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It's no secret I and others have started to question whether Genachowski has what it takes to get things done in Washington. But at the same time, I've continued to hold out hope that Genachowski will reassess and reposition himself in time to leave behind a serious legacy of accomplishments. The FCC's proposed September Open Meeting agenda shows that Genachowski may be preparing to do just that. In addition to an important but relatively uncontroversial E911 item, the agenda includes two items that promise to have significant impact, but will also likely generate at least some resistance from significant industry groups. Continue Reading...

I am neither surprised nor outraged at the recent news that members of the Information Technology Industry Council (ITIC) are picking up where the FCC "secret meetings" left off and trying to come up with a net neutrality consensus framework. To me, it seems rather sad and funny. My only surprise is that even in Washington, the notion of an industry trade association working with its members is anything unusual or significant. I mean, that's what industry trade associations do after all.

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I've argued that things like Network Neutrality are right as a matter of economics (that is, they promote a better economic outcomes for everyone: see economists make this argument here and here), that it is critical as a matter of First Amendment freedom and to prevent "virtual redlining." Below I add an additional argument, one which seeks to approach this as a question of the proper role of government in the first place.

In the last few decades, we have seen the idea of the role of government shift.  In the late 19th century, culminating in Roosevelt's New Deal eras that government serves to level the playing field between citizens and corporate interests -- providing basic rules of the road  and ensuring some level of fundamental fairness for everyone -- with a University of Chicago/Free Market approach that maintains that government has no role except, perhaps, in the case of "market failure." The "market failure" argument usually reduces down to a question of competition. In this theory, if we have "competition," that solves our problems because if there is competition then it must be that whatever the "competitive market" produces is what "the market wants" and therefore is the best possible policy.

There are many things wrong with this line of reasoning.
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When folks list the friends of tech in Washington DC, they do not generally include Vice President Joe Biden.  To the contrary, whether it's repeating the standard Hollywood line that anyone who opposes tech mandates coddles pirates, or corralling the head of the Justice Department, the FBI, and Homeland Security to hold a private meeting for Entertainment CEOs, there has never been any doubt where Biden comes down when Hollywood and Silicon Valley cross swords.

For this reason, Silicon Valley folks might be tempted to skip out on
Biden's Silicon Valley Fundraiser Stop for Senator Barbara Boxer. To the contrary, this is why Silicon Valley CEOs need to show up -- in droves.

Some wise wag once declared "half of life is showing up." That applies in spades in policy. Continue Reading...


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