Description

Today’s guest is Thomas Hazlett, former chief economist of the FCC and author of The Political Spectrum: The Tumultuous Liberation of Wireless Technology, from Herbert Hoover to the Smartphone. Perceptive listeners may recall that Ed Lopez mentioned Hazlett’s work in our interview on political change.

Hazlett’s work concerns the legal institutions surrounding the radio spectrum.

Popular legend has it that before the Federal Radio Commission was established in 1927, the radio spectrum was in chaos, with broadcasting stations blasting powerful signals to drown out rivals. In this fascinating and entertaining history, Thomas Winslow Hazlett, a distinguished scholar in law and economics, debunks the idea that the U.S. government stepped in to impose necessary order. Instead, regulators blocked competition at the behest of incumbent interests and, for nearly a century, have suppressed innovation while quashing out-of-the-mainstream viewpoints.

Hazlett details how spectrum officials produced a “vast wasteland” that they publicly criticized but privately protected. The story twists and turns, as farsighted visionaries—and the march of science—rise to challenge the old regime. Over decades, reforms to liberate the radio spectrum have generated explosive progress, ushering in the “smartphone revolution,” ubiquitous social media, and the amazing wireless world now emerging. Still, the author argues, the battle is not even half won.

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discussions

  • I’ve followed the Bundy Ranch situation closely on social media throughout the weekend. Though a virtual mainstream media black out exists (only Fox mentioned the situation), I’ve been overwhelmed by the disparate reactions the stand-off has inspired. Some “liberals” (authoritarians) on Twitter were actually angered that the Bureau of Land Management did not “open fire” on “squatter” Cliven Bundy and the several thousand “radicals” that “unlawfully assembled” which will inspire “domestic terrorists”.  Meanwhile, conservatives, constitutionalists and libertarians have been arguing for several days over the central question: are the Bundy’s right or wrong? What are your thoughts?

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  • Does anyone here listen to the radio station LBC (Leading Britain’s Conversation)? I listen to it every weekday while I’m working. I don’t really have a favourite presenter (Nick Ferrari, James O’Brien, Shelagh Fogarty, Iain Dale), but I respect them all. http://www.lbc.co.uk/

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  • Dominance, Sharing, and Privacy gives us a simplified (maybe oversimplified), and intuitive way to categorize human sociality. Instead of thinking of social structures as being diverse and too complicated to be categorized, these three categories allow us to classify behaviors that address conflict as one of three types or a combination of the three.  For example, might makes right is not really a property norm but it is a dominance strategy. The ethic that the world belongs to everyone is not an alternative property norm, it is the nullification of property in favor of a sharing norm.  The violent defense of a territory is not a might makes right or dominance behavior but is the defense of privacy. The reluctance to intrude on others prior establish territory is not just a fear of retaliation but a respect for privacy.   For moe read: Dominance, Sharing, and Privacy (DSP), The Three Principles of Sociality  

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  • If the state was abolished but private property was not then wouldn’t landlords effectively become the state? There are a lot of similarities between a landlord and a state.  They both hold territory that they can exclude people from.  A proprietor can tell their tenants what to do while they are on their property. Taxes are similar to rent.  Laws are like the rules of a rental contract.  A proprietor may defend their property with force.   So what is the difference?

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  • What is the origination of property rights? Where do they come from that you can reason their existence as natural? We usually argue for property rights at some point in our discussions as libertarians, but I’m curious as to where we can claim they’re from. Personally, I derive mine from God and my religious beliefs, similar to what Jefferson stated about God given rights. But what about someone who doesn’t believe in a deity? How can they derive property rights in a way that can’t be dismissed as ideals, but derived in nature? This is also (and arguably more so) important for arguing these natural rights to people who won’t accept a divine aspect. It’s important to have property rights, and they’re evidently beneficial, but the argument remains for declaring these as rights, otherwise the NAP is in jeopardy. How do we have a right to property?

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