Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Shut Up And Eat Your Kibble!

I think it’s so cool that Senator John Ensign is a veterinarian. I love my dog and I think veterinarians are wonderful people. But maybe all the time spent with animals makes Ensign need a reality check or at least a fact check. See you can say anything to a dog and they’ll just wag their tails and take your word as gospel. Not so much with people, people tend to want you to tell the truth or at a minimum, not distort truth.

Ensign claimed that his S. 1504 that would eliminate local franchising for video services would cause cable companies to slash their rates in the face of this new competition by the phone companies. He cited a small town near Ft. Worth Texas, Keller, as the perfect example of this. He said Charter cut its rates 50% when Verizon began offering its video service a few months ago.

Let’s take a moment to parse these assertions.

First, Verizon just started offering its video service one month ago, not a few months ago. Verizon did this by first obtaining a local franchise from the City of Keller and that did happen several months ago, long before the state of Texas decided to wipe out local franchising for the Bell Boys. Seems that the local franchising process did not stand in the way of Verizon finally rolling out its service.

Second, Charter did not cut its rates 50% in response to Verizon. Charter started a one-year promotional offering long before Verizon jumped into the fray. They put together this really terrific promo called “Charter's Biggest Package.” It includes eighty-nine channel expanded basic, plus one tier and two premium channels along with Charter's lower speed Internet (384) for $49.99. The normal price for these bundled services would be $98.98. Makes me want to move to Keller.

But didn’t Charter do this out of fear of the big bad Verizon?

“We have significant competition from dish. It’s not the first time a competitor has entered the market,” says Kevin Allen of Charter.

These facts did not prevent Ensign from using Keller anecdotally in a speech to a crowd at the Heritage Foundation “I think this would happen all across the United States because, guess what, competition leads to better services at lower prices. There is no question that if my bill were enacted that’s exactly what we would see.”

Good thing Ensign admits that his bill won’t be passed this year. In fact, since its introduction last July it’s only picked up eight cosponsors (including Senator McCain who cosponsored its introduction in the first place). That’s a far cry from the dozens of cosponsors many pieces of legislation have at introduction or even three months later. He shouldn’t sweat it though because his bill has exactly the same number of cosponsors that S.1200 has. S. 1200 is a bill to amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to reduce the depreciation recovery period for certain roof systems. Of course S. 1200 was introduced a full month and a half before S. 1504 and the roofing lobby is not nearly as powerful as the telecommunications lobby.

I don’t know that any time soon S. 1504 will see seventy-one cosponsors like S. 1047. S. 1047 will require the Secretary of the Treasury to mint coins in commemoration of each of the Nation's past Presidents and their spouses, respectively to improve circulation of the $1 coin. Do you think they’ll even include Warren G. Harding’s wife who it is rumored poisoned him with arsenic? S. 1047 is a very important bill because we all know how Americans just love those $1 coins!

It could be that Ensign believes his own hype. It is my speculation that he is just howling at the moon and chasing his own tail. The Bell Boys have him fetching the ball and jumping through hoops. They probably tossed him a bone. It’s quite clear that he is covered with fleas. But it is sad to see him frothing at the mouth. I could go on and on about his incessant barking, but more than anything else I really do hope somebody puts a leash on him and soon.

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