Odds and Ends

I wanted to quickly highlight Publius’ response to my post the other day on net neutrality.  It’s a useful response that reinforces a key point that I was trying to make: if “reduced government intrusion is a means to an end rather than an end unto itself,” as it is in at least my particular brand of libertarianism, then the best result for libertarians in Comcast v. FCC is for the FCC to be victorious.  Beyond that, Publius uses his infinitely superior knowledge of telecom law to undermine my suggestion that cable and phone companies are properly viewed as creatures of the State protected by a mountain of regulations.  I think he’s persuasive on this point, arguing that although cable and phone companies were created by state subsidies, existing regulations don’t add much to the already high barriers to entry.  As such, I think he’s probably right that the tradeoff of immediately pushing through net neutrality regulations is relatively low in terms of the potential costs to the development of new networks. 

That’s not to say that I entirely agree with him on the finer points of his post – for instance, while it may be true that it is currently not economically rational to build competing alternative networks, there’s no way of knowing whether this will continue to be true in the future. 

Still, the case for immediate regulation (assuming no public choice problems, which of course is a big assumption, but also another issue entirely) is perhaps a closer issue than I initially thought, as the potential risks seem quite small thought not negligible.

I think my central point stands, though.  FCC adjudication in this case (and, presumably, in future cases) may provide a means of creating the positive effects of net neutrality regulation while obviating the need for formal net neutrality regulations, however low the cost of those regulations might be. 

Totally unrelated, but while you’re over at ObsidianWings, you may wish to check out Lindsay Beyerstein’s defense of Obama’s Nobel Prize, which I think goes a long way to explaining why he won, at least to the extent that one accepts the premise that the Bush Administration showed contempt for the rule of law.

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