Friday, April 07, 2006

The Hundt for better business models

The Hundt for better business models
Posted by Dana Blankenhorn @ 10:55 am

Capitalism is not a business model. It's a description of economic systems which can feature many business models.

Capitalists do what works. Right now open source works, open networks work, open spectrum works. These provide the greatest good for the greatest number of people, and businesses.

Arguments in Washington against these concepts eventually devolve toward the creation of laws or rules meant to limit them. Copyright everything so open source has no purchase. Sell all the spectrum so none of it is open. Make the networks proprietary, then extract monopoly rents and use the law to prevent new competitors from emerging.

When business efficiency is forbidden by law, can the government that does this claim to be capitalist? Only by defining itself as the ultimate authority, meaning it is by defiinition right, and all those who question it in any way are wrong.

But there is also a word we have for such governments, no matter how constituted, no matter their economic system. The word is authoritarian.

This was a quiet sub-text in a long speech given by former FCC chair Reed Hundt this week at Freedom2Connect. Hundt considers his greatest achievement to have been halting a 1994 attempt by phone companies to charge per-minute rates on local calls. Had he lost the dial-up Internet boom might never have happened.

Hundt says the idea of a commons is essential to an open Internet, that a public Internet is worth fighting for because that commons is the engine of growth. It was the most bald-faced political statement I heard all week, but was it wrong?

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