Releasing Carlos Slim’s Stranglehold on Mexico

Ncarlos_slim_95876358ew Orleans Spending any day in Mexico City with Suyapa Amador, head organizer of ACORN Mexico, involves at least one and sometimes two and three stops at local stores to buy minutes for her cell phone.  Thanks to the virtual monopoly that Telcel, a subsidiary of America Movil owned by gazillionaire Carlos Slim Helu, not only is there never a way to get around this problem, but the time is expensive as well especially compared to other emerging markets like India and Kenya.  There is no question that Carlos Slim has found the way to huge personal riches, but he has done so at the expense of the people of Mexico especially the poorer families.

There may finally be hope for all of us, though it could still take years to arrive.  The Mexican Congress finally has passed an anti-monopoly bill.  There have been some favorable Mexican Supreme Court decisions where they actually ruled against the mega-monopolist.  The anti-trust folks with the Federal Competition Commission in Mexico actually assessed a $1 billion dollar fine against his companies, though it is being appealed of course.  All progress!

Statistics reported in the New York Times (where Carlos Slim is the #2 largest shareholder!) are hard to ignore:

  • Mexico telephone service almost the most expensive compared to 34 countries in the O.C.E.D.
  • Slim’s stranglehold in broadband means that Mexican connectivity is at the bottom of the list and falling even farther behind similarly sized economies like Argentina and Brazil.

In an great example of the “more things change, the more they stay the same,” Slim’s rationalization for his monopoly pricing is exactly the same that AT&T and the Bell System argued before their breakup in the USA:  they are forced to subsidize rural service which they contend is a money loser.  Of course the additional irony is that even though Slim’s outfits may be spending money on hanging line and digging cable in the countryside most folks can’t afford to do much more than yell to their neighbors out there, since they can’t afford the phone or the call.

Let’s hope the clock is finally ticking for Carlos Slim and his Mexico telephone monopoly.  As the world’s richest person with $74 Billon in wealth, putting an end to this will still leave him rich as Croesus, so no tears need be shed even on Wall Street.

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Puppy Love for the Big Dawg, Clinton

Bill Clinton Urged Florida Democrat to Quit Bid

Bill Clinton Urged Florida Democrat to Quit Bid

Phoenix I’m pretty sure either Mexico billionaire Carlos Slim didn’t make his contribution this year to the Clinton Foundation Global Initiative and decided to take it out in trade, or the New York Times is so desperate to find something upbeat for the Demos about the midterm elections that they had to come up with somebody, but whatever the reason we are being treated to the equivalent of a sudden outpouring of media puppy love for the old big dawg, former President Bill Clinton.

Suddenly, he’s just where he wants to be again:  everywhere!  And, better than ever before, he’s unleashed and unaccountable to anybody or anything.

We get treated to a story about how he makes and breaks restaurants around the world by stopping by and chowing down whether hot dog stands in Iceland or pricey digs in 5 star Indian hotels.  We also learn that he is both a vegan, and someone who orders the biggest steak in – where was that – Spain?  Germany?  No matter, like I said, a meat-eating vegan:  accountable to no one!

He’s supposedly a big draw out on the hustings and going where President Obama supposedly can’t go or isn’t welcome or thought to be a liability.  Clinton’s popularity is way up, while Obama’s is way down.

Unleashed is a tricky place for big Bill.

Certainly he was all over the line in the primary fight for Senator Blanche Lincoln, but I guess the general readership could look the other way at his blatant union bashing and say, “well, it’s Arkansas, it’s the home state, what can you do?”

Today the story is everywhere, released by Clinton’s people, but without a doubt cleared by Obama’s political folks, as he throws Congressman Kendrick Meeks (Democrat – Florida) under the bus with a tale that he had “almost” convinced him to withdraw from the race for the Senate and support the more moderate, Governor Charlie Crist, a Republican running as an independent, against the Tea Party swoon, Mark Rubio.   I’m having trouble remembering a time where it was clearer that a candidate was knifed in the back, Brutus-and-Caesar-in-Rome-style in front of God, TV, and the full on print media, in hopes of turning the tide for the candidate that Clinton and Obama have decided they want.  Did I have to say that Meek is African-American or that he had won the primary in Florida?  No, I didn’t think so.  So, Clinton suddenly in the warm glow collects a big chit for Obama by tossing an African-American under the bus so that Obama doesn’t have to take this heat to his own base, and Clinton can still posture that folks will be ok, because, hey, remember, he was the “first black president.”

Here the dog barked for the master, but given the buildup of the “new” Bill, it could all still look like more of the “no boundaries, do my own thing” Bill of recent years.

The next move in this sweet dance between two lively Presidents is going to be very interesting with the good ol’ boy from Arkansas goes to collect on these big time favors.

Meanwhile the press will keep fawning as if they are still at the McDonald’s line on Broadway in Little Rock in the ‘90’s, and miss the story even as it unfurls in front of their own eyes, lost in the warm glow of puppy love for the big dawg.

Arf-arf!

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