The Lullaby of Broadband

WASHINGTON–“In a Wall Street Journal op-ed, the CEOs of both Google and Verizon have endorsed that portion of the FCC’s new National Broadband Plan that calls for ‘making high-speed Internet connections available to all Americans,’ writes  Tom Bowden, analyst with the Ayn Rand Center. “Oh, and by the way, the executives agree it should be accomplished with ‘minimal government involvement.’

“Pardon me? Do these guys read the newspapers? The whole nation just witnessed what happens when government creates a new entitlement, and it sure ain’t ‘minimal government involvement.’

“When Congress decided to make health insurance ‘available to all Americans,’ the result was a sprawling bill that imposes unprecedented government controls on the health insurance industry. And of course, this entitlement mentality has a long history (think Medicare, Medicaid, and the prescription drug program) that demonstrates how controls breed controls.

“And that’s the way it has to be. Once everyone agrees on any new entitlement–I don’t know, something like ‘making high-speed Internet connections available to all Americans’–then government must become involved. Why? Because the very essence of an entitlement is a claim by those who lack a value against those who have earned it. And government is the only agency that can enforce such a claim.

“If the top executives of giant cellular and Internet companies can’t see that contradiction in their own op-ed, how can they hope to defend their companies from creeping regulation? What’s at stake here is the freedom that has allowed these industries to innovate, profit, and flourish–while more regulated parts of the economy stagnate.”