Monday, April 20, 2009

How Monopolists Behave

From today's New York Times, discussing the recently-pulled Time Warner pricing proposal:

JCom, the largest cable company in Japan, sells service as fast as 160 megabits per second for $60 a month, only $5 a month more than its slower service.

Why so cheap?  JCom faces more competition from other Internet providers than companies in the United States do.

A shame the NYT, like so many others, can't muster the same analytical candor about public "education" as it can about internet service.  Still, a worthwhile article illustrating further the disingenuousness of Time-Warner.


Friday, April 17, 2009

Time Warner Hasn't Backed Down

Not really.

A TW spokesman, quoted on WXXI news this morning, said resistance to its plan to charge based on use arose from the public's "misunderstanding" of the proposal.

Nonsense.   Hostility to the plan arose not because people "misunderstood" it, but because they understood it all too well.

Nobody knows this better than Time-Warner itself, whose statements in backing off from its proposal -- for now -- suggest they think they just have to spin the message more effectively the next time around.

How?   Here's one plausible scenario:

TW lets the dust settle for a year or thereabout, then substantially jacks up monthly rates for everyone, claiming increased internet use.  This creates a public uproar, which is precisely what they intend.   Now they can ride to the rescue by changing their proposal to one in which heavier users pay for use.

It might be this, or it might be something else.   What's certain is that they'll try again.   That and, as in the line about people "misunderstanding" the withdrawn plan, Time-Warner remains as thoroughly dishonest in its public statements as it has been from the start of this episode.


Thursday, April 16, 2009

Tea Time

The extraordinary feature of yesterday's Tea Party protests across the country is not the impressive number of participants, but that they happened at all.

Political rallies and street protests traditionally have been the province of the Left.   People in the ordinary mainstream of life and conservatively-minded people are too polite, too reticent, too time-strapped.   Lacking, for the most part, the ideological fervor to overcome inhibitions like self-consciousness, or concern over what the Boss might think.

A conservative friend of humorist P.J. O'Rourke asked "why don't our people do this," as they passed by a streetcorner group of left-wing protesters.

"Our people have jobs," P.J. explained.

That Americans were willing to turn out yesterday in the numbers they did, to protest taxes and government spending, demonstrates a broad and deep feeling across the country.

Whether it will be productively channeled, resulting in policy reform, we will learn in the years ahead.   That it might be is clearly troubling the Left.  They understand, better than anyone, that street organizing and protests are very much outside of the culture of the conservative and the moderate.

The Left understands the import of what it saw yesterday.   Look at the more extreme of the local and national Left-oriented websites and how they tried yesterday, in anticipation, to dismiss and belittle the tea parties.   These efforts carry a whiff of "whistling past the graveyard."   If they really thought the tea parties were meaningless, they'd ignore them rather than give them more publicity by denouncing them in advance, as they have.

The nervousness of the Left is showing.

Tea, anyone?


Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Dan Greene for Sheriff?

Maybe. Maybe not.

Mustard Street has learned that Republican-turned-Democrat Dan Greene will announce his candidacy for Monroe County Sheriff on Saturday morning. Greene served as Undersheriff for incumbent Patrick O’Flynn, until resigning his post two years ago. Insiders maintain that Greene's motivation may be a personal animosity toward the popular Sheriff O’Flynn.

Democratic sources are reporting a problem for Greene:   his new party appears none too thrilled about nominating him as their candidate.

This unease among Democrats about Greene was underscored when Greene failed to win the endorsement of the City’s 29th Legislative District Democratic Committee, losing the committee vote to challenger Ernest Jones.

Is it a done deal for Greene? Maybe even he doesn't know.


Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Well Done, Congressman Massa -- But Avoid Unintended Consequences!

Congressman Massa is way out in front of his local congressional colleagues in introducing legislation to stop Time Warner from capping internet use.   Congressman Dan Maffei is on record supporting Massa's proposal.

The folks at Rochester Turning put the right question this morning, in asking,"Where do our other members of Congress stand?"   (We should all thank Rochester Turning for the job they've done in keeping abreast of this issue.   Thanks, folks!)

We hope the Massa proposal foresees and prevents one potential unintended consequence of his legislation to stop the cap.   An older friend put it like this, "Massa's right, but I hope he's not pushing a 'self-service gasoline' bill."

Our friend explained:   "Before you could pump your own gas, attendants at gas stations did it for you.   Then along came the idea of self-service.   Its big selling point was that if the law changed to let you pump it yourself, then self-service gas would be cheaper than gas pumped by an attendant."

"So they changed the law to allow self-service.   Immediately the gas companies hiked the price of full-service, with the new self-service priced where full service had been before the change.   Now you paid the same, but had to do the work yourself.   So the prediction came true:   self-service gas did cost less than full service."

We hope Messrs. Massa and Maffei are aware that it's going to be no victory if their legislation forbids a cap   --  but lets Time Warner hike up, for everyone, the price of the same service we're getting now.


Sunday, April 12, 2009

Steve Minarik, R.I.P.

"When a true genius appears in the world, you may know him by this sign, that the dunces are all in confederacy against him."

Jonathan Swift

Salve atque vale.


BREAKING -- Steve Minarik, Former Monroe GOP Chairman, Has Died

We have just learned of the death of former Monroe County Republican Chairman Stephen Minarik.   He died at home this morning of a heart attack.

Let us sit upon the ground, and tell sad stories of the death of kings.


Friday, April 10, 2009

Deputy County Exec. James Smith Resigns

Breaking . . .

Deputy County Executive James Smith has resigned, Mustard Street has learned.   His replacement will be County Attorney Daniel Delaus.

No other information at this time.   We'll keep you posted.


Deep in the Heart of Texas ...

... as the song goes, is where Monroe County Democrats went to find a candidate for County Court Judge, for the Governor to appoint to the vacancy created by Judge Elma Bellini's election to Supreme Court.

It was David Gantt's call this time.

His choice, Brian M. McCarthy, actually came back from Texas, where he had been retired for the last six months with his wife, former County Clerk Patricia Lamb McCarthy, in order to run for the post, beginning with the appointment.

The siren song of office exerts a mighty pull.


Thursday, April 9, 2009

An Open Question to Time-Warner

OK, Time-Warner.

So if, as you say, you're charging extra for higher bandwidth usage so that moderate 'net users won't be subsidizing the heavy downloaders any more --

-- that means you're going to reduce the base cost of Roadrunner to that 95% of your subscribers whom you describe as "subsidizers" of the big users.



Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Let's Be More Like the Europeans


Like these Europeans.

The next time our State Legislature rubber-stamps a Sheldon Silver budget that raises spending 8% in the most overspending state in the country, and gouges its citizen-serfs even more than they are already, the Capitol building should be surrounded with taxpayers protesting like these people.

Until legislators know that taxpayers this angry are waiting for them outside, we will never have reform in this state.

The feudal system is alive and well in the worst state in the country. Until we resist, we're serfs of the welfare state. And until we do this, we deserve to be.


Resist the Road Tax

Like most people of middle-class origins, we were raised to respect the police.   We do, when they act to thwart real crime and apprehend criminals.

But not when they shake-down citizens for money, like third-world police-thugs.

Lately the police, especially the State Police, have been doing a lot of it.

Since the beginning of the year, it's been impossible to miss the sudden, quantum increase in police hiding in speed traps everywhere you go in western New York.   Whether you drive around town, on the interstates or on the Thruway, it's been painfully conspicuous.

One very recently retired State Trooper tells us that in response to its "revenue shortfall"   (translation:  its refusal to control spending)  Albany recently ordered that monthly speeding ticket quotas for the Troopers be hiked significantly.   Remember that when the ticket is for speeding, it's the State that gets the fine.   And then gets to impose a "surcharge" on the fine (of course -- this is New York!)

We've commented before that New York's unrealistically low speed limits have little to do with public safety and everything to do with the State extracting yet more money from its residents.   When government sets speed limits too low, then everyone is "speeding" -- and the State has what's really a randomly-imposable Road Tax.

If you doubt this analysis, consider the evidence of your own eyes, as cops hiding in speed traps increase proportionately with Albany's desperation for more cash.

The State's degradation of its police in this way should be offensive to any of us. Troopers join the force to protect and to help the public.   Albany has made them into tax-collectors with guns.

As such, police have become nothing more than instrumentalities of a predatory and malignant State.   Enemies of the People, in the moral cellar with wife-beaters, public employee unions and members of the state legislature.

It's against the police, as tax-collectors, that ordinary citizens need to push back.  And New York's arbitrary Road Tax is one tax where the individual citizen can push back.

Coming Next: How to Fight Back