Monday, April 24, 2006

Competition Good, Monopolies Bad

As Seen On TV, But Not At Town Hall

The New York Times reported on Sunday about Verizon's recently approved franchise agreement, permitting the telecommunications provider to compete with Cablevision in offering cable and Internet services to some 500,000 residents in the unincorporated areas of Hempstead Town. [Read, Tug of War Played With Cable.]

The idea behind allowing Verizon to enter the cable market in the Town of Hempstead is that competition breeds better service and fair pricing -- Much like the break-up of Ma Bell years back has led to better service and lower rates among the zillions of baby Bells which, in turn, are now being gobbled up into one monolithic AT&T. [Bad example, we suppose...]

Town of Hempstead Supervisor, Kate Murray, told The Times, "It's an article of faith that if you have more competition, you get better services and prices."

Hmmm. Perhaps that's a philosophy to be followed concerning the Sanitary Districts, and the myriad special districts that operate under the auspices and banner of Hempstead Town, where monopolistic party politics stifles any competition, artificially increasing the price for what may well be inferior or mediocre service. Even where the service is deemed exceptional, the stranglehold of the Town perpetuates disparate and ever-escalating pricing, not dependent upon quality of service, but merely upon in which special district you happen to reside.

"This wasn't a judgment about Cablevision, it was a judgment about monopolies," Ms. Murray said.

Seems odd, doesn't it? The Supervisor of a Town that, for more than 100 years, has been dominated by a single party -- with a monopoly over hiring, the provision of services, and the setting of tax rates -- holding herself out as the champion of the free market.

Whether competition between Cablevision and Verizon will benefit the consumer remains to be seen. We have no doubt, however, that competition at all levels of government -- the seed of a thriving democracy -- works to improve services and keep costs at bay.

Okay. ours isn't a judgment about Kate Murray, or even about the Town of Hempstead GOP. Ours is "an article of faith" about one town with one party in absolute power for far too long!
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While we have no competition at The Community Alliance, we would welcome it! Feel free to comment, Guest Blog, or e-mail us at

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