The electronic road to serfdom?

On Thursday the FCC commissioners are to vote on what is generally being called net neutrality, but rightly should be called Obamanet, as L. Gordon Crovitz explains in The Wall Street Journal.

If socializing a sixth of the economy can be called Obamacare, socializing the Internet should be given the moniker of its chief author.

The plan is to cover the Internet under Title II of the Communications Act of 1934, which states in part:

“All charges, practices, classifications, and regulations for and in connection with such communication service, shall be just and reasonable, and any such charge, practice, classification, or regulation that is unjust or unreasonable is hereby declared to be unlawful …”

Goodbye innovation and disruptive changes to the status quo. Everything will be equal, equally slow and costly and mired in regulation and government paperwork.

WSJ illustration

“Utility regulation was designed to maintain the status quo, and it succeeds,” writes Crovitz. “This is why the railroads, Ma Bell and the local water monopoly were never known for innovation. The Internet was different because its technologies, business models and creativity were permissionless.”

Writing in Politico, Ajit Pai, an FCC commissioner, and Lee Goodman, an FEC commissioner, explain, “Unfortunately, some see any realm of freedom as a vacuum in need of government control.”

They argue the purpose of the whole thing is control and control’s sake and nowhere in the 332-page plan — which is secret until after the FCC vote — is there any explanation of what needs to be fixed.

“While the FCC is inserting government bureaucracy into all aspects of Internet access, the FEC is debating whether to regulate Internet content, specifically political speech posted for free online,” they write.

Democrat FEC commissioners have proposed regulating political  “express advocacy” online. Just as some states do with political advertising.

This reminds one of the warnings from Friedrich Hayek in “The Road to Serfdom,” written shortly after World War II:

“It is revealing that few planners today are content to say that central planning is desirable. Most of them affirm that we now are compelled to it by circumstances beyond our control.

“One argument frequently heard is that the complexity of modern civilization creates new problems with which we cannot hope to deal effectively except by central planning. This argument is based upon a complete misapprehension of the working of competition. The very complexity of modern conditions makes competition the only method by which a coordination of affairs can be adequately achieved.

“There would be no difficulty about efficient control or planning were conditions so simple that a single person or board could effectively survey all the facts. But as the factors which have to be taken into account become numerous and complex, no one centre can keep track of them. The constantly changing conditions of demand and supply of different commodities can never be fully known or quickly enough disseminated by any one centre.

“Under competition – and under no other economic order – the price system automatically records all the relevant data. Entrepreneurs, by watching the movement of comparatively few prices, as an engineer watches a few dials, can adjust their activities to those of their fellows.

“Compared with this method of solving the economic problem – by decentralization plus automatic coordination through the price system – the method of central direction is incredibly clumsy, primitive, and limited in scope. It is no exaggeration to say that if we had had to rely on central planning for the growth of our industrial system, it would never have reached the degree of differentiation and flexibility it has attained. Modern civilization has been possible precisely because it did not have to be consciously created.”



65 comments on “The electronic road to serfdom?

  1. Winston Smith says:

    “Most transparent administration ever.”

    War is Peace; Freedom is Slavery; Ignorance is Truth

  2. nyp says:

    You want to give broadband providers such as Verizon and Comcast the ability to block Skype, Netflix and Hulu.

    I do not think that is a good idea.

  3. Winston Smith says:

    Obviously, the feds need to nationalize the major ISPs and make sure everybody is happy 🙂

  4. nyp says:

    I do’t think that the ISPs need to be nationalized. In fact, I am not aware of anyone who has advocated such a measure. However, I do not think that Verizon and Comcast can be permitted to block, restrict or otherwise discriminate against Netflix or Skype.

  5. Steve says:

    And we have another Second Amendment moment (Nyp seems to have missed)

    “WALLACE, Idaho — An escaped inmate from Shoshone County was taken to the Shoshone Medical Center after being hit by at least one bullet in the leg.

    At approximately 5:38 p.m. on Thursday a homeowner on Placer Creek North of Wallace went to check on his barking dog. The homeowner, Brian Becker, confronted Roy Bieluch on his property and called 911 for deputies.

    “I told him get your hands where I can see them. He said, ‘No.’ At one point he stepped forward and that’s when I shot him. He went down immediately,” said Becker.”

  6. Steve says:

    I guess this guy would be considered a “bull” huh, Nyp?

  7. nyp says:

    Actually, the Second Amendment Moment of the week was this:
    “GOP Delegate Fatally Shot Herself Adjusting Gun in Bra Holster”

  8. Steve says:

    I have changed my mind about the current proposal for so called “net neutrality”.

    Do we REALLY want MORE federal control of the internet?

  9. Steve says:

    That is all you could find? A poorly made decision to adjust a bra holster with a loaded weapon in it?


  10. nyp says:

    As I have always said, the only thing that will stop a bad boob with a gun is a good boob with a gun.

  11. Steve says:

    There are no bad boobs. In fact I say fee the boobs! Free them all!

  12. Steve says:

    Michelle Fiore says she has a thigh holster. I bet that is a nice warm piece. And…nice to know we have the conservative, female version of Joe (the mouth) Biden right here in Nevada!

  13. Rincon says:

    Eliminating Net neutrality could be good for the federal budget. We could collect taxes on the dollars spent. Since more dollars will be spent, there will be more taxes. Perhaps the same could be applied to roads and rivers. Since the government owns the roads and rivers, it, of course, is the provider. Users willing to pay more would be allowed preference for using the facilities. During rush hour for example,or during construction,, the traffic could be reduced to manageable levels by delaying the entry of the low bidders until the roads cleared. Over time, the bidding would go higher and higher until the poorest said uncle. By delaying road expansions, and moving even more slowly with construction and repair, the government could spend less and earn even more! It’s too bad we made interstates and expressways. Think how much the government could have made on old fashioned roads.

  14. Winston Smith says:

    Eleven year old girl reads Second Amendment, understands its meaning, defends herself…

  15. iShrug says:

    Whatever happened to the public comment period? The public isn’t even allowed to read the 332 page document the commissioners are voting on.

  16. iShrug says:

    We can’t even read the 332 page document the commissioners are supposed to vote on, nor is there a public comment period.

  17. Winston Smith says:

    And where is it in the Constitution that alphabet soup agencies get to create law?

  18. iShrug says:

    Winston, I think that Congress has allowed it. They have abdicated their responsibilities for so long, nobody thinks anything of it. Look at the EPA and the IRS.

  19. Winston Smith says:

    We hateses them, we do…

  20. Rincon says:

    Congressmen and women spend so much time raising money and strutting, they have none left to actually run the country.

  21. It is not the job of the Congress or the president to “run” the country.

  22. nyp says:

    It is, however, the job of Congress and the President to make and enforce rules for the efficient and fair operation of markets. That is why it is important to make sure that broadband carriers such as Comcast and Verizon cannot interfere with or otherwise discriminate against internet companies such as Netflix and Google.

  23. Winston Smith says:

    Yeah, DARPA, just like with the Fairness Doctrine, right?

  24. nyp says:

    The Fairness Doctrine was both unnecessary and ineffective. Keeping the operators of the internet roadways from picking and choosing which content to deliver is not. After all, do you really want Verizon and Comcast, which are both financed by Wall Street, to decide whether they really wish to permit to be carried over their networks?

  25. If the administration goes ahead with this folly…we can expect ObamaNet to be as hopeless a failure as Obamacare. Do you really want some bureaucratic agency fiddling with the internet? I certainly don’t. Emperor Obama “deems” it as necessary…and his panting followers fall in line. Good grief…wake up man!

  26. We should have known…”Liberal philanthropist George Soros and the Ford Foundation have lavished groups supporting the administration’s “net neutrality” agenda, donating $196 million and landing proponents on the White House staff, according to a new report.” “These left-wing groups not only impacted the public debate and funded top liberal think tanks from the Center for American Progress to Free Press. They also have direct ties to the White House and regulatory agencies. At least five individuals from these groups have ascended to key positions at the White House and FCC,” said the report (MRC Business) which included funding details to pro-net neutrality advocates.

  27. Rincon says:

    “Do you really want some bureaucratic agency fiddling with the internet?” They’ve been regulating the airwaves and the airways since I was a boy. Can’t say that we’ve had a lot of trouble.

  28. This isn’t your mama’s FCC. Only a neo-lib would willfully exchange their liberty for more regulation by a federal bureaucracy that has trouble tying it’s own shoes. China and Russia regulate and censor their internets…do you really want to join that crowd? And do you really think this is about Netflix and Amazon Prime?

  29. nyp says:

    Yes, it is. It is about whether the people who control the actual internet networks can block, interfere with or discriminate against companies (Netflix, based on the content of their websites or the services they are providing.

  30. Balderdash…as usual.

  31. I can hear it now…”If you like your internet, you can keep your internet. If you like your internet provider…you can keep them.” Yeah, we all saw how that worked out last time…

  32. Winston Smith says:

    A. No Constitutional authority
    B. No transparency
    C. No balls in Congress

    A + B + C = Reduced freedom

  33. And the average American family will save an average of $2500 on their internet bill…

  34. nyp says:

    President Obama never said that the Affordable Care Ace would save the average Americ $2,500 per year. He never said it.

  35. Rincon says:

    “This isn’t your mama’s FCC. Only a neo-lib would willfully exchange their liberty for more regulation by a federal bureaucracy that has trouble tying it’s own shoes.” Being at the mercy of a company is no more liberty than being at the mercy of a government. The late 1800’s showed us what happens when companies are allowed to run roughshod over citizens. No thanks.

  36. Hmmm…sure looks like, and sure sounds like the anointed one claiming to save the average family up to $2500 a year…

  37. nyp says:

    Thanks so much for doing the digging to prove my point.

  38. nyp says:

    1. the remarks about reducing health care costs per family were made not by President Obama in reference to the Affordable Care Act, but by Senator Obama during the campaign, and were in reference to the health care proposals he was introducing. The two were very different. In order to convince the Congress to enact health care reform, the White House had to make significant changes to the legislation that Senator Obama had proposed during the campaign. That is what politics is about. You make compromises off of your original ideas in order to reach an acceptable result. That’s why the ACA did not include the public insurance option that Senator Obama had wanted, and which would have had a powerful limiting influence on healthcare insurance costs.

    2. So you are deliberately and misleadingly comparing campaign apples to legislative oranges. Neither President Obama nor anyone in his administration every claimed that the Affordable Care Act, as it eventually emerged from the legislative process, would reduce per capita health care costs by $2500. Not once.

    3. However, it so happens that then-Senator Obama’s $2500 per family healthcare cost reduction prediction turned out to be pretty much on the money, notwithstanding the fact that the law enacted several years later was not the same as the one he proposed in 2007.

  39. nyp says:

    You see, when President Obama took office in 2009, the Office of the Actuaries at the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services issued its projections for healthcare spending. It projected that by 2016 domestic healthcare spending would equal 19.3% of gross domestic product. But, the ACA came into effect, CMMS reduced its cost projections by a full percentage point of GDP. In per capita terms, one percentage of GDP equals $2,470 for a family of four.

    Overall, of course, the enactment of ObamaCare has been accompanied by a dramatic,unprecedented slowdown in healthcare costs.

    So it looks like Senator Obama was pretty accurate after all!

  40. And is seems you’re as big a tall tale teller as he is…splitting hairs, Grubering the public. You’re in good company. Keep trying to put lipstick on this ugly pig…

  41. Steve says:

    Except…the ACA was only “acceptable” to one side…and even then only by reconciliation in the US House of representatives…

    Nope,,,in no way was ACA “acceptable” ACA was shoved down the throats of the US citizenry and it was a 12 inch L x a 4 inch girth shove!

    Choke on that!

    WE sure have.

  42. Hairsplitting like Obama. If you like your plan, you can keep your plan.

  43. nyp says:

    “The Congressional Budget Office on Monday significantly lowered its estimate of the cost of providing health insurance coverage to millions of Americans under the Affordable Care Act. Douglas W. Elmendorf, the director of the budget office, said the changes resulted from many factors, including a general “slowdown in the growth of health care costs” and lower projections of insurance premiums that are subsidized by the federal government.

    “In March 2010, when President Obama signed the health care law, the Congressional Budget Office estimated that the expansion of coverage would cost the federal government $710 billion in the fiscal years 2015 through 2019, Mr. Elmendorf said.

    “The newest projections indicate that those provisions will cost $571 billion over that same period, a reduction of 20 percent,” he said.”

    New York Times, January 26, 2015

  44. nyp says:

    I’m kind of indifferent to my plan, but I’ve kept it anyway. So have most people.

  45. nyp says:

    Bloomberg Business:
    ” The biggest entitlement legislation in a generation is causing barely a ripple in corporate America.The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act — otherwise known as Obamacare — is putting such a small dent in the profits of U.S. companies that many refer to its impact as “not material” or “not significant,” according to a Bloomberg review of conference-call transcripts and interviews with major U.S. employers.
    ““It’s just part of doing business,” said Bob Shearer, chief financial officer of VF Corp., which owns the North Face and Vans apparel brands. “Obamacare has added costs, but not so much that we felt we had to talk about it specifically.”
    “The collective shrug from the nation’s biggest employers undermines the arguments of Republicans, who call the law a job-killer as they seek its repeal.
    While U.S. health-care costs continued to rise faster than inflation in the five years since the law was passed, their rate of growth has slowed. Employers spent an average of $11,204 per worker for health benefits in 2014, up 4.6 percent from a year earlier, according to Mercer LLC. That growth rate was 6.1 percent or more each year from 1998 to 2011.”

  46. Steve says:

    So ACA is two steps “forward” and one step backward….ROTFLMAO

    A downtrend in the increase curve is still an increase!

    AND the economy is STILL the driver of that “downtrend”!

  47. Steve says:

    OF Course it doesn’t effect much of corporate America….those outfits already have group plans!

  48. nyp says:

    Actually, a downward bend in the cost curve of healthcare costs is a huge, huge deal. If it continues, it changes the long-term federal fiscal outlook significantly for the better.

    As for the reasons for the bending of the curve, the cost modifications have continued into what has become a strong GDP recovery. And they apply as well to healthcare sectors that are traditionally less sensitive to economic conditions — such as Medicare expenditures.

    It is becoming increasingly clear that the cost-saving features built into the ACA — such as penalties for hospital readmission, bundled payments, accountable care organizations, electronic medical records, etc. — are starting to take hold. That is very good news for America.

  49. Steve says:

    Key words:
    If it continues

  50. Rincon says:

    Face it kids. The predictions of an explosion in health care costs or an implosion of the health care system under Obamacare have not come to pass – so far. I’m amazed how you Conservative ideologues defended the old system while costs were skyrocketing, but now, dramatically slower cost increases aren’t good enough. Your double standard reminds me of Little League parents.

  51. Steve says:

    I want my 2500 dollars , Rincon. SENATOR Obama promised it!

  52. Steve says:

    It’s not that costs increases are less than they were…it is the claims for the causes that concern a conservative minded person.

    It is simply too early in the actual recovery (as yet, to be felt on the street) to make those claims!

  53. Winston Smith says:

    We opposed the ACA on philosophical as well as economic reasons. And those philosophical reasons still exist, no matter how much the ACA costs. The lies and manipulations needed to bring the ACA about only reinforced our beliefs in its innate evilness.

  54. nyp says:

    I completely understand. Conservatives have a philosophical objection to the idea that government should attempt to alleviate perceived flaws in the healthcare market. (That is true even of those conservatives who are happily enrolled in Medicare.) Conservatives do not believe that healthcare reform will work, but that is really besides the point. So evidence of how many millions of people are now have insurance who did not have it before, how many people now have coverage despite pre-existing conditions, how much healthcare inflation has slowed, how much the deficit has been reduced, etc., etc., are essentially irrelevant. As William Kristol famously wrote, what conservatives fear about healthcare reform is not that it will fail, but that it will succeed.

  55. Rincon says:

    Religion isn’t always logical, nyp.

  56. Winston Smith says:

    What? No response about the lies and manipulations? I guess we just live in a Machiavellian “ends justify the means” world. No surprising, since socialists and fascists have been successful for decades doing that…

  57. nyp says:

    that is because there weren’t any lies and manipulations.

  58. Winston Smith says:


  59. Winston Smith says:

    In memory of my hero’s passing…

  60. Winston Smith says:

    And while I’m memorializing Spock…

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