Friday, November 23, 2007

Purpose of Regulation

Quite a few years ago government regulators sued at great length and expense to break up AT&T into smaller companies. Part of the deal was that consumers no longer were forced to rent equipment from the phone company, paying many times its value, but could buy whatever equipment they wanted and be able to use it with the phone company's service. That was when regulation was being managed for the benefit of the consumer.

Not so much any more. When you buy a cell phone it can only be used with the carrier that you bought it from. If you want to switch providers you must buy a whole new phone. We also have broadband internet service that is controlled by two massive corporations. Regulation is being managed for the benefit of corporations rather than for consumers.

A few years back European regulators forced Microsoft to unbundle its operating system and now they are taking on Apple. They don't like its policy of selling the iPhone and requiring the buyer to use the service provider of Apple's choice. U.S. regulators had no problem with that policy.

Similar regulatory policies mean that most of Europe has much faster and cheaper broadband internet access than we do here in what used to be the most technology-advanced country in the world.

So let's think about what "democracy" means. As a form of government, it means more than merely allowing people to vote. It means governing for the benefit of the people. Seems like Europe is better at bringing that off than is the United States, which governs for the benefit of corporations.

1 comment:

Joe Friday said...

Man, I WISH you were running for president!

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