Happy birthday, FCC


To hear former FCC Commisioner Harold Furchtgott-Roth tell it, he may well have wished that his job there was unnecessary.

In a blog post, the free market Republican noted that Commission, which turns 74 today, does in fact perform useful functions, particularly in licensing spectrum and enforcing the rule of law in its areas of oversight.

That it did so in relative obscurity for the first 60 years was a virtue, in his opinion. “But over the decades,” he wrote, “the FCC has exercised a regulatory reach that sometimes exceeds the grasp of law, to the detriment of both consumers and investors. Regulations that interpose the government between businesses and consumers deny each unfettered access to the other, to the detriment of both. In a free market, demand creates its own supply, and consumers rarely can be made better off. Where the government intervenes and attempts to dictate any combination of demand, supply, and prices, everyone — and most particularly consumers — suffers.”

He noted that in the good old days, government agencies could be set up and disbanded relatively quickly – in fact, just five months passed between the request for an FCC by Franklin D. Roosevelt and Congress’s delivery of same, after earlier communications agencies came and went. But whatever your opinion of government regulation, Furchtgott-Roth notes that way Washington works these days, the FCC is a mortal lock to celebrate many more birthdays in the future.