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The PFF Blog is moving!
The PFF Blog is moving to a new address and a new publishing platform - you can view the new and improved system here: http://blog.pff.org. Don't forget to update your Favorites and Bookmarks with the new address. Some new features you'll have access to include a more robust search engine, TrackBack-enabled posts, and Archives by Subject (on new posts immediately, and on old posts as they are updated over the next few days). There may be a few growing pains as we get used to the new system - please let me know if you have any problems. As always, we welcome your comments via email (look for a link to the author's email address in the byline of each post) on both the new system and the entries themselves.
- posted by Blog Administrator @ 1/14/2005 03:55:18 PM

Your FCC at Work
The man's reputation is in tatters, his career in ruins, he is the headline act on "Contrition Tour 2005," and your FCC member wants to do something about it. Because if the FCC isn't watching out for these infractions, who will? Thanks, FCC. Maybe Broadband can lead the investigation.
- posted by Ray @ 1/14/2005 01:25:42 AM

Reprise on the Baseball "Ownership" Scandal
My post below outlined the possible default rule and property rights issues involving Red Sox 1B Doug Mientkiewicz' decision to keep the ball from the final out of the World Series, rather than turning it over to the Red Sox. Over at the Volokh Conspiracy blog, this comment by Todd Kincannon to Volokh's argument that the employer-employee relationship should govern the matter fleshes out an interesting distinction in the "custom rules" argument, which I had thought should prevail in favor of Mientkiewicz: There is an extremely well established custom in Major League Baseball that players get to keep significant baseballs unless they end up in the stands. Umpires will stop games so that a player can retrieve a significant ball, such as the one he just got his 3000th hit with, or his very first hit, or was the ball he just made an unassisted triple play with, etc... One potentially important distinction here is that this ball is not particularly symbolic of a personal achievement by Mientkiewicz (he gets a put-out on the play; not a huge statistical deal), but instead is symbolic of a Red Sox team victory. Taking this argument to the next level, my friend Andrew "Hog" Warden has proposed a legal test that should be applied in the absence of an ex ante contractual clause. Although his sports acumen is sometimes clouded by his unwavering allegiance to anything Indianapolis-related, I am convinced this analysis hits the mark: If I were a judge, I'd adopt the "significance of the ball test." First, you have to look at the significance of the ball and determine why that ball holds value. Here, the Red Sox won the Series, and not because of anything Mientkiewicz did. Second, you have to look at the claimant and determine his relationship to the ball's significance vis a vis other claimants. Here, no way Mientkiewicz prevails over the interests of the Red Sox. I suppose this test could fail at the margins in cases where multiple pitchers combine to throw a perfect game, but we'll save that analysis for another day.
- posted by Adam @ 1/13/2005 10:36:34 PM

Municipal Broadband, Public Goods and Public Choice
There is much ongoing discussion of municipally-owned broadband projects, usually portrayed in this manner, as a battle between public-minded, well-intentioned politicians and greedy private firms who want to keep the forces of light from fulfilling the city's broadband dreams. Nevermind that good intentions are rarely sufficient basis for public expenditure. Despite utopian promises of economic development premised on building a a broadband network, this does not account for why private firms aren't doing it if this is the case. (See Laissez le Fiber Roulez) "This is just like the government building sidewalks or roads," is one supporting analogy that is often used by municipal broadband proponents. The USA Today editorial approvingly quotes the City Parish Manager in Lafayette: "Installing fiber-optic cable, he credibly argues, is no different from laying down sidewalks or sewer lines." Unwittingly or not, the Manager is making what is called a "public goods" argument -- that a city or municipality needs to build this because it is a public goods. Economist Tyler Cowen explains public goods here, and Nobel Laureate James Buchanan wrote an entire book on the subject, which is delightfully available online. The arguments get more than a little involved, but the chief characteristics of a public good are non-rivalrous consumption and non-excludability. Thus a sidewalk is a good example of a public good -- one person can use it (for the most part) without interfering with others' use and you can't exclude others from its use. Because it's a public good, private markets will not supply it because there is an externality and a free-rider problem; that is, I will be able to use the sidewalk without paying for it. [But see, The Lighthouse in Economics, (discussed here) Ronald Coase's debunking of a classic public goods example that shows private markets come up with ingenious ways to solve public goods problems.] [Another interesting sidelight is that as consumption of roads becomes more rivalrous (in terms of congestion), that is becomes more acceptable to talk about private toll roads as a means to alleviate congestion. This also indicates, as Buchanan discusses, that nothing is a completely private or public good.] What is striking about municipal broadband networks is that they have few, if any, characteristics of a public good. Broadband connections involve both rivalrous consumption and excludability (indeed, excludability is a rather important consumer demand in the guise of privacy concerns). Therefore, they are only public goods under the common parlance that some people might think they'd be good for the public. What these networks are, from an economic perspective, is a private good. And with private goods, we rely for the most part on private markets, absent market failure. In other words, this is a meandering way of saying, the proponents will need to come up with a better analogy because the sidewalk and roads one doesn't work. Finally, there is a curious confluence between the rhetoric of municipal broadband proponents (faster, cheaper, now!) and the defenders of the universal service status quo: these services are necessary, must be provided universally to all, and at a low rate. Watch then for the deal to be cut: In exchange for no more municipal broadband systems, roll universal service subsidies to broadband networks, impose service territory buildout requirements, underprice the service to achieve greater penetration, and, voila!, full blown public utility regulation for broadband. Maybe I am a pessimist...
- posted by Ray @ 1/13/2005 11:30:11 AM

There's Something Rotten Near Detroit
In October 2004, SBC sought to deregulate business and residential rates in Detroit, Grand Rapids and Lansing. Section 208(2) of the Michigan Telecommunications Act states that, subject to an exception for a TSLRIC price floor, "if a regulated service is classified as competitive, the rate for the service shall be deregulated and not subject to review under this act." The statute seems clear enough on its face - i.e., dear regulators, once you declare a market to be competitive, your work here is done (other than a providing a check against predation). The Michigan PSC has elected to hold a hearing on the deregulation of residential rates and business rates in "Access Area B" later this year. But let's see how the PSC handled the requested deregulation of business rates, in the most competitive markets of the state, in its initial order: "[T]he Commission finds that SBC has made a sufficient showing as required [by section 208] to allow the Commission to take immediate action to declare basic local exchange service . . ." Yes? Yeesssss??? "provisionally competitive throughout SBC's Access Area A provided that some safeguards are put into effect and remain in place." Huh? But I thought the statute says... "Specifically, the Commission is persuaded that it should declare business basic local exchange service in SBC's Access Area A competitive for the purposes of a one-year trial period." Ugh. You just can't let go, can you. A rough analogy can be drawn between the PSC's underlying rationale here and an unfortunate, though oft-repeated ritual everywhere. UNE-P was a great tool for regulators to show that they were facilitating competitive entry in its heyday - and indeed, with some of the lowest UNE rates in the country, Michigan experienced some of the highest UNE penetration rates. That's called 'getting drunk.' Now, a primary reason for the PSC to impose this one-year trial period is to "assess the effects of the FCC's phase out of UNE-P." That's called 'trying to figure out what the hell I did last night.' And then, of course, the PSC states that "[f]acilities-based alternatives are more likely to be durable and would thus be more effective as a means of stimulating 'actual' competition," which is called 'having a moment of clarity.'
- posted by Adam @ 1/11/2005 05:19:14 PM

Cliff Clavin, Telephone Man
The Royal Post Office is re-entering the telecom market in Britain, offering a pence per minute rate that will supposedly undercut the pence per minute rate offered by British Telecom. I admit ignorance of UK telecom policy at the outset, but it would seem that phone competition there is something like UNE-P on steroids.
- posted by Adam @ 1/11/2005 02:58:44 PM

Capitol Power Play
Congress has yet to do anything productive so far this year (still more junkets to squeeze in before the Inauguration and the State of the Union), but already mischief is afoot on Capitol Hill. Senator John McCain (R-Arizona) was forced to step down as Commerce Committee chairman because of party term limits, but he has consoled himself with the fact that he could bump aside Conrad Burns (R-Montana) and head up the Communications Subcommittee. That would allow him to stay plugged in to the telecom and mass media issues he finds so compelling. However, according to Communications Daily (subscription required), new Commerce Committee Chairman Ted Stevens (R-Alaska) wants to keep telecom close to his vest, and is considering folding the Communications Subcommittee. To do so, he'll have to get a majority of the committee to agree; here's betting McCain's a 'no' vote. Grab some popcorn and enjoy the show.
- posted by Patrick Ross @ 1/11/2005 02:48:41 PM

9, 8, 2...Can You Find the Pattern?
The New York Public Service Commission will seek to overturn the FCC Vonage Order with an appeal to the Second Circuit Court of Appeals. The California PUC was first with an appeal in the Ninth Circuit and then Minnesota appealed in the Eighth Circuit. Minnesota's petition asks for the order to be set aside due to overreach by the FCC. The petitions from California and New York are not linked yet but presumably are based on the same grounds. Two of the biggest states and one of the most regulatory states just cannot let go...
- posted by Kent @ 1/11/2005 02:30:04 PM

State of the Net
The Congressional Internet Caucus is hosting a conference February 9 on the State of the Net, featuring newly named Senate Commerce Committee Chairman Ted Stevens (R-Alaska). The topics at the Hyatt Regency Capitol Hill event include 1) trust, privacy and security; 2) intellectual property protection and innovation; and 3) media convergence and the Telecom Act rewrite. Caucus events are always informative and well-crafted, and I urge anyone with an interest in these issues to attend.
- posted by Patrick Ross @ 1/10/2005 04:01:40 PM

Does "Finders Keepers" Help the Catchers?
Adam's post below discussed the apparent "finders keepers" rule for baseball ownership -- both on the field for players and off the field for fans. For fans, this could be explained as a promotional effort of the team -- a sort of lottery that increases the attractiveness of attending the game. For players, one would expect on the margin that this property regime would benefit the catching position. This is because the catcher has a greater chance to catching the final out, assuming that closers tend to be strike out pitchers. Therefore, this property rights regime is a subtle way of adding to the attractiveness of catching -- a position that needs all the help it can get.
- posted by Ray @ 1/9/2005 11:47:01 PM

MLB's "Open Platform" for Balls Causes Uproar
Last week, Red Sox 1B Doug Mientiewicz said that he would keep the baseball from the final out of the Red Sox World Series victory. Like many other highly paid professional athletes, he's got mouths to feed, dammit. So he might auction it off one day, and he might not. The Red Sox want it back. There's an uproar in Red Sox nation. Note - there is some kind of arbitrary sliding scale at work here. Derrick Lowe has kept the ball from the final out of the Red Sox ALCS victory over the Yankees, but apparently he is off the hook in the media because that ball isn't as valuable as the World Series ball. Biggest comeback in sports history, over your arch rival? It's clearly worth a whole lot more than my kidneys are. But it is a nice property rights question for the water cooler nevertheless. MLB has stated that Mientiewicz is the rightful owner, so there is a waiver. The Cardinals could have a claim to the ball since they were the home team. The Sox could argue that they own the baseball since Mientkiewicz is their employee, but wouldn't they, like MLB, be estopped from making this argument, unless all balls kept by all players are similarly returned to the team? Does custom prescribe the right result here - i.e., once the game is over, it is the player's property and he may only bequest ownership by gift or sale? Perhaps a cross-sports analogy can answer the question - whatever happened to the football that Adam Vinatieri kicked through the uprights to win the Super Bowl for the Patriots? Or, is Keith Foulke the owner, because he was simply "loaning" the ball to Mientiewicz when he threw it to first base for the final out? It would be a entertaining case to litigate, at least. I think custom prevails and, barring good sportsmanship, Mientiewicz reaps the windfall from his good fortune. Perhaps teams may just need to contract around this silliness in the future. In the meantime, enjoy watching Red Sox nation squabble over it. UPDATE - this letter in the Boston Globe asserts that, under MLB rules, the home team provides and therefore owns the ball. That said, I'm still not sure whether this trumps the convention on the field. But being a devastated Cardinals fan, we might finally have some leverage over the Red Sox after losing Edgar Renterria to them via free agency.
- posted by Adam @ 1/9/2005 11:35:31 PM

Lucky Jack Aubrey and an ecumenism aboard ship
We interrupt this tech-blog for a dose of Patrick O'Brian from The Wine Dark Sea. By way of context, Captain Jack Aubrey must decide who will crew a prize he has taken, and is inclined to appoint one junior officer, Vidal, a Knipperdolling, to command a crew of Sethians: For although Shelmerston was well known for bold enterprising expert seamen ... it was even better known for its bewildering variety of religious sects, some, like the Sethians, with origins in the hazy remote past, some like the Knipperdollings, quite recent but a little apt to be quarrelsome by land if some point of doctrine were raised; and at the love-feast in Botany Bay a disagreement on the filioque clause had ended in many a black eye, many a bloody nose and broken head. Now, it is probably just me (and Jim DeLong) who delights that a sea novel takes up the filioque controversy with different sects of seamen on the ship -- great comedy, but perhaps you have to be there, or at least be a devotee of O'Brian's literary skill.
- posted by Ray @ 1/9/2005 11:02:54 PM

Newspapers in Foxholes
CNet has reproduced a NYT Times piece which describes the results of a recent Pew survey on the future of the 'Net. One generally supported prognostication from the article - "the Internet and the rise of the blogger are expected to drive greater change in the news media and publishing industries than in any other sector of society." It is an issue that the Times is already grappling with, according to the current cover story in Business Week. While the Times gets 90% of its revenue from its print business, the majority of its readers view it's free online addition, which is the paper's fastest-growing source of revenue due to advertising. (That said, the growing popularity of community websites such as Craigslist are mounting a significant assault on this business model.) Thus, the Times is considering going to a paid subscription service akin to the Wall Street Journal. Business Week quotes NY Times Publisher Arthur Sulzberger as saying the issue boils down to "how comfortable are we training a generation of readers to get quality information for free," which is "troubling." BTW, for another take on the future of the 'Net, be sure to attend our luncheon with Internet co-founder Bob Kahn this Wednesday, where he will discuss digital object architecture.
- posted by Adam @ 1/9/2005 08:15:09 PM

Putting on a Happy Face
Over the weekend, I received a mailing happily stating that the end of late fees is the biggest announcement in Blockbuster history. TV spots show giddy consumers celebrating the end of late fees. Good for consumers, sure. But with heavy competition from VOD/Netflix/Walmart et al, bad for Blockbuster. In test markets, the company claims that the loss of revenues has been offset by the generation of additional rentals. At the same time, however, it projects that this year's operating income will be reduced by $250 million to $300 million, meaning zero growth over 2004.
- posted by Adam @ 1/9/2005 08:01:12 PM

Vertical Integration and Next Gen Gaming
Xbox Live already provides a nice VoIP option for access avoidance. Just imagine the possibilities in reading this passage from a CNET interview with Bill Gates: Xbox Live is really talking to your friends, doing things with your friends. And as we bring in new game titles that are more approachable, appeal to different demographics, the boundary between what's game playing, what's socialization and what's communication-you will have really broken down the barriers there. We can make these hot, super great graphics games something that are easy for people to use. That's a big initiative we have as we move to the next generation of Xbox. Likewise, the connection between the Xbox Live and our Messenger will be really simple so people can say, "Hey, come and play," "Oh, okay, I'm finishing my homework, I'm almost done, I'll get on and play with you." And so even as they're connected up to each other, they don't think of, "Oh no, now I'm gaming, now I'm communicating."
- posted by Adam @ 1/9/2005 06:52:17 PM

55 Years
Tomorrow I don't plan to touch a computer...unless it is to move it out of the way so that I don't spill paint on it. Therefore, it is with sadness that I ask you now to pause for a moment and to solemnly reflect on the passing of Joseph Alois Schumpeter. Born February 8, 1883 (same year as Keynes) and died January 8, 1950. As you look on his photo, ask yourself the following question: What living economist would have the audacity to repeatedly suggest that his aim in life was to be 'the greatest lover of beautiful women in Vienna, the greatest horseman in Europe, and perhaps, the greatest economist in the world'? We miss you Schump.
- posted by Kent @ 1/7/2005 06:25:10 PM

All this talk about capital...
By the way, if I am yammering on about capital so much, it is for two reasons: One, I am just finishing Hernando de Soto's The Mystery of Capital: Why Capitalism Triumphs in the West and Fails Everywhere Else. This is a remarkable volume by the former Peruvian Finance Minister and deserves all the acclaim it receives. DeSoto emphasizes the transforming power of capital to bring economic prosperity to the Third World, and the necessity for property rights and law to bring that about. Second, I have recently spent some time with John Rutledge, who similarly speaks of the hospitality toward capital as determining the relative levels of prosperity. Marx was right, it was Das Kapital.
- posted by Ray @ 1/6/2005 05:51:55 PM

Laissez le fiber roulez
David Isenberg posts regarding the battle over municipal broadband network in Lafayette, Louisiana -- something like the Battle for New Orleans without Andrew Jackson, but with more lobbyists. The post -- complete with a snide and gratuitous aside about this august institution -- asks a question: Does the government have the right to say what sectors of a community should be served? He proceeds that if you answer the question in the affirmative, that the government can then dictate service areas (presumably through franchise agreements, as it does with cable, or public utility regulation, as it does with telephony), or build it itself. If the answer is no, he claims then that democracy is lost and that path leads to the vicious cycle of a digital divide. (This may be a slightly uncharitable recounting, but then again I am accused of being an ILEC zombie, so my false consciousness probably clouds my thinking.) To Mr. Isenberg, then, municipalization is a valid expression of universal service policy. I suppose it is, but one with a rather spotty track record and thus warranting skepticism. It seems to me that there are inevitable consequences from municipal broadband entry. First of all, private capital will flee. Competing with a municipal network -- particularly one with run out of a municipal electric utility with the ability to cross-subsidize and predate -- is a loser's proposition. Second, governments are prone to embrace the sunk costs fallacy; that is, they will not innovate or keep investing after the initial investment. Third, governments -- particularly when not facing competition -- tend to act like the most indolent monopolists ever when running a service. Fourth, there is an opportunity cost to communities. The bonds or taxes or electric ratepayers' money could be used elsewhere, for potentially much more pressing social needs -- like subsidizing a baseball stadium, say. It seems to me that second path of Isenberg's dichotomy -- the government does not mandate who serves and where -- is much better at providing universal service than the path of "democratic" mandates. It may seems a paradox, but the lifeblood of networks and innovation is capital -- and capital goes where it is most welcome. Most of the economy works in this non-government mandatory way -- and finds a way of serving all segments of the population, albeit in different ways. In communications, cellular telephone adoption is perhaps the best example of the free market model working. Cell phones started as a high cost, low use accessory for the well-off, and now have penetrated throughout society. The tension here is ultimately between capital, which follows its own path despite government's best efforts, and universal service. At its worse, the latter impulse becomes a prescriptive egalitarianism that drives capital away and leads to the worst sorts of monopolies -- government-owned ones. I personally think municipalization of broadband is a Music Man folly. Communities fall for the pitch, and unless they can indefinitely cross-subsidize off an guaranteed rate base of an electric utility, will end up with a second-rate network that keeps eating cash. To be sure, this is a predictive judgment premised on some assumptions about the nature of government, but it is not without precedent. Ask Iowa how its communications network worked out. Finally, if for social reasons, you do need to mandate a buildout, I suppose the franchise agreement model (taking out the shakedown aspects) is preferable, so long, like with cable now, economic regulation is precluded.
- posted by Ray @ 1/6/2005 04:57:10 PM

Power Struggle...
A mild power struggle is developing at the California PUC over rules that would micromanage the wireless marketplace. Next week we'll see if the Governor's new appointments will flex muscle on the issue.
- posted by Kent @ 1/6/2005 04:54:43 PM

Spam in '04

According to AOL, pornography, once the mighty king of spam, has been dethroned by online Vioxx prescriptions, ID theft scams and stock pick information. As we embark on 2005, the issue of spam will remain a topic of interest, as the Can-Spam legislation seems to be having no effect on the amount of spam being received by consumers.

- posted by Mike @ 1/6/2005 10:57:59 AM

Nowhere to go but up
The PFF Racing Team - comprising Tom Lenard (known as "T-Sizzle" in local running circles), Brooke Emmerick and I - entered into the 10th Annual MADD Red Ribbon Run 5K on New Years' Eve. It turned out to be a beautiful afternoon in Alexandria for a great cause. Unfortunately, the team had to overcome two casualties both before and during the race. Due to vague directions from Mapquest combined with the lack of reliable road signs in the DC area, and despite the agility of his Mini-Cooper, Tom was unable to locate the venue in time. Brooke suffered through a nagging toe cramp but was able to finish. As for me, this clip from the official race results is telling: Male division (317 participants) #235. A. Peters, 29 28:01 #236. A. Frum, 71 28:13 #237. R. Celeste, 45 28:17 #238. T. Kelley, 40 28:18 #239. R. Qurtler, 69 28:20 #240. B. Harding, 58 28:23 #241. S. Barber, 63 28:25 #242. L. Rooks, 9 28:35 The number to the right of the last names denotes age. Thus, with a strong finishing kick (which some have likened to an antelope running in Yellowstone), I was able to outlast Mr. Frum, 71 years young, and finish seven spots ahead of a 9 year-old. Looking ahead, the PFF Racing Team will look to improve on this showing in the St. Patty's Day 10K.
- posted by Adam @ 1/5/2005 07:39:16 PM

More post-holiday shopping -- sigh
In the world of communications, shopping does not slow after New Years -- at least with respect to the judicial forum-shopping in which parties challenging FCC orders engage. As I alluded yesterday, the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission filed suit in the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals to challenge the FCC's November decision that declared Vonage's Internet voice service "interstate", thereby preempting state commissions from imposing inconsistent regulations. The usual drill, of course, is to appeal FCC decisions to the District of Columbia Circuit, which has special expertise in reviewing rulings from the alphabet soup of agencies that inhabit DC. Presumably, Minnesota filed in the 8th Circuit based on the suspicion that court would be more supportive of state authority than a court inside the Beltway. Minnesota's action follows on the heels of a similar appeal by the California Utilities Commission to its own regional court (the 9th Circuit). Apparently, the "NIMBY" principle does not apply when it comes to state strategies for imposing regulation on new services like Internet voice.
- posted by K Dixon @ 1/5/2005 02:57:32 PM

Telecom Romance
Spend your Valentine's Day with the ever-romantic Professor Weiser at the February 13 and 14 Silicon Flatirons Conference on "Rewriting the Telecom Act." You and your valentine can gaze into each other's eyes, and contemplate saving universal service, revising intercarrier compensation and reforming the FCC. Enjoy chocolate dipped strawberries and champagne (cash bar, of course) with the likes of Michael Powell, Larry Lessig, Dick Notebaert and the incomparable Fred Kahn. Always a great conference....
- posted by Ray @ 1/5/2005 02:47:46 PM

Manifest Injustice
Ryne Sandberg, pretty boy Cub second baseman with middling numbers compared to his second baseman Hall of Fame peers, makes the Hall, while Goose Gossage -- a dominating closer who usually pitched 2 or 3 innings -- does not? While I have an abiding antipathy toward the Cubs, it is even greater toward the Yankees, so this cannot be just sour grapes. The Goose should be in -- and may the baseball gods curse the Cubs for another century for this injustice. As for Boggs, well, he is deserving, and not only for the hitting. Over to you, Lynne Kiesling, who probably thinks Ryno is just dreamy. Update: The Ryno-philia is just getting started over at Lynne's blog. Though these arguments can be interminable because they are largely emotive and can be approached under a variety of defensible criteria, I will briefly rise to the bait to assert that Sandberg is on the periphery of this fraternity in terms of excellence and impact. Furthermore, based on this year's class, I will stubbornly maintain that Gossage belongs in the Hall before Sandberg. Sandberg was a very good, reliable player on a consistently bad team (excepting 1989).
- posted by Ray @ 1/4/2005 04:56:39 PM

Dodging another appellate bullet
The gods of appellate court review are smiling on the FCC in the New Year, at least for the time being. The Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed a lower court injunction that prevented the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission from regulating Vonage as a traditional phone company. The Eighth Circuit decided, in essence, that it was bound to enforce the FCC's decision in November that Vonage's Internet voice service is an interstate service subject to federal jurisdiction, thereby preempting inconsistent state regulation. The FCC's November decision must still withstand review by an appellate court that will not be similarly bound. But the FCC's Eighth Circuit victory dodges another bullet in its efforts to promote investment and innovation in broadband and other advanced communications services by minimizing regulation of these services. One of the most significant of these efforts is the agency's Supreme Court appeal of the 9th Circuit's Brand X cable modem decision, as I discussed in the first and second weeks of December.
- posted by K Dixon @ 1/4/2005 11:09:05 AM

Back Scratching
In a remarkable bit of back scratching, DeLong fils engages DeLong pere over a post at IPCentral.info. Other than the arcane literary sensibilities the father appears to have imparted to the son, DeLong the lawyer and DeLong the economist both come out the other end of their respective posts not as law & economics positivists, but rather verging into the realm of moral philosophy. There seems little other guidance on how to solve the high fixed/low marginal cost questions. In the general dialogue, to which the DeLongs are an exception, solving the marginal cost problem descends to the familiar, shrill, sanctimonious posing. Thus, the fair users are neo-Bolshies and the IP-rights crowd are supporters of some sinister scheme for pervasive corporate control. Not much room for discourse here, but plenty of vituperation and insults.
- posted by Ray @ 1/3/2005 10:45:44 PM

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