Pluralistic: In defense of bureaucratic competence (23 Oct 2023)

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Small Government

The ref has to be more powerful than the players.

An ogrish figure standing at a podium. The podium has a lever in the shape of a gilded dollar sign. The ogre is yanking the lever. The ogre wears a tuxedo and top-hat. In one gloved hand, he dangles an old West sheriff with a long-gun in his hands and a gold star over his breast. The ogre chomps a cigar and sneers at the sheriff.


When neoliberal economists began dismantling the regulatory state under Ronald Reagan (a process that has continued without interruption under every president, Republican and Democrat, since), they insisted that they weren’t so much concerned with regulation, but rather, regulatory capture.

Today, the phrase “regulatory capture” gets thrown around by people of all political persuasions, and is understood in a colloquial sense, meaning something like, “a regulator who is beholden to its industry and therefor makes bad regulations that run counter to the public interest.”

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Pluralistic: 15 Oct 2022 How lawyers became sadists

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Pluralistic: 03 Oct 2022 An antitrust murder whodunnit

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Pluralistic: 13 Jun 2022

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Regulatory Capture

Beyond Revolving Doors and Against Regulatory Nihilism.

A Soviet editorial cartoon featuring an ogrish capitalist in top hat and tails yanking a dollar-sign-shaped lever that ejects a tiny bureaucrat from a seat; ranks of bureaucrats behind him wait their turns, grinning idiot grins.

The Murder of Net Neutrality Was Wild

Here’s a story about “regulatory capture”: Donald Trump appointed Ajit Pai, a former Verizon lawyer, to run the Federal Communications Commission, which is in charge of regulating companies like Verizon. Verizon — and the other big telcos and cable operators — wanted to kill Net Neutrality.

Net Neutrality is the idea that your ISP should send you the bits you request as quickly and reliably as it can. That means when you click a link, your ISP does its level best to get that link for you.

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Pluralistic: 13 Mar 2020

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  1. Announcing the third Little Brother book, Attack Surface: And a new Little Brother/Homeland reissue, with an intro by Ed Snowden!
  2. Where I Write: A column for the CBC that's really about how I write.
  3. Stream 200+ global news channels: Each hand-picked, no registration required.
  4. AT&T's CEO fired 23,000 workers and gave himself a 10% raise: Life on the easiest setting.
  5. Chelsea Manning is free: But she's been fined $256K for refusing to testify to the Grand Jury.
  6. Rep Katie Porter forces CDC boss to commit to free testing: Literally the most effective questioner in Congress.
  7. Trump's unfitness in a plague: It's not because he's an ignoramus, it's because he's a nihilist.
  8. Malware that hides behind a realtime Covid-19 map: Peter Watts' prophecy comes true.
  9. Locked-down Siennese sing their city's hymn: A cause for hope in the dark.
  10. This day in history: 2015, 2019
  11. Colophon: Recent publications, current writing projects, upcoming appearances, current reading

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