How ATT Lost Their Monopoly

This is a story worth repeating. It's one of the most famous business law cases ever.

A trucker wanted to talk to other truckers in Illinois, so he started a microwave network to do that. ATT heard about it, and they had a 100% lock on telephones at the time, so they decided to squash this upstart like a bug, with their big legal team. Instead of folding, the trucker then borrowed money from his relatives and fought back. In court, the judge ruled against ATT and said this was an open market. And that's how ATT lost their franchise, through arrogance and hubris.

And another lesson is the poor quality of crony capitalism, which should be called crony socialism, since a central government picks winners and losers.

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cases ever.

icrowave network to do that.

o they decided to squash this upstart like a bug, with their big legal team .

d fought back.

And neglecting to bribe the right judge ...

be called crony socialism, since a central government picks winners and los ers.

As usual, Haitic reveals that his ideas about socialism don't have much to do with what socialists think. One historically significant branch of socia lism - anarcho-syndicalism - doesn't believe in central government at all a nd wants everything to be regulated by by small communities negotiating amo ngst themselves. It developed into the cooperative movement. The example th at I know about is the John Lewis Partnership in the UK which has 91,000 pa rtners/employees and I don't know much about though I bought from their sto res in the UK for years.

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Socialist political parties, operating on a nationwide basis, do want to co ntrol central government, just like every other political party. The genuin ely democratic socialist parties of western Europe are happy to rely on the free market to distribute resources and effort in areas where this works. Health-care and education do need a fair bit of government regulation and i ntervention to keep the playing fields genuinely level, but the aim is to a void "picking winners and losers" which makes it the exact opposite of cron y capitalism.

Cronyism is endemic in central governments, so you do get scandals in even the most careful of socialist administrations.

The government of the Australian state of New South Wales - where I now liv e - had a notorious bunch of larcenous cronys in the most recent Labor admi nistration, and the local independent commission against corruption

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has been busy exposing them and setting them up to be prosecuted, but in th e process it discovered that the right-wing premier in power until April th is year had accepted a gift of a $3,000 bottle of wine and not declared it. When asked about the bottle he denied ever having received it, but then so mebody found his hand-written thank-you note, so he felt obliged to resign ...

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There's a lot of cronyoism about, and you need to keep a sharp eye on leadi ng politicians to keep it under any kind of control.

For some reason, the Australian national government hasn't got it's own ind ependent commission against corruption and the current - right-wing - admin istration has absolutely no intention of introducing one. The current prime minister - Tony Abbott - who has just got rid of the carbon tax has got st rong links with the resource industries who didn't happen to like the carbo n tax, and any anti-corruption commission would naturally be tempted to loo k into those links.

Bill Sloman, Sydney
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Bill Sloman

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