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My response to Techdirt's defense that "Google did not fleece taxpayers out of $7 Billion"

This post responds to Techdirt's, Mike Masnick, who came after me for my post of Friday in which I estimated that Google fleeced the American Taxpayer out of $7 billion in the latest FCC auction. 

  • I commented on Mr. Masnick's post last night (#18) and Mr. Masnick quickly posted a response (#19) claiming my adding my "two cents" to the comment string about me -- was not enough in his judgment. 

So lets start with Mr. Masnick's retort to my assertion that most of the comments were just ad hominem attacks and not based on the merits of my charge that Google fleeced the American Taxpayer. Mr. Masnick replied that he and Derek used their names and why did I not respond to them.

  • I thought I had, I was just being polite in my comment.
  • Mr. Masnick's Techdirt blog, that started the comment string, began with an ad hominem attack on me. 
    • Since Mr. Masnick set the ad hominem tone of the comment string, I thought it would have been obvious to Mr. Masnick and Derek that I was referring to their ad hominem attacks on me as well as the others.
  • Let me address Mr. Masnick's ad hominem "argument" that I have a "reputation for stretching the truth as far as it can go in order to contort himself into making telcos look good and anyone opposing the telcos look bad."  
    • First, anyone who is fair and reviewed my professional history would have reason to doubt Mr. Masnick's ad hominem characterization.
      • It is doubtful that seven different congressional committees would ask an analyst like me to testify on a wide range of important topics, from the Telecom Act, to Enron, the dotcom bubble, to conflicts of interest, to the Google-DoubleClick merger -- if I indeed had a reputation for stretching the truth.
      • It is doubtful that the free market, through the lens of Institutional Investor Magazine, would vote me and my firm as the best independent telecom research in the country in both 2004 and 2005, if I had a reputation for stretching the truth as alleged.
      • It is doubtful that the mainstream media would have quoted me hundreds of times, and done hundreds of TV and radio interviews with me, if I had a reputation for stretching the truth.
      • And it is doubtful that the Federal Government would have placed me in such senior positions of responsibility as a career civil servant and a political appointee with a security clearance, if I had a reputation or character of someone who stretched the truth.
      • My complete bio is here: http://netcompetition.org/index.php/go/about-us-chairman/
    • Let me also address the source of your assault on my reputation.
      • You linked to a leading ad hominem attack on me by one of my leading adversaries on the other side of this debate, Tim Carr, campaign director for Free Press who works with Save the Internet.
      • Two ad hominem attacks do not make a right.

Next you attack my focus and skill in representing the interests of the entire broadband industry, which I openly and routinely disclose, -- as not being balanced.

  • In a debate, people argue different sides based on their different points of view.
  • I don't see your side making my sides' best points, so how can your side expect me to make your side's best arguments for you?
  • Just because you want me to make your points for you, doesn't mean I have to oblige. You all have to do your own work.

As to your charge in your comment that it is me that is "uniformed" I can only say that I doubt you or any of your commenters covered and analyzed like I did, the 1993 Budget Act that authorized this auction, or any of the many other wireless auctions the FCC has conducted since then. The Congressional Office on more than one occassion asked my expert advice on what they should estimate the revenues to be from these FCC wireless auctions. I also was paid by over 175 investment institutions, 39 of the top 50, for precisely the type of expert analysis and opinion you are suggesting I am uninformed about. There may indeed be plenty of others out there with more expertise than me on FCC wireless auctions, but I would doubt many would try and make the case that I am uninformed on the subject. It wouldn't pass the laugh test.

As to your first paragraph comment that because "it was widely assumed that Google would merely bid up to the threshold.

  • I am troubled that you suggest just because someone publicly signals they are going to do something improper, absolves them of the impropriety. 
  • The FCC's anti-collusion rules are designed to prevent bid signalling in order to maximize anonymity and hence bid prices.
  • By publicly stating what they would bid and not beyond, they helped deny the American taxpayer of a fully competitive non-manipulated spectrum auction.
    • This is not a trifling matter, the DOJ acted against a defense contractor that manipulated an auction to the detriment of the taxpayer, as I mentioned in my blog that started this comment fest. 
  • A major flaw in your overall argument Mr. Masnick and others --is that apparently you assume everyone else and the law and precedent agree with you on open access -- they don't. 
  • We disagree on the fundamental predicate of your argument -- that open access arguments like Google proposes are good for the country.
    • We have legislative and political processes that decide those kinds of things, they are not decided by blog comment acclamation.
    • As long as the law, and policy precedent are on my side, I have the stronger argument. 
    • Until Congress changes the law, or the Markey Bill becomes law, my arguments -- looking out for the interests of the American Taxpayer over tech bloggers and commenters -- will continue to hold and have more merit. 

I grant you one thing. You decry the focus on just Google. Any brief description or analysis of such a complex issue requires some simplification to tighten the clarity of the argument. Your side does the same thing, in focusing on one company or one industry and not the broader picture. 

  • Of course there are broader issues.
  • Of course there are others that will benefit from openness. 
  • Of course there are other dimensions of value.
  • Of course I am focusing on Google because their behavior and leadership is most egregious. 

In sum, I will make my arguments, but I will not do your work for you and make them for you. That task is yours.    

Oh before I go, I guess I need to address Derek's comments as well even though this response is already long.

  • My comment to Derek (comment #16) is similar to the above. Derek has every right to his opinion of the "value" of what Google did in securing openness conditions on the spectrum.
  • Anyone and everyone can have an opinion about what the real "value" is of openness.
  • I don't bother with chasing those rabbits, because I chose to make my argument on what the elected representatives of the American Public arrived at as the law of the land for best handling the disposition of public spectrum.
  • Derek's beef and that of others is not with me but with the law that expects that the American taxpayer is fully rewarded for use of public spectrum.
    • Wishing or assuming it is otherwise is not an argument but an assertion.

Hopefully I have been responsive to Mr. Masnicks major charges.    

 

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