Monday, January 31, 2011

Confused Libertarians Arguing Against Free Press?

Market Power is a pretty libertarian economics blog, if you happen to read it. Today's post seems a little confused about the difference between the micro and the macro, though.
Is internet access a right?  I'd say "no" ... Saying that someone has a right to scarce resources means
someone else has an obligation to give the same resources up without
compensation.
And yes, this is in the context of Hosni Mubarak's decision to cut off the internet for the entire country of Egypt. There is a difference between saying "internet access is a right" at the micro level of thinking the government should subsidize it for individuals who do not have it and saying that "internet access is a right" at the macro level in the sense that the government should not restrict it wholesale. In the first context it is NOT a right; in the second context it IS a right because it represents a medium for free press. Also, according to a theoretical paper by Basuchoudhary and Razzolini (2010) communication reduces splintering and conflict escalation; according to a paper by Basuchoudhary, Bang and Shughart (2011), there is empirical evidence to support this hypothesis.

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