Blogs > Liberty and Power > The FCC Turns Eighty and the Road Not Taken

Feb 23, 2007 1:47 am

The FCC Turns Eighty and the Road Not Taken

Eighty-years ago, Calvin Coolidge, in the one of the most unfortunate acts of his presidency, signed into the law creating the Federal Radio Commission (the original name of the current Federal Communications Commission). Though Coolidge signed it, the FRC was the brainchild of Secretary of Commerce Herbert Hoover.

It was a typical Hoover reform. During the 1920s, he was a dynamo of activism. In a few years, he had cajoled scores of local governments to assume ownership of airports as well as implement zoning.

Perhaps Hoover’s proudest accomplishment during this period, however, was to single-handedly expand federal authority over the radio spectrum. Historians have praised him for bringing “order” to electromagnetic chaos. In actuality, as Jesse Walker explains, he had short-circuited promising efforts to introduce property rights and true free speech to the airwaves.

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David T. Beito - 2/25/2007

You're right to key in on that. When I wrote it, I wondered if it was the right word.

Sudha Shenoy - 2/24/2007

Was it a 'reform'? Or a spanner in the works? For _govt officials_, yes, it _has_ to be a 'reform'. In terms of the spontaneous processes already underway, it's interference, wrecking, hammering, something destructive.