Government Control of the Internet–A Progressive Dream Come True

Today the FCC has adopted new regulations for how Americans may use and do business on the Internet. The 3-2 vote was partisan, with majority Democrats voting in favor, fully in line with the president’s views. The new rules will require that the Internet be classified as a public utility, like the telephone, requiring Internet providers to act in the “public interest.”

As usual, the biggest error made by those in favor of these new regulations is the same error progressives often make: the assumption of a static economic model, that what is true today will necessarily be true tomorrow. Thus progressives invariably focus on dividing the pie instead of enlarging it.

The Internet has grown rapidly and efficiently with very little government oversight. This is how it should be. Can you imagine if the Internet had been government controlled in the year 2000, five years after its coming onto the scene, as many progressives at the time had proposed? Internet investment would have taken a big hit as the government divvied up “scarce” 56K modem bandwidth. This is laughable in retrospect.

If these new rules withstand court challenges, we can expect much less future Internet investment, and thus much less Internet growth, than what would have otherwise occurred. Like all attempts at government control of goods–whether they be minimum wages laws, rent control laws, or pro-labor legislation–the results are always the same: fewer jobs, fewer rentals, and fewer job choices, respectively. Likewise, progressives, by voting to control Internet bandwidth and use, have painted our future with fewer Internet choices.

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