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> Your lack of faith in human nature should extend to all humans, not just ones who are the apparatus of the state.

It's not that there's some reason to preternaturally trust corporations and to distrust the state, it's that the apparatus of the state is infinitely more powerful. If a corporation acts unethically, you lose the benefits and service it provides. If the state acts unethically, you lose your freedom and/or your life. That's a colossal difference.

Likewise, if the choice is between Google controlling access to the internet and Chinese-style regulation controlling access to the internet, there's really no choice at all: who would pick Chinese internet service over Google Fiber? And make no mistake: with utility-style regulation the only boundary between the FCC and the PRC is "the people", and if this year's election has shown anything, they are a fickle and largely ignorant bunch. "Utility-style regulation" isn't an epithet because the internet shouldn't be treated as a utility; it's an epithet because utility regulation over the past hundred years has been absolutely disastrous, enabling the supreme power of corporations, not limiting it. It's really, really sad to see the internet falling into the hands of telecoms and the FCC.

"absolutely disastrous"?

I am 44 years old, which means I remember growing up at a time when you were not allowed to own a telephone -- because AT&T exercised its corporate monopoly to control what you could plug into your AT&T phone line, and they would only permit that to be an AT&T phone, and they would not ever sell you an AT&T phone, they would only rent you one at an exorbitant price. And they didn't bother to provide you any variety in models, because why would they? There's one phone, that is what you get.

Also, if you wanted to call someone in a different area code, then I hope you are ready to shell out some cash...

If it weren't for state-exercised power, it is quite possible that things would still be this way.

I do not consider today's situation a disaster at all, relatively speaking. (For sure there are still many un-ideal things about it.)

How did AT&T come by their monopoly in the first place? IIRC it was a crony deal with the State that established it in the first place.

It's a complex history, but it started with the government's prevention of what would have been an even bigger monopoly.


But for the most part, it is just that AT&T kept buying smaller companies, which is just what happens in capitalism when one party starts to win, which is why checks on capitalism are necessary.

Here is an in depth look into how the state prevented competition in regards to AT&T. http://object.cato.org/sites/cato.org/files/serials/files/ca...

In no way is the free market responsible for the AT&T monopoly.

Some Austrians (e.g. Rothbard) argue that monopolies as we understand them are actually impossible without State action.


And some people are flat out wrong. Monopolies at the local level are very common historically. Small towns would have 1 blacksmith for example as there was not enough work for 2 and transportation was prohibitive.

Yup, and it feels like the blacksmith allocation is very similar to last-mile infrastructure investments. Its not worth putting two sets of infrastructure because either the existing operator is going undercut the new entrant, putting them out of business, or the competitors are going to split up some fraction of the market each, but now, both companies and their customers have to bear the full-cost of capital to wire and maintain the whole market area twice.

What's the problem then if there's not enough work for 2? You're close to a barter economy at that point. The blacksmith can't gouge the customers he depends on for everything else.

Individual sales matter less to the blacksmith than their customers. So, they might not gouge their customers but padding bills is common behavior after all selling 10% less at 20% higher profit is a net gain. Consider how important the internet is to you vs an extra 20$ a month in profit is for a multi billion dollar company.

Its not padding though. Its picking the right business where the market will accept higher margins than usual.

This is not a moral judgment. It is simply the seller doing what is in their best interest, just like they would in a competitive market.

The difference is that in a competitive market, this self-interest happens to lead producers to do what is in the public interest, but in the monopoly case it generally leads to lower production and higher prices than would be optimal. For more explanation, here's a Wikipedia article that jibes with my college Intro to Econ class:


If true, a state-less people should be unable to create a state (a kind of monopoly) on their own if they start out as free...

I'd love to hear those Austrians explain Windows and Google search

If only those were monopolies.

15 years ago Microsoft had a monopoly on the x86 operating system market and used that position to unfairly take browser market share by bundling IE with Windows. They had agreements with almost all PC manufacturers to ensure Windows was installed on each PC sold.

> The plaintiffs alleged that Microsoft abused monopoly power on Intel-based personal computers in its handling of operating system and web browser sales. The issue central to the case was whether Microsoft was allowed to bundle its flagship Internet Explorer (IE) web browser software with its Microsoft Windows operating system. Bundling them together is alleged to have been responsible for Microsoft's victory in the browser wars as every Windows user had a copy of Internet Explorer. It was further alleged that this restricted the market for competing web browsers (such as Netscape Navigator or Opera) that were slow to download over a modem or had to be purchased at a store.


No true monopoly?

Well, yes. In the sense that I use search engines other than Google, and I know others who do the same. And I know many people who use operating systems other than Windows.

I get what you mean, but at the same time, a monopoly these are not. Just because there are companies that have a very large market share does not mean there are no alternatives.

To resolve the matter of being unallowed to plug anything non-AT&T into AT&T phone lines, you can just make a law stating that anything that can operate compatibly on the network is allowed to participate, something that allows consumers to bring their own device. You don't have to have utility-style control, nor do you have to break up the company, to resolve that particular issue.

> To resolve the matter of being unallowed to plug anything non-AT&T into AT&T phone lines, you can just make a law stating that anything that can operate compatibly on the network is allowed to participate,

That's pretty much what the Open Internet Order (both the 2010 one that was, except for transparency provisions, struck down and the current one that was just upheld by the same court that struck down the earlier one) does.

> You don't have to have utility-style control,

Which, largely, the FCC isn't doing here. Now, the FCC had invoke the provisions which allow utility-style control because the courts previously struck down its attempt to institute similar "people can plug legal devices into their internet connections and access legal content over their internet connection" rules without invoking the "telecommunication service" common carrier, "utility-style" provisions of the law.

But, while the details of the current order are different from the 2010 order (for one, more of the provisions apply to mobile broadband in the same ways as fixed broadband, because that market had matured in the intervening time period such that the argument that it was too new and evolving to know if the same style of regulation would be appropriate), it mostly doesn't apply "utility style" regulation, even though it invokes authority which would allow utility-style regulation.

This is exactly what happened because of the FCC in 1968.


If anyone else wants to know the significance of this device, it allowed for the argument to be made that any device should be able to be connected to the network, provided it did not interfere with it. It paved the way for non-AT&T equipment. The FAX and answering machines were allowed as a result (many people/industries still cling to these ideas; they are the reason voicemail hasn't gone the way of the dinosaur). Skype used it in '07 to

"petition for rulemaking was filed with the FCC by Skype, requesting the FCC to apply the Carterfone regulations to the wireless industry—which would mean that OEMs, portals and others will be able to offer wireless devices and services without the cellular operators needing to approve the handsets. However, on 1 April 2008, FCC chairman Kevin Martin indicated that he would oppose Skype's request.[3]"

I was about to post this and say that the parent comment does not remember this because it happened 4 years before their birth.

Tbh, it happened a number of years before my birth as well, but some of us choose to learn the history of computation / networking. ;-)

The Carterfone was an early exception because of its functionality.

Or, rather than be bothered passing a law for every possible case, Congress can delegate rule making authority to an agency like the FCC, which develops technical expertise in the domain.

>Likewise, if the choice is between Google controlling access to the internet and Chinese-style regulation controlling access to the internet, there's really no choice at all:

This is a straw man argument, that's not the only choice, in fact it's not even the actual choice facing us right now.

>it's an epithet because utility regulation over the past hundred years has been absolutely disastrous, enabling the supreme power of corporations, not limiting it.

This is not universally true. In the comparatively economically conservative Southeast where power generation and the electric grid have been regulated as public utilities for as long as anyone can remember, there was never a temptation to experiment with deregulation as in CA, and no small bit of schadenfreude when Enron wrecked havoc on the CA energy system as a result.

Stability is an (maybe the most) important characteristic of national economic infrastructure that is susceptible to systemic risk. It enables the forces of innovation to confidently build on top of it - capital formation, ROI forecasting, planning & investment, long-term credit extension to wealth-creating industries, etc. Introducing shocks and instability into the base layer infrastructure makes that wealth creation activity much more difficult and constrained.

> if the choice is between Google controlling access to the internet and Chinese-style regulation

You're committing the fallacy of the excluded middle. There is a massive gulf between unregulated behavior of publicly-held companies and authoritarian dictatorship by an unelected body, and the USA is somewhere there in the middle.

I think this is more along the lines of false dilemma, no?

oh I see this is an alias for that. false dilemma, false dichotomy and excluded middle are apparently all the same thing.

They are certainly not

> They are certainly not

So what's your understanding of those terms? Mine is identical to that of treehau5.

Ok, wikipedia lied to me then, or I misread. Sorry.

> If a corporation acts unethically, you lose the benefits and service it provides. If the state acts unethically, you lose your freedom and/or your life.

Several thousands people who died in Bhopal on Dec 2, 1984 might think otherwise. Or 2,209 people who died in Johnstown, PA on 1889 when South Fork Dam failed. Or another 502 people killed on Jun 29, 1995 when Sampoong Department Store collapsed. Or...

What about the 10 million people that died during the Holocaust, or the 30 million people that died in the Great Famine (or, for that matter, oppress and enslave African-Americans for 300+ years)? Obviously too little/poor regulation can allow corporations to commit truly awful atrocities, but I've yet to see any private enterprise cause a fraction of the damage that states around the world have.

But I digress -- in any free society people will eventually cause horrible things to happen, it just seems to me that the government inevitably causes much worse things to happen.

Your first assertion read as if you claimed unethical corporations don't kill people. I showed that it's not the case.

Now you say even unethical corporations normally kill much fewer people than unethical governments. Which is true. But I have to ask, why do unethical corporations kill so few people? After all, they're all led by the same greedy people. It's not like CEOs magically become conscientious and say "Well, we can make billions of dollars by screwing all these poor people, but fuck it if we end up killing them!"

The answer: governments. Governments keep corporations in line so that they can't get away with killing people. Where a government is run by better people, corporations tend to not kill people, because they'll face consequences.

So, you are right that an incompetent government can be much more dangerous. However, one way such a government can kill people is by colluding with corporations and voluntarily relinquishing its authority (and duty) to police them as a government should. When you're limiting the government's power over corporations, in some situations, you could be in fact ensuring that the government remains incompetent.

The fact that governments can do terrible things doesn't logically follow that giving the FCC limited authority to keep ISP and telecoms from totally screwing us will lead to the holocaust. I believe you have just Godwinned your thread.

There is active push back from a whole host of multinational megacorps for any relatively toothless threat represented by todays FCC what should concern you is that those same forces are actively largely ok with the real existential threats to freedom on the internet today.

I must ask, where on your scale does the tobaco companies ends up? If we are comparing the potential damage that an ISP can do vs hitler, I think it just fair to bring in smoking as a counter argument that government causes more damage than private enterprises.

Metacomment: I disagree with this comment but was sorry to see it down voted (greyed out) so upvoted it. It doesn't matter at this point why I might disagree with it; it's on topic and did not deserve a down vote just because someone(s) disagreed with it.

No one would pick AT&T over Swedish internet service either... What's your point?

What is slippery slope fallacy Alex.

The funny thing about these pop "fallacies" is that they're often perfectly reasonable explanations. They're not necessarily fallacious and thus shouldn't be labeled "fallacies".

It seems that someone put a bunch of common explanations on a web page and stuck the word "fallacy" after all of them so that they could use it to try to win arguments with easily-intimidated persons.

Slippery slope is valid when party A is trying to move parties B into a position far down on the slope gradually by easing parties B down the slope.

Many situations exist wherein a series of steps could superficially be arranged in a progression or slope between points a and b but in fact individual steps have different costs and benefits and are in fact independently good or bad.

Often those arguing for/against a subset of the points in the graph have good arguments for/against then some jerk goes and implies that if you allow point 1-3 on the graph somehow by magic you will eventually arrive at point 37. They ignore the fact that its possible and in fact reasonable to support point 1-3 and skip right to the extreme and absurd.

They neatly bypass any and all relevant arguments in favor of 1-3. This is destructive to conversation because you can use it in nearly any situation. It is especially frequently used in anything involving government because somehow all roads that don't lead to anarchy somehow lead to hitler.

Its frequently useful to just point out the obvious fallacy and move on rather than giving a longer treatment because such tracks are frequently useless and drag the entire discussion inevitably towards stupidity.

Do you have an actual rebuttal to the patent, or is this a "pop" fallacy as well?

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