Inventing the Future

Watchacallem

What is the right name for the American political group that finds the constitution to be outdated for today’s world, political correctness an object of derision, civil liberties to be dangerous, and seeks to abandon the ideas of the national founding fathers (as well as I imagine the majority of our actual parents and grandparents).

The media refers to such folks as “conservatives”, but I can’t find any sense in which that is true.

Some of this group are called “Neo-Conservatives.” This deliciously oxymoronic term specifically refers to the students of Leo Straus, who believed that the intellectual elite needed to deceive the masses through a culture of fear in order to perpetuate … well, to perpetuate something. It’s never been clear to me what. Anyway, it’s not right to assume that every Bushie is a Neo-Con, or even a student of philosophy. And besides, what do you call the deceived masses that support them? Are they also Neo-Cons?

“Republican” is not right either. I don’t think that every one of today’s Republicans subscribes to this radicalism, and the ideas are certainly not true of historical leaders such as Abraham Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt, or Alexander Hamilton.

“Right wing” may be relatively true, but it isn’t very specific. Same for “Radical”.

Ironically, the ideas of the early 1800’s “Radical Republican” movement in Britain might be described today as… “liberal.”

Current usage of the term “idiot” seems apt. But again, historically this term was used to refer to people whose mental development was inhibited or disordered from the norm. My experience is that many such folks are happy, caring, sensitive, sincere, and eager to be helpful. None of this seems to apply.

Seriously, what do we call the putsch against the last 300 years of liberal ideas such as the rule of law and protection of the individual?

Posted in Inventing the Future, Memology | Also tagged | Comments closed

Tales of the Sausage Factory

FCC Commissioner Adelstein Kicks Off Academic Pre-Conference in Memphis

Hello all from the Memphis Tennessee Convention Center. While the Free Press National Conference on Media Reform does not officially open until tomorrow, Free Press and the Social Sciences Research Center (SSRC) have co-sponsored an academic pre-conference for today, with a goal of promoting greater coordination between academics and activists and encouraging more academics to get involved in the substantive policy debates.

Craig Calhoun of SSRC and Robert McChesney of Free Press did a good job introducing the conference. But the real star of the morning was FCC Commissioner Joathan Adelstein.

I couldn’t have wished for a better speech. If Adelstein doesn’t read my blog (and I rather doubt he does), I take it as prof that “great minds think alike.” He savaged the neo-cons and others who rely on “faith based” research and regulation, and an FCC that has allowed the corporations it regulates to control both the framing of the debate and the information used for policy. Because the FCC has consciously decided not to “burden” the industry with reporting requirements that would provide an accurate picture of the industry (altough they provide exactly this information to investors and the SEC), the “expert agency” is now “starved for information” and reduced to writing “advocacy pieces” for industry or reports devoid of meaningful data and analysis.

On the plus side, according to Adelstein, we have truth on our side and a massive reserve of talent and ability. We have already accomplished amazing things. With greater coordination and effort, we can do more.

Details below . . . .

Read More »

Posted in General, Tales of the Sausage Factory | Also tagged , , | 1 Comment (Comments closed)

Tales of the Sausage Factory

The Adelphia Day of Judgment Comes

For over a year now, I’ve intermitently tracked the transaction between Comcast and Time Warner for the bankrupt Adelphia systems. At tomorrow’s open meeting (assuming no last minute delays for further negotiations), the FCC will issue its decision.

How we got here, what happens, and why you should care below.

Read More »

Posted in Tales of the Sausage Factory | Also tagged , , , , , , , | Comments closed

Tales of the Sausage Factory

An Examination of the Economics of Whitacre Tiering

Today’s lecture in my occassional “Economics of Market Power” series comes from the hot policy debate over whether we should let dsl (and cable) providers charge third parties for “premium” speeds to reach their customers. I call this behavior “Whitacre Tiering” (as distinguished from other sorts of tiering traffic or bandwidth) in honor of AT&T CEO Ed Whitacre, a chief proponent of the concept.

Last time, I explained why permitting Whitacre tiering would be a disaster for democracy. This time, I’ll explain why Whitacre tiering produces really, really awful results from an economic perspective. It gives actors all the wrong incentives, adds new layers of uncertainty and inefficiency to the market generally, and discourages investment in bandwidth capacity at every stage of the network (thus aggravating the broadband incentives problem you may have read about recently, rather than solving it, as some defenders of Whitacre tiering maintain).

But hey, don’t blame me, I’m just the messenger! Go do the math yourselves. All you need is a basic knowledge of Econ 101. OTOH, if you have a religious belief, possibly supported by self-interest or fueled by PAC money, that all deregulation is good and all regulation is bad, mmmkay (not that Senator Enisgn is likely to ever read this), I expect you will remain unpersuaded. Rather like passionate believers in Ptolemy’s geocentric model of the cosmos, I expect the true believer neo-cons, the companies whose self-interests are implicated, and their wholly owned subsidiaries in state and Federal legislatures, to devise theoretical models and epicycles to explain away all the nasty empirical problems and assure me I live in the delightful world of competition and frictionless switching to competitors.

It moves, it moves . . . .

Read More »

Posted in Series of Tubes, Tales of the Sausage Factory | Also tagged | 2 Comments (Comments closed)
  • Connect With Us

    Follow Wetmachine on Twitter!

Username
Password

If you do not have an account: Register