Yes, I Want it Both Ways

Crain’s Chicago Business has a great article this week about the travails of U.S. Cellular, which is having trouble competing for high-tech clients in the face of exclusive contracts such as AT&T’s deal for IPhones.

It appears that U.S. Cellular is at a disadvantage when it comes to selling smartphones—even though the company seems to have a number of exclusive phone products—and the president of the company actually testified on Capitol Hill in June about the anti-competitive nature of other companies’ exclusive contracts.

Irony. Irony. Irony. I am reminded of the traditional definition of chutzpah as describing a person who kills his parents and then asks for mercy because he is an orphan.

Aren’t businesses supposed to be opposed to governmental intervention? Aren’t we all supposed to be capitalists and not socialists, fans of free enterprise instead of government control?

The head of a business that benefited, in its early days, from government limitations on the number of cell service providers, now objects to competitive “limitations” imposed by the private sector. Isn’t it supposed to be the other way around?

Okay, enough about U.S. Cellular, which is merely one of millions of examples we could cite of people and businesses that want it both ways. Not that people and businesses include you, dear reader.

I’m talking about all those other people, people who say things like:

  • Government regulation is bad, unless it keeps competitors out of my space, in which case it’s an incentive program.
  • Government bailouts are socialist and evil, except for that cash-for-clunkers program that saved me four grand.
  • Tax breaks for special interests are bad, unless it’s the deduction for mortgage interest, which supports homeowners, not the homebuilders, realtors, banks…..
  • The federal government should stay out of states’ rights issues, except for health care reform, gay marriage, marijuana penalties, gun laws….
  • Government should respect First Amendment rights of all Americans, as long as they are politically correct.

I’d suggest an award for anyone who can make all these statements with a straight face, but we’d end up giving out 535 of them on Capitol Hill alone. Self-awareness, alas, is a gift honored more in theory than practice.

So where do you lie, literally or figuratively, on the inconsistency meter? Before the next newscast or survey or tea party or sit-in, it’s something to consider


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