Friday, February 13, 2009

The "UnFairness" Doctrine

There is considerable chatter right now suggesting that the Democrats plan to reintroduce what is tragically referred to as "The Fairness Doctrine". The idea is that they can use the force of government to restrict, mold, guide or punish media outlets that do not offer programming that espouses opinions counter to those of, what the market has determined represents, mainstream America.

Think of the following example.

You decide to open a store. You incorporate, file for a retail sales certificate, rent retail space and start hiring people, buying products and stocking your shelves. Things are going really well and you continue to put products on the shelf that people like to buy. Then, one day, a government representative shows up and tells you that you have hired too many people who 'think the wrong way'. They make you throw away half of the stuff on your shelves and replace it with products that don't sell well, some of them you may have even tried to sell in the past but lost money on. They tell you that if you put the wrong products back on your shelves they will fine you a lot of money or even use the massive power of government to put you out of business.

This is what the Democrats want to do to media outlets because those outlets, and their listeners, have determined that they really want to listen to Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Glenn Beck, Michael Medved, Bill O'Reilly, Neal Boortz, Laura Ingraham and others.

Famously, the more socialist / fascist elements of the media attempted to start their own talk radio empire called "Air America" and it failed almost immediately despite having minor celebrity Al Franken (because he's good enough, smart enough and doggone it... people like him - NOT) involved. These people supposedly got some big money backing but couldn't make a go of it. Nobody wanted to listen!

In an attempt to intervene in the free market and the freedom of people to choose what to listen to, or perhaps more nefariously, to try and manipulate public opinion and thought the Democrats are seeking to destroy talk radio by forcing stations to carry products that far fewer people would listen to, making it hard to sell advertising and destroying the business model. We are a nation that has as its most important founding principal the freedom of speech. To have a whole political movement aligned with the idea of using the power of government to shut people up if there is disagreement is anathema to our way of thinking.

Here is a topic that I think is worthy of discussion. Has it ever occurred to anyone that the people who actually pay attention to their government, want to know what is really going on, have an appreciation for staying informed or even involved just happen to be more conservative, or even libertarian, people who will turn off the latest pop music channel; self-promoting, mind numbing and juvenile 'shock jocks'; sports radio or morning shows in exchange for something intelligent to listen to? A lot of these same people are avid readers too as near as I can tell.

I just don't know that I believe nearly as many on what is traditionally, but not necessarily accurately, described as "the left" are really following logic and paying attention to the nuance in our policy. I believe they are indeed far more likely to want to shut someone up at gunpoint or shout them down instead of having to make reasoned arguments and find their own audience. This is always the case with "the left". They don't want to earn it on the merits, they want to use the guns of government to FORCE IT upon people. Doesn't matter if it's charity programs, retirement savings, restricting educational choices, having your newborns DNA stolen and filed in a national database, taking care of your own health care decisions - they know what is best for you and will decide for you.

Well, if they are so damn smart why can't they figure out to assemble, market and advertise successful radio programs instead of having to use government force to coerce us into listening to what THEY want us to? Maybe, just maybe, it's because they really don't know everything after all. Good luck convincing them of that.

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