NANNY COMMUNICATIONS REGULATION

Lynne Kiesling

On Sunday Radley Balko had a disturbing, if not surprising, note about possible regulation of cable and satellite channels. He quotes a column in the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review:

A U.S. Senate bill authorizing government censorship of cable and satellite TV channels references children 44 times and the First Amendment not at all.

His post made me think about a couple of things. First, several people whose opinions I respect (and with whom I generally agree) think that Kevin Martin will be a good FCC Chairman. I am so not convinced. I don’t see any of the comprehension or appreciation of the Hayekian/Schumpeterian dynamism in these converging industries that we saw in, say, Michael Powell. The sense in which Martin looks “free-market” to me is a much more static, caricatured conservative way, one that still allows a lot of room for mischief from dirigiste technocrats. Furthermore, Martin has repeatedly been a stoolie for the nanny indecency crowd, a position I find utterly insupportable and inconsistent with the crucial combination of individual liberty and responsibility that is the foundation of civil society. In caving to this particularly obnoxious special interest Martin is no improvement on Powell, but when you take that in combination with my skepticism about his economics, I can’t be sanguine about his chairmanship. I hope he proves me wrong.

Second, why is it so difficult for members of Congress to stand up to people who want the state to nanny everyone in accordance with their particular preferences? Is it just the money and power? I find in life there are a lot of situations in which I end up having to do stuff that I don’t want to do, but that is in the best interest of both myself and others (giving and grading exams is the example I have in mind). How can we come up with an incentive mechanism that gives members of Congress the incentive to basically say, “hey, suck it up and deal with it, we’ll all be better off if individual parents take the responsibility for … parenting their children’s viewing/listening.”

Yesterday we watched some of Gladiator, which was on TNT, and one scene in particular reminded me of this type of issue. The Derek Jacobi character, in discussing the new young Emperor, remarks that the Emperor will play to the most self-indulgent, base, and juvenile aspects of his citizens, “and they will love him for it.”

Nothing expresses my disgust better than Radley’s closing quote:

Honest to God, is there no damned part of our lives these people don’t feel they have privilege to stick their damned noses into?


5 thoughts on “NANNY COMMUNICATIONS REGULATION

  1. To your second point, as to why Congress doesn’t stand up to the Moral Police, I see it as a matter of re-election fears. The benefit of standing up for personal freedom and responsibility is sadly outweighed by the cost of being labeled as “pro-vulgarity.” I would like to believe most of our elected representatives would put the defense of personal freedoms above political self-preservation, but I am afraid I have become too jaded.

    Of course, my argument for parents, not the state, doing the parenting is always countered with: “When you have children, you will feel differently.” Maybe I will, but I hope not.

  2. Bruce,

    If you feel differently when you have children, seek counseling or put the children up for adoption, or both. If you merely care about your children, you will do a better job of parenting than the state. Anything more than mere caring and you win hands down.

    Grandchildren are God’s reward for not strangling your own children, so there is light at the end of the tunnel.

    If no other motivation is sufficient, just remember that your children will choose your nursing home. Paybacks are hell!

  3. It’s been a sad week for lowercase-“l” liberalism, hasn’t it? First Martin, then the steroid grandstanding, then grandstanding at Terry Schiavo’s hospital bedside. Meantime, gasoline gets to $3 in Malibu and Congress hardly notices (Rep. Bartlett excepted).

  4. It’s been a sad week for lowercase-“l” liberalism, hasn’t it? First Martin, then the steroid grandstanding, then grandstanding at Terry Schiavo’s hospital bedside. Meantime, gasoline gets to $3 in Malibu and Congress hardly notices (Rep. Bartlett excepted).

  5. Rob,

    Gasoline is +/- $2.00 per gallon in most of the rest of the country. The Rodeo Drive of boutique gasoline markets is hardly typical. A current dollar price of ~$3.00 per gallon for regular unleaded gasoline would be roughly equal to the record. That would equate to ~$4.00 per gallon in the metro-LA boutique gasoline market. We’re not there yet, but it could happen.

    The Brits, Scots and Irish have been at +/- $4.00 for a long time, but that has much more to do with taxes than with the price of a barrel of crude oil. The uppercase “L” liberals would like to have gotten us $0.50 closer to that level a year or so ago.

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