True Step Forward for Free Markets in Missouri
Regular readers may readily recall my writings about utilities. So it is with some surprise that I was not more aware of efforts in the general assembly to deregulate telecom prices in rural Missouri. Then again, I am pleased to report that my job is NOT to sit over the computer and memorize every single bill that gets introduced. So with that happy shrug, let’s get to the point.
The Springfield News-Leader (link via Combest) has the story of a bill passed yesterday that will substantially reduce the regulation requirements for rural telecom companies. I must say that I find parts of this bill to be quaint. The telephone industry seems to be the MOST competitive industry out there. Have you ever noticed that they have these companies that sell these portable and wireless phones that occasionally advertise on TV? Do you remember when Sprint and MCI literally sent checks to people in order to get them to switch their long-distance providers back in the ’90s? Come to think of it, do you remember long-distance charges? Anyway, I think for most people the assumption is that there is plenty of competition in the telecom industry. But apparently there isn’t in some rural parts of Missouri. Isn’t that just adorable?
So when thinking of ways to increase competition, our legislators actually have decided, and I assume the governor will agree, to reduce regulations and price controls. This is exciting and admirable. The concern a few have is that rates will not rise in areas that don’t yet have competition, but if the history of capitalism proves anything, you can be assured that higher rates, and the potential for more profit, along with less regulation, will bring more competition into those areas and ultimately improve access to new services. And by "new," I mean the Internet. I shall gladly point out that this bill passed with substantial majorities and bipartisan support in both houses. All of our legislators deserve to be commended. The Kansas City Star has a story on it here. As one representative I know has an excellent understanding of free markets says:
“This bill is about access for rural Missouri,” said Rep. Charlie Schlottach, an Owensville Republican.
Indeed, it is.