Unhealthy Monopolies

There are a number of monopolies that have outlived their stated usefulness in this country, and one of the problems that we have is that they continue to get government support long after it no longer makes sense to continue supporting them.  There was a time when the system made sense, but that is not the case any longer.

The first monopolies that we need to eliminate are the TV stations.  There was a time when it made sense to use our current system.  TV stations broadcast over radio waves, and just like there are only so many colors in the rainbow, there could only be so many channels on the television.  What there was got divided up, without giving too much thought to ever re-assigning who might be able to use that frequency.  In recent years, there was a new technology developed that would have allowed for many stations over the same frequency.  The principles of capitalism and fair competition demanded that we change the system to allow for the more competitive model, which would mean that the existing companies (which it must be noted had more capital to adopt the new technology) would have been required to adopt the new technology.  After “lobbying” from the existing companies that monopolize the airwaves, the FCC made a ruling on the issue, and decided that new technological developments be damned, the established system was going to stand.  I could understand if there was a period of time to allow existing companies to prepare to transition to the new technology, but even that seemed to be too much to ask.  The existing system had an opportunity to be more competitive, but it chose not to be.

Another area where there could now be more competition is power generation.  When it was first getting established, there was a central power plant that provided power to customers out in the world, who had little hope of being able to provide it for themselves.  With government sanction and support, these companies established power plants and provided electrical infrastructure to the country, and that was mostly a benefit (pollution aside).  But in the years since, new technologies have been developed that allow people to be able to produce and store what electricity they need for themselves.  As a result of this development, there is both more room for competition, and even the ability for people to disconnect themselves from the power grid and supply their own power (if they feel inclined to take on the responsibility).  Our government is not keeping up with this development, and instead continues to support the existing monopolies while eliminating their competition.  It could have recognized that self-sufficiency is now a viable option and supported the freedom and competition, but has largely chosen instead to maintain the existing monopolies whose reasons for existing are no longer relevant.

One of our problems is that our government has not kept pace with the development of new technologies that eliminate the need for old policies that justified a government sanctioned monopoly.  Even when those businesses still need to have agreed upon standards (as is the case with broadcasting and power, or if you are on the power grid), those standards need to be updated.  It seems as if our country is not keeping up with development, but is instead allowing itself to be overly burdened by existing businesses.  I agree that frequent sudden changes are unfair to the established businesses, but they have already received a great deal of favor from the government.  It is not too much to ask them to accommodate new standards that will better support more capitalistic markets.


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