In One Eye

Tuesday, June 28, 2005
In all the hoopla over the ten commandments, Grokster, and non-retirements yesterday, perhaps the Supreme Court case that was most striking—because it will affect the most Americans—had to do with Internet access.
In a decision hailed by the cable industry, the Supreme Court ruled yesterday that cable companies don't have to share their lines with rival providers of high-speed Internet service.

Consumer advocates and other groups, meanwhile, warned that the decision will limit competition and consumer choice, leaving customers with only two sources of broadband service: phone or cable companies.
It seems self-evident that this decision limits competition since a potential source for Internet access has been left to its own devices.

One might ask how such an apparently benighted and anti-free market decision came to be, and, sure enough, we need look no further than to the court's dimmest bulb for an explanation.
In an opinion by Justice Clarence Thomas, the high court said judges should defer to the expertise of the FCC.

"The Commission is in a far better position to address these questions than we are," Thomas wrote.
In other words, the majority said it was ignorant about such matters and would defer to the FCC's feelings on the matter.

Ah yes, the FCC. The same group that attempted to limit, if not eliminate, diverse viewpoints from media outlets just last year is at it again in this case.
The 6-3 decision in the ... case upholds a Federal Communications Commission ruling that said cable companies were exempt from the same regulations requiring phone companies to offer independent providers access to phone-company lines.

The FCC said its action was designed to encourage cable companies to invest in building networks to offer broadband services.
The last sentence pretty much speaks for itself. The Michael Powell-led FCC has consistently shown that it's interested primarily in protecting corporations' profits. This has been shown in its effort to assist media giants in aggrandizing their power and now in this case. In the latter instance, the court, in its self-admitted ignorance, has allowed this monopolistic practice to occur.

The notion of a free market is one that is repeated by the economic conservatives ad nauseam. But when push comes to shove, these neanderthals find free markets appealing only when they help to line their own pockets.