Michael Lind who I thought would know better keeps writing these articles that show he’s totally clueless about modern technology and how it interacts with business and society.
His latest blunder is an article in Salon:
I can only suspect that his organization, New America Foundation is just another one who is getting paid by AT&T just like they did other allegedly “left” organizations like GLADD, NAACP, NEA and many others.
Lind gets off spouting things like Anti-Trust is so 19th century and there is nothing to fear from AT&T / TMobile merger getting more “efficient”. He had a problem getting cell reception at a National Park, so he things “I am tempted to favor any monopoly that allows all phones to work everywhere in the U.S.” That is so not what will be fixed if AT&T gets to consolidate its monopoly. What we’ll get is no more investment in infrastructure. That is the modus operandi of the Southwest Bell DNA in AT&T. How do you think the worst of all the Bells, Southwest Bell, got to roll up most of the Baby Bells back into AT&T? It was by NOT spending on infrastructure, collecting monopoly rents and using that as the war chest to buy up PacBell, Ameritech, Cingular, Bell South, and AT&T.
Have you seen AT&T spending much on DSL in the last few years? They have frozen any new spending that wasn’t already allocated. Verizon has stopped deploying FIOS. When you are an unregulated monopoly with only the illusion of competition from regional duopoly of Cable TV, you don’t have to spend on infrastructure. Your only cost is advertising and buying off PUCs, state legislatures, Governors, the FCC, Congress, and Presidents.
Here’s what I wrote as a comment to his post:
Wow, All I can say is this guy out of touch with reality.
Yes, there are some arenas where there are “natural monopolies” and efficiencies of scale. But they are rarely leveraged for the common good if the monopolist is not tightly regulated or forced to not use their monopoly to control everything touched by their monopoly.
If an entity has control of the an element that really stems from a common substrate, then that entity must be made to operate to the benefit of the community.
In the case of telecom, the monopoly doesn’t come from technology advance, or innovative business technique. It comes from the fact that there is a limited amounts of ways to connect homes and businesses to each other. Particularly in the last mile. AT&T, Verizon, ComCast and Time Warner all inherited their rights of way from when they were regulated monopolies. Those rights were immorally if not illegally transfered from regulated monopolies to unregulated monopolies. They have similarly monopolized the public spectrum but this time thru bribery and regulatory capture.
They have now used those choke-points of last mile to limit innovation (notice how countries with proper regulation and competition have much higher bandwidth at lower costs and bandwidth growth has stagnated and gone up in price in the US since re-monopolization)
And now they are using their stranglehold on transport to control content. The Government jumps in and supports the Telcos and the RIAA/MPAA to use “piracy”, child porn and terrorism as excuses to consolidate further control of communication and spy on citizens.
AT&T should not be allowed to consolidate their control of communications. They and Verizon, ComCast and TimeWarner should be broken up, but this time do it right. Break them up horizontally.
Make the physical plant ether a regulated monopoly or municipal utilities that just do the physical transport. Just like they do roads and water distribution. Then allow a true market of lighting the transport and offering services on top of that. Then we’ll see huge economic, cultural and political innovation, growth and abundance.