Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Claiming a monopolistic market is a competitive one doesn't make it so

Former Commish Michael Copps: ‘Maybe the Worst FCC I’ve Ever Seen’: In just a few short months, the Trump wrecking ball has pounded away at rules and regulations in virtually every government agency. The men and women the president has appointed to the Cabinet and to head those agencies are so far in sycophantic lockstep, engaged in dismantling years of protections in order to make real what White House strategist Steve Bannon infamously described as “the deconstruction of the administrative state.” The Federal Communications Commission is not immune. Its new chair, Republican Ajit Pai, embraces the Trump doctrine of regulatory devastation. “It’s basic economics,” he declared in an April 26 speech at Washington’s Newseum. “The more heavily you regulate something, the less of it you’re likely to get.”

The problem with Pai's assertion is not all markets are alike. While it may be true in a competitive market -- defined as one with many sellers and buyers -- it does not apply in a natural monopoly market like telecommunications infrastructure.

The FCC's existing Open Internet rules classifying IP-based telecommunications as a common carrier utility implicitly recognize that circumstance. They are predicted on a monopolistic and not a competitive market. Moreover, regulators aren't free to determine the microeconomics of the markets they regulate. Claiming a monopolistic market is a competitive one doesn't make it so. 

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