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Hoisted from the Archives: A Non-Socratic Dialogue on Social Welfare Functions

Republicans: The Really, Really, Really Stupid Party

John Stuart Mill did not know the half of it.

Publius, of Obsidian Wings:

Obsidian Wings: The Regulatory Origins of the Internet: Patrick Ruffini argues that Obama's alleged regulatory overreaching could (or at least should) move Silicon Valley back into the Republican camp.  I'm not really diving into that, but I wanted to quibble with this statement:

The irony here is that many of the entreprenuers who succeeded in the most unregulated environment possible -- the Internet -- are at once hyper-capitalist and socially-liberal Obama voters. (Good luck creating Twitter or Facebook in any industry as tightly regulated as the auto or banking sectors in the Age of Obama.)

This really can't be repeated enough -- the Internet was regulated.  Regulation is what made it work.  Indeed, the Internet's phenomenal success stemmed directly from the underlying common carrier regulation that made it possible. There was no immaculate conception.  The Internet came about because of sustained federal funding for research and development.  Originally, the data services that ultimately evolved into what we now call "the Internet" depended entirely on access to the underlying phone networks. And so when these data services got going, the federal government faced a choice.  A crossroads, if you will.  The government could ensure that Internet/data services had nondiscriminatory access to the underlying phone networks on which they "rode."  Or, it could have allowed the phone companies (i.e., AT&T) to dictate the terms of access.  (This is basically how most wireless service in America works -- it's the "walled garden" approach.  And don't you loves it?).

Wisely, in the Computer Inquiries proceedings, the FCC opted for open, nondiscriminatory access.  The Twitters of yesteryear didn't need permission from AT&T to start their business.  The nondiscriminatory access that made the Internet successful didn't happen because AT&T was full of benevolent, far-seeing souls.  It was because of government regulation.  (On an aside, that's why the fight over net neutrality is actually a battle to maintain a ridiculously successful status quo).

Given that the Internet is probably the single greatest advance of mankind since the printing press, you could plausibly argue that the Internet is regulation's crown jewel.