Missing Ma Bell
Regarding the Feb. 26 Viewpoints column, “Telecommunications Takes Off”
Five years after bureaucratic cretins and a technologically illiterate judge accomplished the breakup of the world’s finest communications company, it is now rapidly degenerating to third-rate status. Once the envy of the whole world, the Bell System revolutionized communication by, among other things, inventing the transistor and the electronic switchboard and by establishing a nationwide microwave network to augment cables. But now we’re being surpassed by such a shining beacon of science and technology as Singapore. Who will overtake us next?
Before the breakup, AT&T; could afford to spend huge amounts of money on basic research and on technical innovations. And it could still provide more than 200 million Americans with a telephone system for less than it costs today. (To be sure, it costs less for businesses, as the bureaucrats assured us, since long-distance rates are now lowered and “the lower business expenditures will be reflected in lower consumer prices.” They also believe in the tooth fairy.)
The United States has lost its leadership in producing almost everything. Even telephones, once mass-produced by a Bell subsidiary, are now imported, since the phone companies, by decree, are now forbidden to make their own equipment. And none of the “Baby Bells” has sufficient funds for research and development to advance the state of the art the way “Ma Bell” used to.
A. D. BORONKAY