The idea that government must fix society’s problems is quite the confused understanding of what the government ought to be or more appropriately is. The government is meant to protect against the violation of rights. The state’s duties, constitutionally at least, are negative, and those rare positive ones are/should always be subject to the Rule of Law. This was the original idea of constitutionalism, until it got perverted by those among us who deem it the government’s job to ‘solve’ social ills, or rather create the ‘good life’.
This is proven by this Data Must Fall and the misunderstanding that we see among our friends who think they are edgy and smart. The government has no business, legally speaking, in regulating prices! It is an action contrary to law, it is plunder and also happens to be an inefficient and impossible exercise if we consider the information problem.
A basic understanding of economics tells one that prices are largely determined by the relationship between demand and supply. If a price is ‘exploitative’, the consumer has the liberty not to demand that product anymore without being forced to buy it. Lack of force being able to not buy something and not have the seller coerce or physically harm you for it.
Instead of creating an environment, legislatively, whereby the problem of high data prices can be solved by market forces, by entrepreneurship, people turn to big daddy government to fix their problem from the top down. How you ask? By regulating the prices of course. They only consider the seen effects of a reduction in prices and disregard the unseen effects.
The unseen effects of a possible deterioration in quality, which in internet connection is a HUGE deal, are not considered. The Unseen effects of new entrants being legislatively restricted from entering since they cannot set their prices as they deem fit, since there would be a government decree regulating pricing, are not considered. The myriad of unseen effects which are a result of lower internet quality on businesses and productivity are not considered. How could they, they aren’t known! And that is the problem, there is just too much to know (information) for any one institution to decide (regulating prices) for everyone. People have subjective value determinations which change with every passing day! Making a value determination on behalf of another is a contradiction in terms, making price regulation an impossibility ontologically. Thus, a disaster whenever implemented.
Individuals, in their communities and associations are the best suited to solve their own problems. The government should merely protect their natural rights. High prices are suppressed by competition. So, the best way to ‘regulate’ the high prices of mobile telecommunications companies is by making sure that consumers have as many options either than the highly priced one, as is reasonably possible. This could be done by the Competition Commission seeking out regulations and legislative provisions which act as an impediment to entrepreneurs. Instead of steering industries and organizing their competitiveness through commands, a contradiction in terms; being a Commission that is committed to deregulation to enable competition, should be its duty.
The strenuous regulations of ICASA alone on the telecommunications industry are a major impediment to new entrants into the market. Regulations must seek as much as possible to not disadvantage possible future new entrants. The general rule, most especially for industry, should be to have as little as possible regulation (mostly safety), if any at all. Our telecommunications industry is the opposite of such a rule, it is laden with regulations that can be a deterring state induced, thus artificial in the market, barrier to entry.
The law is not meant to determine ends. Justice is not an end, but rather it is human action and interaction devoid of any conflict. Justice is arrived at by individual actors who have liberties of their own and is violated when one individual instigates aggression against another, thus bringing about injustice. This is reflected in private law most pronouncedly whereby talk of bringing the plaintiff back to the position they enjoyed prior to the transgression is abound. The law therefore cannot be used, in the name of justice, to do what it is inherently outside its nature, in our case, determine price floors or ceilings for any commodity. A definitive end if ever there was one. Yet under the guise of Social Justice, the ultimate enemy of justice, such acts as price regulations on goods and services, are as common as dehydration is to a pot smoker.
So, if data prices are considered high, the law should be concerned with those rules (legislation) which do not accord with the Rule of Law, which is a rule of life, liberty and property. Therefore, ends based legislative provisions that inhibit the liberty of the entrepreneur, cost him property and act as a stress on his life should be repealed. To enable real competition. For data to fall, deregulation has to be our first point of departure, with price floors or ceilings not even being a consideration.
Instead of enforcement, let us favour deregulation. Let us favour a spontaneous order brought about by life, liberty and property, all Constitutional guarantees in our glorious Republic. Let us favour Justice and her prosperous reign.
The Eloquent Peasant.