I received an urgent email plea from the excellent Color of Change, a large and growing-larger membership group using online and other media to advocate for economic and political parity in America. The email urged me to write to the FCC to reject AT&T's bid to buy T-Mobile and thus monopolize wireless communications in the USA (with 80% ownership, the remainder split among Verizon, Sprint, and resellers).
You can read the appeal here (and respond to the FCC yourself):
The email was seemingly meant (from reading its text) for Black Americans and their organizations, because what it did was raise valid criticisms of the NAACP and other race-based organizations that have endorsed AT&T's bid to buy T-Mobile (currently owned by Deutsche Telekom). De facto they are endorsing monopolization of wireless as a national policy, ostensibly to aid their members. Nothing could be farter from the truth, however.
These groups must know that monopolies never work in the economic or employment interests of minorities. They work (especially unregulated monopolies, as this one will almost certainly be given the FCC's weak-kneed history) only to advance the interests of big business, big government, and the monopolies' own shareholders. In the case of AT&T, monopolization will also diminish free speech, because AT&T is determined to kill the policy of net neutrality by imposing service charges that will make it all but impossible for non-elite customers to economically access the Internet.
Although the NAACP and the other endorsing groups try to cover for their duplicity on this issue by pointing to AT&T's pro-minority hiring programs, they're talking old history. Before the AT&T breakup in 1983, AT&T was a different company with a different labor situation. Before the breakup, AT&T was a tightly regulated monopoly and the Communication Workers of American (CWA) a powerful union. The current AT&T is actually Southwestern Bell Communications (SBC), renamed. SBC was the post-breakup Baby Bell that formerly served Texas. In the 1990s, with few regulation still in effect, it went on a buying spree, purchasing all but one of the other Baby Bells and then the AT&T name and logo. (The original AT&T by this time had atrophied to a barely functioning long-distance carrier.)
In its SBC garb, the corporation has been one of the most reactionary in the nation, always challenging regulators, always giving big bucks to the most right-wing political candidates, always aligning itself with George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, Tom Delay, and the crooks over at Enron. And that hasn't changed. it is highly unlikely that anyone in the AT&T neé SBC corporation cares very much about African-Americans or any minority, except as customers -- and when minority customers' finances decline (as they have done) to the point where they can't afford to pay monthly fees, to hell with them completely. AT&T has consistently challenged Universal Service provisions in the 1996 Telecom Reform Act that seek to even the playing field with regard to access to telecom services. As to jobs: without a powerful CWA to teach apprentices -- the union has been eviscerated by the telcos' reliance on technology -- minorities' chances of getting jobs that inherently require advanced training are slim to none, especially if AT&T rules the roost.
It is terribly disheartening to see how many minority organizations have gotten on the AT&T Monopoly bandwagon because of bullshit, blandishments, and bribes. Yes, bribes: I've been close to this situation for a long while and know that that's how its done. No, money doesn't necessarily change hands, but too often promises are made for this or that or whatever benefits an organization, maybe its leadership, only tangentially its members -- and the fix is in.
What can turn this situation around? At least Colors of Change is trying. Maybe it's time for the other organizations' members and the foundations that fund these organizations to stop blindly trusting in their leaders and take matters like this one into their own hands.
Also, while many of the organizations on the CoC list do have legitimate programs they may otherwise serve, many are just fronts set up for the sole purpose of championing big-business politics. These organizations should be outed by their peers. Minority Americans have it hard enough without their "representatives" driving the shiv in from behind.