Arnold Kling  

My Question for Larry Summers

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Russ Roberts on Hayek... If I Could Write the Lede...

I doubt that I will get to ask it. He is announcing that over the next ten years, the government is going to make more spectrum available for broadband.

My question is: isn't this just a partial solution to a problem that is entirely government created?

That is, we have this legacy regulation that assigns spectrum to particular use, rather than allowing whoever owns the spectrum to use it any way they want. Basically, the solution is to abolish all FCC regulations other than assigning clear and strong property rights to spectrum.

See The Economics of the Wireless Last Mile.


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COMMENTS (4 to date)
Jody writes:

isn't this just a partial solution to a problem that is entirely government created?

Yes and no.

Yes as in designating spectrum for service X created a lot of the headaches (which in theory, DSA, cognitive radio and new regulations - someday - are supposed to help...).

No, as there's supposed to be some repacking of the TV bands to free up spectrum for broadband which is more like rezoning from low density to high density.

david writes:

You mentioned network and switching costs in your article, but you never got around to describing a solution.

JohnW writes:

It seems to me that the best way to handle spectrum allocation would be for the government to own all spectrum and to lease it out at the highest price the market will bear.

Certain bands would probably be kept by the government for free citizen use.

Stephen Smith writes:

I wish for once libertarians would consider the idea that maybe spectrum ISN'T property, and leaving it totally unregulated and unassigned would result in the most common good. Sure, there would be chaos in the sort term, but eventually innovators who found ways to send clear signals would be rewarded.

Property rights are not the libertarians solution to all problems, and especially not to problems where the anarchist equilibrium would be no regulation. Spectrum and intellectual property – I'm looking at you!

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