Neither of the major party presidential tickets are happy with the planned merger between AT&T and Time Warner. Democrat Tim Kaine told NBC’s “Meet the Press” he liked competition, but wasn’t sure if this was the case.
We’ve got to get to the bottom of them. Generally pro competition. And less concentration I think is generally helpful, especially in the media. But this has just been announced, and I haven’t had a chance to dig into the details. But those are the kinds of questions that we need to be asking.
Trump went a step further and said he’d block the merger. Via CNN:
“As an example of the power structure I’m fighting, AT&T is buying Time Warner and thus CNN, a deal we will not approve in my administration because it’s too much concentration of power in the hands of too few.”
Ed has a pretty thoughtful piece on AT&T/Time Warner, and asks a series of questions on whether the merger should be approved by conservatives.
Do we intervene up front to keep economic power from distorting political power, or do we wait and watch as the political power intervenes to corrupt the free markets on which fiscal conservatism is based? And does the kind of vertical consolidation along a distribution chain trip the wire for intervention up front?
Here’s the issue I have with Ed’s thought process on this: it can be interpreted as falling into the “trap” of the government having to “intervene.” It doesn’t mean Ed wants the government to do this, but there are politicians and pundits who try to make the “solution” a ban on corporate donations, bust up big business, or get rid of Citizens United, etc. The problem is this gives politicians a free skate on integrity. Instead of saying, “Okay, we’re going to allow you to accept donations from Corporation A, but if we find out you’re doing their bidding we’re gonna vote you out,” everyone seems willing to go, “Nah, just ban corporate money.”
It’s honestly completely illogical thinking to allow government intervention in AT&T/Time Warner because all it’s doing it letting the government get even more power over entities and individuals. It encourages cronyism and the buying and selling of politicians. One of the best scenes in Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice was when a U.S. Senator said to Lex Luthor, “No, I’m not going to take your money.” For every Harry Reid there’s a Justin Amash. For every John Boehner there’s a Thomas Massie. It’s not a perfect system, but if there were more Amashes and Massies in Congress, then there’s a chance cronyism would be smaller.
Here’s another way to look at it. If the DOJ decides to allow the AT&T/Time Warner merger to go through, what’s to stop them from going to AT&T later and say, “Okay…we let you merge, now give us access to the emails of your subscribers.” What’s to stop DOJ from saying, “We let you merge, now you have to create a backdoor in your ISP, so we can spy on people.” Just look at what the government was able to get Yahoo to do. If we give the government more power, it has more of the chance to take away our freedom.
There are obviously people who are going to bring up Trump’s comments of “concentration of power in the hands of too few,” but aren’t there alternative websites out there providing news? For every CNN, ABC, MSNBC, FOX, and CBS there’s a Zero Hedge, a Wikileaks, an Open Secrets, a The Intercept, a Reason, and a Watchdog.org trying to expose corruption and cover the stories corporate media isn’t interested in covering. Alternative media exists. It’s up to said media group to get its message out there, and for people to be willing to listen to it.
So AT&T and Time Warner should be able to merge. There’s no guarantee the merger will be successful in the long run. The government (fed/state/local) should look at relaxing regulations, so other ISPs can start springing up to be competitive with the “big boys.” The government should also resist the urge to bail out the “big boys,” if their profit margins start plummeting.