Re: Still a bad idea
@jries921: Great comments. A couple of responses to consider:
1. "...mere existence of wants and needs is not enough to guarantee that they'll be filled efficiently, though the existence of a free market makes it much more likely than otherwise.".
At times good things never occur because of things like Externalities for example (when a 3rd person is effected, but not compensated), which incentatives bad behavior. A classic example is when the Hudson River in the early 70's caught fire. Factories were dumping toxic chemicals into the river because there were no costs associated with this. They were litteraly incentized to maximize dumping deadly chemicals into the river, until ground rules were established by the EPA that is. The kill switch might be an example of something that would never occur on its own, because it reduces profits. There are many other ways that our free market system doesn't work like Adam Smith (and everyone) would like it to (Transparency, Disparity, Public Goods, BoomBust, etc. etc).
2. "So if government is going to intervene, it should not be by raising barriers to entry, which a kill switch mandate would definitely do."
I don't see the kill switch as much of barrier. I may be wrong here, but my understanding based on what I've read is that it is actually pretty minor to implement.
Another thing to consider is that competition increases when good ground rules are established. Compare the cell phone industries in Europe to those here. Early on Europe's governments got together and created a set of basic rules (e.g. homogenious infrastructures, exchangable SIM Cards, Texting across carriers, abiltiy to exchange phones, works in the US. etc.). With this confusion out of the way, they quickly surpassed the US, who weren't even texting at the time (~2004?). We still have 6 or 7 different incompatable infrastrures, which reduce coverage for all, and requires constant phone exchanges. This all means more expense, with less service. The study I read was a while ago, and I don't know who the two compare today (truth in lending).
I would only be in favor of a kill switch if a) it works, and b) if I held the encrytped password which could authorize this feature. The interesting question to me is what should we do if a) and b) are true. Would folks still be against it.