Fuck it, let's eat lunch

There's a great Lewis Black routine about what's wrong with America where he talks about the changes in what you're allowed to bring onto aircraft in the wake of the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

On the prohibited list: Lighters. Not on the list: Matches.

His take - you can take matches but you can't take a lighter?

The left half of your brain looks at the right half of your brain and says, "Fuck it. Let's eat lunch."

Much like me and the telcom industry.

Back in 1984, I did a paper for school about the breakup of AT&T in to seven regional baby-bells after what became MCI/Sprint sued to get a foothold in the long-distance market. According to the Justice Department, AT&T was too big and was preventing smaller companies from getting a foothold in the marketplace. That gave birth to seven regional baby bells:
  • Ameritech
  • Bell Atlantic
  • BellSouth
  • Pacific Telesis
  • Southwestern Bell
  • US West
For about 10 years, AT&T (meaning the long distance provider - which is what was left of it after the break-up) was a good monopoly and played along with the Justice Department before friends in high places allowed them to slowly start to rebuild their empire:

1994 - McCaw Cellular is purchased by AT&T.
1997 - SBC (Southwestern Bell) purchases PacBell (Pacific Telesis)
1998 - SBC buys SNET in New England, an independent Bell subsidiary
1999 - SBC buys Ameritech, another regional baby bell.
2000 - SBC and Bell South create Cingular Wireless.
2001 - AT&T makes AT&T Wireless a separate business unit.
2004 - Cingular buys AWS and rebrands it with the Cingular name.
2005 - SBC buys AT&T (basically, a child buying its parent)
2006 - SBC changes its name to AT&T
2007 - Cingular becomes AT&T Wireless.
2007 - AT&T Wireless is a part of AT&T.

Fuck it. Let's eat lunch.

In 15 years we've gone from AT&T being too big, to AT&T being only long distance and havng seven regional baby bells handle local service to AT&T, SBC and three regional baby bells (USWest, NyNex and Bell Atlantic) handling everything. Every. Thing.

On the wireless side, in 13 years we go from McCaw to AT&T to AT&T Wireless to Cingular to AT&T Wireless to AT&T.

The best part - all of this buying and selling of companies did nothing to lower costs and increase competition for consumers. All it did was make us bundle services, pay higher rates and have fewer choices and make billions for the high-stakes stockholders.

The FTC under Reagan said AT&T was bad.

The FTC under Bush I made the ruling under Reagan stand up.

The FTC under Clinton made the Reagan ruling lay down.

The FTC under Bush II made Americans take it laying down.

It doesn't matter if you're red or blue - in this case we're all black and blue.

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