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Subject: IP: Billy Tauzin featured in Slate

  • From: Dave Farber <>
  • Date: Mon, 18 Feb 2002 16:53:36 -0500

------ Forwarded Message
From: "Bob Frankston" <>
Date: Mon, 18 Feb 2002 16:47:12 -0500
To: "David Farber" <>
Subject: Billy Tauzin featured in Slate

I wrote this note last night and wanted time to mull it. It is
interesting to note how much the Enron story makes great theater whereas
the Telecom issues that are more significant go unnoticed. I also happen
to be listening to the C-Span as I write this. It is a replay of a
12/5/2001 episode on Watergate including Nixon's explicit orders to stop
pursuing specific anti-trust cases.

Billy Tauzin is the co-author of the “Tauzin-Dingell” bill that will
perpetuate the incumbents control over connectivity and assure that the
current businesses are preserved by preventing new ones from threatening
them. (An admittedly biased summary)
I was going to just forward a pointer to the article but in reading it I
felt obliged to comment further. So far, as much as I've ranted about
the telecommunications situation I’ve given the benefit of the doubt to
the players. 
For example, I’ve hesitated to compare the Bells with Enron but there is
a parallel in that the accounting practices of the Bells might be
mathematically correct but the premises are completely fictitious as
they are based on regulatory constructs rather than a marketplace.
The articles points out that he is “pro-business”. But there is a big
difference between preserving current companies (by, for example,
shielding them from scrutiny) and preserving “business” in the sense of
facilitating the marketplace. It is easier to talk about a static entity
like a company than the process of business which seems more abstract.
In an attempt to learn more I went to his web site at and then the English version but the site
hasn’t been updated in a long time.
The name of the bill he is sponsoring the “Internet Freedom and
Broadband Deployment Act of 2001” --
In looking at the bill the key provision is “(a) FREEDOM FROM
REGULATION- Except to the extent that high speed data service and
Internet access service are expressly referred to in this Act, neither
the Commission, nor any State, shall have authority to regulate the
rates, charges, terms, or conditions for, or entry into the provision
of, any high speed data service or Internet access service, or to
regulate the facilities used in the provision of either such service.”
While the bill is supposed to provide a choice of Internet Service
Providers it fails to provide a choice of ACCESS providers. This is part
of the basic misunderstanding. The problem is not in being unable to
reach a particular service; it is in having sufficient access to the
Internet to invent new services. Where is the incentive to increase the
access beyond minimal goals?

It would be nice if the removal of regulations also removes protection
from anti-trust but that is probably too much to expect.
The story is at
Rep. Billy Tauzin
The Potemkin populism of the Republicans' chief Enron investigator.
By David&nbsp;Plotz
Updated Friday, February 15, 2002, at 8:02 AM PT
Some Excerpts 
•&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; (Title) Rep. Billy Tauzin: The Potemkin populism of the
Republicans’ chief Enron investigator
•&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; Tauzin looks like the second coming of his famous Democratic
predecessor, Rep. John Dingell
•&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; Yet more than Dingell, Tauzin is a perverse kind of consumer
advocate—one for whom the theater is much more important than the
substance. Tauzin, a former amateur actor, calls his Enron hearings “the
show,” and that is clearly how he thinks of them.
•&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; ... doesn’t believe government should interfere in broadcast
news operations. Tauzin wants to outrage, but he philosophically opposes
doing anything about it.
•&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; As a legislator—as opposed to investigator—Tauzin works
diligently to advance American business. He is an enormous supporter of
the Baby Bells and the broadcast industry, and an enormous recipient of
their largesse. (William Safire once called him a “wholly owned
subsidiary” of the broadcasters.) Tauzin has pushed deregulation and
blocked the Securities and Exchange Commission’s effort in 2000 to more
strictly regulate the accounting industry. Such regulations—notably
limiting accounting firms from consulting with companies they
audit—might have split the demonic marriage between Andersen and Enron.
Tauzin, it won’t surprise anyone to learn, took more campaign
contributions from Andersen than any other House member in the past
dozen years.
•&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; It would be a lot braver—and arguably more consistent with his
deregulating, free-marketing principles—for Tauzin to defend Enron and
Andersen. But that would not be fun, would not be showy, would not be
popular, would not be Tauzin.
Bob Frankston

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