Wednesday, January 25, 2006


Topic of the Morning

Freedom of the Press

This right was guaranteed to all Americans by the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

Upon reading Murray Rothbard's For a New Liberty, I can across this passage (p.44):

"...If the government owns all the newsprint, it then necessarily has the right and the power to allocate that newsprint, and someone's "right to a free press" becomes a mockery if the government decides not to allocate nesprint in his direction. And since the government must allocate scarce newsprint in some way, the right to a free press of, say minorities or "subversive" antisocialists will get short shrift indeed. The same is true for the "right to free speech" if the government owns all the assembly halls, and therefore allocates those halls as it sees fit..."

He goes on to talk about freedom of religion and government ownership of buildings. The key of Rothbard's comments is private property. Anything that is owned by the government must be allocated in someway and some people are left out of the equation. Is there really freedom of expression, speech, press if the government can allocate these scarce resources as it sees fit? Does this differ from the ownership of the airwaves for public radio (FM & AM)? What about public television, PBS, NPR?

Does partial ownership or ownership of particular mediums of access to this media infringe on our first amendment rights, or is it just full ownership of all the resources?

Might we hypothesize that the curve demonstrating the relationship between government ownership of media and the relative freedom of speech would be similar to the curve of government ownership of industry relative to mobility in industry? For example, when government controlls about 50% of industry directly, it has, let's say, a total of 75% control on the economy counting direct and indirect effects. Would the relationship be similar if the government owned 50% of media outlets?
I am not sure what type of relationship exists. I would seem to me that for much of these types of markets (predominantly information markets), that there is some crowding -out effect from governmental ownership of the internet, airwaves, or public television. Who knows how much that really affects our 'freedom of speech or press' though.
For more read this:

and this:
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