Friday, June 30, 2006

Net Freedom

The "discrimination" at issue in net neutrality is the same sort that allows you to tell certain people to leave your home. No one has a right to use an ISP's services on any terms except those set by the ISP. The issue is the right of ISPs to make use of their property in a way that benefits them, without inflicting harm on anyone. It is the same right that allows you to tell a Jehovah's Witness to leave your front porch.

Moreover, if ISPs block sites that their customers want to access, their customers will flock to a different ISP. In Boulder I have the choice of at least three high-speed ISPs, plus dial-up providers. The folly of net neutrality boosters is that they have a solid-state view of the world. They are so focused on the notion that ISPs might boost the speed of some sites that they miss the possibility that other ISPs will fill the void and provide fast access to content disfavored by other ISPs.

A vote for net neutrality is a vote against the right of all Americans to use their property as they see fit.

The internet may be a public forum, but access to the internet is controlled through private gateways. For that reason the common road analogy fails, unless you change it slightly.

Net neutrality is not concerned with the roadway; the piece of the internet at issue is the "car" websites drive on the "roadway." The ISP is the website's vehicle for accessing the internet. While the "speed limit" language makes us think of signs on the road, what net neutrality is actually the equivalent of is forcing everyone to drive a Yugo.

What network freedom would allow is for websites, ANY website including coloradopols.com and watchtower.org, to buy the "car" that suits their needs. If my text-only blog works fine at Yugo speed, I don't need to buy a Cadillac - but why should Congress forbid coloradopols.com from buying a better vehicle if they want it? Moreover, why should Congress mandate what kind of cars ISPs sell and who they sell to?

Access to the ISPs' property, just like access to my front porch, is not a right. It is a privilege, bought and paid for by the speaker.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

"Market Failure" Doesn't Exist

"A free market doesn’t guarantee that an individual will act in rational self-interest—errors are possible—only that he or she is free to do so. If a person fails to act as such, then it’s the person’s failure, not “market failure.” A free market can’t be expected to do what’s metaphysically impossible, such as make everyone equally wealthy regardless of ability and effort, or turn sloth into gold. If a person expects a bicycle to fly, and it doesn’t fly, then it’s not a “bicycle failure” but a mind failure."

Monday, June 19, 2006

Why Rapanos Is Important

Justice Scalia explains:

The burden of federal regulation on those who would deposit fill material in locations denominated “waters of the United States” is not trivial. In deciding whether to grant or deny a permit, the U. S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) exercises the discretion of an enlightened despot, relying on such factors as “economics,” “aesthetics,” “recreation,” and “in general, the needs and welfare of the people....” The average applicant for an individual permit spends 788 days and $271,596 in completing the process, and the average applicant for a nationwide permit spends 313 days and $28,915-not counting costs of mitigation or design changes.... “[O]ver $1.7 billion is spent each year by the private and public sectors obtaining wetlands permits....” These costs cannot be avoided, because the Clean Water Act “impose[s] criminal liability,” as well as steep civil fines, “on a broad range of ordinary industrial and commercial activities....” In this litigation, for example, for backfilling his own wet fields, Mr. Rapanos faced 63 months in prison and hundreds of thousands of dollars in criminal and civil fines.