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Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Time Warner Cable and Lousy Software

I subscribe to Time Warner Cable. They have an explicit State-backed monopoly, so I have no choice. In NYC, you get a choice of Cablevision or Time Warner based on where you live, but each has a geographic monopoly. It's a group of criminal gangs parceling out their turf.

Verizon FiOS isn't available yet where I live. My parents are eager to switch. I suspect Verizon will be just as bad.

About 1-2 years ago, Time Warner upgraded the software for the cable box. It automatically downloads the software every time the box reboots.

The new cable box software is a lousy piece of ****! It crashes 2+ times per week! It usually crashes while I'm using the "guide" feature, but it may crash anytime. It crashes while I'm recording things. The error message is "er09" when it crashes, displayed on the cable box. I try to intentionally crash it occasionally, so it doesn't crash while I'm recording!

There's no option for me to roll back to the old version of the software, which worked fine. I can't believe that nobody at Time Warner noticed. Anybody with a clue about software would notice that it's buggy.

This illustrates the problem with State-backed monopolies. They have no incentive to provide decent customer service.

Most industries are organized as oligopolies. If every cartel member gives lousy service, then customers are SOL.

When Time Warner gives lousy service, most people would get angry at Time Warner. The real criminal is the State. By lobbying politicians for favors, executives at Time Warner got a monopoly. State parasites like it when industries are monopolies and oligopolies, because that maximizes corruption opportunities.

A business exposed to true free market competition won't have surplus profits to spend on bribes/waste/inefficiency. When a monopoly/oligopoly earns economic rent, that's a profit opportunity for State parasites.

Utility monopolies are an excellent example of abuse of State power. "Natural monopoly" is a lie spread by State comedians. Most people get angry at the utility vendor, rather than the State which granted them the monopoly/oligopoly.

The next time you get angry at a business with a State-backed monopoly/oligopoly, realize that the true criminals are the State extortion racket!


Anonymous said...

Hey FSK, I think if you live in the city you can get certain public access channels for free. My friend lives in the city and he gets something like 10 free channels.

Scott said...

Anon is right. There is no monopoly. TV is free and in HD. I get about 30 channels and I'm not even in a big metro area.

Cable is for suckers.

FSK said...

There is no monopoly? Really? I can start broadcasting my own TV station and nobody will object?

There are 30+ channels available via rabbit-ears here.

My complaints against the cable/broadcast monopoly are:

- It's illegal for me to start my own broadcast channel. I need a State permit. The frequencies were already sold to insiders.
- It's illegal for me to lay cable and start my own cable company or ISP.
- It's illegal for me to start my own cable channel, because the cable monopoly won't carry my channel.

Scott said...

30 free channels is not enough? How much TV do you watch. Obviously you do do something useful with your life, this blog and your job. I don't believe for a minute you are bedridden and suffering because you don't have more than 30 free channels.

Cancel your cable. You don't need it.

As far as starting your own station, you can do it. It's called youtube and it's free as well. Broadcast TV is an anachronism. It's only being kept around on life support for the old folks who can't figure out how to use a web browser.

Anonymous said...

"I subscribe to Time Warner Cable. They have an explicit State-backed monopoly, so I have no choice."

Of course, you have a choice, you could simply not subscribe. As a person subscribing to agorist theories or even the NAP, you surely can't claim that it is moral to accept and feed voluntarily (w/o threat of force) a state backed monopoly, but that it is immoral to pay taxes (under threat of force), could you?

Yes, state backed monopolies are horrible, but you dilute your cause by claiming you have no choice. You simply like the pathetic service they provide and refuse to search for agorist alternatives to cable TV. Surely, as far as agorism goes, cable TV, it is one of the easiest things to get in the grey market, no?

FSK said...

When I buy Internet access, it's also from a State-backed monopoly/oligopoly.

Martin said...

Claiming that there isn't a monopoly because there are free channels is not accurate. Those free channels are controlled by entities (corporations, or non-profits, or the state itself) via state enforced monopolies on the electromagnetic spectrum. The fact that the price happens to be "free" does not preclude them from being a state enforced monopoly (the real evil kind).

You have to consider who is allowed to provide the service to me, not the cost when determining whether something is a state backed monopoly or not. Think about the police force, it is "free", is it not? What about public schools, and roads? The examples of monopolies providing "free" services are numerous.

The fact is these things aren't really free! You are paying for them via theft even if it is not always obvious. The airwaves were stolen by the state so long ago that you simply fail to even realize that they were stolen! A free market would not have a mechanism to enforce the way the airwaves are controlled today. I am not sure what would evolve with a true free market on airwaves, but perhaps broadcasting across someone else's airwaves would require getting (perhaps paying) them to do so! One could view transmitting across my property as use of my property, I suspect that this would eventually be the case (depending on the strength of the signal). Think about light, UVs or infra red, or even microwaves, even without a state to enforce/regulate the airwaves, it would likely be considered aggression to bombard your neighbor with them (hint: it could kill him)!

But initial airwave theft aside, there are other costs of these "free" services by these state enforced monopolies: commercials and donations (PBS) and propaganda/censorship (the state is controlling what material can be broadcast and by whom). And, of course, their is the "big elephant" issue of copyright. But having pointed it out, I'll leave evaluating its state enforced monopolistic impact as an exercise for the reader. :)

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