Another Deregulation Failure


As with most anti-consumer legislation, the 1995 Telecommunications Deregulation Bill has been proven to be a complete failure at "encouraging competition" as it was constantly described by its Republican authors. In fact, between the by now obvious fact that the many telephone "providers" are ripping the public off every day by demanding exorbitant rates while describing them as "special rates" (one company offers twelve cents a minute, another ten cents a minute while another offers twenty minute calls for just ninety-nine cents each) and the fact that there are fewer and fewer of those "providers" as they merge or buy one another until we, the public, have no choice but to take the punishment and be quiet.

Consider, locally GTE bought out Contel, not one of the premier telecommunication providers in the first place, and nearly immediately decreased the number of their service personnel while loudly proclaiming how much better their service would be. Everyone with a brain was well aware of exactly what would transpire and which has come to pass; service suffered dramatically while the employees were expected to do the job of two or three.

The next area where we can expect huge problems will be in employee relations and union bargaining. Just like in the aftermath of the airline deregulation, the few remaining giants of the telecommunications providers will begin attempting to bust unions in order to commence decreasing the wages and benefits of the employees they deign to retain.

Since the bill also removed most restraints on how many outlets an individual or corporation may own, the number and quality of TV and radio and newspapers will begin a steep decline in quality. As long as these people control all means of disseminating information, they also completely control all news regarding their own actions, both legal and illegal. The reality, of course, is that a corporation can now own all forms of communications in even major markets, making the search for truth impossible.

To quote the trade journal Telephony of 6/17/96, "The telecommunications industry will pare itself from ten or more major players to about three or so; mergers will lead to cultural turmoil as well as union and employee unrest, especially in the local and interexchange mix; workers in the industry will be paid less, work harder, and have fewer unique perquisites; and prices will fall for end users in some cases, but customers in some parts of the country will be no better off when the telecommunication revolution is over than they are today."

Also, Neil Hickey, writing in Columbia Journalism Review, looked back a year after the Act was passed and could state, "The stage is set, more so than ever in U.S. media history, for corporate bosses to suppress unwelcome news and otherwise meddle in editorial decisions." Consider, for example, that C-Span, the best way to see your government in action, was removed from millions of homes through the conglomerate cable systems carrying it selling out to the latest bidder.

Now, even foreign telecommunications giants can invade the American markets, making accountability even more difficult and driving American jobs either out of the country or into the abyss of low wage, no benefit hell. This was abetted by the World Trade Organization which also, just to be certain that no stone is left unoccupied, ended only those governmental monopolies in Third World nations but not corporate monopolies.

How truly sad. Where once America had the premier phone service, just as America once had the world's premier airlines and trucking and energy and S&L and banking industries, all of which have been destroyed by the greed and avarice which is "Morning in America", we will be left with the few making massive profits off the labor of the many. Again we will see the loss of quality and the emergence of less and less services, all while Corporate America produces hundreds of "plans" which are only meant to hide the lust for every dollar they can steal from their docile customers.

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Visit Our Unique Shops At:

The Progressive Mind
Haiwee Fashions
Filipino Soul
Impeach The Moron
Rosetta Stone - Your Name In Egyptian Hieroglyphs
Signs of the Zodiac Gifts

Write me at:jcannon@anotherperspective.org

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Copyright 9/5/98