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  • A Second Look at Second Life Analogies

    July 12, 2007
    My letter to the Washington Post regarding Michael Gerson's "Where the Avatars Roam," which appeared in the Post last week:
    Michael Gerson's July 6 piece "Where the Avatars Roam" shows that his understanding of libertarianism isn't nearly as deep as his understanding of online games.

    Mr. Gerson describes Second Life as "large-scale experiment in libertarianism," citing the game's lack of community structure and long-term consequences.  He describes this "libertarian" world as one in which there is not human nature, only human choices.

    This doesn't describe a libertarian world, but one of fantasy.  Libertarianism, as envisioned by the founding fathers or Friedrich Hayek, is predicated on an understanding of the world that's...
  • False Analogies from WIRED

    July 11, 2007
    Wired magazine's Scott Gilbertson summarized the FTC net neutrality report by quipping, "Wait and see if it all goes south and then maybe consider doing something to fix it." This is a false analogy. Certainly it's a good idea to fix something that's bound to break, but is net neutrality really like giving the car an oil change? It would be if we had reason to believe that we were racing toward the net equivalent of engine lock-up, but the evidence for such a scenario just doesn't add up. What evidence do we have? For more than a decade a net with many levels of access and many corresponding prices has meant more investment and a boon for all consumers. "If it ain't broke don't fix it," doesn't apply either. The internet not only isn't broken, it's growing at incredible speeds and bringing the rest of...
  • Satellite (Radio) of Love

    July 10, 2007
    The FCC is currently presiding over the proposed merger of satellite radio companies XM and Sirius. And, to no one's surprise, a host of groups are clamoring for the feds to stick their regulatory snout into the proceedings and stop the merger from going forward. The haters in the crowd would have you believe satellite radio is a unique market that needs to have multiple competing companies, even if both of them are suffering massive operating losses:
    ...simply put, the two companies have been competing so fiercely with one another that costs at both have skyrocketed to unsustainable levels. In 2006 alone, Sirius and XM had combined losses of just over $1.8 billion The huge losses can be traced to Sirius and XM spending billions to...
  • Tune into the Space Angels Network

    July 2, 2007
    Kerry Howley is covering the latest developments in private exploration in space exploration today over at Hit & Run. Also, the July/August '07 issue of The New Individualist also has a great cover feature titled "Space: Final Frontier, Final Battlefield." TNI Space cover Click here to subscribe to TNI.
  • Fred on Philanthropy in WSJ

    June 29, 2007
    Fred Smith, the president of CEI, was featured in today's Wall Street Journal in a letter to the editor responding to Robert Barro's commentary on Bill Gates ("Bill Gates's Charitable Vistas," editorial page, June 19). In the piece Fred argues that wealth creation is much more affective at reducing poverty than philanthropy, especially in the case of Mr. Gates:
    Traditional philanthropy is collective, tribal, even. The donor feels noble; paternalism reigns; poverty is perpetuated. Extending the institutions of economic liberty -- even to the limited degree that this has occurred in China and India -- has done more good than would have been achieved had Mr. Gates liquidated Microsoft and shipped all that money to Africa.
    Though some might disagree that Bill...
  • FTC Moves to Protect Bandwealth

    June 28, 2007
    In a new report, Broadband Connectivity Competition Policy, the FTC routed the empty arguments of the "net neutrality" crowd, marking a significant victory for those who believe in competition and freedom on the net. Robert Kahn, the inventor of the TCP/IP protocol has referred to "net neutrality" as nothing more than a regulatory slogan. In a piece in The Register Kahn is quoted as saying "I am totally opposed to mandating that nothing interesting can happen inside the net." What kind of interesting stuff "inside the net" is Kahn referring to? One example is managing traffic, called packet prioritizing, so that emails and websites are brought from servers to our displays quickly. This does mean that peer-to-peer...
  • Is net neutrality a new religion?

    June 28, 2007
    Silly reactions to the Federal Trade Commission's new net neutrality report shouldn't be surprising, but I didn't expect the ridiculous-beyond-parody (over at Fark.com): "FTC shoots down net neutrality. RIP, Internet."
  • Rain Man, Regulator

    June 28, 2007
    Wired blogger Scott Gilbertson is upset about the Federal Trade Commission's report urging caution regarding net neutrality regulation.
    The Chairman of the FTC Deborah Platt Majoras says in a statement accompanying the report that “in the absence of significant market failure or demonstrated consumer harm, policy makers should be particularly hesitant to enact new regulation in this area.” In other words wait and see if it all goes south and then maybe consider doing something to fix it.
    Gilbertson is essentially criticizing the FTC for not considering every...
  • Next: Mandatory equal air time for rock and disco

    June 27, 2007
    Isn't it comforting that Dick Durbin is watching out for Americans' impressionable minds? He recently told The Hill, “It's time to reinstitute the Fairness Doctrine...I have this old-fashioned attitude that when Americans hear both sides of the story, they're in a better position to make a decision.” Durbin's attitude is old-fashioned alright, in two ways. It betrays an old-fashioned paternalistic distrust of the public being easily manipulated by the media. And it's also old-fashioned in its willful ignorance of new media. Remember that when the Federal Communications Commission dropped the Fairness Doctrine in the 1980s, cable TV was young and the Web did not exist. This idiocy would be surprising from anyone other than a politician. What other class of people would...
  • Radio Frequency Your Way to Good Health

    June 27, 2007
    AFP reports on a new study by the American Medical Association recommending the implantation of RFID tags to carry medical information in case of an emergency. This, of course, is an excellent idea, especially for people with particular allergies or medical conditions which could complicate emergency care. There are some practical questions to work out - such as how you keep something the size of a grain of rice from moving around under your skin - but in general, the technology is ready to be deployed widely and start saving lives. Naturally some patients have privacy concerns, especially about "active" versus "passive" tags, but these also need to be put into perspective. Particularly if you are contemplating a stripped-down version of a medical RFID tag with, say,...

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