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Fortnightly Magazine - April 15 1996

world. Presumably, this strategy reflects the plausible assumption that the companies know more about foreign countries than they do about the real estate business. But these bold firms may have a problem: To the locals, they'll tout the capital they brought and the jobs they created. But the locals will see only the profits they grabbed and the customs they flouted.

Nothing to Lose

And so we move from the dead hand of monopoly to the lively hand of competition. Confirmation comes from the blizzard of clinics and panels and seminars and conferences (em and, of course, trade journals. The "vision thing" is in; visionaries are in vogue. The comforts of the past are to be trashed, though they may be later treasured in some world yet unforeseen.

So is it all gain to be rid of regulated monopoly? Yes, we can discern, shimmering on the horizon, the holy city of technology, all stirred up by competition. Technology promises everything but guarantees nothing. Luddites of the world, unite! You have nothing to lose but your PIN! t

Judge Richard Cudahy sits on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit. Previously, he served on the Wisconsin Public Service Commission, and wrote a concurring opinion in the 1974 Madison Gas & Electric rate case, often cited as the first major electric rate decision to recognize falling economies of scale and endorse marginal-cost pricing.


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