The Spectacle Blog

The Examiner’s Slide in to MoveOn-Land

By on 6.22.06 | 12:13PM

Dave, I'm equally baffled. First, the mystery is why Mark Tapscott, the Examiner's new editorial page editor, has been taken in by the pro-regulation nonsense. Has he forgotten his Heritage Foundation roots so quickly? (Or, given Heritage's support for RomneyCare, has Heritage forgotten its free market roots? You decide.)

Thankfully, there are still some clear thinkers at Heritage, like James Gattuso, whose excellent web memo on the topic Tapscott must have missed. Gattuso answers the Examiner's paranoia about the imagined crackdown on speech that could occur without "net neutrality."

Gattuso writes,

Such concerns, however, are largely hypotheti­cal. To date, the only instance of Web site blocking in the U.S. occurred in 2005, when a small tele­phone carrier in North Carolina briefly blocked Vonage, an Internet phone carrier. In fact, all major network owners have pledged not to engage in such practices.

Certainly, network carriers have the technical capacity to block or impede particular services or Web sites, but they are hardly unique in that regard. Many of the firms that advocate neutrality regulation have similar abilities. For instance, Google could easily block or bias certain search results to disadvantage rivals or to favor political causes.

Google, however, does not engage in systematic bias for the same reason that network owners such as Verizon or Comcast do not: competition. Blocking Web sites or impeding disfavored services would quickly send customers packing to another provider.

(I should mention that Google is blocking some conservative website from Google News. For example, it regards RedState LGF as a hate site.) But no matter -- when consumers don't get the content they want through one network provider or one content provider, the market affords them the choice to go elsewhere.

I am with you, Dave. I'll still get my WSJ fill. But now that the Examiner has forgotten basic economics, my computer won't be loading it very often.

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