entire Internet today? That’s a remarkable prediction. Is it just me or is it obvious to everyone that it’s complete horseshit?

Interestingly, without investment, the world will run out of food in 2010. Also all of our roads and bridges will start to crumble. And airplanes will fall out of the sky and there will be worldwide power shortages and mankind will begin a descent into a thousand years of Dark Ages.

Or – and I’m just thinking out loud here – possibly individuals and companies will continue to invest in projects they hope will be profitable. And perhaps – unlike AT&T – some of those companies will be honest about their motives instead of trying to reshape the global communications network solely for their own benefit by fearmongering.

Maybe the real harm from seven years of the Bush administration is the widespread belief by politicians and big companies that they can say anything at all, no matter how ludicrously stupid.

Addendum 04/21: Cicconi was the assistant to James Baker in the Reagan Administration, staff secretary for Bush Sr. (and sits on the board of his presidential library), and served on George Bush’s White House transition team. He knows the world of outrageous fearmongering lies more deeply than I realized.