Sunday, August 2, 2009

Waiting for 2010 #80: The FCC, the iPhone, and the Balance of Free and Fair Markets

Hmm...now the Federal government, in the form of the FCC, is trying to get to the bottom of this soon-to-be (if not already) Apple iPhone App Store/Google Voice/AT&T debacle. As of now, AT&T says that it is not responsible for the operations of Apple's App Store. Things the make you go hmm...

I hope that the end result of this episode involves a balance of freer and fairer markets, at least in the realm of wireless communication (if not everywhere else, too). If the Federal government plays this slightly trivial issue (relatively speaking...) right, then it is well on its way to show how it can affect markets for the better. That's one of the biggest issues in today's world of politics, especially American politics, and especially in relation to economics: How much should the Federal government affect the marketplace? This goes for not only wireless communication but also automobiles and health insurance, and markets beyond and in between, whether interstate or even international (but globalism is another issue for another time).

I believe a light, nuanced approach is necessary at most times, with aggressive action taken very rarely, if at all. A hands-free government and an unchecked marketplace will not work for sprawling nations with lots of people and lots of industries. If there is no occasional government intervention in a "free market," then there would be (and there are) generations' worth of colluded dynasties (which would ultimately lead to bad products and horrible customer service). It would be a "free" but not "fair" market. If there is too much government intervention, then a lack of adaptability would stifle the market itself (which would ultimately lead to bad products and horrible customer service).

If a professional sports metaphor is appropriate, here it is: Let the referees make sure the players play by the rules, punishing violations when necessary, but don't let the referees determine the outcome.

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