Monopoly: 'One Size Fits All' - Fits Hardly Anyone At All
A Consent Decree Success Story -
But Let's Keep Them Anyway I’m 6’5” - and a bit of a weight gym rat. “One Size Fits All” - just about never, ever fits me. In fact, “One Size Fits All”…is a monopoly - and thus fits hardly anyone at all. One-size-fits-none monopolies - are always a bad idea. Government monopolies are particularly awful. To wit: Government-medicine Medicare. How’s that going? Medicare Faces Unfunded Liability of $38.6 Trillion 10 Reasons Why Your Doctor Won’t See Medicare Patients: “#1: Medicare does not pay enough to cover the expenses associated with the services provided. “#2: Filing Medicare insurance is more complex than any other insurance. “#4: Medicare patient care often involves taking more time to deal with the same issues. “#8: Regional Medicare carriers (MACs) create their own local rules for Medicare patients in specific states. "#9: Medicare requires physicians to adhere to a number of specific program requirements or lose…(part) of their payment.” What Is Cost Shifting?: “‘Cost shifting’ is a term used in the world of health-care payments, insurance and Medicaid and Medicare reimbursements…. "Cost shifting occurs when a hospital or other health-care provider charges an insured patient more than it does an uninsured patient for the same procedure or service. Those with health insurance, in effect, pay for the financial loss hospitals incur when they provide services to those without insurance.” Monopoly Medicare is a titanic disaster - on the verge of sinking the nation. How do we accelerate the submersion? I know - let’s add EVERYONE to Medicare. #MedicareForAll Private sector monopolies aren’t any better. You certainly see it with the Big Tech companies. The likes of Google and Facebook are each near-trillion dollar monopoly mega-monsters. Who with impunity illegally squash any prospective competitors and censor ideological opponents, mass-heist Intellectual Property (IP) - and violate a whole host of other laws. What to do? Government monopolies shouldn’t exist - because per the Constitution the government should be doing hardly anything at all. Private sector monopolies - can be a real problem. Government shouldn’t allow businesses to reach monopoly status. And when they do - government must address them. Please note: My joint is called “Less Government” - not “ No Government.” There are certain things government is supposed to do. And when government is as titanically huge as ours are - you quite often need a little more government here…to get a whole lot less government there. To wit: A little more government at our borders - gets us a whole lot less government inside our borders. To wit: The arcane world of music licensing. While this corner of the private sector is a duopoly rather than a monopoly - the same one-sided domination can occur: “Behold ASCAP and BMI – who together control the performing rights to approximately 90% of all songs…. “ASCAP and BMI have 90% market share not because they’re excellent at what they do. They have it because they are a cartel – created by the music publishers. “Music publishers - should be free market rivals. And they are – except in music licensing. In music licensing, publishers combined their market share into these two institutions – ASCAP and BMI. What this was – was the creation of a cartel. What this is – is actual, in-practice, Russian-free collusion.” How do we know music monopoly-esque abuses can occur? Because for decades - they did occur. The first four decades of the 20th Century are rife with very many musicians - making almost no money at all. Because the record labels pocketed just about all of it - thanks to their duopoly music licensing scam. Blues musicians were really, royally screwed. Later artists like Eric Clapton would seek out impoverished old blues legends - and pay them directly for covering their songs. Then we got a little bit of very necessary government: “(In) 1941 - when the Department of Justice (DoJ) stepped in. And introduced the consent decrees: “‘ASCAP and BMI are governed by ‘consent decrees’ originally issued by the US Department of Justice (DOJ) as a means to curb the anticompetitive tendencies of the publishing sector…. “‘Back in 1941, there was only one legally recognized copyright in music - the musical composition - and the balance of power in the industry was heavily tilted to the music publishers and ASCAP. “‘At the time, ASCAP acted as a kind of gatekeeper to the world’s most valuable musical repertoires, to the extent that the DOJ took action that same year to balance the scales. The result of this intervention are consent decrees that, to this day, govern how radio, whether AM/FM or digital, licenses compositions…. “‘Intended to promote competition in the marketplace for musical works, the consent decrees encourage ASCAP and BMI to compete with one another to attract licensees and recruit new songwriter/publisher members.’” The consent decrees - have worked. Eric Clapton could become Eric Clapton - because of the consent decrees. Taylor Swift could become Taylor Swift - because of the consent decrees. (But please don’t hold her against them.) Because the decrees have worked, Big Music periodically lobbies the Department of Justice (DoJ) to end them - or, barring that, dramatically limit them. We have currently arrived at one of those times. Which is why a bunch of free market organizations (including our Less Government) - have signed a letter opposing Big Music’s efforts: “The ASCAP and BMI consent decrees…remain extremely relevant to a functioning marketplace. Millions of businesses across the country rely on the efficiencies and anticompetitive protections that these decrees provide…. “(ASCAP and BMI’s) sort of market power, collusion, and price fixing is antithetical to a traditional free market, yet it remains necessary for the music licensing market to operate efficiently…. “These benefits, however necessary to market efficiency, should not excuse ASCAP and BMI from the nation’s antitrust laws. “Given the anticompetitive nature of the music licensing market as a whole, ending the ASCAP and BMI consent decrees would assuredly necessitate some other form of government regulation over the market.” And that “some other form of government regulation” - would almost certainly be a whole lot more intrusive than are the consent decrees. So yet again: A little government here - saving us from a whole lot of government there. So yet again we say to government: Don’t just do something - stand there. On music licensing, the status quo - is the best way to go. This first appeared in Red State.