Faith in the Free Market

Republicans apparently do not have a great deal of faith in the free market, otherwise they wouldn't be passing bills to limit competition and harden monopolies.

The Republican-dominated North Carolina State Assembly this week approved a bill that would prohibit communities from upgrading their internet access, forcing individual municipalities into a private monopoly of managed broadband services by companies like Time Warner and Comcast. [...]

The bill, which was heavily supported by telecom giant Time Warner, comes on the heels of several communities successfully launching their own fiber-optic broadband programs. One program in Wilson, North Carolina, called Greenlight, even features speeds up to 100 Megabits-per-second (Mbps) at a lower price than its corporate competitors.

That's because Greenlight is a public utility, instead of a profits-making scheme, that places access and quality of service above harvesting dollars off customers. Instead of focusing on margins or how to impose fees on metered bandwidth use, they're able to focus on simply providing the best the Internet has to offer.

Doesn't free-market capitalism say that if you have the inferior product, you will not be as successful as your competitor? And if private corporations are so much better at managing programs than the government, why does that competition need to be stifled? Shouldn't the supposedly highly-superior private business be able to produce a better product?

See -- that's where you lose me and the Republican argument falls apart because it reminds me of the healthcare debate when it was said that the government should stay out of healthcare because private insurers could never compete. Funny how that philosophy only applies to people you can make money on, not children or seniors.

We don't really live in an economy based on free-market capitalism though. Its more like controlled-market, crony capitalism. Just as many states only have access to one or two healthcare providers, many cities only have access to one or two internet providers. And its not because other businesses have no interest in those markets.

Thankfully in the case of healthcare, exchanges created under the Affordable Care Act will soon open up more alternatives to consumers. And we already have some of the highest priced and slowest speeds of internet access in the world, so we may need a similar system for access to bandwidth in the near future if we wish to have any hope at all of competing in the global economy.

Our virtual-monopoly based system of limited providers, for all essential services, isn't working out too well for us.