Monday, May 08, 2006

Blackmail? Whose?

A not-to-coherent letter to the editor today appears to be concerned about the recent deal cut between Lafayette and the BellSouth/ATT-Cox alliance. That's worth being concerned about. But the letter writer appears to be most worried that the Big Bad Lafayette Utilities System, master of a local electrical utility, the waters works, and the sewer system inside the city limits of Lafayette, Louisiana somehow was in a position to "blackmail" BellSouth, a multinational telephone and wireless company with huge political and economic clout.

Get real.

The attempt to raise a purely ideological panic about a small publicly-owned local Acadian utility having some sort of unfair advantage over a corporation of the size and power of BellSouth or Cox can't be made to seem sensible--which is probably why the letter reads so ambiguously.

A little history should suffice to make the real situation apparent. BellSouth and Cox had used their enormous economic and political clout to come within a hairsbreadth of forbidding Lafayette to use it public utility to provide a little competition with two monopoly corporations. BellSouth was a monopoly in land line phone service at the time and widely understood to be the most politically powerful corporation in the state. Cox has a monopoly over an unnaturally profitable cable service and was bitterly opposed to losing it.

The idea that coming down on the side of multinational media conglomerates in opposition to a local public utility is somehow a conservative position is just whacky. The time is long over when anyone in Lafayette should be taken seriously when putting forward such a position.

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