Today’s lesson (h/t BoingBoing) in the delicate ballet between government and business comes from Wisconsin, where AT&T, along with Republican allies in the state Legislature, is engaged in an effort at rent-seeking so shameless it almost sounds like something out of a cheap Marxist novel.
The controversy concerns WiscNet, a cooperative started by the University of Wisconsin that provides broadband service to most of the state’s public schools and libraries. The service’s participants like it, particularly because it costs much less than it would to get the same service from someone like AT&T. Naturally, this displeases AT&T. So is their response to outcompete WiscNet, using their private-sector awesomeness to provide a better service at a lower price? Surely you jest.
No, their response was to get Republicans in the state Legislature to insert an amendment to the state budget forcing schools and libraries to abandon WiscNet. And for good measure, the amendment would return millions of dollars in stimulus money the state received for expanding broadband to underserved areas. Because AT&T doesn’t like that either — not because they’re itching to provide broadband to rural areas, but because they’d rather have them served by no one than open the way for any system that might be led by government or nonprofits. Much of this stiumulus money went to U-W, which has already begun laying fiber-optic cable to underserved areas; those projects would have to be abandoned, costing hundreds of jobs. The amendment already passed a budget committee and now awaits passage by the full Legislature.
I’m guesiing Republicans in the Wiscosin legislature – some of whom are in danger of immient recall upon which there will be a Democratic majority – are in a hurry to ram through this Marxist or neo-fascist style legilation through before it is too late.
Mr. Waldman, probably a little tongue in cheek, suggest this is Republican style Marxism. That might be true to some extent. On the other hand a corrupt relationship between government and business, in which both serves as props for each others power is also, or was also a facet of the kind of corporatism practiced by Mussolini, General Franco in Spain and Hitler. Economic fascism almost seems quaint compared to their other historical atrocities that we almost forget what an important element it was in their agenda.
” It is easy to be beautiful; it is difficult to appear so. I admire you, beloved, for the trap you’ve set. It’s like a final chapter no one reads because the plot is over.” – From Meditations in an Emergency By Frank O’Hara. he had something with a little different but important meaning in mind when he wrote that than the way I interpret it for myself. I am not sure it is so simple as being easy to be beautiful. It is such a frequently envied attribute and yet it seems as much a blessing as a curse in people. Human beauty, of the surface kind, does not last for long.
“Cory Moll, a part-time employee at an Apple store in San Francisco, is attempting unionize Apple store employees. The Apple Retail Workers Union is an attempt to fight for better wages and benefits and to address what he says are unfair practices in the company’s glass-and-steel retail showrooms. ‘The core issues are definitely involve compensation, pay, benefits,’ said Mr. Moll, who has received little public support from employees so far, though he said he has emails expressing support. An Apple representative confirmed Mr. Moll is an employee, but declined to comment on the union effort.”
Apple may not engage in the kind of obvious union busting practiced by Wal-Mart, but I can’t see them welcoming unions into their retail stores.