The Public Interest Standard, Freedom, and Oppression
Michael Powell admitted he did not fully grasp the meaning
of the public interest standard in a speech to the American
Bar Association shortly after becoming a Commissioner in
"The night after I was sworn in, I waited for a visit from
the angel of the public interest. I waited all night, but
she did not come. And, in fact, five months into this job,
I still have had no divine awakening and no one has issued
me my public interest crystal ball."
The notion of a public interest standard appears 109 times
in the Communication Act and represents the basis of
government asserted in the United States Constitution.
Many public officials appear to share Mr. Powell's
uncertainty and uncertainty breeds mischief, so it seems a
good idea to make the notion of the public interest standard
as rigorous as possible.
Consider *** Public Interest Standard - the pursuit of
policies that maximize freedom and minimize oppression
without threatening survival. ***
This means maximizing choice in the liberation of free will,
and the protection from domination associated with the
subjugation of free will.
The public interest standard assigns high value to policies
that obtain for citizens choice and low value to policies
that restrict choices.
From time to time, governments can and do rationalize the destruction of freedom to assure survival.
Chairman Powell offered in another speech that a Bell
company might need to acquire Worldcom to assure continuity
The notion of *survival* or *granting citizens choice
threatens survival.* appears any time government seeks to
take away freedoms. Consider the rationale a government
uses to intern American citizens of Japanese descent.
Consider the loss of freedom associated with the war on
terrorism or any war for that matter.
Citizens need to hold government accountable to the public
interest standard. The failure to assure the freedom of
choice represents a failure of government.