Friday, June 9, 2017

a regulation beclowning

At one David Lumb beclowns :
In March, the FAA noted that over 100,000 hobby drone owners had registered their machines since the year began, bringing the total in the US over 770,000. Owners have filed their non-commercial UAVs with the agency ever since the DoT passed a law in December 2015 that made registration mandatory. But a Washington, D.C. court has struck down that legislation, freeing just-for-fun drone owners from notifying the government of their purchases -- for good and ill.

The Department of Transportation passes laws! One can argue that a regulation can have the force of law but the difference between the two is significant and important.  Unelected bureaucrats "passing laws" maybe somewhat accurate but that isn't how the system is supposed to be.

Imagine a cop directing traffic. He holds out his hand to signal the traffic from the side street to stop and waves in the other direction for traffic to start. Imaginary David Lumb, on the sidewalk, then announces that "the cop has passed a law mandating the flow of traffic! Who knows what other vast power over mere men that cop has."

The FCC is a fine example of unelected bureaucrats transforming an arm of the government into something beyond it's purview. Previous to FDR, the FCC (and its predecessor the FRC) was mostly about the technical aspects of radio : are the licensee staying in their frequency? what is their allowable broadcasting power? are the paying their license fee?  In the 1936 election over 90% of newspapers opposed FDR and in retaliation he propagated regulation to prevent newspapers from owning radio stations. The president made his priority clear with a single sentence memo sent to the FCC chairman : "Will you let me know when you propose to have a hearing on newspaper ownership of radio stations."

In addition, they introduced the fairness doctrine and its predecessor the Mayflower Doctrine.  In 1939 the FCC ruled against John Sheppard and the Yankee Network stating that "The licensee has assumed the obligation of presenting all sides of important public questions, fairly, objectively and without bias" (from the book American Broadcasting and the First Amendment by Lucas A. Powe, jr, 1987 p110)  The FCC took it upon itself to decide what is and is not a "important public question" and if it is presented fairly.  Sheppard kept his broadcasting license by promising to never editorialize.

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