Posts Tagged fear

Monopolies and Competition: Mom! Dad! AT&T’s Not Sharing!

AT&T, T-Mobile, cell phone, acquisition, monopoly, competitionIn my most recent post at Ethika Politika, I comment on AT&T’s recent plans to acquire T-Mobile, a move that has garnered cries of “monopoly!” (or “duopoly!”) from all sides.

But although many see AT&T’s actions as “anti-competitive” in nature, I see no such thing. From where I stand, the acquisition has great potential to improve the company’s output, which could indeed benefit consumers and invigorate competition in the industry:

With a newly expanded network, AT&T could greatly improve its ability to expand service to rural areas. Due to increased economies of scale, it is likely that prices could decrease across the board. Additionally, although critics claim that the tightening of the market will have a negative impact on innovation, many believe it will raise the stakes (“mono y mono!”), leading to improvements on any number of company weak spots, from customer service to overall quality of service.

Yet whether the deal will be good or bad for (anyone’s) business is secondary; such matters remain debatable. The core issue, as I see it, rests in the mindset of those who adamantly oppose the deal on limited evidence, particularly those trying to prohibit it from happening altogether.

As I argue, the problems with such a mindset can be broken into three main areas: (1) a fear of competition itself, (2) a misunderstanding of the company-consumer relationship, and (3) a corresponding pessimism and all-around static view of human ingenuity and potential.

I expound on each, but regarding the third (and most important), here’s an excerpt:

Do we really believe that markets are that unmovable, or that we as innovators, explorers, and dreamers do not have what it takes to meet whatever challenges and needs may arise? Are we really so short-sighted that we Read the rest of this entry »

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Culinary Luddites: The Historical Distortions of 21st-Century Food Faith

Hot dogs

For many culinary Luddites, hot dogs are the ultimate blasphemy.

Rachel Laudan has a great post over at Utne Reader called “In Praise of Fast Food,” which is actually an excerpt from the book The Gastronomica Reader. I came across the article via Nick Schulz over at the Enterprise Blog.

In the article, Laudan criticizes what she calls “culinary Luddism” — a creative spin on the term used to describe anti-industrialists in 19th-century Britain.

Where the original Luddites had an irrational fear of free trade and technological advancement, the new “culinary Luddites” have an irrational fear of processed and preserved foods.

As Laudan explains:

Modern, fast, processed food is a disaster. That, at least, is the message conveyed by newspapers and magazines, on television programs, and in cookbooks. It is a mark of sophistication to bemoan the steel roller mill and supermarket bread while yearning for stone-ground flour and brick ovens; to seek out heirloom apples while despising modern tomatoes; to be hostile to agronomists who develop high-yielding crops and to home economists who invent recipes for General Mills.

The strange part is that Laudan describes her culinary background as being rooted in the very principles of such anti-industrialization. Why then does she depart from her Luddite collegues?

Culinary Luddism has come to involve more than just taste, however; it has also presented itself as a moral and political crusade — and it is here that I begin to back off. The reason is not far to seek: because I am a historian.

Wait a minute. Isn’t “history” what this is all about? Aren’t we supposed to hearken back to the good old days when everyone knew how to Read the rest of this entry »

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