Skip to comments.Leave Them Tubes Alone
Posted on 05/21/2010 4:05:30 AM PDT by Kaslin
As there is no real problem with the Internet, it's not surprising that some of our top minds have been working diligently on a solution.
In a 2001 interview (one that only recently has gone viral and caused a brouhaha), Cass Sunstein, now the nation's regulatory czar, is overheard advocating for government to insist all websites offer opposing viewpoints -- or, in other words, a "Fairness" Doctrine for the Web. This was necessary because, as hundreds of millions of Internet users can attest, ferreting out competing perspectives online is all but impossible. (A search for "Cass Sunstein" on Google, for instance, barely generated 303,000 results in 0.19 seconds.)
And what if websites refused to acquiesce to this intrusion on free speech? "If we could get voluntary arrangements in that direction, it would be great," Sunstein said at the time, "and if we can't get voluntary arrangements, maybe Congress should hold hearings about mandates." After all, Sunstein went on to say, "the word 'voluntary' is a little complicated. And sometimes people don't do what's best for our society." Mandates, he said, were the "ultimate weapon designed to encourage people to do better."
Actually, the word "voluntary" isn't complicated at all. And mandates do not "encourage" people to do better; mandates "force" people to do what those writing regulations happen to think is better. We're intimately familiar with the distinction.
In truth, I've enjoyed many of Sunstein's counterintuitive arguments and read his idealistic notions about "nudging" (and sometimes a bit more, apparently; I guess it's complicated) irrational people into "rational" choices. Sunstein is an intellectual who thinks aloud. Obviously, that can come back to cause you some problems.
Then again, would an impulsive intellectual who wondered aloud about coercing universities to offer more right-wing professors -- or who casually entertained the idea of dispensing with the First Amendment -- be tasked with the job of overseeing the health of the nation's entire regulatory system, which holds so many real-world consequences? Doubtful.
Sunstein, it must be noted, later backed off his dictatorial approach to dealing with the non-crisis of our narrow online reading habits by claiming that the Internet is "too difficult to regulate in a way that would respond to these concerns." In other words, he concluded that the Internet is too complex to allow for the types of regulatory intrusions we insist on in other areas of everyday life.
Others have not backed off, though. The Federal Communications Commission has been working diligently to find a way to act on the same control impulses that Sunstein had in mind, with something called "net neutrality."
I know it sounds wonderfully fair. But the reality of net neutrality makes as much sense as mandating that tricycle riders have the same rights and privileges as cars and trucks on our roads -- highway neutrality.
The FCC promises it doesn't have any intention of controlling Internet content, only of making access fair. But empowered with the ability to regulate the flow of online traffic, it offers a semantic, not substantive, excuse for a power grab.
Like Sunstein, the FCC should acknowledge that the complexities of the Internet are beyond the ability of control. Not to mention unnecessary.
I heard there is too much information out there and no reliable truth meter.
Forget the FCC, the DISCLOSE Act will give the power to the FEC to regulate online speech and it passed out of committee last night and is scheduled for a floor vote ASAP!
They must control the message to win.
In a decade or so, this time will be seen as the high-water mark for free expression. People will find it hard to believe that it was once possible to communicate almost anything you wanted, practically for free.
I guess Cass Sunstein missed the Twentieth Century. Nudging people to what was right for the greater good was popular in a lot of countries and the results weren’t pretty.
Leave them tubes alone! (You’ll burn your fingers!)
I've seen a B.S. meter posted here at F.R,. it's usually pretty accurate.
Good point. We need to add a second scale indicating the quantitative amount of negative truth being measured.
Thats one big nixie tube!
The First Amendment is clearly the next one to be destroyed by the Obamanation.
That’s my favorite tube.
The march of the “Coercive Utopians” continues.
Barack Obamas nominee to head the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA), Cass Sunstein, has advocated that laws be changed so that deceased patients organs may be harvested for transplant without prior consent from the patient or family.
Sunstein and co-author Richard H. Thaler outlined the policy in their 2008 book, Nudge: Improving Decisions About Health, Wealth, and Happiness. Many organs that could be used in transplants are lost because patients fail to give their consent before dying, Sunstein and Thaler note, and family members often refuse to donate their loved ones organs.
This explicit consent should be turned into a presumed consent, write Sunstein and Thaler, where laws would assume that, unless people explicitly choose not to, they want to donate their organs to science for transplant or other medical uses.
According to this story, it has actually begun:
According to the Washington Post, taxpayers are now financing, via a $321,000 HHS grant, a pilot program at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center-Presbyterian Hospital and Allegheny General Hospital in Pittsburgh to obtain organs from emergency room patients, a practice heretofore "considered off-limits in the United States because of ethical and logistical concerns."
The goal of the project, reports the paper, is to "investigate whether it is feasible and, if so, to encourage other hospitals nationwide to follow."
That man is just evil, the next step is involuntary euthanasia for those not deemed "productive", you can count on it.
One of the nice things about an entity like sunstein is that he so completely divorces himself from any association with humanity that we are unfettered by any misplaced sense of morality when it comes to dealing with his sort.
Just like squashing a bug.
...rhetorically speaking, of course...