Enlightened ramblings of a minarchist libertarian with Objectivist tendencies

Thursday, July 22, 2004

FCC -- Time to Go

I mentioned in this earlier post that the FCC has latitude in the extent to which it can censor free speech. What I didn't address in that post is why it has that power, how much power it has, or whether it should have that power at all.

Like so many other agencies, the FCC was born during the Socialist heydays of the mid-Thirties. The Communications Act of 1934 established the FCC to replace the Federal Radio Commission. It was originally intended to regulate telephone and radio, but like all government agencies are apt to do, it soon expanded its reach to telegraph and television as well. Indeed, they are very proud of their far reaching grasp. A grasp that is probably more intrusive than any other government agency, including the IRS. From their website:

What people may not recognize is the extent to which every area of their life is intertwined with the communications technologies the FCC has responsibility to regulate. For example, because almost all electrical and electronic equipment emits radio frequencies, FCC equipment authorization rules protect you when:

    Your child plays with a radio-controlled airplane,

    Your teenager upstairs sends their homework assignment to the printer downstairs via your new wireless home network,

    Your toll fee is automatically deducted from the little plastic box attached to your windshield without having to stop at the booth,

    You swipe your credit card at the gasoline pump,

    You push the button on your garage door opener,

    You heat your breakfast waffle in the microwave,

    The cashier at the coffee shop rings up your favorite morning drink using an electronic cash register and inventory control system,

    The local video store contacts its remote, central computer network to find out if you have enough bonus points to qualify for a free rental,

    You lock your car with your remote entry system,

    You activate your home alarm system before going to bed.

And, these are just a few of the thousands of ways in which the vital work of the FCC helps facilitate both personal freedom and the public good.

After the incidents at the superbowl, and with a few shock jocks, they are looking to extend that reach even farther, all in the name of the "public good."

The entire purpose of this agency is an affront to the 1st Amendment. It serves no purpose other than to limit the way in which people may communicate. As Robert Garmong points out other forms of media are not subject to such draconian regulation by the government.

We are at a very dangerous time in our history, when both liberal and conservative politicians are looking to use the FCC to punish broadcasters that don't share their views of the world. Like so many other government programs, it is time for the FCC to shut its doors forever. Write your representatives in DC and let them know you want this agency gone.

Update: Here is a fun little ditty brought to my attention by Z over at Zudfunk. However, my GOP friends and readers may find it a tad bit offensive. A little digging on my part also turned up this one.


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