Friday, August 11, 2006

Promoting Corporate Success vs. Promoting Consumer Choice

There are two ways to promote deregulation/privatization/marketization, which I'll refer to in this post simply as DPM. The first is to focus on the benefits to the economy, specifically the benefits that would come to "business." For example, someone might suggest that DPM will "be good for business," which to the average person that isn't already convince of the benefits of DPM sound like "allow big corporations that take advantage of the 'little guys' to make more money."

Of course, this couldn't be further from the truth, but that doesn't matter. The only thing that matters is the public's perception. It's frustrating, but it's true.

So what's the other way to promote DPM? By focusing on the increased choice ("consumer choice" is the most favorable way to phrase it) that will result from instituting DPM or, even better, never even enacting regulations in the first place. Tim Lee has done a great job of doing this in this op-ed, which argues against enacting legislation that would attempt to preserve "net neutrality."

Tim's op-ed sounds very positive to me. Even though he's arguing against the populist position (which says that we need net neutrality to maintain equal access to the internet), his argument comes off to me as slightly populist (i.e. it has popular appeal).

To sum up:
  1. more profits = bad public perception
  2. more consumer choice = good public perception
Both arguments are valide reasons for supporting DPM, but argument #2 won't instantly alienate half of the electorate.

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