Inside The Beltway: Does anyone really believe that AOL bought Time Warner in an effort to better mankind? Apparently

When former Senator Dale Bumpers gave his celebrated speech to the Senate in defense of Bill Clinton, he began by saying that the great impeachment farce was just about sex, and certainly not honesty and values.

When former Senator Dale Bumpers gave his celebrated speech to the Senate in defense of Bill Clinton, he began by saying that the great impeachment farce was just about sex, and certainly not honesty and values.

When former Senator Dale Bumpers gave his celebrated speech to the

Senate in defense of Bill Clinton, he began by saying that the great

impeachment farce was just about sex, and certainly not honesty and

values.



This should remind us that, when someone begins an argument with the

words, ’This isn’t just about money,’ it’s just about money.



So we looked at the commentary about the most recent mega-merger - AOL’s

dollars 150-200 billion for Time Warner - and waited for hard-headed

businessmen like Steve Case, Gerald Levin and Ted Turner to acknowledge,

even brag, that they had put together the biggest money-making company

of all time.



After all, we’re embarking on the digital age, and here comes a merger

of all these media - cable systems, movies, great film libraries, books,

sports - with the potential to be carried from home-to-home,

person-to-person, studio-to-studio, via the Internet. News, opinions,

analysis, the uninformed viewers chatting with the uninformed

’journalists,’ your grandchildren on your screen minutes after their

birth - the whole world online. And all at monopoly rates, if a few

recalcitrants like AT&T would only fall in line.



But by the early programs Tuesday, one could find no gloating - it

turned out the deal was all public service for the betterment of

mankind.



Here was Levin, the CEO-to-be: ’This is not just about money, this is

about making a better world for people.’ Honestly. An analyst in The New

York Times quoted Steve Case of AOL, chairman-to-be of the merged

company, asserting the merger was a social good, a great advance for

consumers.



But the same analyst went on, darkly and probably accurately, to point

out that this was the blurring and perhaps the obliteration of brand

boundaries and hence of the edge of competition.



This was, after all, another step in the creation of a mass, uniform

culture dominated by a single, globalized corporation - but few made

that observation. Instead, we got an amazing PR spin. This would be a

boon for everyone; the world at our fingertips. But this is a world in

which children starve, populations are decimated by ethnic wars, and

even in the strongest, most wired nation in the world, nearly 50 million

people can’t afford medical care. ’Making a better world for people?’ By

conveying the run-up to the Super Bowl on 100 channels instead of 50; by

enabling the wealthy and a portion of the middle class to buy what was

once inaccessible?



What if these companies had decided to spend dollars 200 billion to

restructure a society, to build affordable housing and schools? Then we

could say it wasn’t just about the money.



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