Some outlets have reported that the memo lays out both a socialized option for 5G and a government-standardized private-sector option. But this is misleading. In the memo, the socialized option is listed as having “Pros” but no “Cons,” while the pseudo-market option, predictably, is described as having “Cons” but no “Pros.” (Reflecting the cutting-edge views of the administration, “Fast Deployment” is presented as a perk of the socialized version. Remember when the government tried to make a website to sell services, without even having to make the service itself?) This attitude is redolent of the sort of “scientific planning” that characterized postwar socialism, which was supposed to relegate the “chaos” of free societies to the dustbin of history, but instead brought every economy it infected to a grinding halt.
The memo is so nakedly statist in nature it would make Bernie Sanders blush. Not only does it propose that the government train workers in relevant skills, it suggests that, once trained, those workers would be expected to go to work for the government’s network. Protectionism, check. Mass mobilization of labor by the state, check. An explicit preference for government-run technology over the private sector, check.