FEE – Ma Bell Suppressed Innovation for Thirty Grueling Years

21 Jul

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Ma Bell Suppressed Innovation for Thirty Grueling Years

July 21, 2016

By Bill Frezza

“Oh, for the days of Ma Bell!” is not a lament we’re likely to hear. And for good reason. Before the breakup of AT&T, America’s telephone system was a government-sanctioned monopoly characterized by stagnant service offerings, high costs, and a glacial pace of consumer-facing innovation.

So it was distressing when a federal appeals court engaged in a bit of 1970s nostalgia last month by upholding the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) ill-conceived net neutrality rules. Under the new FCC rules, Internet service will increasingly be regulated like a public utility, rather than a competitive market.

The likely result? Reduced investment in online communications infrastructure, reduced competition, and innovation slowing down to a crawl.

Technology companies in the United States are our economy’s drivers—making things better, faster, and cheaper while creating new jobs and economic growth. Nothing could be worse for American competitiveness, or for consumers, than returning to the ‘golden age’ of Ma Bell.

Take it from me. I spent the early years of my career toiling for Ma Bell’s crown jewel, Bell Labs, which gave us technology breakthroughs like the transistor, the laser, the solar cell, and scientific advances in radio astronomy that provided the first direct confirmation of the Big Bang. While these are impressive achievements, they are not the whole picture. To see that fuller picture, we need to apply the most basic test for assessing economic policies, which is to examine not only what is seen, but also what is not seen.

Americans under the age of 30 never experienced our telecommunications system when it was a statutory monopoly. That’s fortunate for them as consumers, though it deprives them of some important historical perspective.

For seven decades, Bell delivered the world’s most advanced, reliable, ubiquitous telecom network in the world, spitting out ample profits that funded what many called a national treasure. Problem was, it was the exact same phone service for most of those seven decades.

To read the rest of the column click here.

Progress

RealClear Radio Hour – Soviet Apparatchik Turned Dissident

18 Jul

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Soviet Apparatchik Turned Dissident

July 16, 2016

Dr. Yuri Maltsev, Professor of Economics at Carthage College and former senior economic advisor to Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev’s perestroika reforms, reveals the brutal and bizarre realities of growing up in the Soviet Union, including the myth of socialism “with a human face.”

Yuri Maltsev

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RealClear Radio Hour -Scalia’s Originalist Revival

17 Jul

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Scalia’s Originalist Revival

July 16, 2016

Dr. John Eastman, Founding Director of the Claremont Institute’s Center for Constitutional Jurisprudence and former law clerk for Justice Clarence Thomas, touts Antonin Scalia’s restoration of originalism. Eastman analyzes the impact of Scalia’s absence on the recent docket of Supreme Court cases.

Eastman 2

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FEE – Fear Not Malevolent AI Robots

11 Jul

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Fear Not Malevolent AI Robots

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by Bill Frezza

I’ve recently become hooked on Michael Solona’s new podcast series, “Anatomy of Next: Utopia,” a fascinating analysis of our most advanced and rapidly developing technologies that attempts to debunk the tech-gone-wrong dystopian nightmares that dominate much of the public imagination.

You all know how the story goes. Man invents an artificial intelligence (AI) smarter than himself. AI goes on to invent even smarter AIs. Smarter AIs exponentially become godlike and turn on mankind and either reduce us to slaves or drive us to extinction.

Implausible and Impossible

It ain’t gonna happen. The reason is something called the distributed knowledge problem. Although Solona hasn’t yet addressed it in his series, the Nobel Prize-winning economist F. A. Hayek explained it years ago in his last book, The Fatal Conceit. In short, it is a practical impossibility for anyone to capture and assess the sum total of information generated from countless millions of economic decisions made by independent agents distributed around the world, each seeking to maximize his or her own well-being.

The root of the error, made by all central planners, is the belief that the world is some sort of Newtonian clockwork mechanism. If science could only deduce its operating principles, enlightened rulers could guide humanity toward utopia, or something approaching it. More sophisticated versions of this view add the proviso that effective planning requires the collection of enough data to inform central planners where to apply their wisdom, and adapt their plan as conditions evolve.

Well, aha! What if that evolution spun out of human control, as superintelligent AIs deduce the operating principles of the world and Big Data tell them everything they need to know to control it? If they turned against us, how could we humans stand in the way?

To read the rest of the column click here.

RealClear Radio Hour – Cancer Mavericks

10 Jul

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War on Cancer—Putting Patients First

July 9, 2016

Stephen Bonner, Entrepreneur in Residence at Harvard Business School and board member and former president and CEO of the Cancer Treatment Centers of America (CTCA) from 1999 to 2014, discusses the consumer experience and innovations in health care—from experimental treatments to Right-to-Try legislation. Bonner shares how CTCA was founded to offer patient-centric, integrative care for complex, late-stage cancers, challenging the traditional treatment model designed by and for bureaucrats at the Food and Drug Administration, American Medical Association, and health insurance companies.

Steve Bonner

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War on Cancer—Disruptive Research

July 9, 2016

Paul Davies, theoretical physicist, cosmologist, astrobiologist, best-selling author, and Principal Investigator at the Center for the Convergence of Physical Science and Cancer Biology at Arizona State University, discusses big science and the $1 trillion “war on cancer.” Davies shares how he was invited by the National Institutes of Health to develop new approaches to tackling this complex constellation of diseases. His unconventional theoretical framework points to cancer as a retriggered ancestral cellular mechanism, suggesting a range of alternative treatments worth exploring.

Paul Davies

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RealClear Radio Hour – The Gov’t Statistics Fed Fandango

3 Jul

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Behind the Federal Employment and Inflation Numbers

July 2, 2016

Erica Groshen, Commissioner of the Bureau of Labor Statistics, shares how the Bureau compiles its influential monthly jobs report. Groshen discusses how her agency’s analysts measure labor participation and cost of living data—including accounting for the birth and death of firms and changes in spending behavior—and offers reasons why the gig economy hasn’t yet made much of an impact on the employment numbers.

Official Photo BLS Commissioner Dr. Erica Groshen

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Uncovering the Relationship between Inflation and Jobs

July 2, 2016

John Williams, publisher of Shadow Government Statistics, discusses potential structural biases built into the Consumer Price Index, the most commonly cited measure of inflation, and the headline unemployment rate. Williams fears inaccurate numbers compound an already precarious situation—one he describes as the sharpest economic contraction in decades.

John Williams

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Central Bank Eunuchs

July 2, 2016

Jerry Jordan, former president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland and author of the recently published paper, “The New Monetary Framework,” suggests central banks have become impotent to impact economic activity with only untested tools to curb runaway inflation should it break out.

Jerry Jordan

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RealClear Radio Hour – State Fiscal Breakdown

27 Jun

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State Fiscal Breakdown

June 25, 2016

Eileen Norcross, Director of the State and Local Policy Project at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University, discusses her 2016 report ranking states’ fiscal solvency. Norcross points to Puerto Rico, Connecticut, and Illinois as cautionary tales and blames profligate state governments for mismanaging debt and unfunded pension liabilities.

Eileen Norcross

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