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Corruption is Responsible for 80% of Your Cell Phone Bill

Corruption Responsible for 80% of Your Cell Phone Bill
And so Americans continue to have a small number of expensive, poor quality cell phone providers. And how much does this cost you? Take your phone bill, and cut it by 80%. That’s how much you should be paying. You see, according to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, people in Sweden, the Netherlands, and Finland pay on average less than $130 a year for cell phone service. Americans pay $635.85 a year. That $500 a year difference, from most consumers with a cell phone, goes straight to AT&T and Verizon (and to a much lesser extent Sprint and T-Mobile). It’s the cost of corruption. It’s also, from the perspective of these companies, the return on their campaign contributions and lobbying expenditures. Every penny they spend in DC and in state capitols ensures that you pay high bills, to them. This isn’t obvious, because much of how they do this has to do with the structure of the industry. Telecommunications isn’t like selling apples, where you have a lot of buyers and sellers. In a business like buying or selling apples, all you need is an apple tree to get into the business. Cell phones aren’t like that. It’s a business where you sell services on top of a network of cell phone towers that can transmit phone calls and data, and these networks cost tens of billions of dollars to build. But even if you have the money to build one, you still might not be able to, as the Lightsquared example shows. These networks all use public airwaves, or “spectrum”, and you need government permission to use it. Remember the electromagnetic spectrum you learned about in school? The government literally leases that out to companies, and they make radios, microphones, wifi routers, and cell phones that use it. This has implications for your cell phone bill. Once AT&T or Verizon has paid for its network and licensed spectrum from the government, the cost of adding an additional customer is very low. That means that the biggest providers with bigger networks and more licensed spectrum make more money. It’s not only that their costs are lower, but also because they can keep other players out through control of the political system. That is, they can move towards monopoly in the industry. And monopoly means higher prices for you, and more profits for them. . . .

Today's Tumblr: Mad Men + Archer

Is anyone getting tired of these yet? The quotes from one show pasted onto photos of another? Like Arrested Westeros or the Rorscach/Ron Swanson jobby? I'm not, but they are coming really close to the nerd pander staple of the "it's two things smooshed together" school of lazyass comedy. Sterling Archer Draper Pryce *Thanks to Ken Lowery*

Photo Gallery: Romney doesn't know how to hold babies

Pictures Of Mitt Romney Confusing Children | TPM Media

Tron cartoon magically combines stiff animation with cliched dialogue

Afghanistan War vet to climb Mount Everest with prosthetic ice axe hand

File under: Cyborgs among us. Early Bird Special - The Daily What

Paul Krugman: Europe's economic austerity suicide

Europe’s Economic Suicide - NYTimes.com
The question then was whether this brave and effective action would be the start of a broader rethink, whether European leaders would use the breathing space the bank had created to reconsider the policies that brought matters to a head in the first place. But they didn’t. Instead, they doubled down on their failed policies and ideas. And it’s getting harder and harder to believe that anything will get them to change course. Consider the state of affairs in Spain, which is now the epicenter of the crisis. Never mind talk of recession; Spain is in full-on depression, with the overall unemployment rate at 23.6 percent, comparable to America at the depths of the Great Depression, and the youth unemployment rate over 50 percent. This can’t go on — and the realization that it can’t go on is what is sending Spanish borrowing costs ever higher. In a way, it doesn’t really matter how Spain got to this point — but for what it’s worth, the Spanish story bears no resemblance to the morality tales so popular among European officials, especially in Germany. Spain wasn’t fiscally profligate — on the eve of the crisis it had low debt and a budget surplus. Unfortunately, it also had an enormous housing bubble, a bubble made possible in large part by huge loans from German banks to their Spanish counterparts. When the bubble burst, the Spanish economy was left high and dry; Spain’s fiscal problems are a consequence of its depression, not its cause. Nonetheless, the prescription coming from Berlin and Frankfurt is, you guessed it, even more fiscal austerity. . . .