Deregulation — the wrong question

I get a visceral reaction to throw the rulebook in the trash, when I have the opportunity to sit through a telecom hearing or read through an analysis of a telecom bill.
When I see nicely-dressed lobbyists arguing in favor of this legal nuance or that, I see “regulatory capture” in action. The regulatory regime has the consequence of giving the industry tremendous power over the regulations that govern it. I imagine a large octopus with its arms wrapped around the legislature.
At the same time, the comments like this by the new FCC Chairman in favor of “deregulation” make me really queasy too. In a market where the largest companies have tremendous power, “deregulation” can mean “I want the government to stop interfering with my monopoly.”
Upon reflection, I think that “deregulation” is the wrong question.
The government has a strong interest in enabling a competitive market and protecting consumers from fraud.
The government does not have an interest in favoring any network technology over another, or censoring cultural content.
The question isn’t whether government should play a dominant role or no role. The right question is what role should government play.

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