Friday, March 1, 2013

Captive Audience: The Telecom Industry and Monopoly Power in the New Gilded Age

As mentioned in the prior post, I became aware of Ms. Crawford’s book recently when I caught part of Moyers & Company where she was interviewed.  It was a fascinating dialogue and I look forward to reading her book. 


To begin, I think Ms. Crawford’s title is fascinating.  The concept of a new gilded age with monopolies, dramatic disparities in standard of living, and unfettered power of the rich is one that seems to be discussed more and more in recent years. I will elaborate on that concept in a coming post.


However, beyond references to a “new gilded age,” Ms. Crawford several raises interesting points.  She notes the monopoly that internet and cell phone carriers enjoy.  She describes the economic disincentives such monopolies create to upgrade the existing infrastructures to give us all faster, more reliable services. She compares internet and cell phone service to traditional utilities to argue for more government involvement to ensure more widespread access to these services that have become so important to modern life. 


Ms. Crawford observes that the United States really helped create these modern communication technologies, but through complacency and governmental neglect, we as a country have really fallen behind.  She gives specific information of how other industrialized countries have made internet and cell phone access an infrastructure priority.  Such countries recognize that cheaper, faster, widespread access is critical to economic development.  We thus risk falling behind in terms of economic development because we don’t have such infrastructure.


Moreover, beyond economic issues, Ms. Crawford also makes a good argument that such access is also becoming critical to a functioning democracy since technology has become more the norm for modern communication.  She points out that those who don’t have access to those communication media are shut out of participation in civic discourse.





Luke 9:46-48


They started arguing over which of them would be most famous. When Jesus realized how much this mattered to them, he brought a child to his side. “Whoever accepts this child as if the child were me, accepts me,” he said. “And whoever accepts me, accepts the One who sent me. You become great by accepting, not asserting. Your spirit, not your size, makes the difference.”





No comments:

Post a Comment