The Fruits of Unrestrained Capitalism

Crawford book A worthy read about one of the many boondoggles that inhere in corporate capitalist normalcy. The basic facts include:

[Cable companies] are extracting enormous rents, enormous profits, from what Americans perceive to be a basic service. And the competitive argument they make is a complete canard. If you tried to swap out your wireless connection or use your wireless connection instead of a cable connection for let’s say, watching online video — so the average user of a wired high-speed Internet connection uses 50 gigabytes of data a month — if you tried to do that over a mobile wireless device you’d be spending $500 a month. That’s because you may get wireless at about the same speeds, but [there are] very low capacity caps, data caps, on the usage of that connection. So it’s not a substitute; it’s a complement. We love mobile wireless services. It’s never going to take the place of a wire.

What’s even more disturbing is that in other countries — I’ve visited both Seoul and Stockholm recently — they take these services for granted. For about $25 a month they’re getting gigabits symmetrical service, which is 100 times faster than the very fastest connection available in the United States and for a 17th of the price. It really is astonishing what’s going on in America. Americans aren’t quite aware of it because we don’t look beyond our borders, but we’re falling way behind in the pack of developed nations when it comes to high-speed Internet access, capacity and prices.

We “don’t” look beyond our borders, of course, for the self-same reason we “permit” our overclass to do what they do to us: The mass media, including what passes for journalism, are part of the same monopoly that uses the internet and other publicly-invented technologies as a profit ranch. The relevant comparisons are simply forbidden.

2 Replies to “The Fruits of Unrestrained Capitalism”

  1. To this I would add the endless harping about how the world is getting all globalized, interconnected, mcdonalised, homogenous etc. – often times peddled not just by the tom friedmans of the world, butt also by leftie wannabes. There are some relevant sides to this discourse, but it also excessively downplays the fact that there ARE different polities and societies that DO have different politics and rules with DIFFERENT results.
    Of course, if we imagine the world as globalizing in our image, what is there to look for outside of the borders, if they are just trying to catch up?

    My cable provider currently charges me >80$ a month. My best alternative is about 50$ – still expensive for cables that have been in the ground for 20 years now…

  2. Exactly seven years ago, I visited California, having flown there from my home in Europe. I stayed in the house of a friend in Marin County, immediately north of San Francisco. To my astonishment, the only place wifi was available for free in all of Marin County was at a single Apple Computer store, in San Rafael. I drove there daily, as a consequence, to avoid paying five dollars a pop (or more) at restaurants offering wifi service. At that time, free wifi was offered by nearly every decent coffee shop and restaurant in Prague and most other European cities. In short, American backwardness is not merely reflected in connection speed. Internet retardation is a reflection of a country that is no longer a nation but instead a mere market territory.

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