Government to Control the ‘Net – Good Luck With That!
Tuesday, December 21, 2010
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) will mark the winter solstice by taking an unprecedented step to expand government’s reach into the Internet by attempting to regulate its inner workings. In doing so, the agency will circumvent Congress and disregard a recent court ruling. How did the FCC get here? For years, proponents of so-called “net neutrality” have been calling for strong regulation of broadband “on-ramps” to the Internet, like those provided by your local cable or phone companies. Rules are needed, the argument goes, to ensure that the Internet remains open and free, and to discourage broadband providers from thwarting consumer demand. That sounds good if you say it fast. Nothing is broken that needs fixing, however. – Wall Street Journal / Robert M. MacDowell
Dominant Social Theme: It’s over. It’s a catastrophe. It’s finished.
Free-Market Analysis: Should the government interfere with the Internet? This is a very difficult question to answer. There are so many ways to look at the problem. There are so many things to consider. On the one hand we have things to think about deeply, and on the other we have items that will take deciding as well. After much cogitation we will make up our minds. This will be difficult too. And perhaps it will be too late. Perhaps the FCC will have decided for us. Perhaps we should take away the FCC’s right to decide. So many questions!
Of course, the above is a modest attempt at irony. We have stated our position on this issue numerous times, but given that today is the day for the FCC to announce its decision; we will state for the record that it probably does not matter. In terms of the “biggest picture,” the Internet is what it is and it will take governments – and the controlling elites behind them – a very long time indeed to tame this technology, relatively speaking.
It began as a technological highway created by the Pentagon’s DARPA to link together military researchers with university libraries, etc. The email facility helped expand the system. Then two Steves in a garage created the personal computer and the facility exploded. It was never meant to be what it became. It is a perfect example of the unintended consequences illustrated in free-market economist FA Hayek’s spontaneous order. It has given the modern-day Anglo-American elite fits. Senator Jay Rockefeller said in open session that it might have been better if it were never invented. Better for whom?