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April 13, 2009

Comments

Word.

I always find it ironic when libertarians use the Internet to complain that Government Is Bad.

What have the Romans ever done for us?

Also, Silicon Valley required one of those states with little regulation and weak unions, like California. :)

A whole internet article on regulation and no mention of the awesomeness of Al Gore`s work in the House and Senate from 1977-1992? FOR SHAME

a nitpick: you're talking data layer. Ruffini is talking application layer.

there's very little regulation about what someone who uses the internet can do with it (basically don't do anything you can't do in print, and don't damage/steal other people's information). but down at the level of actually pushing the packets around, things are regulated pretty well. with good reason. and to all our benefit.

I'm not going to read Ruffini, and I don't disagree with anything above, but the specter of an Obama age of over-regulation reaching to a sector like the internet is laughable. Any failing internet concern, if any, prefers bankruptcy to taking government money (which comes with some restrictions to protect the taxpayers' investment), should there be a bailout, would be free to do so.

Once again, the big conservative fear is one big collection of unlikely ifs.

"Any failing internet concern, if any, prefers bankruptcy to taking government money (which comes with some restrictions to protect the taxpayers' investment), should there be a bailout, would be free to do so."

Really? In practice, that's not how banks have been treated. Some of them got coerced into taking the TARP funds, so that the banks that really needed it wouldn't look bad, and experience runs. And now that they want to repay the funds, to get out from under the coming regulations, they're being threatened with retaliation.

Anyway, even if you guys are foolish enough to think Obama is some kind of philosopher king, who can be trusted with absolute power because he's incorruptable, (And not the under-vetted Chicago machine pol he really is.) you really ought to try to remember something:

Unless you manage to institute one party government in the next few years, he's going to be followed eventually by a Republican. And every power you're eager for Obama to have is going to be exercised by that Republican.

You're forging a sword for your own use, but it's going to eventually be picked up by the other side and buried in your guts. Try to remember that.

Boy, Brett, that is some vintage concern trolling. Fruity, with just a whiff of barnyard.

Brett does not fear irony.

No, that's an attempt to get people who won't oppose the wrong thing for principled reasons to oppose it for self-regarding reasons. Ideally you should oppose a power grab like this because nobody should have the sort of power Obama is reaching for, but I'd be satisfied if you'd oppose it out of fear of the 'wrong' people (In reality, that's everyone.) eventually getting it.

but I'd be satisfied if you'd oppose it out of fear of the 'wrong' people (In reality, that's everyone.) eventually getting it.

the left is well aware of the principle. we even have a name for it. we call it "The Hillary Rule".

it's the thing you've been disregarding for the past 8 years.

Ruffini is mostly talking about the venture capital market for tech start-ups. His argument is that because venture capitalists have created a booming economic sector, they shouldn't be regulated.

No, really, that's his point. It's as if he was in a deep freeze for the last 10 years.

It seems to elude most conservatives' attention that a lot of the regulation of the internet was and is to prevent restrictions on usage, not to cause them. To them, corporations are just hopping at the bit to give the consumer everything he could possibly want except the nasty government regulators get in the way.

Corporations are in it to make money. If they make more money by NOT giving the consumer something, they'll take that course. If they make more money by pissing off customers and making their lives more difficult, they'll do that too. Most of them aren't doing this out of any malice; it's just the nature of the beast.

"No, that's an attempt to get people who won't oppose the wrong thing for principled reasons to oppose it for self-regarding reasons. Ideally you should oppose a power grab like this because nobody should have the sort of power Obama is reaching for, but I'd be satisfied if you'd oppose it out of fear of the 'wrong' people (In reality, that's everyone.) eventually getting it."

Too bad we didn't hear from you & your ilk when the Republican/Ne-Con axis was setting up their unitary-executive surprise. At least that would have saved you from being an obvious hypocrite.

If we don't hear from you now, what saves you from being as much a hypocrite as you think me?

Anyway, I've been in favor of impeaching Bush for years, I never did anything but dispute some of the charges. How many of you could say the same of Clinton?

I'd like to take this opportunity to apologize for my country's past behavior.

the Internet is probably the single greatest advance of mankind since the printing press

Surely there are other candidates--the germ theory of disease, for example. Kepler's model of the solar system. Newtonian mechanics. Evolution. Genetics. Relativity. Flight.

Brett: Anyway, I've been in favor of impeaching Bush for years

*giggles* Okay, this is funny. Come on. I can't be the only person spluttering tea all over the keyboard. Brett, that's positively Thullenesque, though you lack the gracile wit of the real thing: it's funny, but it's a tad clumsy.

rea- those are all nice, but none of those gave us World of Warcraft. Just sayin'

rea - yep. agree with nous. these are all mere trifles compared to Pajamas Media.

Laugh your head off, Jes, but it's no less true. Hasn't been a President since I started voting who didn't do SOMETHING impeachable, and Bush certainly wasn't an exception. At the rate he's going, Obama isn't going to be an exception, either.

Right, those dastardly RFCs and BCPs (Request for Comments & Best Current Practice) issued from on high by a central authority that so hindered the development of the internet . . . oh. Never mind.

Otoh, consider the state dial-up in the U.S. with it's zesty free market approach. How's that working out?

There is a very weird connection between 'computer scientists' and libertarians, but think that it is slowly fading away as the first and second generations move on. A type I am all too familiar with, unfortunately, given my employment in the IT industry in early to late 90's where legions of boy-men never tired of informing each other that they were the smartest, bestest people ever.

Brett does not fear see irony.

Corrected

Your history of the internet is a little bit too cheerleading of the government.

First, the internet would very likely have come to us somewhat earlier except for the way the government managed the government enforced telephone monopolies.

Second, insofar as this was a triumph of regulation, it was infrastructure regulation NOT content regulation.

Third, insofar as protocol regulation goes, there have been a large number of cases where the market defines protocol regulation just fine on its own (see for example Underwriters Laboratories in the manufacturing context). The network effect makes market protocol regulation fairly likely (and my understanding is that most of it is private anyway, but I don't have personal knowledge of that).

Fourth, the success of the internet isn't just the switching, but rather the content, which the government has very little to do with.

So at best 'the internet' success of the government seems to be at a key point in development (effectively using the common carrier rule for taxis and trains and applying it to the internet) but to credit it with the success of 'the internet' as a whole seems like rather dramatic overreaching.

To overreach the other way, I'd note that you probably wouldn't argue that Roosevelt's mother 'caused' the US involvement in WWII.

Actually, the anti-regulation nonsense goes a lot deeper. Society as we know it could not function without a gigantic amount of essential regulation that we just take for granted, and I would like to see the libertarian nutballs really grasp the issue for once.

Examples? Rules concerning anything we ingest. Fire safety standards in countless areas (from clothing to construction). Weights and measures. Anti-fraud rules of innumerable types, and which enable a free market to actually operate without an enormous transaction cost for each transaction (something always conveniently assumed to be zero in free market dream worlds). The already obvious examples having to do with public safety and crime.

Of course, bad or excessive regulation can be a problem, but claiming that less regulation is always better? Just stupid.

So at best 'the internet' success of the government seems to be at a key point in development (effectively using the common carrier rule for taxis and trains and applying it to the internet) but to credit it with the success of 'the internet' as a whole seems like rather dramatic overreaching.

That is a misreading, I believe, of the post. It is not that only the government could do the necessary spadework; it is that those who assert that the magic of the marketplace is the elixir which cures all ills are wrong. Again. Massively so. Again.

I'll also note - again - that the internet would have been impossible without the work of Boltzmann, Maxwell, Einstein, Pauli, Fermi, Schroeder, Dirac, Turing, von Neumann, et al. Somehow boosters of the free market seem to consistently neglect their contributions.

Dang it, this happened once before, and I'm sure I put in the right tags:

So at best 'the internet' success of the government seems to be at a key point in development (effectively using the common carrier rule for taxis and trains and applying it to the internet) but to credit it with the success of 'the internet' as a whole seems like rather dramatic overreaching.

That is a misreading, I believe, of the post. It is not that only the government could do the necessary spadework; it is that those who assert that the magic of the marketplace is the elixir which cures all ills are wrong. Again. Massively so. Again.

I'll also note - again - that the internet would have been impossible without the work of Boltzmann, Maxwell, Einstein, Pauli, Fermi, Schroeder, Dirac, Turing, von Neumann, et al. Somehow boosters of the free market seem to consistently neglect their contributions.

Fourth, the success of the internet isn't just the switching, but rather the content, which the government has very little to do with.

Internet traffic isn't switched, it's routed, but anyway. You don't have any content if the packets can't get where they need to go. It's frustrating to talk to software guys about this, who tend to assume the internet is a nice flat open network. It's really anything but, and all the network issues are about 10% technical and 90% organizational/politics.

No packets, no content.

First, the internet would very likely have come to us somewhat earlier except for the way the government managed the government enforced telephone monopolies.

Care to elaborate on that? We only got the Internet the way it is b/c of monopoly regulations. If AT&T had any idea how valuable it was, they would have strangled and confined it to a walled garden (and Internet service would be like wireless phone service today).

I'm not saying all regulation is good or whatever. but a huge part of teh Internet story is government done right (providing the foundational regulation that made higher-level competition possible)

Really? In practice, that's not how banks have been treated. Some of them got coerced into taking the TARP funds, so that the banks that really needed it wouldn't look bad, and experience runs. And now that they want to repay the funds, to get out from under the coming regulations, they're being threatened with retaliation.

No one put a gun to their heads- they were convinced that it was in their best interest not to have TARP funds become an indicator of weakness, leading to runs, leading to financial sector disaster.
And they're balking at the conditions that they agreed to when they originally took the money- why do those with capital get second bites at the apple while union workers are supposed to give back their first bite?

Ideally you should oppose a power grab like this

A power grab like *what*? Changing tax policy via regulations? Did you read the link, or just imagine that since it's Obama it must involve jackbooted Obama Youth being made federal marshals?

"providing the foundational regulation that made higher-level competition possible"

Absolutely. And if government regulation were all about that, we'd have a very different world.

But a huge portion of government regulation isn't about that. Far more of it is about, for example, regulating Japanese car imports so that you don't have to compete with them on quality, or burdensome lead safety testing regulations on items that can't have lead and aren't a chewing risk for small children so that your small competitors will get driven out of business. (See here). Or about trying to hide economic regulations and giveaways in the tax code.

a nitpick: you're talking data layer. Ruffini is talking application layer.

I don't think he's talking about either, he's talking about financial regulation of VCs. Not telecom, not packets, not content.

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.

The irony is thinking that the entrepeneurs must see things in the same black-and-white as Ruffini- *they* understand that regulation can be good or bad, and that a certain amount is absolutely necessary. The *stupidity* is Ruffini claiming that the unregulated nature of internet content is somehow relevant to business finance, which has *always* been regulated carefully- which hasn't impeded Google et al from success. These businesses didn't succeed in "the most unregulated environment possible" in the context that Ruffini is actually talking about.

The funny thing to me here is that this is *exactly* the sort of thing I want the administration doing. Don't just fix the current problem, think ahead to how the financial wizards could use existing structures (such as VC firms) to work around regulation of eg hedge funds. Don't repeat the mistakes of the past, regulating banks but allowing bank-like entities to perform the same functions with none of the regulations, or allowing CDSs to act like insurance without the regulatory structures to make this insurance safe for the financial sector as a whole.

But a huge portion of government regulation isn't about that. Far more of it is about, for example, regulating Japanese car imports so that you don't have to compete with them on quality, or burdensome lead safety testing regulations on items that can't have lead and aren't a chewing risk for small children so that your small competitors will get driven out of business. (See here).

I'm not sure what point you're trying to make. Are there bad regulations that should be scrapped? Absolutely. Does anyone here argue against that? I don't think so. Can you point to any?

As for whether such egregious cases comprise a "huge portion"...well, you provide zero evidence so I can't agree with you. If you want to make your claim specific enough to argue about and are then willing to provide some sort of evidence that would be good. I don't expect you to do that though.

Or about trying to hide economic regulations and giveaways in the tax code.

Long have I fought against the home mortgage interest deduction, but in vain. I look forward to your advocacy on this issue.

Absolutely. And if government regulation were all about that, we'd have a very different world. But a huge portion of government regulation isn't about that.

I think that no one here going to argue that regulation is de facto good or de facto bad, which leaves us arguing cases. I agree- the government hasn't regulated content, and I think we all agree that that's a good thing. But the government was responsible for much of the technology, and also for using regulatory power to keep monopolistic behavior from strangling innovation.

I don't know if you've mentioned it before, but what's your position on the network neutrality debate?

So at best 'the internet' success of the government seems to be at a key point in development (effectively using the common carrier rule for taxis and trains and applying it to the internet)

There's also the technological origins of the internet- both the physical technology and the (early) software for the network were developed either directly by the government (eg DARPA) or at public universities.
And, of course, there's the government role in the electronics industry and the development of the computer itself.

I don't think anyone is saying that the government was sufficient to create the internet that we have today. Just that it was necessary. And, to the extent that this public-private effort has utilitzed the best part of each of its components, Id think that you'd be happy with this result of regulation rather than trying to run down the government's contribution.

"Long have I fought against the home mortgage interest deduction, but in vain. I look forward to your advocacy on this issue."

You just weren't reading when I did. ;) I think the deduction is a very bad thing.

"I'm not sure what point you're trying to make. Are there bad regulations that should be scrapped? Absolutely. Does anyone here argue against that? I don't think so. Can you point to any?"

And the reflexive point is true. There isn't anyone here who is arguing that ALL regulations are bad.

"I don't think anyone is saying that the government was sufficient to create the internet that we have today. Just that it was necessary. And, to the extent that this public-private effort has utilitzed the best part of each of its components, Id think that you'd be happy with this result of regulation rather than trying to run down the government's contribution."

I'm not trying to run it down, except that publius does NOT make it out to be a public-private effort in his initial post, but rather a government effort.


Three concepts modern conservatives dont understand(or willfully misrepresent);

Regulation

Socialism

Free markets

I'm not trying to run it down, except that publius does NOT make it out to be a public-private effort in his initial post, but rather a government effort.

I didn't read it that way, but looking again I can see how you did. I read it as a reaction to the statement that government had inhibited the internet more than it had facilitated it- so publius made the case that government was very important.
I suppose if someone made the case that private efforts weren't necessary for the internet today, a rebuttal would look similar- raise the points where private initiative was vital, rather than supply a comprehensive history of the internet.

But again, I do see where you get that. "Let me tell you about the internet. Government did this. Government did that. Without government we wouldn't have the internet" does sound like government action was the really vital part.

Greg,
Robert Anton Wilson has said many thing that I disagree with, but he wisely pointed out that statements such as yours should have the word "some" in them. (Im not thinking of "modern conservative sumbiches" either).

I don't think he's talking about either, he's talking about financial regulation of VCs. Not telecom, not packets, not content.

that's the theme of the piece as a whole, yes. but in the section publius quoted, he does seem to be talking about internet applications (note his parenthetical).

seb - i think this shows that there's actually a lot of common ground here. i'm all for limiting to regulations that make deregulation possible (I think financial disclosure requirements are similar). so, there's a chance to come together on a lot of this stuff.

i guess what i'm trying to push back on (however inartfully) is basically what carleton said -- the idea that the government was the enemy of all this stuff. and that's clearly what ruffini was saying.

as for the application/data layer, it's helpful to divide the layers for many reasons, conceptually speaking. but when you're talking about "the internet" as a whole, you can't do so as easily. the higher-level stuff just wouldn't have existed if AT&T ran the Internet the way it runs its wireless network

that's the theme of the piece as a whole, yes. but in the section publius quoted, he does seem to be talking about internet applications (note his parenthetical).

I think the context of the article shows this to mean- good luck creating them because you will have trouble getting financial backing when VCs are regulated like hedge funds, not good luck because government is going to start regulating content.
But I think we're disagreeing because his statements are vague, and his statements are vague because his thinking is vague. So you may be right, at least he may have meant to imply that government regulation of content or applications isn't far behind regulation of industry finance.

I think the context of the article shows this to mean- good luck creating them because you will have trouble getting financial backing when VCs are regulated like hedge funds, not good luck because government is going to start regulating content.

yeah, you could be right.

But I think we're disagreeing because his statements are vague, and his statements are vague because his thinking is vague.

we definitely agree on that!

i guess i've forgotten how to use italics. i blame overregulation.

But a huge portion of government regulation isn't about that. Far more of it is about, for example, regulating Japanese car imports so that you don't have to compete with them on quality, or burdensome lead safety testing regulations on items that can't have lead and aren't a chewing risk for small children so that your small competitors will get driven out of business. (See here). Or about trying to hide economic regulations and giveaways in the tax code.

Yes, those free market business activists have learned how to misuse regulation for fun and profit.

I assume you noticed that all of your examples of misregulation involved corporate interests misusing the power of government for private ends. And this is not a Dem/Repub issue -- there are plenty of shills on both sides willing to do the will of lobbyists for the right inducements.

Also, I doubt that this constitutes "far more" of the government regulation. It represents a perversion of the system by the corrupt. Improper lead safety regulation is hardly an argument against lead safety regulation in general. I assume someone can be cynical and say that all regulation is going to be misused, so why have it, but that view does not match reality.

there have been a large number of cases where the market defines protocol regulation just fine on its own (see for example Underwriters Laboratories in the manufacturing context).

I can think of four:

1) Underwriters Laboratories
2) The Better Business Bureau
3) Consumer Reports / Consumers Union
4) Good Housekeeping Institute (GH was an advocate of the 1906 Pure Food and Drug Act).

Have I missed any of reasonable size? If not, it's not exactly testimony for industries policing themselves.

The interesting things about the Internet to me are: (1) it was built by colleges (they brainwash people now, I'm told), (2) using Government research funding. If this were rightie world, there would be no Internet based on that alone.

Someone pointed out that regulations addressed the infrastructure, not the content. Content is free, and that's what made the Internet go. True enough, though as another poster noted, you needed the infrastructure first. We've had content since Guttenburg.

I would also point out that we have telephone and electricity in rural areas due to Government regulation. In fact, we pay more that it costs (plus reasonable profit) in cities in order to subsidize phone service in rural areas because the subscribers could not possibly bear the true cost. Does anybody want to argue that this was a bad thing? That we should be a third-world shit hole from an infrastructure point of view because we don't like Government regulation?

Really, guys. Government regulation does a lot of good.

Does anybody want to argue that this was a bad thing?

Yes, I do. Living in isolated rural areas is bad environmentally. To the extent that people want to live in extremely low density areas, I think they should have to bear the costs associated with doing so. Providing service to ultra low density areas is always going to cost significantly more than providing equivalent service to high density areas -- the solution is that people should move from low density to high density areas. If they don't want to do that, they should pay the costs associated with living in the middle of nowhere rather than demanding that people who made better choices subsidize them.

The last thing our society needs is to encourage people to live in ulta low density environments. So let's stop subsidizing that behavior at the expense of city dwellers.

How many of you could say the same of Clinton?
Nobody who paid attention to the substance of the charges brought against him - or rather, the utter lack thereof.

"I assume you noticed that all of your examples of misregulation involved corporate interests misusing the power of government for private ends. And this is not a Dem/Repub issue -- there are plenty of shills on both sides willing to do the will of lobbyists for the right inducements.

Also, I doubt that this constitutes "far more" of the government regulation. It represents a perversion of the system by the corrupt."

Ummm, that perversion of the system by the corrupt is pretty much the history of government in action over the last 3000 years. And it has been a notoriously difficult to deal with problem. And embarrassingly, by both historical and modern world standards, the US has been fairly non-corrupt. Which was not particularly meant as a compliment.

there have been a large number of cases where the market defines protocol regulation just fine on its own

I was just thinking that you probably would've thought of the bond-rating agencies as great examples of this until sometime last year. And they would've been- yet now, they serve as a cautionary tale in the other direction. Whatever mistakes government agencies make, from bureaucratization to regulatory capture, they are small-c constitutionally incapable of selling themselves and their reputations to make a quick buck. And it's much easier to regulate regulatory agencies than private corporations providing the same service (eg prohibiting individuals from working for the regulator for a few years, making the 'right' decisions, and then moving to a fat consultancy at one of the regulatees).

"I was just thinking that you probably would've thought of the bond-rating agencies as great examples of this until sometime last year. And they would've been- yet now, they serve as a cautionary tale in the other direction. Whatever mistakes government agencies make, from bureaucratization to regulatory capture, they are small-c constitutionally incapable of selling themselves and their reputations to make a quick buck."

That isn't true at all. The history of government agency is full of large C corruption doing exactly that type of thing. We've recently seen cases of police officers running drugs, judges sentencing innocent teens to detention facilities in exchange for kickbacks, California (Republican) Congressmen selling military contracts, and a governor trying to sell a Senate seat. And those are just the ones we've caught. The power that comes from the government monopoly on most of the available force is immense.

That isn't true at all. The history of government agency is full of large C corruption doing exactly that type of thing.

We've seen corrupt individuals, but someone at Moody's can be personally bribed as easily as someone with the FDA. More easily, in fact- we can make a public position contingent on eg periodic examination of finances. And we can more easily justify special laws penalizing the selling of the public trust.
The difference is that Moody's themselves can be bought and sold. They can, and did, collude with those they were supposedly monitoring, ripping off the people who relied on them as an honest assessor.
Whereas the US government is not likely to participate in or bless such a scam.

Of course, there are crooked cops. Are you recommending that we get rid of cops? I just don't see the relevance of the examples that you give. Either you're an anarchist, or you agree we need cops and Congresspeople. And yes, they will have the ability to become corrupt. But that has nothing to do with whether regulatory powers are better placed in the government or in the private sector.

The power that comes from the government monopoly on most of the available force is immense.

Isn't the problem of a judge sentencing teenagers to detention precisely a problem of the government not having a monopoly on available force? That judge, if you recall, didn't sentence teenagers to spend time in a privately-operated jail just out of pure malice: he did it because the jail was being run for profit - a private enterprise, not a government facility - and the more kids sent there, the more profit he made.

That's what evil came out of running prisons as a private enterprise, not as a government monopoly.

You really think that judge would have done less evil if his pal who ran the prison for profit had also been able to run his own for-profit police service so that he needn't wait for teenagers to be arrested; any time his profitable detention center looked a bit empty, he could just send out his Blackwater mercenaries to sweep some neighborhood and pick out some good "suspects" to be detained? That's what you've got: the idea that people in the US would be safer if only Blackwater could operate as freely in the US as they do in Iraq?

"regulatory powers" isn't a good statement of the concept. Something about ratings and standards, but Im too tired to think of a good phrase.

"Of course, there are crooked cops. Are you recommending that we get rid of cops? I just don't see the relevance of the examples that you give. Either you're an anarchist, or you agree we need cops and Congresspeople."

No, I'm recommending that we be careful about extending their powers further and further and further.

Let's take it out of the internet regulation arena and look at drug laws and their enforcement. One of the really nasty things about our drug enforcement regime is the incentives it provides to police officers to do lots of things that really destroy community trust. It encourages no knock raids in the middle of the night at people's houses over the possibility that they might have a few plants in their house. Since the crime is typically of self-abuse in one's own home, it relies on informants with possibly corrupt motivations of their own (we've seen cases of informants lying for revenge and thousands of cases where they may well be motivated by plea bargaining.) Its second order effects (exactly like prohibition) have been to help perpetuate armed gangs which the police use as an explanation for their need to dramatically escalate their own weaponry. That fact, from both sides, and even when not directly involving the drug war, has put an enormous number of innocent civilians at risk. Nearly once a week Balko brings us a story of a horribly botched no-knock raid where someone gets shot. And there isn't any indication at all that he is picking up all of them. (BTW you might want to look into his recent series on apparently racist cops going in to convenience stores, disabling the cameras and basically robbing the place.) And as far as accountability goes, the police departments of the United States are notorious for avoiding accountability from their officers for excessive force, even if it ends in the death of an innocent.

None of this is an argument "against cops".

But it is an argument against extending lots more power to them.

"Whereas the US government is not likely to participate in or bless such a scam."

Really? Have you seen the bank stress test lately? Did you see the municipal bond scandals of the 90s, and 80s, and I think the 70s? Are you aware of the San Diego pension fund scandals? They are pretty ugly.

"I'm not sure what point you're trying to make. Are there bad regulations that should be scrapped? Absolutely. Does anyone here argue against that? I don't think so. Can you point to any?"

And the reflexive point is true. There isn't anyone here who is arguing that ALL regulations are bad.

Well, since we're all in agreement then, why not stop arguing about general principles and discuss the merits of a specific piece of regulation? Did you have something specific in mind?

there have been a large number of cases where the market defines protocol regulation just fine on its own (see for example Underwriters Laboratories in the manufacturing context).

I can think of four:

1) Underwriters Laboratories
2) The Better Business Bureau
3) Consumer Reports / Consumers Union
4) Good Housekeeping Institute (GH was an advocate of the 1906 Pure Food and Drug Act).

Have I missed any of reasonable size? If not, it's not exactly testimony for industries policing themselves.

Posted by: Jeff

This seems to be a staple libertarian strategy: extrapolate from a small, limited sample to a general overarching conclusion. I've talked with people who think that privatized legal functions in an iron-age Scandinavian society a thousand years ago are proof enough that a privatized legal system would work just fine in the U.S. today.

No, I'm recommending that we be careful about extending their powers further and further and further....
None of this is an argument "against cops".
But it is an argument against extending lots more power to them.

I don't think we're debating the same point anymore. I think the drug war is stupid & counterproductive, and that extensive police powers are dangerous.

Here is the difference between the cases: *someone* has to monitor eg product safety. It can be the government, or it can be private corporations, or non-profits, or some intergovernment group, etc.
There does not need to be a group of people granted no-knock warrants, where we must decide who will get that right/power.
So I think the analogy breaks down. In one case, we debate whether *anyone* should have a power. In the other case, we were debating *how* to best exercise a role that I think we all agree society needs to have performed.

Really? Have you seen the bank stress test lately? Did you see the municipal bond scandals of the 90s, and 80s, and I think the 70s? Are you aware of the San Diego pension fund scandals? They are pretty ugly.

I did not say that the government cannot make mistakes. Or that it cannot even favor one interest over the other. I said that, since it is not a profit-making entity, it cannot sacrifice it's reputation as a fair evaluator of something to make a quick buck.

I think you keep broadening my argument until it's nonsensical. I am not arguing that all government power is good. I am not arguing that all government actions have been wise, or that all government employees are uncorruptible, etc.

< rant>
Who built the Panama Canal? Guys with steamshovels or Teddy Roosevelt?
Who built the interstates? Highway engineers or Eisenhower?
Who got us to the moon? Wernher Von Braun, or JKF?
Who invented the internet? Vint Cerf or Al Gore?
</rant>

To use Galbraith's term, a modern economy necessitates a technostructure, which is a body of professionals who are technically competent to not only run the economy, but most importantly to plan the economy (take that Hayek).

To exist, a technostructure needs not only private industry, but also academia and government.

To think the history of the information age is nothing but the story of individual entrepreneurs is to ignore 99.9% of the story; it is to not see the forest for the trees.

"I did not say that the government cannot make mistakes. Or that it cannot even favor one interest over the other. I said that, since it is not a profit-making entity, it cannot sacrifice it's reputation as a fair evaluator of something to make a quick buck."

Except for in corruption cases.

And it can sacrifice it's reputation as a fair evaluator of something for other reasons.

"*I think you keep broadening my argument until it's nonsensical.* I am not arguing that all government power is good. I am not arguing that all government actions have been wise, or that all government employees are uncorruptible, etc."

Didn't you just tell me that my argument was against police officers?

I'm not arguing that all government power is bad. I'm not arguing that all private actors have been wise, nor that all private employees are uncorruptible, etc...

But really I'm not broadening your point unfairly, you just reiterated it:

“Here is the difference between the cases: *someone* has to monitor eg product safety. It can be the government, or it can be private corporations, or non-profits, or some intergovernment group, etc.
There does not need to be a group of people granted no-knock warrants, where we must decide who will get that right/power.
So I think the analogy breaks down. In one case, we debate whether *anyone* should have a power. In the other case, we were debating *how* to best exercise a role that I think we all agree society needs to have performed.”

Someone needs to farm. Someone needs to make cars. Someone needs to make computers. Someone needs to report news. Someone needs to monitor car loans. But the fact that someone has to do it, says nothing one way or another about the government needing to do it.

And take health and product safety. Did you read any of the lead toy stuff I linked above? A private monitor like Consumer Reports would say “wow people will think we are ridiculous if we try to say that independent garment makers have to independently test for lead in the dye for clothes for 14 year olds because, a) they can rely on the MSDS sheets of the dye manufacturers, b) they don’t have a history of lead, and c) 14 year olds don’t eat their clothes.”

But a government agency says, “Shut up, it is SAFETY”. And they don’t even notice that it is more likely to put out of business all of the smaller shops that can’t have in house testing of each possible component.

Or the only recently modified FDA process regarding denying dying patients access to experimental drugs. Umm, they’re dying!

So what was it: funding or regulation?

And the talk of AT&T being benevolent or not is kind of funny considering AT&T was a government-assisted monopoly at the time.

"There was no immaculate conception."
This may seem nitpicky, but this is a pet peeve of mine. The immaculate conception refers to the conception of Mary not Jesus. So it means 'being conceived without sin' rather than 'magically created'. (Magically is probably the wrong word here, believers insert your own)

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