We at CFIF often highlight the clear and present danger that drug price control schemes pose to American…
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New Lung Cancer Breakthrough Illustrates the Potential Peril of Drug Price Controls

We at CFIF often highlight the clear and present danger that drug price control schemes pose to American consumers, who benefit from our private pharmaceutical sector that leads the world - by far - in innovation.  A new lung cancer treatment breakthrough in the form of Amgen's Lumakras illustrates that interrelationship.

Simply put, Lumakras reduced the risk of progression by 34% compared to chemotherapy in patents with advanced lung cancer, which is particularly welcome considering lung cancer's especially low survival rate (18.6% over five years, and just 5% for advanced forms).  The breakthrough required years of research and enormous amounts of investment, however, which The Wall Street Journal notes makes Lumakras the type of innovation put at risk by new drug price controls…[more]

September 22, 2022 • 05:06 PM

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New Report: Light-Touch Regulatory Policies Allowed U.S. Broadband Infrastructure to Flourish Amid Pandemic Print
By Timothy H. Lee
Thursday, December 16 2021
As a new report from Recon Analytics spells out in impressive detail, U.S. internet service providers ended up handling it splendidly.

It’s a familiar adage that airplanes taking off and landing safely don’t make headlines.  It’s only news when one doesn’t.  

Or, citing another adage, “If it bleeds, it leads.”  Where there’s no blood, few notice.  

For public policy purposes going forward, however, it’s important to highlight proverbial crashes that didn’t occur, and the policies that allowed us to avert catastrophe.  Particularly when catastrophe was expected or at least highly likely.  

As 2021 comes to a close, the outstanding performance and resiliency of U.S. broadband networks offers a perfect illustration.  

On March 16, 2020 a New York Times headline worried, “So We’re Working from Home.  Can the Internet Handle It?”  

With millions of people working and learning from home during the pandemic, internet networks are set to be strained to the hilt.  As millions of people across the United States shift to working and learning from home this week to limit the spread of the coronavirus, they will test internet networks with one of the biggest mass behavior changes that the nation has experienced.  That is set to strain the internet’s underlying infrastructure, with the burden likely to be particularly felt in two areas: the home networks that people have set up in their residences, and the home internet services from Comcast, Charter and Verizon that those home networks rely on…  And when many people are loaded onto a single Wi-Fi network at the same time to stream movies or to do video conferencing, that can cause congestion and slowness.

As a new report from Recon Analytics spells out in impressive detail, U.S. internet service providers ended up handling it splendidly.  

As the analysis recalls for context, by March 24, 2020, 14 states had already issued stay-at-home orders, which rose to 32 states by March 31, then to 44 by April 7.  Over that period, the number of Americans forced to work from home increased from 31% to 70%.  Additionally, 93% of U.S. households with children of school age shifted to remote learning, and 97% of college students moved to online study.  

Consequently, internet use surged upward to unanticipated degrees.  As illustrated by The New York Times concern, many feared that this sudden jolt in bandwidth use would crash data speeds, in turn bringing workplace and classroom productivity to a screeching halt.  Those fears were exacerbated by the fact that the form of internet use changed from its pre-pandemic norms, to much higher use of video conferencing, streaming video and other data-intensive functions.  

Instead of crashing, however, our U.S. internet service infrastructure performed spectacularly, and even improved against expectation:  

America’s broadband networks withstood the sudden shift and increase of demand remarkably well.  Wireless download speeds are twice as fast as they were before the pandemic.  Fixed download speeds are now up more than 30%.  While the surge in data initially had an insignificant effect on performance of fixed and mobile data speeds, over time the strong performance of those networks enabled Americans to use their data connections in the way they used it prior to the pandemic – but even more intensely.  

Not only did the U.S. internet service infrastructure exceed expectations, it outperformed counterparts in Europe, where internet service did suffer.  

And that’s where the important public policy lessons come into play.  

As the report highlights, the U.S. follows a more light-touch regulatory model than other developed nations that supposedly offer a more enlightened alternative.  As a result, investment in the U.S. far exceeds other developed nations per capita, which in turn improved performance:  

The United States represents approximately 29% of the population of the OECD countries but the percentage of telecommunications investment made by U.S. telecommunications providers increased from 38% in 2009 to 47% in 2018…  American broadband providers invest more than their peers [on a per capita basis].  American investment exceeded that of 36 out of the other 37 OECD members.  American operators spent twice as much per person as what is spent in the economies of other OECD countries.  The U.S. investment paradigm is founded on a free-market approach according to which providers can compete against each other where it makes economic sense, framed in a light touch regulatory system.  While traditionally fixed operators competed solely against fixed operators and wireless operators only competed against wireless operators, those days are in the past.  Cable, wireline, wireless, fixed wireless and satellite broadband providers are all competing against one another.  Without a consistent and predictable light touch regulatory regime, the type of investments that let much of the U.S. economy seamlessly switch from a largely at the office business model to a fully distributed work at home model would be difficult to imagine.  

All of this takes on additional resonance as we mark four years since the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) under Chairman Ajit Pai repealed foolish and heavy-regulatory Obama Administration “Net Neutrality” rules, and returned us to the light-touch regulatory approach that had allowed the internet to flourish from the 1990s forward.  Today, the Biden Administration and many in Congress hope to reimpose those misguided and heavy-handed rules that caused private investment to decline for the first time ever outside an economic recession.  We mustn’t allow that.  

As the Recon Analytics report reconfirms, a light-touch regulatory approach allowed the U.S. internet infrastructure to handle the Covid disruption spectacularly well, and it offers the optimal public policy approach going forward.  

Quiz Question   
Which one of the following U.S. Presidents signed the executive order establishing the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)?
More Questions
Notable Quote   
 
"On December 15, 2021, President Biden released an Executive Order related to global drug trade and stated, 'I find that international drug trafficking -- including the illicit production, global sale, and widespread distribution of illegal drugs; the rise of extremely potent drugs such as fentanyl and other synthetic opioids -- constitutes an unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security…[more]
 
 
—Derek Maltz, a Retired Director of the Drug Enforcement Administration's Special Operations Division
— Derek Maltz, a Retired Director of the Drug Enforcement Administration's Special Operations Division
 
Liberty Poll   

Choosing from the list below, what issue is currently most important to you heading into the mid-term elections?