28. June 2005 · Comments Off on Kelo versus Nat. Cable & Telecomm. · Categories: General

In a bit of intellectual disintegrity, right on the heals of declaring that government can seize the homes of private individuals, the Supremes pronounced that the cable lines of giant corporations are protected:

“Today’s ruling is bad news for millions of Americans who are overpaying billions of dollars every year in cable Internet service,” said Mehrdad Saberi, chairman of the California ISP Association. “The interests of American consumers and businesses have been sold out as the FCC and now the court have defined Internet service in such a narrow way that allows cable companies to escape proper regulation. Nearly every innovation in Internet service has come from independent ISPs. Now that source of Internet innovation, consumer choice and affordability is threatened with extinction as cable companies block the benefits of competition.”

Not that I really see this as a bad ruling, but I don’t see how the public is not better served by the lower prices and improved service that invariably comes from competition, than from a highly speculative community redevelopment project.

The two cases are No. 04-277, National Cable & Telecomm. Ass’n v. Brand X Internet Servs., and No. 04-281, FCC v. Brand X Internet Servs. I will be surfing the blawgs later tonight looking for other opinions on this.

Update: David Kopel at Volokh has an interesting post, in which he points to this policy study he did in 1999. He states that open access to cable systems would discourage cable providers from making improvements in infrastructure, as they would have to share the benefits of those improvements with companies which made no such investment.

I agree, and see an analogous situation with Kelo: Homeowners and small investors will be far less likely to make improvements and renovations in structures, particularly in less affluent areas most likely to be targeted for redevelopment.

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