Saturday, March 10, 2007

Article : Profit makes medicines cheaper

Richard Ralston, Director of Americans for Free Choice in Medicine has an op-ed in the Orange County Register on profit in medicine, "Profit makes medicines cheaper". I think the article bites off more than it can chew, and does not focus on articulating it's main point, but whenever someone argues publicly for profit, they should be read.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

FCC Extortion Racket

From a February 26, 200 Wall Street Journal Article, "FCC May Try to Scrub Kids' TV"

Last week, Spanish-language broadcaster Univision Communications Inc. agreed in principle to pay an unusually steep $24 million fine for violating the Children's Television Act, which requires broadcasters to show three hours of educational programming a week, Federal Communications Commission officials said. In exchange, the FCC will approve Univision's sale to a consortium of private-equity groups for $12.3 billion. Univision declined to comment on the proposed consent

It's the largest fine assessed by the FCC against a company, far exceeding the $9 million fine slapped on Qwest Communications in 2004 for violating FCC rules and the $3.6 million indecency fine proposed against CBS and its affiliates last year for an episode of the crime drama "Without a Trace."

There is one word describing this action: extortion. It is illustrative of the type of arbitrary power that so-called government regulatory agencies exert and that is prominent in most instances where private-sector companies need to seek approvals for actions such as mergers. There is no statutory relationship between the Children's Television Act and the FCC's power to sign off on mergers in the communications industry. But it makes the connection by arbitrary fiat.

And the action is arbitrary. Does one know what particular statute will be used to hold up merger approval? Your guess is as good as the guess of the executives at Univision. As the article states, "The FCC has rarely taken action against broadcasters for not meeting educational requirements for kids' television." Now, however, it sees fit to levy it's largest fine in history over a statute that it has rarely enforced. That is the very definition of arbitrary.

America's Unfriendly Skies

In a piece that relates to my post on consolidation in the airline industry is this Wall Street Journal editorial arguing for more lasseiz faire in the same, including foreign ownership of domestic airlines.