The AT&T Merger
I read with interest and some degree of disillusionment the Viewpoint column ("For Competition") in your August 4th edition by Malkia Cyril, the director of the Center for Media Justice. With regard to the AT&T/T-Mobile merger, I found her considerations to be more than somewhat specious and on some occasions borderline dishonest. Discussion of the merger can induce passions (often for the excitement surrounding the possibilities of newer, better, and enhanced services), but those passions are best served when they are based primarily on facts, rather than ideological assumptions and the attendant rhetoric such assumptions give rise to.
Specifically, Cyril suggested that higher prices "could" result from this merger. This is very unlikely, and Memphians deserve to know the whole story. This is not an uncommon assumption. We've heard this before. But history has demonstrated over the past decade or so that prices for wireless services have gone down. The price decreases occurred despite six major wireless industry leaders combining services. Sprint and Nextel, AT&T and Bell South, and Verizon and Alltel have merged. The outcome was across-the-board lower prices for cellular service rate-payers. At the time of the aforementioned mergers, groups similar to Cyril's made similar accusations that the consumer would be penalized by costlier service and that such mergers would threaten competition. In truth, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that wireless prices have declined by some 50 percent between the years 1999-2009.
Cyril cited a Pew Research study stating that "17 percent of people earning less than $30,000 annually" access the Internet exclusively through mobile devices. Doesn't it stand to reason that improved mobile broadband access will be a great benefit to these subscribers? Don't those 17 percent of users deserve faster broadband and improved service?
As the president of the Black Business Association of Memphis, I am happy to lend my support to the proposed AT&T/T-Mobile merger. It will mean greater access to mobile broadband in Memphis, not less. This is good news for Memphis. This will help to improve our community, create jobs (taxpayers), and expand economic growth.
Roby S. Williams
Black Business Association of Memphis
Malkia Cyril's response to the proposed AT&T and T-Mobile merger was weak. Not because she's wrong, but because this merger isn't going to hurt just poor black people; it will affect all of us.
AT&T and its PR lackeys would have us believe that this merger is all about "serving the customer." Right. All AT&T cares about is its bottom line and making Wall Street happy. If anyone really believes that removing yet another competitor for our telephone business will result in lower prices for consumers, call me. I've got a bridge in Brooklyn I'll sell you, cheap.
Reagan as Tea Party Hero
I am not sure why the Tea Party and conservative Republicans believe Ronald Reagan is such a hero. The U.S. Treasury web page shows how the national debt has increased historically. It increased from around $900 billion in 1980 to $2.6 trillion in 1988. President Reagan really began the massive increases in debt that have continued to this day.
In recent times, the only president who didn't increase the national debt was Bill Clinton. He left President George W. Bush with budget surpluses, and Bush went into office talking about paying off the national debt, which was then possible. When Bush took office in 2000, the national debt was $5.6 trillion. In 2008, when Bush left office, it was $10 trillion.
President Obama inherited an economic and financial crisis that could have led to a second Great Depression. People now criticize the amount of money Obama has added to the national debt as though he is responsible alone for the debt we have now.
The economic stimulus Obama and Congress enacted has saved us from a second Great Depression, even though the economy did not completely recover. The crisis was caused by the Bush administration and some of the deregulatory policies of Clinton.
If we are only going to cut spending because we do not have any more money to stimulate the economy and bring it to full recovery, then I fear for the future. Republicans, who have never believed in the government stimulating the economy, may very well retake the White House and the Senate. What will they do? Nothing, I fear. And we may see another Great Depression.
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Which leads me to put on my Dr. Phil face and say what has to be said: It's time for Memphis and Shelby County to start seeing other people. We've tried for years to patch things up, to come to some sort of mutual understanding, but we need to admit that we have irreconcilable differences. We don't even know each other any more ...