|Friday, 14 January 2011 15:21|
Berin Szoka has started a new D.C. libertarian "think tank" in the spirit of the now demised Progress and Freedom Foundation. These folks do not appear to be corporate shills, and like PFF I expect they will speak only what they believe. Their first event will be January 19 at the D.C. Hyatt Regency, free including lunch. Register here.
January 19th will introduce their new 700 page book, The Next Digital Decade, with chapters from authors including Tim Wu, Yochai Benkler, and Hal Varian. NDD attempts to define key Internet policy issues. There's substance in the book, although it reads like the academic treatise it is. Released under a Creative Commons license, it's a free download at http://nextdigitaldecade.com/read-book-now.
There's no reason libertarians shouldn't have a loud voice in policy. The problem arises when because of corporate funding, their voice becomes disproportionately heard. Verizon "supports our friends" as do the other lobbying shops. Those with a consumer bias struggle for any funding, and are outnumbered 10-1 in D.C. policy circles. The right response is not to shout down folks like PFF but to support those who don't have a business-favoring emphasis. It's particularly important for reporters and policymakers not to let the $100M+ AT&T, Verizon and Comcast spend every year "set the agenda" or "define the climate of opinion." Buying Congressman is part of lobbying but not all of it. The FCC in particular has not been for sale as long as I've covered it. Lobbyists face the conundrum, How to buy an honest man? Making sure that people who (honestly) support your company's goals dominate the D.C. debate is part of how they do that.