I Remember Ma Bell


"We don't care. We don't have to. We're the phone company."

That Lily Tomlin bit has been outdated for a couple decades. Having lost its status as the phone company, AT&T is struggling to remain a phone company at all.

The emotional appeal may not be as obvious as a "Reach Out and Touch Someone" commercial, but it still gives me a warm feeling.

NEXT: Radio Armies Marching On

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  1. Just the latest in a long series of counterexamples to the fallacy that capital centralizes indefinitely and that capitalism inevitably leads to the widening of the so-called income and power “gaps.”


    OK “ol” I suppose next you’ll say that the break-up of Ma Bell was due to market forces?

  2. hey joe!

    you mean that angela’s performances as miss marple or as the amiable drunken spinster detective from cabot cove, maine aren’t as good? ha ha.

    x gets the square.

    have a good weekend,

  3. kip, congress destroyed the greatest telephone system in the world over the objections of the security and military branchs of our government.The market did not do it. /R

  4. Commie & rick,

    Please don’t rewrite history — AT&T wanted to be broken up (though certainly not the way it happened, with DOJ back-stabbing it at the last minute in settlement negotiations and a nincompoop judge micromanging the breakup at every step).

    AT&T saw where the money was at that time — long distance and computers. Pre-breakup, the long-distance profits were diverted to subsidize local service for the “masses” and AT&T was forbidden from entering the computer business due to an earlier consent decree.

    And anyway, my point was simply this — Just because a company is at the top of the world today doesn’t mean it isn’t still subject to competition and changing market dynamics. Stated differently, today’s business genius can easily become tomorrow’s failure.

  5. For years, AT and T has been sending me checks which, if I cash them, will automatically switch my long distance service back to them. (I switched after waiting for three quarters of an hour for a service representative to pick up my call.) Every one has gone into the trash, carefully shredded. If this means they’ll finally stop, I won’t regret it.

  6. Now if only the obsolete state utility regulatory agencies would follow suit…

  7. Just the latest in a long series of counterexamples to the fallacy that capital centralizes indefinitely and that capitalism inevitably leads to the widening of the so-called income and power “gaps.”

    Anyone remember the “Nifty Fifty” companies in the 1970’s — the ones that were, in time, going to take over the world?

    Notice some companies on that list: Polaroid, Kodak, Xerox, ITT, Kmart, Simplicity Patterns, Burroughs, Schlitz.

    Notice some companies not on the list: Microsoft, Intel, Cisco, Wal-Mart, Time Warner, Viacom, Disney.

    Creative destruction…

  8. and thanks to our friend warren, we have a new word form for his excellent “asshat”: asshATT.

    and i see the ad for the remake of the manchurian candidate. all i can say is “see the original”. it’s fantastic.

    happy friday.

  9. That “Lily Tomlin bit” comes from The President’s Analyst.

    Not to be picky or anything.

  10. Second drf. It’s the best thing Frank Sinatra and Angela Lansbury ever did. Freaking creepy is what.

  11. Ma bell; got the ill communication!

  12. OK I won’t burden you with the details of my belief, only the broad strokes…the phone co. was a monopoly, it still is. Before it was one co. now it is many, but still has a monopoly on “ariwaves” and landlines. And it still sucks, and it will continue to, as long as various companies continue to agree that the only service offered will be substandard (similar situations occured with train travel many years ago.) Freemarket may win, but since the freemarketers disdain the laws to do so, it will be a long time in coming. How about you? My phone service still sucks on almost every level imaginible. Both cell and landline. How about you? Here in IL they all still say…we are the phone co.’s and you just gotta bend over and take it up the a..!

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