It is always a big event - and unfortunately all too rare - when a government agency reverses a bad decision, but that is exactly what happened today when the California Public Utilities Commission suspended the consumer "bill of rights" it had adopted last year. The 3-1 vote, in which Commissioner Susan Kennedy and CPUC President Michael Peevey were joined by newly appointed Commissioner Dian Gruenreich, illustrates that elections sometimes do have consequences.
PFF participated in the CPUC proceeding, filing two analyses (here and here) written by PFF adjunct scholar Paul Rubin. The proposed regulations were also discussed in a survey Brent Mast and I did on the effects of mandates on wireless phone users. The various papers made the point that these costly regulations, far from helping consumers would harm them. They are unnecessary because the market is highly competitive and, as Rubin wrote, "[I]f consumers found the matters covered by these proposed rules useful and worth the cost, carriers would compete on the basis of [them]." The harms to consumers would consist of less information (not more), less technological progress, less competition and higher costs. Consumers can be thankful for the CPUC's action today and, hopefully, it will be permanent.