(photo courtesy of)
The Wall Street Journal's intrepid and very good Amy Schatz has a piece today updating us on the progress of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC)'s National Broadband Plan.
With all that we have thus far seen, things look quite grim from a free speech, free market perspective. The groundwork for government information totalitarianism - favored by people like Hugo Chavez-loving FCC "Diversity Czar" Mark Lloyd and Marxist "media reform"-outfit Free Press founder Robert McChesney - is being laid in the Plan being crafted by FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski.
As we first reported, the Center for American Progress (at which Lloyd was then a Senior Fellow) and McChesney's Free Press co-authored the deeply flawed, anti-conservative and Christian talk radio "report" entitled The Structural Imbalance of Political Talk Radio.
But their shared disdain for free speech and the free market extend way beyond just this. These "media reformers" seek to eradicate most or all private ownership of all information delivery - be it by radio, television or the internet - thereby leaving the federal government as sole purveyor.
In his 2006 book Prologue to a Farce, Lloyd called for the FCC to charge private broadcast companies 100% of their operating budgets for their broadcast licenses. He also called for heavy fines to be levied on these stations for failing to meet his vast and expansive (not to mention warped) definitions of diversity and localism. Lloyd called for all of this money to be handed to the Corporation for Public Broadcasting - in other words, government radio and television.
Any one who has ever run a business - or worked for a business, or can count to three without error - knows that these sorts of confiscatory and regulatory impediments would make it impossible for any private media company to continue to exist. They would all be forced to cede the field, leaving government - holding vast sums of the private owners' money - as the only player left standing.
McChesney has said of "media reform":
"Any serious effort to reform the media system would have to necessarily be part of a revolutionary program to overthrow the capitalist system itself."
"Our job is to make media reform part of our broader struggle for democracy, social justice, and, dare we say it, socialism. It is impossible to conceive of a better world with a media system that remains under the thumb of Wall Street and Madison Avenue, under the thumb of the owning class."
"The last thing we want to do, however, is rebuild the old media system....We want to democratize the media system so that people without property can play a much larger role in the media and in political life. The result of such democratization will, in my view, be a marked shift to the political Left."
On so-called "net neutrality," McChesney offers:
"At the moment, the battle over network neutrality is not to completely eliminate the telephone and cable companies. We are not at that point yet. But the ultimate goal is to get rid of the media capitalists in the phone and cable companies and to divest them from control."
So if Lloyd's views win the day in radio and television, and McChesney's do the same on the internet and with "smart" cell phones, we are left with government - and only government - providing us with news and information. The First Amendment implications of this are frightening. How amenable will the government be to allowing its radio, television and internet to be used for speech critical of - the government?
The National Broadband Plan is shaping up to be a huge step in - and a huge down payment on - this censorious direction. To the tune of up to $350 billion. That amount will go a long way towards having the government supplant the private owners of media and information delivery.
People like Genachowski view internet access as a universal "right" - meaning access for everyone should be "free." It is this ridiculous notion that is the driving force behind his National Broadband Plan.
Aptly dubbed a "Cyber-Utopian" by Americans For Prosperity's Director of Policy Phil Kerpen, Genachowski is a feel-good Socialist whose redistributionist policies - like the Broadband Plan and "net neutrality" - are setting the table at which the hardcore Marxists like Lloyd and McChesney will soon dine. At our expense, and at the expense of our First Amendment rights.
Genachowski's grandiose notions of free internet for everyone could be setting the stage for the governmental usurpation of informational power for which Lloyd and McChesney have long plotted and planned.
Should this come to pass, we should all get used to shutting up on a full-time and permanent basis.