Image that we could only use one email service- say Yahoo! email. They were pretty good, but there was a law saying that only one company could provide email service to the entire country. Let’s say that they have all the same features as they do now, but it takes about 4 hours for them to send an email from sender to recipient- and, despite federal subsidies, it costs you to send your mail- $0.10 an email. Not only that, people and companies are taking advantage of the government subsidies and spamming your inbox constantly- just as much as they are now.
The people at Google lobbied Congress in our little hypothetical situation to allow them to provide email services because they believe they could deliver email nearly instantly. Congress allows them to do this but refused to give Google subsidies like they give Yahoo! What results is Google mail costing the user more (let’s say they didn’t figure out the advertising thing yet)- plus they can do this because the market is so restricted, the we users have to take what we can get.
What would you think of our little hypothetical? Do you think that it would suck ass?
Well, that’s the exact situation we face with our regular postal mail. The US Post Office has a statutory monopoly over delivering mail in the United States. A couple decades ago, people were pressing the government for faster delivery and the USPS said overnight shipping couldn’t be done. UPS (which was delivering packages for department stores at the time) and FedEx said, let us have a crack at the old problem. What do you know? Overnight delivery WAS actually possible! the latter two companies now focus on urgent packages and overnight delivery, but the USPS monopoly for letters still exists– and it’s costing us!
One question to ponder: remember the US Postal Service tv commercials with the “Fly Like an Eagle?” Why does the Post Office have to advertise if they have a monopoly? Hmmm, maybe because they suck?
Much props to our guy Ichiro Koizumi in Japan for trying to privatize the postal service over there!