What is “Deregulation” Anyway?

8 February 2001

By Jock Gill for Democrats.com


A friend of mine, Bob Frankston, writes: In the Republican lexicon “deregulation” no longer means using competition and free market forces to secure the best price and performance for consumers. Instead, it seems to be defined as ceding the fruits of previous regulation to powerful established interests with the hope that some benefit may result.

But of course. The GOP Restoration is about protecting privilege, wealth, power and the means of their creation and sustenance. Just look at the Restoration tax cut which gives 40% of the benefit to the very top 1% of the population.

The GOP is NOT interested in Disruptive Innovation, increasing the number of seats at the table or even changing who sits in existing seats. It is not for nothing that the Bush administration is called a restoration -- of what? Very simply we are watching a restoration of power of white people in the center, dominating the monologue. In other words, incumbents protecting theirs and Devil take the hind most. We are talking about a backwards looking restoration of a particularly narrow 20th Century view of the world -- the gap between the myth and the reality will destroy it - eventually - as it did in the old Soviet Union.

Restoration is the opposite of evolution, the only viable survival strategy in a dynamically changing world. No wonder the Restoration appeals to faith, not reason, denies the science of global warning, and describes its actions as being pro-life when the direct and immediate consequences are an increase in AIDS deaths and abortions.

The BIG problem for the Restoration is that new forms of communication, whether ubiquitous Software Defined Radios w/ broad band wireless for the first mile out, or conversations and exchanges at the edges empowered/enabled by the internet, all disrupt the benefits accrued to the incumbents by their domination of the monolgue.

Key question: Is bandwidth scarce or abundant? The only acceptable answer to the Restoration is scarce, as it justifies very high book values for spectrum allocations held by the incumbents in the telecom arena. Control of the bandwidth is also essential to maintaining their power base established by determining the flow of information over the one-way media they own.

The technologically correct answer today is, of course, abundant -- now that we have software driven computer control over our wireless signals. But this is disruptive as it essentially gives us all an equal voice and renders the value of the incumbent's precious spectrum allocations at about zero. Much too disruptive for the Restoration.

Yet, by refusing to reform our communications regulations to account for the new reality of abundant bandwidth, the Restoration stifles innovation, economic growth, the emergence of new forms of cultural expression and human capital formation, much less the formation of new political realities.

21st Century Democrats will demand that we recognize bandwidth as being abundant and require regulatory reforms to take full advantage of this new reality. The Restoration will fight this tooth and nail. And they must, for their power is dependent on controlling the flow of information delivered over the capital intensive media they own in a one way flow: monologue.

The Restoration rightly fears the end of monologue and senses that its demise is immanent. They are desperate. To whit, their behavior in the last election. The desperate acts of a desperate party.

The differences between the Restoration GOP and 21st Century Democrats are dramatic, vital, and essential. 21st Century Democrats will liberate us all from the Tyranny of Monologue and the Restoration.

Be proud to be a 21st Century Democrat!