This month, we witnessed former FBI Director James Comey testify that President Trump demanded his loyalty during a private, Oval Office discussion. The reasoning behind this request might never be truly known, but the leading rationale is that Trump might have wanted Comey to close the FBI's investigation into Russia's meddling with the 2016 election.
Loyalty is something that presidents across generations have demanded. They demand so much loyalty from their appointees because government bureaucrats, unaccountable to voters, wield almost limitless power over government programs and therefore the economy.
President Barack Obama's demand for loyalty from former Federal Communications Chairman Tom Wheeler in 2014 to support Title II reclassification of broadband is a perfect example.
Most people who have followed this issue, better known as "net neutrality," will remember that 2014 video — fresh off a widespread Democratic midterm loss — showing Obama "urging" the FCC to do "everything they can to protect net neutrality for everyone."
But this wasn't just anyone urging another to consider support of an issue. This was a president demanding loyalty of the head of an independent agency, with the backing of netroots and shady billionaires, to implement an agenda that would take the Internet out of the hands of consumers and put it in the control of the government.
Do you want government bureaucrats choosing what services, websites or applications are right for you? If you don't, then let me tell you a story.
When future President Lyndon B. Johnson was still just a congressman, he convinced FCC bureaucrats to slow down, impede and misdirect a Texas radio station that needed to expand to stay in business. Unable to grow, the radio station gave up and liquidated their assets to Lady Bird Johnson. The FCC then not only (somehow!) fast-tracked the approval of the purchase, they also approved moving the schedule to a full-day operation and greenlit an application for the channel to move to a better frequency.
All of these changes by the FCC greatly improved the wealth of the Johnsons — nearly broke at the time of the purchase in 1943, they became millionaires in just a few years.
Fast forward to today where the FCC's jurisdiction encompasses a broader, modern communications sphere, including the Internet. The last thing we should want is the government picking winners and losers like it has in the past.
From its creation, the Internet has grown by historic leaps and bounds under a largely free-market model. The FCC until a few years ago agreed with this mentality and maintained "light touch" regulations that allowed edge providers and Internet Service Providers. However, under the Obama administration, the online activists (modern cronies) helped to convince the Obama FCC that more regulation was needed.
What was these groups' primary goal in re-establishing the 1930s framework of Title II in 2015? In short, it would slap the shackles on ISPs and allow businesses of their choice and their crony supporters to have an upper hand and finally gain control of the Internet — the world's most important communications tool.
It's the other Golden Rule: Whoever has the gold makes the rules.
In the early days of the Internet, there was a conscientious decision not to over-regulate. But now that the Internet has created so many millionaires and billionaires, big government and its allies want to make sure regulation keeps anyone from nipping at their heels.
Under net neutrality, just like the FCC gave an advantage to LBJ's radio station, the government can use Title II regulatory powers to wrongly advantage a crony friend instead of just letting the market work as it has for decades — successfully.
We shouldn't give bureaucrats the power to decide how internet networks will work and what constitutes "fair." The government doesn't have the expertise or manpower needed to referee every market all the time.
That is why the power of competition and easy entry and exit from markets is what we should fight for. A free market is more effective than government regulation — and in the case of the Internet, will help us develop a faster, more reliable, and broader network more quickly. Just since the implementation of Title II in 2015, investment in broadband networks has decreased.
The FCC has been used for cronyism in the past, with the most brazen offenses coming in the last eight years. And today, online activists continue to do whatever's necessary to bully their way to victory. Net neutrality is gussied up like it's some way of saving the Internet from the bad guys when, in fact, the opposite is true.
Spoiler alert: It won't give you more Internet — the activists' approach will give you less. That is why we need to stop the cronies today and let the free market reign.
Charles Sauer (@CharlesSauer) is a contributer to the Washington Examiner's Beltway Confidential blog. He is president of the Market Institute and previously worked on Capitol Hill, for a governor and for an academic think tank.
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