Saturday, September 09, 2006

Free markets and internet pornography

Pete, you pretty much got what I was trying to say. Let me propose an alternative position that plays to your strength on this issue, might be more consistent with your personal values and makes it clear that you want to do something to help families handle internet pornography. You own Senator Hatch on this technology thing (this is no surprise though).

My impression is that the free market idea doesn't work well here because many families are technology-aliterate in the sense that they are afraid of technology and don't spend the time to figure out what their options are. In 20 years, that will be different, but for now, that's the way it is.

The FDA (or whoever it is) puts out the food pyramid which is supposed to give nutrution-aliterate people a quick and easy guide to making good food choices. It is still a free market in that people can buy whatever food they want, but the government has done something to help people understand their choices.

Why not propose a similar thing here? ... "As your senator, I will work with a broad bi-partisan coalition to help American families understand the strengths and pitfalls of their Internet filtering options. An educated populace can then make choices that will enforce their family values on Internet content. I will alos seek to increase Federal funding of research that investigates better filtering solutions" (I threw the research thing in because research is important to me :))

The closest parallel I can think of is movie ratings. In a free market, ratings would be optional and families would just choose which theaters to visit. And really, that's what we have. We have a ratings system which puts clear, simple information in the hands of families and then they decide. A similar rating system for Internet Service Providers may also be helpful for families that don't understand Internet technology.

And finally, the miracle of the free market isn't always a good thing. For example, public education may or may not thrive in a free market. The charter school experience will bear that out one way or the other. Government welfare and social security, while serving a critical role our society, is completely contrary to pure free markets.

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