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Verizon temporarily backs away from charging $2 every time you use your credit card online

Was the $2 serious? Or was it so when they come back and charge $.25 no one blinks? DownWithTyranny!: Verizon may have pulled back on that $2 fee for paying bills online, but this is a battle that's only begun
By now I'm sure you've heard about Verizon's latest plane -- already rescinded (we'll come back to this in a moment) -- for sticking its hand in our pockets. The plan was to slap on a $2 fee, as of January 15, every time a customer makes a one-time payment by credit card or debit card, either online or by phone. I had a feeling this wasn't going to happen, that the uproar would be too great, and indeed before I could even write about it, Verizon has pulled back ("Verizon scraps $2 fee to Pay Bills Online"). But you can be sure they'll be back -- Verizon and everyone else who's in a position to stick their hands in our pockets. Which is why the e-mail from Molly Katchpole of change.org seems to me every bit as pertinent now as when she sent it out. Remember when together we beat Bank of America -- and the whole banking industry backed away from charging us just for using our debit cards? Well, it’s time to get the band back together. Verizon just announced a new fee for paying your bills online. Really. Even though paying via internet is fully automated. It’s not just about the money (though if you’re like me, you don’t have extra cash to be sending to a giant phone company in order to pay your own bills). It’s that Verizon thinks it can do anything to its customers, and that we’re powerless to stop it. (Spoiler alert: We’re not.) By the way, I found out that a recent report says Verizon paid zero federal income tax from 2008-2010, and actually got almost a billion dollars in rebates from taxpayers. So they definitely shouldn't be nickel and diming us.

Is the NCAA a price-ficing cartel who exploits athletes without pay?

Of course they are. The College Sports Cartel - NYTimes.com
Yet, in Indianapolis a few weeks from now, a home-grown cartel will hold its annual meeting, where it, too, will be working to collude and fix prices. This cartel is the National Collegiate Athletic Association. The N.C.A.A. would have you believe that it is the great protector of amateur athletics, preventing college athletes from being tainted by the river of money pouring over college sports. In fact, the N.C.A.A.’s real role is to oversee the collusion of university athletic departments, whose goal is to maximize revenue and suppress the wages of its captive labor force, a k a the players. Rarely, however, will the cartel nature of the N.C.A.A. be so nakedly on display as at this year’s convention. In The Times Magazine this weekend, I lay out a proposal to pay the players in the two big revenue sports, college football and men’s basketball, something the N.C.A.A. won’t countenance. In the course of my reporting, I gained a new appreciation for the cartel characteristics of sports leagues. Sports leagues can’t exist without at least some collusion. As Andy Schwarz, an economist and litigation consultant, puts it, “If steel companies got together to decide when and where to produce steel, that would violate the antitrust laws. But if sports teams in a league get together to decide when and where to play games, that’s generally allowed.” Major League Baseball has long had an antitrust exemption; other professional leagues have salary caps, which are legal because they have been agreed to by the players. . . .