Trail Mixers Say: Wheels Need Not Be Reinvented

jace says:

Once upon a Goddamned time, in a land far fu–ing away was an evil monopoly! It was a corporation made up of evil people. The people worked hard, and loved their jobs and above all provided good service, but the most evil thing the monopoly did was to keep costs low to the consumer. There was a blackness and a plague across the land and the people knew not which way to turn, because communication worked too well and was too reliable.

Fortunately for the corporation, it is in the nature of all of us not only to question, but to want more, more, and more still. And so the people, they cried out for more. More things cheap, more things fast, and more ways to communicate. And one desire fed upon another, each to have more, and to have more than his neighbor, and to have the means of showing his neighbor all this material wealth. And here, the corporation saw their chance–and seized it.

On the morning of the sixth day the people looked to the West, and saw to their dismay and great joy their white knight riding on a free market stallion charging to the rescue. They fell to their knees and thanked providence for their deliverance, from efficiency and competence, knowing now at last they would be free forever from the tyranny of Bell telephone and landlines, and knowing that soon they would dwell in the land of ‘cheapness and choice’ for St. Ronald of Reagan had promised it.

And at first it was good–cell phones here, and Instagrams there, and never a Facebook free moment. It made for such fun, and such connection, and above all such profit that no one thought to question the creeping costs, the minor exposures of personal information, and the occasional pre-recorded voice assuring them that “Verizon cannot complete your call at this time, all circuits are busy”. For the people trusted in the White Knight, and knew that no harm would come to them, not from cellular radiation, nor overage charges, nor vast repositories of barely secured credit information.

And then a darkness descended over the earth, THE BILLS CAME DUE! And behold they were not less but rather they were more, a lot more, and the locusts of higher phone bills higher natural gas bills and higher electric bills and higher bills for all essential services, beset the people and they were angry and dismayed, for they had been led to believe that deregulation would provide more of everything, for everyone and it would not cost the people a dime. Despair and dejection fell over the land.

The people waited and wondered where was the Great St. Ronald, who would allay their fears? But alas he had departed, and left in his place disciples of the false prophesy who assured the people that all would be well as long as they believed. And they believed, they believed until it hurt. They believed even after it was apparent that their beliefs were in error. They believed and they voted, knowing that just one more vote would bring them to the promised land of prosperity through unregulated commerce and essential services.

The people believed in vain!

Soon they cried in desperation, “For too long have we been sold a bill of goods”, and they took it upon themselves to remake that which had been taken from them. The false Prophets of the free market and deregulation were forced to wear the garments of shame and derision in the public square. The people spat upon them and cursed them, but remorse was not within them, nor was contrition.

They knew only of arrogance and conceit, and they shouted ‘follow me, the cliff of salvation approaches’ but the people turned away, saying, “no more your ways are wicked and untrue” your cliff is the cliff of economic death”.

Then there was a great pause over all the land and the people waited and watched, and hoped for salvation, as the forces of good and evil met for the final time, not knowing which would prevail. Uncertainty and apprehension reigned over the land. The people waited.

The moral(s) of this story?
Wheels need not be reinvented.
Things unbroken need not be fixed.

Piss Jace off when he is making his weekly phone call to his mother and there will be bandwidth violations!

Happy ending? When the gods chose to recreate Mt. Rushmore, Ronald Regan’s ass cheeks were shown with a perfectly good rotary phone planted squarely in between. 😉

— By jace

28 thoughts on “Trail Mixers Say: Wheels Need Not Be Reinvented”

  1. Yes, cell phones are more expensive than rotary phones, and basic service is more expensive than local service was in the 80s. But what you get for your dollar is not comparable. In minutes we can call, text, talk to and see our friends, relatives, etc from wherever we are at about any time, can read any one of hundreds of news sources, watch tv & videos, make flight , hotel and dinner reservations, surf the web and post onTrailmix – all from our phones. Getting rid of a benign monopoly had its disadvantages in the form of initially higher rates,but even now I can get basic phone service with unlimited long distance for about what I paid for local service with long distance charges back then. I think for whatever reason, the phone service wheel, although not eeinvented, has been improved beyond recognition. And I can’t imagine what phone service we have today would cost under Ma Bell if it was the only provider.

    BTW, woo hoo.

  2. I suggest retro camp for Jace. I have gone without a cell phone and upgraded cable for some time. I have been handwriting, too. Bring back penmanship, it helps the brain. And you might want to practice your new finger signature, Jace, if you want to remain in the digital kingdom.

  3. Well, I doubt that Boner will be speaker in a few days. He let the cliff deal go to the floor & 3/4 of his caucus voted against it, including Cantor, or is it Cassius, who will challenge him for the post.

    And he did not bring the Sandy relief bill extension for a vote. So screw him.

    I do not predict a Repugn wave in 2014 midterms.

  4. Yep, now-that-it’s-in-my-own-backyard-itis sucks.

    Also sucking, the loss of the payroll tax holiday (cuz that’ll eat up the tiny raise that went into effect on the 1st, which was already more-than-eaten-up by the increase in medical premiums)and the fact that the class of 2013 won’t be any more productive than the current bozos.

    Why are we not cutting defense spending? Why do we need to be in the ME? Do we really need embassies when we have phones/computers/skype? Who paid for the Defense Department’s float in the Rose Parade (donations, I hope) and why do we keep wasting fuel on ceremonial fly-overs at parades and ballgames? Watch the pennies and the dollars will take care of themselves.

    “New York area-lawmakers in both parties erupted in anger late Tuesday night after learning the House Republican leadership decided to allow the current term of Congress to end without holding a vote on aid for victims of Superstorm Sandy.”

  5. I ditched my landline close to 10 years ago, after I’d had my cell for about 2 months and had to dust the landline.

    I spend far less on a smart phone than I did on the landline, because 99% of my calls are long distance. I use free wi-fi most of the time.

    However, Jace’s point is well-made; deregulation did not do what it promised. As he also wrote (and very well), look at the power companies.

    If deregulation was meant to benefit the little guy, it wouldn’t exist.

  6. Fiscal Scheme Deal Done: 77% of Households Will Pay More Taxes, Corporations Get Subsidies
    by Taylor Marsh

    We have been subjected to a White House negotiating process that violates every standard of rationality and transparency. The public never once saw an integrated budget proposal that showed the quantitative and qualitative implications of various policy options. The public has not been told that yesterday’s agreement threatens the financing of crucial programs for education, job training, infrastructure, environment, energy, science and technology, health care, nutrition, and the poor for years to come. – Jeffrey Sachs

  7. Thank you, Pogo, for mentioning the Sandy Relief Bill extension.

    Government exists to help and protect citizens: note the plural. Simple, moral concept.
    The people of New York, New Jersey, Connecticut are part of our family. Question to Congress:Do you look at Grandma and see love or a $ sign?
    The current crop of Representatives has been down this heartless path before. Ask Eric Cantor about Joplin. Yep, Congressman, that town in Missouri which dared asked for help rebuilding after it was flattened by a tornado. Missouri is part of our family, in case you forgot.
    The fiscal cliff nonsense is a wholly manufactured kerfuffle. The wizards behind this mess are happily being exposed. We have a chance in 2014 to form a government of the people, by the people, for the people.
    There is no pricetag on decency, and I expect my Representatives to know this. After all, the government works for us. All of Us.

  8. “While I will negotiate over many things, I will not have another debate with this Congress about whether or not they should pay the bills they have already racked up,” Obama said in remarks in the White House.

    Wanna’ bet? 😕

  9. BW,

    The retro-camp sounds pretty good. I think that FEMA runs those, right?

    For what its worth, there is nothing of importance that I write, that does not first get written down in long hand on a legal pad. Sadly, it has not improved my penmanship one damned bit. 😉

  10. jace,
    A HAH! Skype indeed. 😉

    Actually phones and phone service plans aside, your point is well taken; and one I made when the Baby Bells were created, and AT&T held the monopoly on long distance service even then. (At least that’s how I recall it). It wasn’t so much THAT the gov’t broke up the Bell System, it was HOW they broke it up that was the problem. (One bill good, two bills bad).

    Of course part of the problem with breaking up monopolies that provide service through hard infrastructure systems is access to the delivery system. Not sure there is a good answer to that problem. It’s so much easier to break up monopolies that deliver their services visa trucks, trains and satellites owned by others, but that is not applicable to the power and gas companies. We have only one choice for electrical and natural gas service. And I really don’t care that much – their prices are less than the REA prices, and gas prices are market driven, and both are regulated by our PSC. Closest thing to a monopoly that I give a crap about is WalMart, but since I shop at Target and food shop at Kroger, too, I guess they aren’t much of a monopoly in my world. (I’d care about Starbucks if I didn’t prefer Panera Bread’s coffee).

  11. For those seeking information on how the new Fiscal Cliff legislation will effect them, a toll free help line has been established, to answer the most frequently asked questions.

    Just dial, 1-800-up-your-ass.

    * Some fees may apply to rotary users.

  12. Pogo,

    I’m not some sort of stuck in the past humbug kind of guy, really I’m not.
    Modern technology, especially as it applies to communication is nothing short of amazing! (God that hurt) 😉

    I really think that in most cases deregulation has been less than promised. Not that I have any love for monopolies, because I don’t. I lived with REA power for most of my life and would have given anything if they had had a competitor. FDR should get a do over on that one.
    I think that our economy is hampered greatly everyday by outdated, redundant, and overlapping regulations, that while well intended, make the cost of doing business higher than it should be. I also firmly believe that the lack of regulation or the failure to enforce existing regulations, was a primary contributor to the most recent economic collapse, a collapse that in my estimation could have been averted.

    All that said, try as I might, I simply can not bring myself to sing the siren songs of privatization and deregulation, of our most basic and essential services.

  13. Jace, the mere fact that you use the internets pretty extensively here sort of let me know you are not a techno neanderthal.

    I get your message loud and clear focusing on deregulation rather than the entities deregulated and am of two minds on all of it. Deregulation was a sop to Reagan’s donor class IMHO, and I couldn’t agree more about redundant, conflicting and overlapping regulation being a source of evil rather than good. That said, it was the monopolies (and not so monopolistic industries) that made their own regulatory beds by fleecing their customers, squashing their competitors and screwing their employees.

  14. Pogo,

    Just a quick by the way,I don’t know about your neck of the woods, but here in AZ. our PSC never met a request for a rate increase that they didn’t love. 😉

    Have a good one.

  15. Craig,
    I believe almost every comment made here this morning is a ‘Trail Mixers say’ candidate — thanks to Jace and his thought provoking post.

    Maybe I’m just looking at things in a new way (for me), but I can see clearly now that the slightly (or more than slightly) controversial things we say are just as important as the ones we all agree on — or more accurately, maybe ‘more’ important.

  16. (… as long as there not as controversial as some of the things I’ve said during one of my ‘quirk attacks’ in the past though)

    Thank goodness, we seem to have a forgiving crowd here.

    When I go into a good restaurant, or a friendly store (or any place else that is well run) I always comment that it must be so great because it has good management.

    Under your watchful eye, Craig… TM has good management. It takes a professional.

  17. sjwny says:


    Unless you are using a new name, I don’t think you’ve been here all that long (?). But I feel as though I know you.

    Your sense of fairness and your logic show through in all your posts (as well as your patriotism to ‘all’ the states of the U.S.)

    I feel a need to quote a few of the things you said in your post I linked above that grabbed me by the throat:

    “Government exists to help and protect citizens: note the plural. Simple, moral concept.

    ….. ..We have a chance in 2014 to form a government of the people, by the people, for the people.”

    “There is no pricetag on decency, and I expect my Representatives to know this. After all, the government works for us. All of Us.”

    Hear, hear!

  18. What a way to start a blogging year…just sick as can be, freezing from the chills, can’t eat, barely held down a cuppa joe.

    I guess this song is as cheery as I can stand…treasure every day you have energy to burn and an agenda to make a difference.

  19. Yes, Chloe, Panera is a great place. I really like it – it reminds me of a little coffee shop / soup & salad place I went to in Middlebury, Vt (The Soup Bowl, I think) as a much younger man, only somewhat homogenized and prepackaged, but thoroughly pleasant compared to most places that are alternatives.

  20. Dex, sounds wike the fwu. Stay in bed, take it easy – the fwu’s a bitch once we hit a certain age.

  21. Love the post Jace. As with anything, never take down a fence unless you know why it was first erected. Yes communication modernization has made all sorts of miracles possible but it, along with other developments of the type, has had one major side effect: Fewer and fewer low skill jobs.

    As populations increase globally, there is less and less work for them to do which means incurable poverty. You can see it in everything from the growth of hard core unemployment numbers to skyrocketing costs of Mediare. Barring some massive modern plague, it will take a minimum of 50 years for global population to reverse sufficiently even in the face of things such as the massive drop in Mexico. Let’s hope we don’t trash things so badly in the meantime that food and water become luxuries affordable only by the wealthiest.

    A nice dystopian view for 2013. P.S. Year of the Snake arrives on February 10.

  22. gop reminds me of the intoxicated gentleman lying across the board sidewalk, reaching out and white-knuckled gripping the edge, saying, “I’ll climb this fence if it takes all night.”

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