Tue, 10 May 2005

Deregulation

I'm not a big believer in the concept of "deregulation". First, because most of what is called "deregulation" is actually just a different kind of government regulations. Second, because the real way to deregulate something is to give it monopoly status with no government oversight. That is, you have to remove consumer choice, because consumer choice regulates corporate actions.

Let's look at some monopolies to see if they're truly deregulated:

Gas, Water, Electric, Sewage, Cable TV
These are often supplied by a government entity, or else under a franchise agreement. While the actual people runnning the service may not be elected, ultimately they are answerable to someone who is.
Telephone
Every state has a Public Utility Commission, which controls telephone service.
Copyright
Copyright expires eventually, in theory. In practice, nothing owned by a corporation has gone into the public domain since WWI, and nothing owned by an individual since WWII. So, my theory predicts that copyrights are effectively unregulated, with copyright owners taking advantage of purchasers. Doesn't quite work out that way, because while company FOO has a monopoly on artist BAR's work, they're competing against all other companies in the market for the fan's dollars. Consumers still have some regulating power here.
Patents
Patents expire after 20 years, so you should expect to see a decreasing amount of abuse as a patent nears the end of its life, and consumers gain the power to regulate.
I think my theory holds up pretty well.
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