There are many ways to describe those who fear encroaching technology: Luddites, technophobes and, incorrectly, President Rutherford B. Hayes. To Hayes is attributed a technophobia so intense that he allegedly questioned the value of having a telephone in the White House Oval Office.
However, Hayes deserves a bit more credit for recognizing the potential of communications and information technology than the White House’s current occupant and his administration.
Before we set Mr. Peabody’s Wayback Machine to the 1870s to defend Hayes’ record, let’s observe the current landscape. On President Barack Obama’s watch, bureaucrats at the Federal Communications Commission, Federal Trade Commission and Department of Justice have turned up their noses at the current state of competitive technologies in the United States.
The FCC and FTC exacted ridiculous demands from Comcast and NBCUniversal as grounds for administrative approval of the two companies’ merger in 2011, including requiring the reservation of broadcast space for racially diverse programming.
Obama’s three-headed Luddite Hydra next struck at a proposed merger of T-Mobile and AT&T, claiming it would be more competitive to let the former die on the vine than to allow the latter to bottle it. The merger was necessary for AT&T to attain valuable spectrum possessed by T-Mobile, but Obama’s agencies gave the enterprise a thumbs down.
And speaking of spectrum, the FCC still sits on a treasure trove of it as officials there wring their hands over how best it can be auctioned off to ensure competitiveness — once again, by excluding the nation’s largest carriers in favor of startups. Not only does this punish the success of companies that have been serving wireless customers successfully for the past 25 years, but it also does little to help the customers who need more spectrum to operate smartphones and apps.
Bruce Edward Walker ([email protected]) is managing editor of The Heartland Institute’s InfoTech & Telecom News. Excerpted from The Washington Examiner. The complete essay can be found at http://washingtonexaminer.com/opinion/op-eds/2012/04/obama-centurys-hayes/530536