Weather Forecast


Letter: Computer network shows how government fails, individuals succeed, he says

,Wisconsin 54011
Wisconsin 126 S. Chestnut St. 54011

TO THE EDITOR: Mr. Gaslin, you always leave out the details to promote a sense that government alone empowers the private sector.

Let's see: the government did create Arpanet, the world's first decentralized computer network. It was supposed to help the Department of Defense communicate after a nuclear attack. Even then, government scientists relied heavily on inventions by private companies.

Why didn't the private sector develop an Arpanet? According to Andrew Morriss of The Freeman, two reasons: first, government crowded out the private sector by hiring many talented computer scientists. Second, laws required the FCC to authorize new networks, and "regulatory barriers to entry, not a lack of entrepreneurial activity, slowed the efforts to build private networks."

In 1995, government fully privatized their network. That's when the current internet started to flourish. Morriss says, "The explosive growth in commerce, for example, became possible only when the government's ban on commercial use of the networks it financed was lifted."

Peter Klein of the Ludwig von Mises Institute points out that most of the internet went "unforeseen by its original designers, but was developed in the private sector." For example, Xerox and Apple developed "a useable graphical user interface (GUI), a lightweight and durable mouse and the Ethernet protocol."

Yes, President Obama, government invented the Arpanet. But what happened shows how government fails, but individuals succeed. Government enacted barriers to private-sector research and took decades before it allowed all of us to benefit from an important new technology. Once it was privatized, individuals--not government--created the internet that we know today.

Martin, idolize the government all you want and write an extra check to the IRS to pay more taxes, but give credit where it is due. Do some detective work before you blab in the paper.