Verizon – Enough to Drive Me to Socialism!
I am a committed free enterprise kind of guy, but the short-lived attempt by Verizon to demand that customers pay $2.00 per month for the privilege of paying their phone bills, was unbelievably arrogant, greedy and tone deaf. Of course, in this world of instant communication, they never had a chance, and the plan was quickly withdrawn.
This got me to thinking more broadly, however, about free enterprise and the regulatory mechanism in Washington. Specifically, AT&T had to abandon its plans to acquire T-Mobile in the face of unyielding Department of Justice opposition. Normally, I support the idea of companies combining to spread fixed costs over a larger volume, thus reducing costs that will (theoretically, at least) enable them to reduce prices.
I have come to believe that there are enough options out there now that the prospect of fewer competitors in the phone market didn’t bother me too much. But, let’s face it, the only reason Verizon announced such an outlandish program was because, quite simply, they thought they could get away with it. Somebody made the judgment that their relatively few competitors would follow suit, and their coffers would be enriched by another few million per year, at the expense of the sucker customers.
Well, the suckers have shown that they can fight back, but maybe there’s a bigger lesson in all of this.
Maybe those antitrust scolds exist for a reason, maybe some of us capitalists should think about the consequences of non-regulation. Maybe, just maybe, some aspects of Big Government aren’t so bad.