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Friday, January 23, 2004

Steroids and No Digital Economy
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Conservatives are piling on the president for his domestic policies these days, particularly in the wake of the State of the Union address. See here, here, here and here, for example. I think this is healthy for both the President and those of conservative temperament. It shows that conservatives have not lost the independence of mind to chasten the administration when it lapses into lamely buying-off interest groups, and it helps the administration, it is hoped, rediscover its principles inside the whirlwinds of political expediency.

I would add to the tut-tutting that the administration is missing in action on the digital economy. An unregulation agenda -- for broadband and the Internet -- could be a bedrock principle of a positive economic agenda. Indeed, the Augean stables of the FCC provide years of toil for an ambitious, dedicated free-marketeer. Furthermore, though I realize my interests are somewhat parochial, I would be willing to bet that the digital economy is a more important public policy issue than steroid use in sports. But nary a mention in the State of the Union. Sigh.

All too often, the administration seems to regard digital economy issues as a zero sum game between warring factions: the IXCs and the RBOCs in broadband; the networks and the broadcasters in media ownership; the content owners and the consumer electronics sector in copyright. With no immediate political payoff, and much contradictory lobbying, they seem to wish the issues would just go away. But nonfeasance is a policy, too, and with real negative economic effects. The principles they purport espouse are sound -- markets, competition, innovation. It is time to act on them.

posted by Ray Gifford @ 10:00 AM | General

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