CFTCCommentary by Pete du Pont
January 20, 1997
Host intro: President Clinton promised that the era of big government is over. Commentator Pete du Pont of the National Center for Policy Analysis says he's still waiting.
It's a little thing, but a story in Investor's Business Daily shows another example of government sticking its long into your business because it's smarter than you are.
The Commodities Futures Trading Commission wants to close down newsletters and Internet sites that offer analysis and information about commodities. Unless, that is, they register with the commission and open themselves to its whims: fees, filing reports, fingerprinting, audits.
This is despite the fact that repeated court rulings hold that truthful commercial speech, and especially speech concerning stocks and securities, is protected under the First Amendment. In its arrogance, the CFTC says commodities are different, and they don't have to obey the law.
The commission isn't protecting anybody. Commodities investing is a rarefied, risky enterprise engaged in mostly by specialists who need all the information they can get. The real reason is that the commission simply can't stand to lose its paternalistic, coercive power, and the First Amendment be damned.
One more Supreme Court case puts their foolishness in perspective. According to a 1996 ruling, a pornographer on the Internet has more First Amendment protection than the CFTC would grant a newsletter writer extolling the unsexy merits of soybeans.
Those are my ideas. And at the NCPA, we know ideas can change the world. I'm Pete du Pont, and I'll see you tomorrow.
Host outro: Coming up Monday, Pete du Pont on a crisis that isn't.