Communications, Issues

Thanksgiving: For the Prospect of Less Government Cronyism

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Thursday is, of course, our day of Thanksgiving. Where food and football serve as an accompaniment to our gathering together to celebrate our blessings.

I will not bore you with all for which I am thankful personally (though that is much). Discussed here is something public policy for which I am most grateful – the end of the the Barack Obama Administration and its cronyism nightmare mess. For everyone generally – and Silicon Valley “Tech companies” specifically.

Where we can finally get back to equal protection before the law – and allowing the marketplace to evolve of its own accord. Pre-Obama, the Internet was a free speech-free market Xanadu. May it be so again.

Image Credit: Gisela Giardino CC by SA 2.0

Image Credit: Gisela Giardino CC by SA 2.0

First – we must briefly define terms. People say “Tech companies” – and they exclusively mean the Silicon Valley slate: Google, Facebook, Netflix and the like. Which is grossly unfair to the Internet Service Providers (ISPs): Comcast, Time Warner, Verizon, AT&T and the like.

The ISPs have developed and exponentially advanced the broadband network. The technology that, without which, the “Tech companies” would for all practical purposes not exist. Before you get to the wonder of Facebook or a Google search – you must travel the wonder that is the inter-web. And that wonderment survives and thrives – thanks to the ISPs.

Since the Web went private sector in the mid-1990s, the ISPs and the Valley companies worked as symbiotic rivals. They acknowledged they needed each other – and behaved accordingly.

You can’t get to a Google or Facebook – without the ISPs. And the more Googles and Facebooks there are – the greater the number of people that will hire ISPs to get them there.

The faster the ISPs make the network – the better the products the “edge providers” can provide. (Valley companies are called “edge providers” – because they provide services at the “edge” of the network.) The better the products edge providers provide – the more people will want ISPs to get them there.

Lather, rinse, repeat…. These are the inherent incentives for each to see the other thrive.

Of course, it’s amazing what happens when government leaves something alone. Both the Bill Clinton and George W. Bush Administrations took a hands-off approach to the Internet. Which allowed it to maximize itself for the maximum number of people. ISPs, Valley companies – and thus the Web – all exploded.

Which was a nigh incalculable boon for all of us. Nothing in the history of humanity has grown faster. In just twenty years, the Web became a trillion-dollar-a-year industry.

Then came the Obama Administration.

Google, Facebook and many other Valley companies greatly helped the President get elected. And provided personnel aplenty once he was. In exchange, the President used his pen and his phone to issue regulatory fiats that made zero sense legally, economically – or to any impartial observer. But the Valley companies wanted them – and that’s all that mattered.

For the first time, government was bullying its way into the Internet sector – and choosing sides. Which totally polluted the ecosystem. The ISPs and Valley companies went from symbiotic rivals striving to make the Web better for all of us – to companies wasting tons of time, money and effort trying to sway government bureaucrats.

What a frigging waste.

But all terrible things must come to an end. The Obama era is nigh over. And in the 2016 race to succeed him – the Valley companies again chose sides. They wanted Hillary Clinton.

Google was especially earnest. It was repeatedly caught rigging searches for the Democrat presidential nominee. Google-parent-company Alphabet Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt – who was in on the ground floor of the Obama Administration – was even photographed at a Clinton election night party sporting a “Staff” badge.

The Valley companies wanted a President Clinton in part because they wanted the regulatory gravy train to continue. And in part to keep the multitudinous-Thanksgivings’-worth of gravy they’d already received.

Because the very many gifts President Obama delivered – he delivered unilaterally. Not by Congressional laws – but by executive fiats. So a President Donald Trump could unilaterally rescind all of them.

Would a President Clinton do that? I would have bet no. The Valley companies certainly did.

Trump in fact ran in large part on ending just this sort of cronyism – and specifically on undoing all of President Obama’s Executive Orders.

And lo and behold – Trump won.

He should recognize the Valley giveaways for what they are – just another raft of unilateral executive branch actions. And undo them too – just as he promised.

And then allow the Internet sector and the rest of the world to return to the pre-Obama halcyon days.

Of government neutrality – and massive, explosive growth.

Sic semper cronyism.

This is a guest post by Seton Motley Founder and President of Less Government

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