As Phelan detailed, the years of monopolized public telephone utilities were years of low innovation. Only after deregulation did the cell phone and all the other immense innovations take place. There’s definitely a connection. Utilities are guaranteed a profit and protected from competition, so they don’t innovate. They also are protected from liability, which explains some of the intractable problems and rising prices that take place on their watch. If you are guaranteed a profit based on a formula rather than your competitive prowess, how competitive will you be? If conservatives get their way with regard to the Internet, imagine how that will hobble its growth. And if you’re worried about censorship now, just wait until the federal government—and Republicans won’t always be in control of it, you know—gets its grubby paws on it.
Internet regulation isn’t the only example. President Trump has brought many conservatives aboard his quest to expand tariffs, which are an aggressive form or taxation and regulation. The government slaps enormous taxes on companies that produce particular products to shield favored companies from competition. It also shifts trade decisions from private companies to bureaucrats. It’s a pernicious form of crony capitalism that allows the government to pick winners and losers.