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O’Rielly Bashes “Anti-Capitalism Talk”

Commissioner stakes a strong stand in blog post

Michael O’Rielly doesn’t think much of those who would criticize capitalism.

O’Rielly, who holds one of the Republican seats on the Federal Communications Commission, says the communications industry should be strongly defended against anti-capitalist rhetoric. In an FCC blog post, he says capitalism is under “continuous assault domestically by self-defined progressives and ultra-liberals, who have found sport in using misguided rhetoric and false pretenses to denigrate one of the core tenets of American society.”

He called on society to embrace and celebrate American capitalism and its role in the communications industry.

Pointing to FCC decisions on net neutrality and municipal broadband advocacy, O’Rielly said “the latest anti-capitalism talk” has already begun to seep into commission proceedings. The commission should instead be embracing an awareness of the “extraordinary benefits that the American capitalistic system brings to communications services.”

He laid out five beneficial effects that a free market can have on the communications industry, which he defined as telecommunications, media and high-tech industries.

At its simplest, he wrote, capitalism not only connects willing buyers and sellers, but produces competition that generates cost and production efficiencies that are unable to be replicated by other economic systems.

This is doubly important in the communications sector. A government should not be involved in choosing the best tech or infrastructure; rather, he argued, the power of choice in the hands of consumers allows the market to determine which infrastructure provides the best functionality in the most cost effective way.

Competition also minimizes the need for government interference, he said, archly pointing to “favoritism” provided to companies that may qualify for reserve licenses in the commission’s upcoming broadcast incentive auction.

“The free market system, however, tends to lead to the most efficient and just result, even if it is not readily apparent at the time.” He compared the market reaction to offerings by the original Clearwire to the government’s “subjective intervention” in selecting low-power FM stations.

While some may consider capitalism cold-hearted, the “collectiveness of the marketplace expedites arrival at the same unavoidable end point, with reduced graft,” O’Rielly said.

He said the federal government should not “dictate performance of the private sector, enter the marketplace itself, prop-up failing firms, chase flawed policy goals, subsidize favored classes or companies, stifle the offerings of goods and services by disliked firms [or] tilt the playing field in certain directions. … The constant tinkering inevitably interferes with the workings of capitalism and promotes bad outcomes.”