Denialists’ Deck of Cards: The King of Spades, “Danger!”

i-189aecdec36b7e8f373b2cd5a7744ca7-ks.jpg This is a very powerful argument in the post-9/11 environment. And if you’re a denialist worth your salt, you can figure out a way to claim that your industry is a potential target for terrorism.

Danger! can be used to get things done quickly, as Verisign realized when it wanted to move a “root server” without following normal process. In Department of Commerce officials’ emails, Verisign made pleas to declare an emergency to get their way: The company wants “to push us to declare some kind of national security threat and blow past the process,” one e-mail said. The subject line of another message described the company’s “request for immediate authority to effect address change.”

Denialists’ Deck of Cards: Two Kings, the Proposal “Can’t Be Enforced,” or “Lawsuits (It Can Be Enforced)”

i-6a5144c2ca1e5e0009a00cc90e94d0ff-kh.jpg “Can’t be enforced” is a different argument than “it won’t work” (the Jack of Diamonds). Here, the denialist is usually threatening to operate an offending practice overseas, or oddly enough, arguing that because a proposal doesn’t give someone a right to sue, it isn’t worth passing.

Of course, if the proposal gives one a right to sue, the denialist uses the opposite argument: the proposal is enforceable, and the denialist will complain of frivolous lawsuits.


Denialists’ Deck of Cards: The Queen of Diamonds, “We Need Regulatory Relief”

i-47327bbf2e4aaf956ebc656ad4b9bdb3-qd.jpg Sometimes the success of a consumer intervention will create “blowback,” and allow the industry to not only win but also demand other concessions.

An excellent recent example of regulatory blowback came with the creation of the federal Do-Not-Call Registry. In creating the registry, the Federal Communications Commission also tried to tighten regulations on “junk faxes,” unsolicited commercial fax messages. The FCC ruled that “junk fax” senders had to document that they had consent from recipients of their messages. The junk faxers organized into a huge coalition (the deceptively-named “Fax Ban Coalition”), lobbied Congress, reversed the FCC’s rule and actually make it easier to send junk faxes by having deceptively-named “Junk Fax Protection Act” passed.

Denialists’ Deck of Cards: The Sixth Hand, The Gloves Come Off

If the denialist is on the brink of losing, a number of high stakes arguments can be made. The bear/bull market argument is one of my favorites. Just look at tax policy–no matter what the economy is doing, tax cuts are the solution. And in privacy, if the economy’s weak, there shouldn’t be interventions to protect consumers; if the economy’s strong, interventions could make the market weak!

i-e9c987e71f4415eb0c74e05a507bc833-qc.jpg If there’s a bear market, obviously there shouldn’t be interventions in the market, right?

If there’s a bull market, obviously there shouldn’t be interventions in the market, right?