A Half Century Without the Fairness Doctrine

August 4, 2012

Twenty-five years ago today, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) adopted an order effectively repealing the infamous broadcast “Fairness Doctrine.” The Doctrine required that broadcast licensees had to present reasonable opportunity for the airing of contesting points of view when covering issues of public importance to their community. For nearly 40 years, it was upheld in the name of protecting the ‘public interest.’

Lost in this more positive-right view of freedom of speech often espoused by proponents of the Doctrine was the harm it had on the more negative-right view of freedom of speech. But over time the negative-right view won out. It became viewed as a restriction on free speech, creating a “chilling effect” which led broadcasters to avoid covering any controversial public issues due to the requirement to ensure all sides of the issue were covered.

To commemorate the repeal, Reason.tv has posted the following interview with Thomas Hazlett, a professor of law and economics at George Mason University, discussing the history and various issues with the Doctrine:

In addition, I actually wrote my master’s thesis on the subject, relating it to the two conceptions of liberty: positive and negative, as postulated by Isaiah Berlin. In addition to the “chilling effect” argument, I also argued in the thesis that the positive-right conception exemplified in the Doctrine lends itself to an uncomfortable level of paternalism on the part of government regulators and a constitutional abridgement of negative-right speech. For those with probably too much time on their hands, all 184 pages can be read here.

Words for the Weekend – 11-12-10

November 12, 2010

“It’s not an endlessly expanding list of rights – the ‘right’ to education, the ‘right’ to health care, the ‘right’ to food and housing. That’s not freedom, that’s dependency. Those aren’t rights, those are the rations of slavery – hay and a barn for human cattle.”

                                                                                 — P.J. O’Rourke

‘Entitled’ Students Protest in the U.K.

November 11, 2010

More outcries from the ‘entitled’ in Europe:

This time it is students lamenting the fact that they may have to actually pay for more of their own college tuition instead of relying on the government for support. The horror!

Words for the Weekend 7-9-10

July 9, 2010

C.S. Lewis

“We all want progress, but if you’re on the wrong road, progress means doing an about-turn and walking back to the right road; in that case, the man who turns back soonest is the most progressive.”

                                      – C.S. Lewis

Another Link Between Economic Knowledge and Political Beliefs

June 15, 2010

At this point, readers may be familiar with a recently reported study finding that liberals and progressives were less economically “enlightened” than their conservative and libertarian counterparts. Now, another study conducted by the New York Federal Reserve found more interesting results connecting economic knowledge to political beliefs.

It seems, according to the study, that taking classes in economics also correlates with party affiliation. It found, among other things, the following:

… those who took more economics classes or who majored in economics or business were more likely to be members of the Republican party and less likely to join the Democratic party. Those findings hold even after controlling for the higher salary, higher equity in real estate holdings, and earning a graduate degree.

One question to ask would be if the political beliefs were pre-existant to the choice of classes. That might indicate that political beliefs influence choice in majors.

It would also be interesting to see a study looking at the party affiliation of political science majors. I’d imagine the results would be rather different.

* The preceding was originally posted on the Young Americans for Liberty blog.

Liberal/Progressive Ignorance of Economics

June 12, 2010

Given the economic policies supported by liberals/progressives, it would be no surprise if they were ignorant of basic economic facts. A study of 2008 Zogby survey data just recently published finds just that.

According to the study, what the researchers call “economic enlightenment” (essentially knowledge of economic facts) varied among political ideologies. The authors note the following:

Adults self-identifying “very conservative” and “libertarian” perform the best, followed closely by “conservative.” Trailing far behind are “moderate,” then with another step down to “liberal,” and a final step to “progressive,” who, on average, get wrong 5.26 questions out of eight.

Here are few examples of the statements survey respondents were asked to agree or disagree with:

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Obama’s Responsibility Rhetoric

June 10, 2010

Politicians are masters at saying one thing and doing another. Translation: Politicians make good hypocrites.

A pertinent example is this charge to high-school graduates from a recent speech by President Barack Obama, urging the graduates to:

 Take responsibility not just for your successes; take responsibility where you fall short as well.

Perhaps the 17- and 18-year-old graduates in the room believed the president really meant that. However, one would hope the more informed adults in the room had a collective gasp after Obama uttered those words.

[picapp align=”left” wrap=”true” link=”term=obama+kalamazoo&iid=9054824″ src=”http://view.picapp.com/pictures.photo/image/9054824/president-obama-attends/president-obama-attends.jpg?size=500&imageId=9054824″ width=”234″ height=”189″ /]Such comments flatly fly in the face of policies he has promoted since and prior to coming to the White House. Policies ranging from the bank bailouts to the car bailouts to the seemingly never-ending supply of unemployment benefits to Americans all highlight that Obama believes, in reality, that the government should shield businesses and individuals from the eventual results when they “fall short.” The net result of such a bailout culture is dependence on government and a greater incentive to continue activities that lead to failure — not to mention increasing government debt.

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