January 30, 2012
The Economist is hosting (2012-01-29) an excellent, robust online debate “state capitalism is a viable alternative to liberal capitalism.” The moderator Adrian Wooldridge is reporting from Davos.
Ian Bremmer, Founder and president, Eurasia Group argues against the motion,
“State capitalism is not simply an economic system. It is a political invention designed to ensure that market activity and wealth serve the interests of the state and those who run it. This is the primary reason that it will not become a viable alternative to liberal capitalism.” He defined “state capitalism” as a “political construct in which the state is used to promote the interests of the political elite.” Extend the definition of the term to include any country that has a large state-backed country, he argues, and you end up lumping Norway along with China.”
Nation states operate most efficiently and effectively as a mutually agreed upon buffer between the market and civil society protecting the most vulnerable resources (human, natural, etc) from the excesses of either the market or civil society. In late capitalism, even without state-capitalism, public policies are already tightly aligned with market concerns thereby dissolving this protective buffer zone with unintended consequences on vulnerable resources for which the market is not answerable. Who will be answerable when state-capitalists do what the most efficient capitalists do, make more profits by taking risks, and ultimately err and plunder to the advantage of a few and the loss of the majority? What entity of governance can ensure equilibrium in trade relationships between capitalist-state-owned oil industries and democratic market liberal nation states?
March 9, 2010
At a 5000% mark-up, colour may be too expensive for most of us and we will be back to viewing the world in black and white, low resolution and high noise interference.
In Canada, radio airwaves or spectrum, a public resource, is managed by Industry Canada. The Canadian federal government with a $54 billion deficit hopes to gain c. $ 1 billion dollars through its spectrum 10-year licenses auction to cash in on cellphone industry’s astronomical profits (ex. 2006 total revenue $12.7 billion, 2008 total revenues c. 15.9 billion) Was the 2009 spectrum auction a bargain basement for telecommunications giants?
Rogers Communications Inc., Bell Canada Inc. and Telus Corp, Canada’s largest cellphone providers have held spectrum licences for cellphone services in Canada. In 2006 alone Canada’s cellphone industry total revenue was $12.7 billion, 95% of this going to these three companies who- lacking competition- charged higher rates and provided poorer services than services in peer countries. In 2008 the total revenue for Canadian cellphone companies was $15.9 billion and in 2010 cellphone providers Rogers Communications Inc., Bell Canada Inc., Telus Corp, Fido and Virgin charged up to a 5000% mark-up even calculations included technology and overhead costs. Prices were so high and customer service so bad that Marketplace held a “Canada’s Worst Cellphone Bill” contest (Mesley 2010-03-05).
It is no wonder that Rogers Communications Inc. (NYSE: RCI) is listed by Forbes as having Aggressive Growth potential. Should we applaud the growth for Rogers investors or lament the management of the Spectrum commons?
“Spectrum is a catch-all term for the radio airwaves that many wireless gizmos use to communicate information. Radios use spectrum, as do the rabbit-ear antennas on older television sets. The CBC, for example, is broadcast free to many parts of Canada using a part of the electromagnetic spectrum. Cellphones, of course, also use it. Spectrum is divided into different frequencies and measured in units called hertz. The government extracts big revenue from selling spectrum licences to cellphone companies, because those licences are limited while demand is high. Other telecommunications providers would like to offer cellphone services but can’t, because they don’t have a spectrum licence. The auction is expected to earn the government at least $1 billion. A number of smaller regional companies, including Winnipeg-based Manitoba Telecom Services Inc. and Regina-based SaskTel, also have licences and offer cellphone services (Nowak 2008-05-26).
See map of cellphone costs worldwide.
1789 Jeremy Bentham “considered protection from harm, as more basic (and an aim of regulation) than provision of enjoyments: “the care of providing for his enjoyments ought to be left almost entirely to each individual: the principal function of government being to protect him from suffering” (Bentham 1789/1948:301, quoted in Shrader-Frechette 1991:285). An assessor’s prima facie (at first sight) duty is to minimise the chance that an unsafe technology is implemented; in order to minimise public risk. This is a value judgement: is it more important to protect the public from harm (hazards from risky technologies, such as cellular towers), than to provide welfare (benefits from new technologies, such as third generation services and better cellular coverage)? The perception and response type I and type II errors in regulation reveal the rationality of the regulator. The research analyses the national
thresholds pertaining to RF human hazards and spurious emissions (Madjar 2008-08).”
1864 to 1873 James Clerk Maxwell (1831-1894), a Scot theoretical physicist, demonstrated that four relatively simple equations could fully describe electric and magnetic fields and their interaction. He described how charges and currents produce an Electro Magnetic Radio wave (Madjar 2008-08).”
1887, in the research laboratory of a young German physicist, Heinrich Hertz, the first radio transmitter began working briefly over a range of just a few metres (Madjar 2008-08).”
1895-05-07. Alexander Popov (1859-1906) demonstrated his instrument for the detection and recording of electrical oscillations (Madjar 2008-08).”
1895-spring In the spring of the same year, Guglielmo Marconi (1874- 1937) took his wireless experiments outdoors and soon discovered that an intervening hill was no barrier to the reception of electromagnetic waves (Madjar 2008-08).”
1987-1991 New Zealand was the first country to apply the Wireless Act in 1903 (one year before the UK); the first RF Auction in the world occurred there in 1989. Neo-liberal ideologues promoted structural adjustment program which was more drastic than that inaugurated by Margaret Thatcher in Great Britain (Herman and McChesney 1997:178-9). Their 1987-1991 auction of UHF spectrum resulted in the acquisition of RF (Herman and McChesney 1997:180) (Madjar 2008-08:47).”
2002 The economist Vernon L. Smith, the laureate of Nobel Prize 2002, published (Smith 1962) that only under perfect competition, the market price establishes equilibrium between supply and demand- at the level, where the value assigned to a good by a marginal buyer is as high as that of a marginal seller (Madjar 2008-08:47).”
Today there are more than 3 billion cellular telephones worldwide.
2007-11 Even though Canada’s cellphone industry made $12.7 billion in 2006, 95% of the total revenue went to Rogers Communications Inc., Bell Canada Inc. and Telus Corp who charged higher rates and provided poorer services than peer countries because of lack of competition (Nowak 2008-05-26)
2008 In 2008 c. 60 % of Canadians subscribed to a cellphone service, subtantially behind the rest of the industrialized world. Countries such as Denmark and Norway where c. 90% of the population are subscribed and rates are much lower (Nowak 2008-05-26)
Instituting special breaks in the auction was the government’s way of spurring competition (Nowak 2008-05-26)
2008 The total revenue for Canadian cellphone companies was $15.9 billion and in 2010 cellphone providers Rogers Communications Inc., Bell Canada Inc., Telus Corp, Fido and Virgin charged up to a 5000% mark-up even when calculations included technology and overhead costs. Prices were so high and customer service so bad that Marketplace held a “Canada’s Worst Cellphone Bill” contest (Mesley 2010-03-05).
2008-08 Haim Mazar Madjar defended his dissertation entitled “An Analysis of Regulatory Framework for Wireless Communications, Societal Concerns and Risk: the Case of Radio Frequency (RF) Allocation and Licensing” at Middlesex University in which he analysed the role of culture and geography in allocation and licensing of the radio frequency (RF) spectrum in different nations. Using an inter-disciplinary approach for example, he explored contrasting risk-management regulatory frameworks/attitudes in the UK, France, US and Ecuador. He summarized and used 3 alternative sociological theories including Mary Douglas et al.’s Cultural Theory (CT) re: categorising countries in terms of perceptual filters. Bounded Rationality (BR) is used to investigate and explain these apparent irrationalities. Rational Field Theory (RFT) showed how beliefs and values guide administrations in RF regulation. Wireless regulation is now divided into two major camps (the EU and the US), which differ in their risk concerns, approach to topdown mandated standards, allocation of RF spectrum to licence-exempt bands and type approval process.
2010-03-04 The Canadian federal government announced its response to the $54 billion deficit which will take the form of $17.6 billion savings (2010-1015) by streamlining and reducing the operating and administrative costs of government departments.
2010-03-04 The Canadian federal budget has confused opposition politicians and industry observers alike as to whether Canada will open its doors to foreign telecommunications companies. The government promised to increase competition and investment in the telecommunications sector, which will lead to greater innovation and lower prices for consumers by removing foreign ownership restrictions on satellites. However, critic Marc Garneau claimed the budget was an overall disappointment in terms of the digital economy as there is no national digital economy plan and future plans include vague allusions to further studies in terms of fast and affordable broadband internet access for all Canadians. Canada was a leader in the digital economy in 2000. Now we are behind other OCED countries. This federal budget promised more on outdoor recreational infrastructure than on high-speed internet in rural areas (Nowak 2010-03-04).
Webliography and Bibliography
Madjar, Haim Mazar. 2008-08. “An Analysis of Regulatory Framework for Wireless Communications, Societal Concerns and Risk: the Case of Radio Frequency (RF) Allocation and Licensing.” PhD Dissertation. Supervisors: Dr. Peter Hough; David Ball; June Burnham. School of Health and Social Sciences. Middlesex University.
Hazlett, T. W.; Munoz, R. E.; Square, V. “A welfare analysis of spectrum allocation policies.” utfsm.cl
“Economic analysis of spectrum allocation policies focuses on competitive bidding for wireless licenses. Auctions generating high bids, as in Germany and the UK, are identified as “successful,” while those producing lower receipts, as in Switzerland and the … ”
McMillan, J. 1995. “Why auction the spectrum?” Telecommunications Policy. Elsevier. stanford.edu [PDF]
“Of the alternative spectrum allocation methods — administrative process, lottery, first come first served, and auction — economic theory, as well as various countries’ experiences, show that auctioning works best. As well as raising revenue, an auction assigns licenses to the firms … ”
Noam, E. 1998. “Spectrum Auctions: Yesterday’s Heresy, Today’s Orthodoxy, Tomorrow’s” The Journal of Law and Economics. University of Chicago Press.
Nowak, Peter. 2008-05-26. “Wireless spectrum: Auction of radio airwaves will influence Canada’s prosperity.” CBC News
Nowak, Peter. 2010-03-04. “Budget sows confusion over telecom rules.” CBC News
April 14, 2009
Anti-recyclers like the Cato Institute’s Grant Schaumberg, Katherine Doyle (1991), James DeLong of the Competitive Enterprise Institute (1994), Lynn Scarlett (1995) of the Reason Foundation, Jeff Bailey (1995) of the Wall Street Journal, Alan Caruba (2003-01), Daniel K. Benjamin (2003) of the Property and Environment Research Center (PERC), John Tierney (1996), J. Winston Porter of the Waste Policy Center in Leesburg, Va., Libertarian Michael Mungerar (2007) and La Giorgia (2009-01) argue that “the market” should determine what if anything is recycled. Anti-recycler Tierney claimed that the well-publicized 1000s-of-miles journey of the Mobro 4000, a barge carrying Long Islanders’ trash, trying to unload its cargo, incited a garbage guilt epidemic among Americans. He like other anti-recyclers, also claimed that the garbage crisis that emerged from this image continues today under false pretenses: there is no shortage of environmentally safe landfill sites; curbside recycling rarely pays for itself in direct returns; recycling is not economically efficient. (Tierney 1996-06-30)
Recycling advocates Richard A. Denison and John F. Ruston (1996) of the Environmental Defense Fund in Washington, DC argue that the think tanks quoted by the anti-recyclers such as The Competitive Enterprise Institute, the Cato Institute (both based in Washington DC), the Reason Foundation (based in Santa Monica, CA) and the Waste Policy Center (based in Leesburg, VA) that tend to promote market interests over the state, minimal government intervention in general and government programs of any kind. At least some of these think tanks accept funding from companies involved in “solid waste collection, landfilling and incineration, the manufacturing of products from virgin materials, and the production and sale of packaging and consumer products. Many of the corporations that fund the anti-recyclers have a direct economic stake in maintaining the waste management status quo and in minimizing consumers’ scrutiny of the environmental effects of products and packaging.” (Denison and Ruston 1996-07-18)
1960s A political movement to save the environment emerged called the greening of America
1960s Martin Lapierre’s father founded Profix Environnement, an industrial collector of corrugated cardboard based in Laval, Quebec by collecting used boxes and selling them back to manufacturers for reprocessing. Martin, who inherited the business estimated that the cardboard the firm has recycled over the years has saved at least 750,000 trees (“(La Giorgia 2009-04-09).
1970-04-22 20 million people celebrated the first Earth Day in the United States.
1970-04-22 United Congress created the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
1972 the Club of Rome published Limits to Growth arguing that the American way of life was not sustainable.
1980 Property and Environment Research Center (PERC) in Bozeman, Montana was formed by a group of economists claiming dedication to improving environmental quality through markets and property rights through research and outreach education. Research is at the heart of PERC’s work followed by outreach and education. PERC claims to have pioneered the approach known as free market environmentalism (FME).
1987 A barge named the Mobro 4000 wandered thousands of miles trying to unload its cargo of Long Islanders’ trash, and its journey had a strange effect on America.” Anti-recycler Tierney claimed that the garbage crisis that emerged from this image continues today under false pretenses. He also claimed that there is no shortage of environmentally safe landfill sites. (Tierney 1996-06-30)
1987 America devised a national five-year plan for trash. The Environmental Protection Agency promulgated a “Waste Hierarchy” that ranked trash disposal options: recycling at the top, composting and waste-to-energy incinerators in the middle, landfills at the bottom. The E.P.A.’s five-year goal, to recycle 25 percent of municipal trash, was announced in a speech in early 1988 by J. Winston Porter, an assistant administrator of the agency. Even as Porter was setting the goal, he realized that it was presumptuous for a bureaucrat in Washington to tell everyone in America what to do with their trash. “After all the publicity about the barge,” Porter recalls, “I sat down with some engineers in my office to estimate how much municipal waste could be recycled. At that time, about 10 percent was being recycled. We looked at the components of waste, made a few quick calculations and figured that it was reasonable to reach a level of 25 percent within five years. It wasn’t a highly quantified thing. Some of the staff didn’t even want me to mention a figure. But I thought it would be good to set a target, as long as it was strictly voluntary and didn’t involve a lot of regulations.” Politicians across the country had bigger ideas. State and city officials enacted laws mandating recycling and setting arbitrary goals even higher than the E.P.A.’s. Most states set rigid quotas, typically requiring that at least 40 percent of trash be recycled, often even more-50 percent in New York and California, 60 percent in New Jersey, 70 percent in Rhode Island. Industries were pressured to set their own goals. Municipalities followed the Waste Hierarchy by building waste-to-energy incinerators and starting thousands of curbside recycling programs-all in the belief that it would be cheaper than landfilling. But the incinerators turned out to be disastrously expensive, and the recycling programs produced a glut of paper, glass and plastic that no one wanted to buy.” (Tierney 1996-06-30)
1989 J. Winston Porter left the Environmental Protection Agency and became president of a consulting firm, the Waste Policy Center in Leesburg, Va. By 1996 he was advising cities and states to abandon their unrealistic goals of recycling and he “ridiculed EPA policies he had helped implement saying, “People in New York and other places are tilting at recycling windmills. […] There aren’t many more materials in garbage that are worth recycling.” (Tierney 1996-06-30)
1991-09 anti-recyclers, Grant Schaumberg and Katherine Doyle, “Wasting Resources to Reduce Waste: Recycling in New Jersey,” Washington DC: Cato Institute,
1994-01-26 James DeLong, of the Competitive Enterprise Institute in Washington said, “The solution to the Municipal Solid Waste (MSW) non-crisis is to recognize that trash disposal is a commodity, like coal or asparagus, and to treat it accordingly. The government could establish a few rules to avoid externalities and cost shifting, and then let the free market work. Operating within this framework, waste disposal companies, truckers, railroads, municipal officials, recyclers, waste generators and others could all perform their receptive functions. The result would be a complex amalgam of regional landfills, short- and long-haul transportation by truck and rail, incineration, recycling, and source reduction. In a few years people would wonder what all the shouting was about.”
1995 anti-recycler, Jeff Bailey, “Curbside Recycling Comforts the Soul, But Benefits are Scant,” Wall Street Journal,
1995-01-19 anti-recycler Lynn Scarlett (Reason Foundation) “A Consumer’s Guide to Environmental Myths and Realities,” Dallas, TX: National Center for Policy Analysis,
2002 “The continuing dialogue about recycling is well illustrated by the February 2002 response of the National Recycling Coalition (NRC)—one of many groups formed around this issue—to the white paper put out by the EPA. The NRC finds much to approve of in the EPA recommendations but returns to the fundamental issue of sustainability: can we go on producing and consuming and disposing of material goods at an ever-increasing rate?”
2003-09 Daniel K. Benjamin published the report entitled Recycling Rubbish: Eight Great Myths about Waste Disposal with Property and Environment Research Center.
2009-04-09 “From last year’s peak, prices [for recyclable material] have dropped 50 to 90 per cent,” said Mairi Welman of the Recycling Council of British Columbia (RCBC), a group of government and industry members with a stake in recycling ( “(La Giorgia 2009-04-09).
2009-01 Profix Environnement, an industrial collector of corrugated cardboard based in Laval, Quebec was struggling to survive as the price of cardboard dropped to zero (“(La Giorgia 2009-04-09).
2009 Quebec promised $4.8 million in loan guarantees to support its recycling industry, as well as legislation allowing recycling companies and municipalities to renegotiate contracts (“(La Giorgia 2009-04-09).
Webliography and Bibliography
DeLong, James V. 1994-01-26. “Wasting Away; Mismanaging Municipal Solid Waste.” Competitive Enterprise Institute Monograph.
Denison, Richard A.; Ruston, John F. 1996-07-18. “Anti-Recycling Myths Commentary on ‘Recycling is Garbage‘”.
La Giorgia, Giancarlo. 2009-04-09. “No cents in recycling as economy kills demand for material.” CBC News.
Munger, Michael. 2007-07-02. “Think Globally, Act Irrationally: Recycling.” July 2, 2007. Library of Economics and Liberty. Accessed 2009-04-13.
Tierney, John. 1996-06-30. “Recycling is Garbage.” New York Times Magazine.
Benjamin, Daniel K. 2003-09. Recycling Rubbish: Eight Great Myths about Waste Disposal PERC Reports: 21:3.
Caruba, Alan. 2003-01. “The Utter Waste of Recycling.”