HIGHTOWER: Telecommunications Greed

Well, isn't that new Telecommunications "Reform" Law working just splendidly for us?Remember how both political parties locked arms in Washington to march this huge piece of legislation right down our throats on behalf of the telephone giants, the cable monopolies, the TV networks and other powerhouses of the communications industry? To force it through, these outfits had to spend an estimated $120 million on lobbying fees and campaign contributions to our lawmakers -- the most ever spent on a single bill.But when Ralph Nader, myself and others spoke out against this Big Business Boondoggle, the industry and its apologists all rushed forward to say "No, no, no this isn't for us; we're doing this for The People." Sure, and the fox wants in the henhouse so it can help the chickens.But industry got its way, and Democrats and Republicans alike assured us that this new law would usher in a Brave New Telecommunications World in which there'll be more competition, new job creation and lower prices for consumers.More competition? Since the bill passed in February, our local phone companies, radio stations and TV networks care being merged, conglomerated and otherwise gobbled-up faster than a hog eats supper -- creating massive new media conglomerates that are eliminating competition, not increasing it.New job creation? All this merging has led to a massive new round of job purging. Thousands of communications employees have learned since February that they are to be shoved right out the door of telecommunications greed.Lower prices? Keep an eye on your phone bill. Telephone companies nationwide are already in line to jack-up your local phone rates with an increase of more than 50 percent.These corporate foxes aren't in the telecommunications henhouse to help us chickens, they're in there to pluck us clean.

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