UC Law SF Communications and Entertainment Journal

Article Title

Reinventing Competition


Nowhere are the libertarian concepts of free will, individual freedom of thought, expression and action, private property rights and laissez-faire, and free market economy more relevant than the intense policy debate currently underway in the United States over the laws and rules that should govern the uses of technology by our information age society. The author points out (with tongue in cheek) that, although libertarian thinking may be as American as Huckleberry Finn, the central character in this nation's greatest novel, the neo-libertarianism now in vogue, might prove to be a mutant, strain. Those who would rush to embrace this school of thought anew to advocate cutting private industry free from the fetters of government regulation need to be reminded that the original libertarian concepts of individual freedom and self-government were expressly conditioned on the supremacy of law and justice, not the absence of law, and reflect a deepseated abhorrence of monopoly, and of the corruption of influence.

The author finds Telecompetition to be an ambitious, confident, clearly written but ultimately flawed effort to address the subject of regulatory reform in the telecommunications market. According to the author, while Mr. Gasman succeeds in being mildly provocative, as when he proposes eliminating universal telephone service rules and completely privatizing spectrum management, it is surprising to find him posturing as a contrarian yet arguing for so many positions which have become mainstream, relying on private investment, not government subsidy, relying on competition, not government regulation to determine market behavior, and streamlining and eliminating six decades worth of regulatory underbrush that is both obsolete and irrationally creates narrow communications industry fiefdoms to the detriment of the public. In light of the developing broad consensus about the needed new legal framework for telecommunications in the twenty-first century, the author identifies the toughest remaining issue as "what should the government do, and how should it do it?" The answer, says the author, will not be divined by facile allusions to political, literary or cultural icons but rather by hard-headed and systematic policy analysis of the kind that Democrats, Republicans, and Libertarians can relish.