The Government Is Not An ISP

from the taking-america-on-line-too-literally dept

An interesting Doc Searls column on net neutraliy argues rightly that the internet shouldn't just be measured in terms of real costs and profits, but also on the opportunity costs of not developing the web to its full potential. Instead of seeing the internet as a business does, in terms of profit-blocking regulations, it should be seen more like the interstate highway system or the national parks, as a public good of incalculable benefit. But public goods have problems too, like misuse, abuse, and the poor upkeep. The tragedy of the commons is a real phenomenon. Searls is making the assumption that just because there's a flaw in the system, the system is irreparably broken and needs to be made public. When businesses regularly discriminated against minorities and women, the government didn't try to nationalize them, instead, powerful laws were put in place to ensure fairness. It took several tries before the laws were made strong enough to work, but it was worth the effort. Heretofore, the law has subsidized corporate abuse of the net, but some of these problems might not exist if there were truly an even playing field. Searls should consider the opportunity costs in his own argument -- what will it do to future investment spending if the government can take away the assets, when it deems them poorly used?
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  1. identicon
    Duane M. Navarre, 17 Mar 2006 @ 10:59am

    Corporate corruption with the net

    I could just say "Global Crossing"

    I could just say "MCI/Worldcom"

    I could just say "Bell DSL competitive sabotage"

    I could just say the name of several corrupt companies
    during the bygone DOT BOMB era .

    But instead let me show you this ....

    The US taxpayer subsidised the corrupt Telcos for ...

    $200 BILLION USD ....

    The corporations are doing a FINE JOB ....

    Business as usual ....

    The Corporate whoring of america .


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