Regulators & Their Pince-Nez Thinking

by Mike Wendy on January 19, 2012

Over the past several days, the President, trying to shake off some of his Big Government inclinations, has been beating the drum about making government more streamline and efficient.

Standing in the East Room of the White House last week, President Obama noted:

…[T]he government we have is not the government we need…We live in a 21st-century economy, but we’ve still got a government organized for the 20th century. Our economy has fundamentally changed—as has the world—but our government, our agencies, has not.

And he’s made quick work to meet this challenge (again, but this time, seriously…really).  Earlier this week, the President showed Americans an example of his great progress, stating:

…[T]he FCC, prompted by our request but also due to some excellent work by Julius Genachowski, they’ve already eliminated 190 rules – 190.

Whoopee!  I guess he’s checked that box and can move on.


Regulations and bureaucracy are like a drug to Big Government officials.  The FCC’s “190 rules” liposuction is sort of like the binge drinker saying that he avoided beer at the bar – while imbibing every other top-shelf spirit the barkeep could throw at him.

By many accounts, 2011 promises to be one of the five most regulatory years in history, likely to clock in at close to 81,000 pages of new rules and regulations in the Federal Register.  2010 was about the same, posting an 18% jump in rules and regulations from the previous year.

At the FCC, instead of being the 21st century agency wished for by the President, we see one mired in the 19th century instead, regulating the information and communications technology industry as if the Robber Barons ran them.

From the FCC’s pince-nez spectacled  bureaucrats we get innovation and investment-killing Net Neutrality regulations; mandatory data roaming requirements; merger orders that impose dozens of pages of unrelated yet “voluntarily agreed to” conditions; endless reports deriding core network providers for their ostensible inability to compete or grow their networks “better”; and the ever-present threats that if one doesn’t manage one’s network in a way deemed appropriate by the FCC, then the sword of Damocles will fall, and swiftly at that.   This is not to mention non-regulation regulation, like when FCC and DoJ officials tag-teamed to kill the AT&T / T-Mobile merger because of jobs – something the NLRB seemingly has jurisdiction over – and outdated, though still facile, allegiance to their market-measuring HERFs (as well as the agency’s standing coterie of sycophantic, anti-property public interest groups and crony-capitalist supporters).

I could wind up with a long ending to this piece, but I won’t waste your time.  The sad fact is that the administration and agencies like the FCC are welded to the past.

They cannot move forward because “change” – that is, theirs, coercively imposed on markets, innovators and consumers – remains immune from the laws of economics and, ironically, real change itself.  Unlike businesses that fail and go out of business – they do not.

This past is no way to forge ahead into the future.  Trillions of dollars of investment, growth and jobs should not be held hostage to the 19th century.

Julius Genachowski – take off your pince-nez!  And, umm, Mr. President, you can remove your rose colored monocle, too.


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