In remembering President Reagan, there are rightly big, history-changing ideas--and battles for those ideas--that come to the fore. Certainly contributing mightily to the end of the Cold War and to a resurgence of the entrepreneurial spirit come to mind foremost.
But I can't help but wondering what the Gipper would think about today's telephone wars. After all, one of the underpinnings of his economic program was less regulation.
Yes, I understand that he would not have known--and would not have wanted to know-- what a UNE is, not for all the jelly beans in all the movie theatres in California. But, we can be pretty sure, knowing his views on regulation, that, at this point in time--eight years after the passage of the Telecom Act of 1996--he would have favored more freedom to negotiate voluntary commericial contracts for telecom marketplace players and less reliance on never-ending litigation.
Or, put another way, if he had to choose between the New York Times' continue-to-litigate view or the Wall Street Journal's market-oriented view, I'll bet, with characteristic confidence, he would agree with the Journal's editors that:
"Like any other market, telecom responds to incentives. Nearly a decade of micro-management and endless litigation have depressed capital spending and left the U.S. trailing Asia and Europe in broadband deployment. Removing those barriers is an essential first step in reversing these trends."