I Want a President Who'll Dump the Stupid FCC

It was the Progressive Era that invented independent regulatory agencies. We needed an Interstate Commerce Commission to regulate those railroads. The noble idea was that we needed independent experts to protect the helpless farmer from the greed of the railroad barons. We needed a watchdog that was free of both of partisan taint and political patronage and also free from influence by corporate power.

Of course that was always a conceit. What the Progressives really meant was that they wanted the jumped-up teenage clerks (Rockefeller) and teenage surveyors (Jay Gould) to be supervised by the right sort of people -- in other words, people like them.

Ever since, the independent regulatory agencies, the ICCs, the FTCs, the CABs, the FCCs, the FECs, the SECs, the NLRBs, have reliably churned forth conventional elite wisdom and reliably bollixed up perfectly viable industries like railroads, airlines, broadcasting, electioneering, finance, labor relations.

When un-settled scientists looking for new pastures invented the field of public choice theory one of their targets of opportunity was the regulatory agencies. Out of their research they developed a notion they called “regulatory capture.” Regulatory agencies tend over time, they reported, to become the friends of the people they regulate, and start to see the world in the same way as the regulated. They become, as the Brits say, “not fit for purpose.” Call it human nature.

But nobody ever thought that a president could just issue an order to a regulatory agency and have it fold like a house of cards to his monarchical will like all those aristocratic babes fold in Season 1 of The Tudors. But that's what happened last week when the Federal Communications Commission voted to regulate the Internet like a public utility.

The key motivation in the president's ukase to the FCC is simple, according to Holman W. Jenkins, Jr. at the Wall Street Journal. “It appears that Mr. Obama simply decided, after Democrats’ defeat in the midterm elections, that he would spend the last two years of his presidency catering to left-wing groups.”

Outraged? Don't be. We should thank the president and his lefty pals. They are bellowing at the American people, through a megaphone, that the first order of business for the new president in 2017 should be to abolish and eliminate as many of the “independent” regulatory agencies as possible. We can see revealed in the “net-neutrality” decision a Gramscian strategy, a left-wing march through the institutions.

I remind you of O'Sullivan's Law: “All organizations that are not actually right-wing will over time become left-wing.” Why? Because for the lefty, the personal is the political: every thought, every feeling must be converted into political action. The more targets of opportunity out there, the more that lefty groups will take them over and use them as bases from which to grind the rest of us into welfare-state peasants.

The president is doing us a favor because he is creating a simple issue that a presidential candidate can reduce to a sound bite: Stop ruining Our Internet, Mr. President. And the cure is equally simple. Abolish the FCC, leaving someone in some obscure office in the Bureau of Silly Walks to manage the allocation of the broadcast spectrum.

Yes. Abolish all the supposedly independent regulatory institutions so they can't serve as sand-boxes for trustafarian liberals looking to get a job in activism.

The eternal problem for conservatives is that the average person doesn't know a thing about regulatory capture and the impossibility of an administrative system ever outperforming the market system; they naturally accept that the government is there to help them.

That's why President Obama is such a gift to conservatives. He blunders into disaster after disaster, proving to the world that government is useless for just about everything except breaking things.

He gives conservatives the chance to talk to the American people about government that doesn't work, and he provokes us to put into words our longing for a better America. Now we can create straightforward sound-bites like: “I want a president who'll dump the stupid FCC,” and know that everyone knows what we are talking about.

That's the thing about modern social media America -- you need to be able to say it in 140 characters, and there is no chance to actually explain anything in 140 characters.

Two months ago, I wrote that “I want a president who loves America.” I'm sure that Rudy Giuliani didn't read it before his famous outburst a couple of weeks ago. He didn't need to.

I tell you what. I'm going to write more of these “I want a president...” pieces. Because there's something deep inside me trying to get out. You probably feel the same.

Christopher Chantrill @chrischantrill runs the go-to site on US government finances, usgovernmentspending.com. Also see his American Manifesto and get his Road to the Middle Class.

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