Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Net Neutrality and our Economies Surprising Growth Industry - the Regulatory State of Mind Part III

Net Neutrality - Our Economies Surprising Growth Industry - the Regulatory Mind Part III
We started off looking at Net Neutrality and how it, and all regulations fail to accomplish what they claim to want to accomplish, so the question we left off with was what it is which we should suppose that Regulators are actually after? What is it that they are in the business of - Justice? And I answered:

Nooo... no, no...no, that's got to be ruled out right off the bat, because you simply can't claim to be upholding & enforcing Justice... without an actual crime having been committed in the first place. I asked whether or not you'd call it justice, if the police came to your door tomorrow and said "We've had reports that you purchased ammunition yesterday, and seeing as studies prove that most firearms incidents involve ammunition and pose a grave risk to public safety, we're going to need you to go ahead and wear this monitor at all times and make regular reports to our dept...", would you call that justice?

Well of course I'd hoped that your answer to that would be a big fat 'no!' and maybe you'd snicker at my example, I was just trying to come up with something outrageous... then I saw this,

"Environmental activists are pressing the Obama administration to ban the manufacture, processing and distribution lead shot, bullets, and fishing sinkers under the Toxic Substances Control Act of 1976..."
Sigh. I sure wish my example was only amusing. But then that is exactly what the 'principle' behind regulatory law is, and it has very little to do with traditional American ideas of Justice. Regulations are not imposed to uphold Justice, but to use power to predetermine your available actions in any possible situation, in order to keep you as safe as they think you ought to be, they mean to do their idea of good, to you, for your own good. And if you follow the implications to their logical ends, that means that your freedom, your potential choice of 'No', is a threat to the good that they would do to you.

I'll admit, that terrifies me. After all I've already said and linked to so far, do you think I'm exaggerating? How exaggerated does it sound when you hear Michelle Obama is talking about the government monitoring your BMI?

""...we are taking an unprecedented step towards implementing a provision that requires all new private health insurance to cover all recommended preventative services, like mammograms, colonoscopies, cervical screenings treatment for high blood pressure, childhood immunizations and measuring BMI's, Body Mass Indexes... we are trying to encourage pediatricians and doctors not just to measure BMI, but to help actually step in and write prescriptions

How does government go about 'encouraging' physicians to step in and write prescriptions? By enacting regulations which are either forbidding, penalizing or adding so much red tape to the 'wrong' choices, so as to 'encourage' them to 'choose' the 'right' actions in order to avoid jail, penalties or busy work so voluminous as to make ordinary business untenable.

Regulators of course see nothing wrong with this in principle, they like to claim that they are in the business of preventing crime - or bad things - which means that they require power over you and your choices, power over what is the very essence of justice and morality - but without choice, there is no and can be no issues of justice or morality involved. There is simply a presumption made that you would be guilty if given the opportunity to choose, and so you must be denied even the possibility of making the correct choice - you are presumed guilty and have no chance of proving your innocence.

This legalizes the pure, unrestrained exercise of power by those who have it, to mandate that your life is to be lived as they see fit. How far off from the essence of slavery do you suppose that to be? Are you comfortable with that distance?

You may have noticed that I've been saying 'you' are being told to, or not do, this and that, or that these things are being done to 'you'... have you been temptd to reply 'Heh, not my problem! I'm no capitalist fat cat!', Oh... sorry, nice try, but unless you are trying to establish Two America's, I'm afraid that neither Rights, nor the Laws which should uphold them, work that way. You must not mistake regulatory law as something which applies to only 'big business' or 'big corporations' - any plausible argument that can be made to weaken their rights, applies to your rights as well. Just ask Susette Kelo about her property in New London and how she feels now about laws that were first authorized to 'reign in robber barrons' and to look out for the 'little guy'.

For all the proregressives deprecation of principles, they are absolutely adamant in asserting that the breach of principle in one case, is grounds for making their breach applicable in all cases, as needed (recall Elena Kagan arguing for 'redistribution of speech opportunities'). Those rights which are diminished for one non-criminal citizen 'to serve the greater good', automatically diminishes the rights of all individuals in that society.

When regulatory agencies, on the basis of presumed would-be guilt, either prevent the actions, or abridge the right of property for one person or group of people, that in principle applies to YOUR rights as well as everyone elses.

Thinking of laws as just applying to some vague 'they' and not you... is a very dangerous mindset to put yourself in (First they came for the... yesss... you can fill in the blank, can't you?), you should be able to reasonably and fairly put yourself into any and every law and regulation that is passed in your name... you know... that of We The People.

For instance, no one should have a problem with a principle of good law, such as,

  • 'If I stole something, I should be arrested'
... but how about

  • 'If I own a business govt should assume I'd risk poisoning my customers to make an extra buck'
... sure, I suppose you might like to see it applied to that guy across town... but how would it sit with you if it were being applied to you? In a society based upon the rule of law, where the law applies equally to all of the people, that is inescapable.

Of course if you aren't living in a society based upon the rule of law... well... then that's gonna be the least of your worries... but do you not see that very scenario fast approaching us?

Perhaps you think that some regulations should be passed, like the Americans with disabilities Act, (popular with Republicans and Democrats, btw)... have you ever wondered why these monstrosities take up hundreds, even thousands of pages? They aren't concerned with stating a simple principle, like "people with handicaps shouldn't be discriminated against in the workplace", that is only the 'fair minded' selling point used to get support & pass the law. What they soon end up mandating are idiocies such as John Stossel routinely notes,

"And be careful. If you fail to let a customer bring a large snake, which he calls his "service animal," into your restaurant, you could be in trouble."
How regulatory law grows from simple 'common sense' selling points, to idiocies, is through the mandating of every little detail of running your business, and even the construction of your business,

"The bathroom sinks must be a specified height. So must the doorknobs and mirrors. You must have rails. And if these things aren't right—say, if your mirror is just one inch too high—you could be sued for thousands of dollars."
, and in those details, and the attempt to exempt some details, for some, and then others, the rest of the thousands of pages of regulations sprout and grow and grow (choices mandated before the actual context of reality they will apply to - a.k.a. 'Stupidity'), bearing such fruit as new commissions, sub commissions, and an army of new regulators to oversee them.

In just the same way, when some bonehead like Sen. Al Franken trumpets Net Neutrality with the crisis line of,

"If the Internet is under the control of corporate elites," he said, "democracy as we know it can't exist."
and would mandate 'equal access to all'... that initiates counter measures such as this from AT&T,

"Wireless networks simply cannot provide the same amount of capacity as wireline networks. Fibre is to a wireline network what spectrum is to a wireless network. As a transmission medium, the two simply do not compare,"
, and the inevitable sawing of the see-saw,

"Policymakers can help by reallocating more spectrum for commercial radio service use and, even more importantly, by protecting wireless broadband networks from onerous new net neutrality regulations."
, and so it goes, the allegedly noble purpose of mandated 'fairness', causes unforeseen consequences and obvious instances of unfairness, which require exemptions, counter exemptions, and inevitably favors sought, favors repaid, and so the thousands of pages bloom... along with inordinate costs, and reduced services, delays and inefficiencies which are all passed on to you and me, and not the least of which is the governments expanded ability to mandate what you and I no longer have a right to do.

Another excellent examination of the side effects of such well intentioned laws and regulations, is "The Death of Common Sense".

But coming back to the original question, the real common sense thing we should all do, is ask ourselves why such a system is created in the first place?

It isn't to ensure justice and good behavior. A system of rules which are knowingly impossible to comply with - and no one familiar with even one section of the I.R.S. Tax Codes will contend otherwise - are not created to ensure justice and good behavior, they will in fact ensure violations which will be seized upon as needed, by those in power who are conveniently able to make use of them, for their purposes - whatever they may be.

Conspiracy Theorists Need Not Apply
But this also doesn't mean that there are vast right or left wing conspiracies’ underway. There need be no nefarious or coordinated schemes involved, the philosophy that has been taught us over the last century and a half has made such a clunky thing as secret societies and convoluted conspiracies unnecessary. These messes are the unavoidable result of smart people who think they can foresee, and fix, every possible problem which might occur. The ancient Greeks might have called it hubris, and Oedipus Rex could to tell us a thing or two about putting such truly blind trust in our 'intelligence' and common sense solutions.

What we see around us are simply the results of those who have been taught that man doesn't really have Free Will and is at the mercy of his environment (read Rousseau & Hobbes), rather than the traditional Western view that an individual is responsible for himself and must master his environment. People who have been taught that truth and virtue are silly (Read Hume, it's not long, see if you see what I see), people can only be 'happy' if they conform to the needs of the greater good (read Kant, Hegel, Bentham, Mill - do I have them wrong?), that rights are imposed from without in order to benefit the greater good, rather than derived from your nature as human beings, or as Jefferson put it
"endowed by our creator with certain inalienable Rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness."

It's hard for most people to understand how opposed to this the proregressives are, read them. See. They are not intent on letting you be free, no - you don't know enough to know what is important and so you must be... 'encouraged' to do what they know is for the greater good, as their founder Rousseau said,

"This means nothing less than that he will be forced to be free"
What they are about is creeping ever closer to the proregressives being able to determine what you should do, and what you can't do, so that you can measure up to what they think you should be.

However crazy you might think of that as being, they don't, not because they mean you harm, quite the opposite - and more chillingly - but because they mean to do you good (as they see it). They believe that they do what they do, in your best interests - and because you cannot be trusted, or expected, to choose 'properly', you must be 'nudged' or if necessary shoved - into the right outcome. That 'knowledge' they claim to have, that they do all that they do for your benefit, frees them in their own minds, to do anything 'necessary', to anyone as needed, for the greater good - and your desire to do as you see fit, in their eyes, becomes a threat to that greater good.

That is Political Correctness in a nutshell, and Regulatory Law is it's supreme tool and nutcracker; the power to seek after ends which justify their means. Whether this is applied to measuring your BMI & regulating your daily food intake, or as Pol Pot applied it in slaughtering all the middle class parents so as to free their children to become ideal citizens... the principle itself is one and the same, and in the absence of a written constitution constraining political power and itself constrained by the rights of it's citizens, then the only thing which can be counted on to regulate the means which their ends are applied to - to your diet or to your dying - are the whims and goals of those in power.

That is not progress, that is regress. As the last President to truly understand this, Calvin Coolidge, said,

"About the Declaration there is a finality that is exceedingly restful. It is often asserted that the world has made a great deal of progress since 1776, that we have had new thoughts and new experiences which have given us a great advance over the people of that day, and that we may therefore very well discard their conclusions for something more modern. But that reasoning can not be applied to this great charter. If all men are created equal, that is final. If they are endowed with inalienable rights, that is final. If governments derive their just powers from the consent of the governed, that is final. No advance, no progress can be made beyond these propositions. If anyone wishes to deny their truth or their soundness, the only direction in which he can proceed historically is not forward, but backward toward the time when there was no equality, no rights of the individual, no rule of the people. Those who wish to proceed in that direction can not lay claim to progress. They are reactionary. Their ideas are not more modern, but more ancient, than those of the Revolutionary fathers."
Any movement towards government ordering our lives, taking on parental concern for us, it's charges, is a step backwards towards political darkness.

Open Ended Power
We commonly hear that 'Businessmen and corporations are only after money, we can't trust them with power! They must be regulated!', it's hard to go a day without hearing that from the MSM... or even an hour on MSNBC, but less often heard - I'm tempted to say Never heard, is the corollary which that presumes. Think about it, doesn't that mean that we should trust those people who are directly seeking actual political power, people who are seeking the power to control others, we are to trust them with the power to use the power they seek?

Can you tell me why people who strive for positions of power in government (left, right or center) should be considered trustworthy to use their power over the wealthy and 'powerful' corporations, without being tempted into corruption themselves? Why are people who seek power, more trustworthy than people who seek only profits? The profit seeker, unless in clever collusion with those having real political power, at least has to first produce something which people will freely choose to purchase... in a free market at least, that's the only way for them to get their profits in the first place.

And there we come to the difference between Economic Power, and Political Power, and it is one of the terms which proregressives will always equivocate on, attempt to blur and confuse the issues with, using just the term 'power' in one sense first, and then in another context as if it were still the same meaning.

Better for us to ask what real power - power being the ability to force you or me to do, or not do, something against our will - does a businessmen or corporation have? Unaided, they have only economic power, 'power' that is reliant upon price, agreements and contracts, all of which require your consent and your approval before it can be used to do anything at all.

Economic Power requires your assent... or it is powerless.

How powerful and threatening would you call a mugger that had to ask your permission to rob you, and if you didn't give it, had to leave you alone? Not very, right? What power do you have over your neighbor? You can talk to, and persuade them, but you can't force them to comply with your wishes. That is the same power a business has, they can tell us we should purchase from them, they can try to persuade us to, they can offer inducements through lower prices or increased services, but they cannot force us to purchase from them.

A businesses power, economic power, does not carry with it the ability to force you or me to do something we'd rather not do - like, say, having to purchase HD TV’s you’d rather not bother with, or force us to install idiotic 'green' light bulbs that are ridiculously expensive, don't give off enough light and require an EPA HazMat cleanup effort should you break one - a business, armed only with economic power, cannot force those choices upon us, except, through the aid of politicians willing, and able, to borrow, rent or sell them their political powers of laws and regulations. Only political power can be used to 'encourage' and force you to act and choose against your will, and without that... such businesses would go out of business.

As they should.

Michelle Obama would like to have our BMI tracked, and 'encourage' our doctors to 'do something' about it. The FDA would like to 'encourage' and be supportive of industry voluntary efforts to limit their marketing to kids and this will see whether more is needed..

Can you or I be so encouraging in getting what we want? Outside of a protection racket, what would you call such tactics if a business attempted to 'encourage' you to purchase their product or service?

That is the contrast we're looking for in the nature of power, the power to step in and alter your life, monitor and mandate even your choices of foods to eat, and how much of them, with the power which you have – individually or in business - have over the choices of your neighbor & vice versa. Businesses and the wealthy may be able to get favors from govt , but they still need those favors - that means they don't have real power themselves, only something to appease the politically powerful with. And those corporations, knowing that their success and profits can be severely affected by these power seekers, is it really surprising that they will use every avenue open to them to flatter, sway, influence or outright bribe those with power over them?

Sounds like a severely dysfunctional relationship enabling scenario in the making to me, how about you? While it may make great Reality T.V.... it's not a program I want to be involved in.

No matter how big, if a business in a free market had nothing to offer to 'make' you buy their product but threats, they'd go out of business. Too big to fail only means that they have enough political influence to force you to save them from failing, and businesses can only get that power through the regulations, regulators and politicians, who have been given that power over them - and lest you are feeling all innocent victim like, sorry, but We The People gave that power to them.

And no matter the status of the true believers in regulations, how can anyone be so naïve as to believe that those who seek political power, when put into a position of being able to have influence over the success and wealth of major corporations, should be trusted to not use the power they sought to have?

One thing at least that there can be no doubt of, is that the regulatory business is a growth industry (and nearly the only one hiring today), tending and expanding it as they are. Except in a very few historical examples, those in power are doing what they think is the right thing to do, the beauty of our constitutional representative government (at least up until about a century ago), was that those ambitions on the part of one branch of government to do good, were counter balanced with the ambitions of the other branches who would not only have conflicting interests and visions, but would be more likely than they themselves, to see the downsides and risks which such 'good ideas' might entail,

How that balancing act should work, and how much of it is governments responsibility, and how much of it is that of We The People's responsibility, we'll look at in the next part, looking at the stupidity of giving smart people unchecked political power.

(Cross posted at 24th State


Sal said...

In spite of years reading the conservative shrinks and their analyses of the subject, I still can't wrap my mind around why anyone would want to take on the job of running everyone else's lives.

Perhaps it has to do with the self-examen orthodox Christians are periodically required to make, so that we (and mileage will vary wildly here) can never get too biggity about our own capabilities to run even our own lives, never mind anyone else's.

You mention hubris- I think it's obvious that the core sin of the Left is pride.

Cold weather is approaching- does your boy need anything knit for him? I'm about ready to take a break from babies.

xlbrl said...

"In spite of years reading the conservative shrinks and their analyses of the subject, I still can't wrap my mind around why anyone would want to take on the job of running everyone else's lives."

Four of the wise men provided answers to that question--

First bring peace to yourself, then you can also bring it to others.

The one thing more difficult than following a regime is not imposing it on others.

So long as we need to control other people, however benign we believe our motives, we are captive to that need.

Egotism is the source and summary of all faults and miseries.