Monopoly Reborn in Telecom Business

By Gus Tyler

Published March 04, 2005, issue of March 04, 2005.
  • Print
  • Share Share

In 1984, the courts made a historic decision in America’s longtime battle to “bust the trusts.” The American Telephone and Telegraph Company was ordered to break up into many small pieces to restore competition in our “free enterprise” society.

Now it appears that the monopoly once held by AT&T is being restored — albeit under another name. It will fall under the auspices of an outfit that is a merger of two telecommunication giants, as Verizon Communications buys up SBC Communications.

None of this perversion of the “free enterprise” ideal should come as a surprise, however.

The tendency in a supposedly competitive economy toward merger and monopoly was noted by the great Adam Smith, author of the epic book “The Wealth of Nations,” way back in 1776, when he wrote:” People of the same trade seldom meet together, even for merriment and diversion, but the conversation ends in a conspiracy… to raise prices.”

In the closing decade of the 19th century in the United States, in a time dubbed as ‘the age of the ‘robber barons,’” Congress moved decisively to curb the trend toward monopolies when it passed the Sherman Antitrust Act. But, irony of ironies, the first organization to be charged with violation of the new law was a labor union, the Danbury Hatters, who were charged, when they went on strike, with a “combination… or conspiracy in restraint of trade and commerce.” The union and its members were fined triple damages for the losses of the companies involved.

There was such a hue and cry that a few years later, it was necessary to pass another anti-trust law that specifically absolved labor unions.

Then the courts put a neat new twist on the interpretation: They began to decide when a monopoly was good for the country and when it was bad. Which meant that the judge or judges in the case could, by their own judgment, enforce or invalidate the law.

While the unification of telecom is, like almost all other trusts, a way to fix prices through monopoly, oligopoly or cartel, it is in another respect, more pernicious. It tends to create a monopoly in that sector of the economy that plays a major role in shaping public opinion.

At present, however, the phone mergers do not enjoy such a monopoly in the making of the public mind, because the telephone business is challenged by the cable system that offers the merged telephone business a real challenge and real competition. Indeed, the cable crowd is also moving out to cut into the field of telephonic services directly.

But we have not heard the end of the story yet. In this age of mergers and acquisitions, what is there to keep the two mammoth moguls in telephone and cable from merging?

What a golden opportunity to brainwash a nation that once prided itself on using the public airwaves to expose its citizens to the kind of diversity of opinion that is the life of a democratic society.






Find us on Facebook!
  • The rose petals have settled, and Andi has made her (Jewish?) choice. We look back on the #Bachelorette finale:
  • "Despite the great pain and sadness surrounding a captured soldier, this should not shape the face of this particular conflict – not in making concessions and not in negotiations, not in sobering assessments of this operation’s achievements or the need to either retreat or move forward." Do you agree?
  • Why genocide is always wrong, period. And the fact that some are talking about it shows just how much damage the war in Gaza has already done.
  • Construction workers found a 75-year-old deli sign behind a closing Harlem bodega earlier this month. Should it be preserved?
  • "The painful irony in Israel’s current dilemma is that it has been here before." Read J.J. Goldberg's latest analysis of the conflict:
  • Law professor Dan Markel waited a shocking 19 minutes for an ambulance as he lay dying after being ambushed in his driveway. Read the stunning 911 transcript as neighbor pleaded for help.
  • Happy birthday to the Boy Who Lived! July 31 marks the day that Harry Potter — and his creator, J.K. Rowling — first entered the world. Harry is a loyal Gryffindorian, a matchless wizard, a native Parseltongue speaker, and…a Jew?
  • "Orwell would side with Israel for building a flourishing democracy, rather than Hamas, which imposed a floundering dictatorship. He would applaud the IDF, which warns civilians before bombing them in a justified war, not Hamas terrorists who cower behind their own civilians, target neighboring civilians, and planned to swarm civilian settlements on the Jewish New Year." Read Gil Troy's response to Daniel May's opinion piece:
  • "My dear Penelope, when you accuse Israel of committing 'genocide,' do you actually know what you are talking about?"
  • What's for #Shabbat dinner? Try Molly Yeh's coconut quinoa with dates and nuts. Recipe here:
  • Can animals suffer from PTSD?
  • Is anti-Zionism the new anti-Semitism?
  • "I thought I was the only Jew on a Harley Davidson, but I was wrong." — Gil Paul, member of the Hillel's Angels. http://jd.fo/g4cjH
  • “This is a dangerous region, even for people who don’t live there and say, merely express the mildest of concern about the humanitarian tragedy of civilians who have nothing to do with the warring factions, only to catch a rash of *** (bleeped) from everyone who went to your bar mitzvah! Statute of limitations! Look, a $50 savings bond does not buy you a lifetime of criticism.”
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.