Return to Opinion

Editorial opinions from the pages of the Clarksburg Exponent and Telegram for May 19, 1998.

Where are the trustbusters?

Where is Teddy Roosevelt when we need him? The old Trustbuster who took on J.P. Morgan at the beginning of the century would likely be shocked and appalled at the mega mergers taking place at the end of the century.

There could be as many as 5,000 mergers this year in the United States. There were only 1,589 in the last year of the Bush administration. Yet, most mergers these days are consummated without a hitch. President Clinton, says analyst Ruy Teixeira, "has pretty much adopted a policy that you go along with these big economic actors. You try to keep the stock market happy. You try to keep the bond market happy."

How about keeping the consumers happy? Where is this all going to end?

Companies nowadays don't bother with trying to create and produce new product lines, they simply buy other, smaller companies, lay off thousand of workers and boost their profits. It's ludicrous to assume that consumers can benefit from all of this in the long run.

This isn't to say that the administration is doing nothing at all. The Justice Department began 277 probes into mergers last year compared to an average rate of 88 during the Bush years. The government is going after Microsoft with a vengeance. And the president has created a task force to examine the merger mania and determine if it's putting the consumers at risk.

That all sounds good, but the fact remains that although the government initiates a lot of investigations, very often no action is ever taken against huge mergers. Yes, they're showing Microsoft no mercy but this case, it seems, is the exception rather than the rule. Anyway, Microsoft is an enormous, arrogant corporation that has little sympathy among consumers. Going after Bill Gates is a political no-brainer.

And, of course, there is another -- groan -- task force. A task force is often the last resort for politicians who are afraid to take a stand. We should expect very little to come from this panel -- and little or no action to be take on whatever it proposes.

We understand that the administration is reluctant to tamper with a free market, but the marketplace seems to be a real jungle out there these days with predators stalking their prey and gobbling them up at an alarming rate.

Where have you gone, Teddy Roosevelt? A nation turns its lonely eyes to you.

-- James Logue

Route 50 upgrade would benefit economy

We're in support of a group of Taylor County citizens who are organizing to activate a petition for the purpose of covering the upgrading of U.S. Route 50.

The citizens are also interested in having improvements made to U.S. Route 250. When the group met recently, its members stated their intention to send the petition to Governor Underwood.

Roy Shank of Grafton is organizer of the group. He expressed his dismay that for nearly 40 years he has "seen people drive out Route 50 because there are not enough jobs in Taylor County." He added that he'd like to see the highway in better condition for those motorists and to improve the county's economy.

We are encouraged that a representative of the state Division of Highways Planning & Research Department, engineer William Wood, agrees with those same needs as outlined by Shank.

Wood's mention that Governor Underwood is in support of the upgrade naturally adds to our optimism.

Because there's some local industry in Taylor County, we concur that a Route 50 upgrade would be beneficial. It would help Taylor residents who must travel to the Clarksburg and Fairmont areas to work.

It's uplifting to realize the DOH's cooperation in working and/or meeting with concerned citizens to, among other things, alleviate the large amount of traffic heading in one direction in the mornings and then returning in the evenings.

Studies are under way in the area, including one designed to address the deficiencies along Route 50. Another study has just started on a four-lane corridor upgrade of U.S. 50 from I-79 into the Grafton area..

A public workshop to help tackle the problem is expected to be scheduled some time this summer.

We see new and better roads as one of the main factors in boosting the economy of any area such as Grafton and its environs. And we're strong in our hopes that such highway upgrading projects will experience no roadblocks.

--Robert F. Stealey

Return to Opinion