RE: Abstract forms of property

Robin Hanson (
Fri, 08 Jan 1999 16:04:20 -0800

Billy Brown wrote:
>> Furthermore, even if you did represent one of these initial supposed
>> losers of spectrum rights, you'd need to show that these people didn't
>> implicitly accept the jurisdiction of the government that empowered the
>> FCC. That is, if these people accepted that their property was not
>> absolute, but instead subject to constituionally-valid government choices,
>> then it is not clear what their complaint is. Were they not adequately
>> compensated for the "taking"?
>What "constitutionally-valid government choices"? Does anyone really think
>that RF regulation has anything to do with interstate commerce? I certainly
>don't see anything else in the U.S. Constitution that could be construed as
>authorizing the FCC.
>If the states want to create RF spectrum property rights, great. If they
>want to regulate radio transmissions, well, most of them are authorized to
>do so. But the Federal Government? It has no Constitutional authorization
>to be involved in such matters.

Agreeing to a law isn't just about agreeing to some words. It's also about agreeing to a process to adjudicate disputes. If people accepted the U.S. constitution as contraining their property, then they also accepted the process the U.S. constitution defined for adjudicating disputes. That process has clearly run its course regarding spectrum rights, and the judgement was for the FCC. It has even more clearly run its course regarding states rights.

The same sort of thing is going to happen in the best legal system you can imagine. Some people will think some legal decisions should have gone the other way. At some point the world ignores those complaints and moves on.

Robin Hanson   
RWJF Health Policy Scholar             FAX: 510-643-8614 
140 Warren Hall, UC Berkeley, CA 94720-7360 510-643-1884