Tuesday, June 27, 2006 - The Progress & Freedom Foundation Blog

Hayek and Net Neutrality

No, F.A. Hayek never addressed net neutrality in his writings; I can't find it in the index of my copy of The Road to Serfdom (it jumps from "Naumann, Friedrich, Mitteleuropa," to "New Deal"). But in an op-ed that Brainwash was kind enough to post today, I play What-Would-Hayek-Do (WWHD) in looking at net neutrality. In so doing I examine his Nobel acceptance speech, "The Pretense of Knowledge," and echo Hayek's caution against unintented consequences resulting from public policy actions. Here's Hayek:

To act on the belief that we possess the knowledge and the power which enable us to shape the processes of society entirely to our liking, knowledge which in fact we do not possess, is likely to make us do much harm. In the physical sciences there may be little objection to trying to do the impossible; one might even feel that one ought not to discourage the over-confident because their experiments may after all produce some new insights. But in the social field the erroneous belief that the exercise of some power would have beneficial consequences is likely to lead to a new power to coerce other men being conferred on some authority.

There's little to no evidence of market abuse in the net neutrality debate. Yet proponents of legislation say abuses are due any day now, and we must act prophylactically to prevent them through the creation of new regulations. WWHD? I think he'd say to slow down, lest action result in something worse than inaction.

posted by Patrick Ross @ 3:32 PM |