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Archive for the ‘Opinion’ Category

U.S. vs. AT&T: Government meddling at its finest

by Mark Ciavola

Today, the U.S. Department of Justice filed an anti-trust suit to block AT&T’s impending merger with T-Mobile. There are many opinions from many people clogging up Facebook and Twitter feeds, but so many of these people don’t fully understand the issue or the facts involved in this case.

Having worked for AT&T Wireless in 2001, and having survived two mergers – one when Cingular (SBC) bought AT&T Wireless, and a second when SBC bought AT&T – I understand this issue all too well. So I thought I’d shed some light on the issue from the perspective of the companies, the employees, and the consumer.

The most important thing to be aware of here is T-Mobile’s current condition. The 4th largest wireless company in the U.S., T-Mobile has been forced over the years to keep their prices low in order to compete with larger companies like Verizon and AT&T. Furthermore, they have had to accept customers that Verizon and AT&T turn away because of credit requirements, leaving them with far more customers who don’t pay their bills. Fiscally, T-Mobile is not set up for long-term success, and their sale will happen – whether to AT&T or not.

The one advantage AT&T has in this deal is that they operate a GSM network, just like T-Mobile. Verizon uses CDMA and Sprint uses CDMA and the old Nextel’s iDEN.

All that jibberish means that the AT&T and T-Mobile networks are the most compatible, and would avoid the lengthy and costly conversion that was required when Sprint merged with Nextel – even having to offer a special phone that would access both networks for two years after the deal.

Now, from the consumer’s point of view, this deal would allow some 120 million Americans to realize a larger coverage area, more retail outlets, and an improved buying power which will result in an increased selection of devices and a wider array of available services – including T-Mobile customers finally having access to the iPhone.

Don’t believe me? Simply look back to when AT&T and Cingular merged. Never before had so many wireless consumers enjoyed such a large network, expanded choice in devices, and an unbelievable amount of phones priced at $50 and below – often free with contract extension.

And, because both AT&T and Cingular used GSM technology, customers enjoyed improved coverage overnight.

Not to mention that AT&T’s service has suffered tremendously because of the high-bandwidth content being accessed by iPhone users – and expanding their network overnight will ease this congestion. As an AT&T customer, I eagerly await this.

The biggest complaint from the Justice Department is that this merger will stifle competition across the U.S. However, I direct you to companies like TracFone, MetroPCS, U.S. Cellular, and Cricket (the 5th – 8th largest wireless companies in the U.S.) as perfect examples of low-cost – and often no-contract – alternatives to the large companies.

In addition to these choices, there are often concessions made by companies in merger deals such as this. When Cingular acquired AT&T, the new company had to divest its control of several smaller markets to regional carriers – something I am sure would occur here as well. Although I feel compelled to mention that those customers living in the divested areas end up with worse coverage and less choices, because the government chooses to intervene in this manner.

Next up: Employees.

When AT&T Wireless was purchased by Cingular (SBC), several things changed. For one, the new company saw increased purchasing power when it came to negotiating benefit costs for employees. In addition, while there were some initial layoffs because of duplicate positions and redundancies (myself included), the company continued to grow (and I returned as well).

Employees also were able to be part of the largest wireless company in America, which resulted in increased sales – which means increased commissions for sales folks and more job security for everyone else.

Who would argue that T-Mobile employees are better off because they work for the 4th largest company with the worst coverage of the four major carriers? In addition, because T-Mobile is forced to accept low-credit customers to keep up with the larger companies, many of their sales result in cancellations, and therefore commission chargebacks.

Also, T-Mobile does not offer the iPhone – the most sought after wireless device in America.

This merger would change all of that, and keep the standard of living constant for AT&T employees, but be a tremendous boon for T-Mobile workers.

The one downfall I see for T-Mobile employees is that they would have to deal with the Communication Workers of America (CWA), which is a foul organization posing as a pro-worker union. Although most people against this merger seem to love unions, so I guess this would also be a positive for them.

The labor agreement CWA and AT&T negotiated while I was there was good for Cingular employees, but terrible for AT&T workers – who had a far better deal before the union showed up.

One thing I’d like everyone reading this to remember, is that America is far behind Europe and Asia when it comes to wireless coverage and services. The reason for this is that we demand free phones and low-priced plans, leaving carriers with far less money to re-invest in their networks – which is very expensive. In Europe, there is no such thing as included minutes, free nights & weekends, unlimited text messaging, etc. Because of this difference in culture, created by the carriers themselves when they offered free phones in exchange for contracts, we will never be on par with the rest of the wireless world.

One way American companies can close that technology gap is by continuing to increase their subscriber base, and by creating and selling new services which generate additional revenue.

This merger will help achieve that. It will help offer AT&T’s 97 million consumers and T-Mobile’s 33 million consumers the best in what wireless can offer.

AT&T/Cingular has the most grueling and stringent testing phase for all products and services, and has world-class training programs for its employees to better service its customers.

At no time has T-Mobile ever been a top-tier carrier – and I say that as both a consumer, and as someone who lived the mobile phone culture for seven years.

This merger would be a plus for all involved – except Verizon and Sprint who would realize lower market share.

Verizon and Sprint should realize that they will receive 3-4 million new subscribers from customers who leave the newly combined AT&T/T-Mobile for a variety of reasons – including owing AT&T a previous debt, or disliking AT&T. But I guess they aren’t thinking that far ahead.

In the end, however, the Justice Department is overstepping its bounds by interfering with the free market. They do not understand the wireless industry, they are simply attempting to “protect consumers” by not allowing the 120 million AT&T and T-Mobile customers to enjoy a better experience – while assisting Sprint and Verizon in preventing AT&T from once again becoming the largest wireless carrier in America (until Verizon once again retakes the lead – which it did after the AT&T/Cingular merger, and will again).

The government does not increase competition, private industry does. See TracFone, MetroPCS, U.S. Cellular, and Cricket as examples.

The Justice Department needs to focus on the real challenges in our country – instead of suing states for enforcing the law, banning online poker, and refusing to investigate voter intimidation cases.

Until then, it’s hard to take them seriously.

Quartzsite, Arizona’s Grave Constitutional Issue

  • July 28, 2011
  • Opinion
  • Comments Off

Recently, many of us heard about the bullying done to a resident of Quartzsite, Arizona, by the Chief of Police, Jeff Gilbert. This story had me quite riled up that I had to voice my concerns to Sheriff Don Lowrey of La Pa County, La Paz County Attorney Sam Vederman,  and Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne.

My July 16th letter to them is as follows.

Attorney Sam Vederman
1320 Kofa Ave
Parker, AZ 85344

Sheriff Don Lowery
1109 Arizona Ave
Parker, AZ 85344

Tom Horne
Attorney General of Arizona
1275 W Washington St
Phoenix, AZ 85007-2926

Sirs:

I am writing as a private citizen of the United States concerning the recent behavior and conduct by the Quartzsite Chief of Police, Jeff Gilbert. It has come to light on Facebook, Fox News and other media outlets as of late.

A resident of Quartzsite, Jennifer Jones, was initially allowed to speak during a Call to the Public segment of the Quartzsite city council meeting on June 28th. She was given the floor to freely speak about corruption occurring within the City of Quartzsite. As per the video on YouTube, Chief Gilbert, unconstitutionally had Ms. Jones arrested for no reason other than speaking out against the perceived corruption. I believe that her Constitutional rights as per the First Amendment were blatantly and grossly violated because Mr. Gilbert and associates did not like the message she had.

A few days later, Chief Gilbert has attempted to declare martial law in Quartzsite, while attempting to have Mayor Ed Foster removed from power. This apparently stemmed from the events of a July 11th city council meeting. This meeting was deemed illegal because of the events occurring during the June 28th city council meeting. A later video shows the Mayor declaring the meeting null and void and walked out of the meeting. However, the city council continued with the meeting, even after the Mayor walked out of it.

Thus, I urge you to initiate an immediate investigation into the actions of Chief of Police Gilbert and others in the grave violation of Ms. Jones’ civil liberties as pertaining to Article 2, Section 6 of the Constitution of the State of Arizona, and to the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States.

Sincerely,

Derek J Witt

I honestly didn’t think I was going to get a response from any of the aforementioned persons.  Surprisingly on July 19th, I received the following response from the Attorney General’s Office of Constituent Services.

Dear Constituent,

Thank you for contacting the Arizona Attorney General’s Office regarding your concerns.

Our office has opened an investigation into the allegations of open meeting law violations. This investigation is being conducted through the Office of the Solicitor General, Open Meeting Law Enforcement Team.

Regarding allegations of misconduct on the part of law enforcement officials, this office does not have jurisdiction over local law enforcement and therefore does not have the authority to conduct such investigations. The appropriate agencies to report police officer misconduct would be the United States Dept. of Justice or the FBI.

In regards to criminal activity and public corruption, if someone has evidence of criminal wrongdoing they should submit their complaint / information in writing to the Arizona Attorney General’s Office to the attention of the Special Investigations Section at 1275 W. Washington Street, Phoenix, AZ 85007.

Please note, our Office acts as legal counsel for State Agencies in Arizona and, therefore, cannot act as a private attorney to individual citizens. This means we cannot give legal advice, opinions or interpretation of law to individuals.

Thank you again for contacting our offices.

Warm Regards,

Office of Constituent Services
Arizona Attorney General’s Office

Apparently, numerous complaints were made to the Arizona Solicitor General’s Open Meeting Enforcement Team (OMET) about the illegal conduct of the city council and the Chief of Police. Even Mayor Ed Foster submitted a complaint to the OMET.

As per the response that Mayor Foster received,  OMET consolidated the open meeting violation complaints, and opened an investigation into allegations of Open Meeting Law violations by Chief of Police Jeff Gilberts and others. As many can see on this Youtube video, Jennifer Jones was illegally arrested during an apparently obvious violation of said Open Meeting Laws.

And apparently, other Youtube Videos are surfacing. These demonstrate further gross violation of Arizona State Law, and of the Constitution of the State of Arizona and of the United States. We, as private citizens, must continue to put the spurs upon the likes of Chief of Police Gilbert, and of members of the Quartzsite City Council. The declaration of martial law solely because being called out on perceived corruption cannot stand!

I pray that the State of Arizona stands up for its own citizens and protects them against gross constitutional violations as done by those members of the Quartzsite City Council and Chief of Police Gilbert.

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I Am A Democrat

by Mark Ciavola

Mark Ciavola is the State Chairman of the Nevada College Republicans, and president of the College Republican chapter at University of Nevada – Las Vegas

Today, a video surfaced on YouTube from the College Democrats of America (CDA) explaining why they are Democrats. This video, titled “The Obama Generation” shows support for the Democratic Party for a wide range of reasons, from believing in hope to opposing free trade. The video was made private after dissenting comments began appearing, but a public version appears here.

In order to illustrate the pure delusion among young Democrats, here is my recap. I left out those students who made purely emotional points that need no rebuttal.

“I am a Democrat…” the video begins.

Student #2: “… because of the Patriot Act.”

Let me get this straight. You are a Democrat because you support the Patriot Act? Or because you oppose it? Either way, it doesn’t matter.

First, the Patriot Act was passed in 2001 when this student was about 10 years old. It passed the House 357-66 with 145 Democrats voting in support, and the Senate with only one Democratic no-vote, 98-1. So if you oppose the Patriot Act, then you probably shouldn’t be a Democrat.

Although Democrats spent the entire length of the Bush Administration decrying the Patriot Act as an abuse of government power, so if you support the Patriot Act you probably shouldn’t be a Democrat either.

Seems like an ignorantly vague statement, at best.

Student #3: “ … because I’m a Christian, not in spite of it.”

This one makes no sense at all. The Christian faith represents a focus on traditional family values including marriage, and respects the inherent dignity of all human life – opposing abortion. Why would any Christian support a political party that promoted abortion as an alternative to birth control? Why would any Christian support a political party that pokes fun at religion, members of which routinely attempt to get prayer out of public schools, and remove God from the Pledge of Allegiance and our currency?

This student obviously doesn’t know what it means to be a Democrat, a Christian, or both.

Student #4: “ … because I believe in every child has a right to a fair and high quality education.”

This sounds nice, but in practice the Democrats oppose charter schools, school vouchers, or any other mechanism through which parents can ensure their children get a fair and high quality education. The Democrats only want children going to public schools, which employ public teachers, with public dollars, little accountability, and shoddy results.

Republicans believe parents should be able to choose where their child goes to school. Instead of the government giving the public school $8,000 per child, let’s give that money to the parents to use at the school of their choice. “NO!” says the Democrat, who realizes that after 30-years of liberal dominance in education, their meal ticket is coming to an end.

Cut wasteful spending? Use technology to improve education? Use online supplements? Performance-based merit pay increases? “HELL NO,” say the Democrats, in the form of powerful teachers unions.

Republicans believe in returning control of school districts to the state, county, and local levels – rather than a one-size-fits-all plan from the federal government. “NO WAY,” say the union-backed Democrats.

Student #7: “ … because I believe anyone can make it in America.”

No you don’t. You believe government can make it FOR THEM.

If Democrats believed that “anyone can make it in America,” they wouldn’t support racist affirmative action measures. Democrats believe that members of minority communities need preferential treatment in order to get certain jobs, or into colleges.

Funny, I thought Democrats believed in equality.

There’s nothing equal in giving people preferential treatment because of race.  Period.

I, however, do believe anyone can make it in America – if they want it, and if they work hard for it. I did it. So can anyone.

This is yet another emotionally-driven non-sensical cliché. Bravo, brainwashed youth. Bravo!

Student #8: “ … because I believe the government should take care of its citizens.”

Who is the government?

If you’re a Democrat, you believe it is an abstract concept with no tangible, real world, application.

If you’re intelligent, you know that government is me, you, and everyone else in this country who pays taxes.

The government has no money, until we give it to them in the form of taxes and fees. This is 8th grade government class stuff, folks.

If you believe the government should take care of its citizens, then you believe that we, the people, should take care of each other. And we do.

We take care of ourselves and our families. We take care of our neighbors. We take care of others in our community. We do this through church, charity, and volunteer work. We don’t need to do it through government.

Why do we need to send our money to Washington, have 20% taken off the top for high bureaucratic salaries, lose 10% in waste, and have the remaining 70% returned to us in the form of government programs with strings attached?

We don’t. Only a Democrat would think we do.

But then again, if the government has less money, who is going to employ all those people who have no real skills? Not me, that’s for sure.

Student #9: “ … because I love HBCUs (Historically Black Colleges & Universities), and CDA (College Democrats of America) are able to reach out to HBCUs and be able to get them involved.”

Do Republicans hate HBCUs? I highly doubt it, since they were founded by Republicans.

Oops. Guess this student should’ve paid more attention to history class.

Oh wait, they don’t teach that in history class anymore, because Democrats run our education system.

Lovely. Next.

Student #10: “ … because we are the Party of civil rights.”

Really?

You might want to check your facts on that one.

The NAACP was founded by white Republicans in 1909 – a fact conspicuously absent from their website.

Republicans fought to end slavery and give blacks the right to vote. The Emancipation Proclamation, freeing slaves, was signed by Abraham Lincoln – a Republican.

Republicans fought to give women the right to vote, and were responsible for the 19th Amendment. Susan B. Anthony was a women’s rights leader – also a Republican.

Republicans fought for several civil rights act, including the big one – the 1964 Civil Rights Act.

Republican support for the 1964 Civil Rights Act outnumbered Democratic support, 80% – 65%.

Fun fact: In the 26 major civil rights votes after 1933, a majority of Democrats opposed civil rights legislation in over 80% of the votes. By contrast, the Republican majority favored civil rights in over 96% of the votes.

It may be convenient for Democrats to ignore these facts, but they are facts nonetheless. Democrats, meanwhile, turned fire hoses on blacks in the South – and founded the KKK.

But hey, if that’s the Party you want to be associated with, that’s fine. It’s a free country.

Student #11: “ … because I want to fight for those who don’t have a voice.”

Like who?

Unions represent about 8% of the American people; Blacks about 12%; Hispanics 13%; Gays 3% – 10%, depending who counts.

These groups have some of the LOUDEST voices in our political process.

So who are you fighting for, that doesn’t have a voice?

How about the unborn children? They don’t have a voice. But they don’t count, if you’re a Democrat.

In fact, it is estimated that more than 45,000,000 babies have been aborted since 1973 – about 15,000,000 of them were Black.

Is that what fighting for those who “don’t have a voice” looks like? If so, I’ll pass.

Democrats aren’t only pro-choice, but pro-abortion. They frequently advocate for the loosening of restrictions on abortion, the removal of parental consent, and parental notification.

Even if you believe women should have the freedom to choose abortion, how can you believe a minor should be able to get an abortion without their parents knowing?

What about the rights of the father? They have no voice in the abortion discussion. It’s up to the mother. How many fathers sit by helplessly as their children are aborted, without their consent?

Sorry, but this is utter garbage.

Student #12: “ … because I believe that, through government, we can come together and do what we can’t do individually.”

Wow. I agree. That is the role of government. Sort of.

We need government for things like fighting wars, protecting our borders, providing police and firefighters, roads and highways, public education, and the like.

We do not need government to provide charity. We can do that individually.

We do not need the government to fulfill the role of private industry. Businesses can do that.

We do not need the government to do those things we can do individually, and if this student actually believed what he says, he’d be a Republican.

Instead, these Democratic students believe government should do everything, including those things we can do individually. And that’s where the problem lies.

“We cannot be all things to all people.” That quote was uttered by none other than Democratic Senator Claire McKaskill – on the Hannity Show last Friday, no less.

Is she starting to see that the government can only do so much? I sure hope so. Maybe she’s just saying that to avoid the pitchforks. Time will tell.

But the reality is that our government has grown beyond our ability to support it. Currently, according to the U.S. Debt Clock, each citizen owes the federal government $46,000.

Who is fighting for our rights, to not have to enter the taxpaying workforce $46,000 in debt to the federal government?

Who is going to fight for the right of future generations to not have to live under the crushing pressure of our debt?

Certainly not Democrats.

Student #13: “ … because I support candidates that believe in the power of young people.”

Ever heard of the College Republicans? The Young Republicans? Get over yourselves.

Young people turned out in overwhelming numbers for President Obama. Yet many of them had no idea what specific policies he stood for, or much about his opponents. In an exit poll video of Obama voters, many thought Sarah Palin said, “I can see Alaska from my house.” It was actually Saturday Night Live’s Tina Fey, but hey, who’s counting.

If you get your news from SNL, the Daily Show, or the Colbert Report, you are a dumbass – and you should have no power.

Student #15: “ … because I believe in equal pay for equal work.”

Another Democratic Party talking point, full of emotion.

Studies have shown that women make less than men for many reasons, including discrimination. But we can’t discount several important factors:

Women gravitate toward jobs that are more flexible, because of children.

Women are more likely to take extended time off, which interrupts their climb up the pay scale.

Men tend to do the jobs with more physical labor, outdoor work, overnight shifts, and dangerous conditions, which tend to pay more.

Men are more likely to work longer hours.

Of single urban workers between age 22 and 30, women make 8% more than men.

A higher percentage of women are employed than men, because men were adversely hit by the millions of construction jobs lost in this recession.

Women are outpacing men in college enrollment and degrees.

So spare me the emotional stuff.

Student #16: “ … because America is a Democracy, not a theocracy.”

Odd. Your friend, student #3, says he’s a Democrat because he’s a Christian. Which is it? Is religion good? Or bad? Pick one.

Inconsistency is a Democrat’s best friend. However, America is not a theocracy, regardless of which political party this genius belongs to.

Back in Massachusetts, where I’m from originally, just about everyone is Catholic. They’re also all Democrats. So is Massachusetts a theocracy, as the state with the largest concentration of Catholics in the nation?

Or is this just the typical liberal assault on religion? (PS: Don’t tell Student #3!)

Also, America is a democratic republic, so he’s wrong anyway.

Student #17: “ … because I believe everyone deserves the same right to a good public education and to marry whoever they want.”

I already touched on education earlier, but it’s worth mentioning again that liberals have failed to deliver a “good public education” over the last 30 years. So this student should be very upset with her Party over education.

As for everyone marrying whomever they want, someone should ask her where she draws the line. Should cousins be able to marry? Sisters? Brothers? How about polygamists?

I’m sure she’s referring to gay marriage, so let’s talk about that for a minute.

The government should never have gotten involved in marriage to begin with. Marriage is a sacred institution, and couples seeking a religious marriage should not need the government’s permission to do so. It should be between them and God – via their church.

Those not seeking religious marriage should be able to enter into a civil contract with their partner – at a governmental level. Civil Unions. After all, atheists get married all the time – and that doesn’t seem to be a problem for the religious folks. They just don’t get married in a Catholic church.

But this student is cleverly alluding to the fact that Republicans are somehow anti-gay. Which, as both a Republican and a gay man, I can say is patently false.

However, if gay couples want to get married because the government offers 1,100 benefits to married couples, my question is: Why is the government bestowing 1,100 special rights on married couples?

If every straight and gay couple can get married in America, no unmarried couples would be eligible for these 1,100 special rights. That’s not equality, now is it gay activists? No. It’s not.

So we should just get government out of marriage altogether, and then we won’t have students like this insinuating that Republicans are anti-gay, just because they don’t want the government forcing their church to marry same-sex couples.

Finally…

Student #22: “ … because I’m tired – sick and tired – of NAFTA-style free trade agreements that are shipping good-paying American jobs overseas.

This one is easy.

The House of Representatives passed NAFTA on November 17, 1993, with a vote of 234-200. Over 100 Democrats voted in support of NAFTA in the House. It passed the Senate 61-38, with 27 Democrats supporting.

Democratic President Bill Clinton signed NAFTA on December 8, 1993 – well before the 1994 GOP takeover of Congress.

He also signed Don’t Ask Don’t Tell and the Defense of Marriage Act into law, but Democrats conveniently forget that.

When Bill Clinton signed NAFTA, he said, “NAFTA means jobs. American jobs, and good-paying American jobs. If I didn’t believe that, I wouldn’t support this agreement.”

Aw, I guess this student needs to rethink his party affiliation or his position on NAFTA. But either way, he looks pretty stupid now.

In the end, these students have no idea why they are Democrats. They’ve just been told by society, academia, Hollywood, and Jon Stewart, that they are supposed to be Democrats.

Someday they will learn to think for themselves.

 

Learn more about the College Republicans at: www.crnc.org