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This article and your assertion are a really good example of how falsehoods become an unquestioned part of the accepted narrative. AT&T never "promised to create a net 7,000" jobs. The article admits as much: it quotes AT&T's CEO as saying that AT&T would invest an additional $1 billion, which is equivalent to 7,000 jobs. The article never analyzes the truth of that claim. It never determines whether AT&T actually invested that money. (In fact, AT&T is in the middle of a big push to deploy more fiber: https://www.cordcuttersnews.com/att-plans-to-expand-fiber-in...) Instead, the article points to completely unrelated layoffs that resulted from a merger. (There was also the question of who exactly this "promise" was made to. The article quotes Stephenson's comments in a speech to the Economic Club of New York, not any sort of filing to the government.)

The same is true for the "promise to build out a fiber optic network." AT&T never "promised" to do that. The arguments at the time were that deregulation would lead to higher investment into things like broadband. What nobody anticipated at the time was that the mobile revolution would happen, and all that new capital would be redirected to building wireless networks instead. That doesn't make the original claim a misrepresentation. And from a practical standpoint, it's better that all this money got invested in mobile instead of building FTTH.




Yea, you're right. AT&T never promised those jobs. They just kept talking about all the jobs that would be made if the tax cut happened. That was the main argument when they tax cuts came up, all the job that would be created. But yea, no one made an actual promise.

The reason people are upset is the same reason no one likes talking to lawyer, and why no one wants to deal with corporate or political leaders who need to be talked to like a genie to make sure your wish doesn't get twisted around.

If the response to this event and to the fiber optic debacle is "wElL tEcHniCalLy We DiDnT pRoMiSe" then why should any tax breaks be considered in the future for any company? What is the reason to believe any statement about the benefits that will come through if we could just release these poor corporate giants from their terrible tax burden, if experience shows that they never come through?


> why should any tax breaks be considered in the future for any company

Unemployment in the USA after the tax cuts is at historically low levels that haven’t been seen in more than four decades. The economy is booming.

Taxes on corporations are mainly good to encourage corporate behavior, revenue can be obtained by taxing the wealthy directly as well. Increasing taxes such as the capital gains tax while keeping corporate taxes at their reformed, globally competitive levels seems the way to go to me...


Unemployment is at low levels globally, not just USA. I would say it's some sort of global trend not because of tax cuts in the USA.

https://www.ft.com/content/1e8f4cf4-f257-11e8-ae55-df4bf40f9...

> economists attribute to changes including more flexible working practices, lower wages and rock-bottom interest rates.


That’s a false statistic. The employment rate is 4% below what it was in 2000 and has barely recovered from the recession. https://tradingeconomics.com/united-states/employment-rate

Unemployment rate is useful in the short term, but it’s not comparable across longer time periods as they kick people off the lists very quickly.


Employment rate is a false statistic if anything. The population is aging since childbirth rates have gone way down over the last few decades. A larger percent of adults are retired now and are included in that employment rate statistic.

If you just want to include people “kicked” off the lists, U-6 may be what you’re looking for. https://unemploymentdata.com/current-u6-unemployment-rate/

It’s as low as it’s been in almost two decades. Not quite as record breaking as the U-3 but still pretty good...


Looking at those charts, I don't see any place where the tax cut kicked in. Looks like the trend just continues from before the tax cut. Looks like your mention of the tax cut is completely unrelated to unemployment figures.


Some economists believe the tax cut and other spending has been juicing the economy, leading to the record numbers we are seeing right now.

I recently listened to a NYT podcast where they discussed this theory briefly, but I’ve also been seeing it from some economists I follow on Twitter. https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/the-argument/id1438024...

Of course as with any economics prediction it’s hard to prove what the alternate history would have been, but the idea is that the economy would have slowed down and U-3 unemployment wouldn’t have dropped to historic lows without the additional cash injection thanks to recent economic policies.

Edit: in general I think jobs numbers are very relevant to this whole thread since the article is attempting to sell the premise that the tax cuts didn’t help job growth (by using the specific example of AT&T jobs - even though this tax cut was for every company not just AT&T) despite the overall economy doing well, jobs increasing, and unemployment decreasing.


Is that how you get on U-6... how do they count those who've never been employed? E.G. recent grads from schooling?


I think the millions of barely paid, two or three jobs at the same time, people would like to have a talk with you.


If the economy is doing so well why haven't non-tech wages been increasing at a faster rate?


https://www.cnbc.com/2019/02/13/worker-wage-gains-are-keepin...

> Worker paychecks are showing their biggest gains since the recovery began a decade ago, and are more than keeping up with inflation.

Not sure why tech wages are excluded from your comment. Tech jobs are jobs too...


> Worker paychecks are showing their biggest gains since the recovery began a decade ago

Ok, but they didn't really grow at all for a decade.


Total comp went up[0], most of the additional funds went to insurance.

[0]https://talkmarkets.com/content/us-markets/average-hourly-pa...


Wages and Salaries 5% over 14 years. 0.35% per year.

Total compensation 9% over 14 years. 0.64% per year.

I guess technically I'm wrong.


With 1 in 8 Americans living underneath the federal poverty line, and 10% of employed American adults facing food insecurity (i.e. hunger), it's arguably not the case that the economy is booming.

As for what you can credit the tax cuts with, well, here you go:

https://www.marketwatch.com/story/its-official-the-trump-tax...

The tl;dr: share buybacks and corporate profits are the biggest consequence of the TCJA, not employment.


I don’t see what those two statistics have to do with whether the economy is booming.

Would you argue the economy has never boomed before? 1 in 8 Americans below the federal poverty line seems to be pretty decent when seen historically according to https://commons.m.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Number_in_Poverty_...

Numbers for 2018 don’t seem to be available yet but I’d assume they continue to trend down.


Another view is that the US is as bad as ever compared to peers: https://www.statista.com/statistics/233910/poverty-rates-in-...


Mexico has lower rates of poverty than the US? It wants me to pay to see how they gather the data but 33% of Mexicans live on less than $5 a day[0] while "42% of Mexico's total population living below the national poverty line" yet the rate in your graph is 16.7%

[0] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Poverty_in_Mexico


It's true that the oecd definition kind of breaks on poor countries with low median income. But still the list is interesting if you look at the more comparable rich countries vs the US.


It's mindboggling that we can have such incredible poverty and food insecurity problems, while having catastrophic obesity rates, and have huge overlaps in the populations supposedly suffering both problems simultaneously.


Yet employment levels are at historic highs. Clearly, something is working well after the tax cut.


A trillion dollar tax cut that raises the annual deficit to over a trillion dollars a year can certainly ignite some economic activity. So can lighting a bonfire using the household furniture and next year's crop of seed corn.

This isn't organic economic growth, it is the lowest form of political populism that doesn't even pretend to be an actual economic policy intended to make the US economy strong.


> it quotes AT&T's CEO as saying that AT&T would invest an additional $1 billion, which is equivalent to 7,000 jobs.

That's a simplification of the quote. Add in the next part, "These are not entry-level jobs. These are 7,000 jobs of people putting fiber in ground, hard-hat jobs that make $70,000 to $80,000 per year."

and try to tell me with a straight face that "AT&T never said or implied that they'd be creating new jobs".


He said they’d be investing an additional $1 billion and said that is equivalent to 7,000 jobs. The article never proves otherwise. He never said AT&T’s global workforce would be 7,000 positions larger or even implied that.


That's.. disingenuous. Because if he wanted to make a big deal about job creation, he could have gone with minimum wage call center employees and said that it'd be the equivalent of 30,000 jobs and sounded even more impressive.

But no, he called out a specific job, specific responsibilities and specific pay.


Out of curiosity, while not an employee of any telco, would you feel it was appropriate to disclose that you have represented telecom companies or telecom industry associations in multiple matters as an attorney?


If the thread was closely related enough for that, I wouldn’t comment at all. “Telecom” is an entire sector of the economy, like “ad tech.” You don’t see Google-ers caveat their posts when commenting on an article about Facebook and Cambridge Analytica.


> You don’t see Google-ers caveat their posts when commenting on an article about Facebook and Cambridge Analytica.

I don't know about comments on Cambridge Analytica or Facebook, but Googlers appear to disclose their employer quite frequently when it's relevant to their comments on HN:

https://hn.algolia.com/?sort=byPopularity&prefix&page=1&date...

Disclosure: Googler.


The first example is illustrative: “Disclosure: I work on Google Cloud,” in an article about Google Cloud. You don’t see Googlers adding caveats to posts about Facebook on the theory that both are in the same industry and share interests unrelated to the discussion at hand.


Other people's unethical behavior does not excuse your own.


I think the practice is consistent with general HN expectations, and also what you might expect for say a legal journal. I will also add that many people on HN, including me, post under their real name so that anyone can Google them and see what they’re about.


>or even implied that

Thats an unusual take when the direct quote is him not only specifying a number of jobs, but the quality and pay for them. People dont usually assume that when I say "This would add 7000 jobs" that me removing 23000 jobs net is the end result as long as the jobs were added somewhere


That's why you can't ignore the "we will invest $1 billion" part, as you are doing. "We will invest $1 billion, which will translate into jobs for 7,000 workers." He's talking about jobs in connection with specified investments--not about total headcount.

Look at it this way. Suppose he had said: "We will build a new HQ building, which will create jobs for 7,000 workers." Would you still assume that precludes the possibility of a merger that results in job losses elsewhere (or, as mentioned above, not replacing union employees that retire)?


That's the weasel words. If it didn't matter and they weren't trying to make the implication, why bring it up?

>Suppose he had said: "We will build a new HQ building, which will create jobs for 7,000 workers." Would you still assume that precludes the possibility of a merger that results in job losses elsewhere (or, as mentioned above, not replacing union employees that retire)?

If the person saying it is asking for a tax break that they say will fund this increase in jobs, then yes I would assume it precludes cutting jobs elsewhere. The whole point was it would be additive to society rather them shifting resources around but still pocketing the money.

You seem to believe that there is no implications to their words or actions beyond the explicit meanings of the words. If that's how they want to act, while also making sure to say things in a way that the average person will assume an implication, they should never get a deal again.

They were not making statements in good faith if we go by your interpretation of their statements


> If the person saying it is asking for a tax break that they say will fund this increase in jobs, then yes I would assume it precludes cutting jobs elsewhere. The whole point was it would be additive to society rather them shifting resources around but still pocketing the money.

I don’t think that assumption is at all sound. AT&T has 2.7x as many employees as Alphabet, but just 21% more revenue. It has a huge, unionized workforce that is in a long term process of being trimmed down over time due to market changes and automation. (It had 310,000 employees in 2007, and is down to 260,000.) A commitment to invest money that will create some jobs cannot be interpreted as a commitment to reverse that long term process altogether.


It may not be sound, I don't disagree. They shouldn't have been talking about tax cuts leads to them investing 1 billion leads to 7k more jobs. They made the claim, they get the ire for either being wrong or intentionally misleading


First time I have heard "ground work" not described as entry level grunt work.


Which explains nicely why tax "loopholes" are much better at achieving the desired result than tax "breaks."

In the former, the tax burden is reduced in exchange for specific actions by the taxpayer. For example you give AT&T the option to file for a reduction in their taxes in proportion to their investment in new fiber, or in proportion to the number of "hard hat" jobs they create. In the latter, you simply cut their taxes and take their word for it that the result will achieve your policy goals because they said it might.

The over arching message, that cutting taxes as a way of putting more money into the working man's hands, is false on its face remains true. Even the folks who invented trickle down economics say that.[1]

[1] https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/posteverything/wp/2017/0...


I think that's true. But the purpose of the 1996 deregulation was not to have companies build fiber specifically. The goal was to increase private investment in telecom generally. In that regard, deregulation was wildly successful. (It should also be noted that telecom deregulation was part of an overall long-term strategy of deregulation that included airline, trucking, freight, energy, etc., deregulation, all of which are widely regarded as successful. So successful that European countries pretty much uniformly followed suit. While there are differences here and there, European telecom, energy, etc., markets look a lot like the American ones, and quite different than what those markets looked like in Europe or the U.S. before.)


Oh absolutely, and one of my biggest customers in 1999 was one of those "private phone companies" that was made possible by deregulation. They also allowed me to experience having a customer file for Chapter 7 in the bankruptcy code :-).

But the article that is linked, and which we are commenting on, was specifically calling out AT&T which lobbied strongly for the 2018 Trump "tax cuts" which cut corporate taxes specifically. AT&T argued in favor suggesting that the money they saved in taxes they would invest in building out their fiber and creating "hard hat jobs". The union argues this never happened.

I doubt anyone here was surprised that corporations, receiving a large chunk of cash to the bottom line with a reduced tax burden, did not turn around and dole that out into either infrastructure development nor worker salaries. Rather, it has largely been used to pay one time bonuses to executives or returned through dividend to investors, or just sat upon as these companies are all too willing to do.

I was pointing out that giving someone money and suggesting uses for it that you would like, is less successful than holding on to the money and giving it to them after they show they have done something you would like and then "rewarding" them for that.

For example, adding a corporate tax that would add 1% to the corporations general obligation for each multiple of 100 difference in pay between the executive staff and the non-executive staff, would "reward" them for more equal pay and penalize them for less equal pay.


Deregulation itself wasn't successful. Rather it was only the first step of forced unbundling that spurred investment.

The second step was then removing the restrictions on the public networks after they'd been privatized - national telcom policy being redeclared such that "competition" between incumbent phone and incumbent cable was good enough. The CLECs all but disappeared.

Twenty years ago, basic phone service from Verizon was $15/mo. Now it's $75. The only success is for the investors that successfully looted the public networks.

Competition with Comcast only came to town when the municipal electric company decided to build out fiber. When the only source of competition is the local de jure government, one is hard pressed to claim that is a functional market.


> Twenty years ago, basic phone service from Verizon was $15/mo. Now it's $75. The only success is for the investors that successfully looted the public networks.

Pre-deregulation, local telephone service was artificially cheap because carriers were required to cross-subsidize it from long-distance charges. So the price of phone service 20 years ago was never really something that was economically feasible standing alone. Moreover, as copper subscribers are dwindling, the per-subscriber cost of maintaining the whole network is rapidly increasing.

Standalone copper phone service, makes no economic sense. When a storm knocks down a telephone line, the truck roll costs the same whether you're delivering $15/month phone service or $150/month triple play. (And these aren't gig-economy workers doing that repair--the average Verizon union employee receives $130,000 in wages and benefits: https://www.nytimes.com/2016/04/14/business/verizon-workers-...) The cost of the truck roll, moreover, is now amortized over far fewer paying subscribers in the neighborhood, versus back when everyone subscribed to copper landline service.

Verizon will sell you 100/100 FiOS for $40/month ($55/month after the 12-month promotional period ends). Combine that with VoIP and Netflix/Hulu, and you're paying a lot less than you used to back in the day for local phone + long distance + cable TV.


I'll give you that the per-subscriber costs of copper will naturally go up as it's phased out. On the other hand, when I was in a different market that still had a functioning CLEC, for $40/mo I had a nice copper landline and VDSL2 (12/2 Mbit compared to Verizon's 3/384).

> Verizon will sell you 100/100 FiOS for $40/month

No, no they won't. That only happens in areas with functioning competition. You seem to be sorely missing this.

In order for FIOS to be built out in most areas, Verizon would require public money. Why should that infrastructure then belong to privately-owned Verizon rather than staying with the public entities that paid for it?


> No, no they won't. That only happens in areas with functioning competition. You seem to be sorely missing this

FWIW I live in an apartment building and get 100/100 fios for $44.99 a month. I think it’s supposed to be 39.99 but for some reason my autopay discount isn’t registering and I haven’t bothered contacting customer support to see if I can fix it.

There is zero competition here, the apartment is only wired for FiOS so the only other options I would have would be congested 4G and maybe a satellite dish.

I’m not really sure why fios offers such a low price when they are a monopoly...


The $15/month was just local service. You had to pay per minute for long distance calls.

That $75/month now included unlimited calling as well as texts and probably has some data as well.


I was comparing copper. AFAIK you can't text over copper.

The $15/mo was metered service for even local calls, which I would happily go back to. Cell ($10/mo) and VOIP (effectively free) manage the bulk of calling just fine.

Obviously the plan is to move off the copper, to stop getting robbed. But that isn't a justification of the robbers.

I'll note that the involvement here is mainly due to my older father, which is the demographic really meant to be squeezed by this rent extraction.


I think the general thrust of your argument has validity but it is weakened a bit by a poor example.

None of the things that have happened, post deregulation, were impossible to do before, but there was no incentive to do them. A copper line, using either ADSL or SDSL signaling can do anything a wireless signal can, text, data, voice, all at the same time.

What deregulation did was two fold, first it forced the legacy phone company (Bell Telephone, and then the broken up "baby" Bells) to provide access on demand to the copper line, and it allowed private companies to then provide services over that line. New companies were created like Copper Mountain which, under the new options of deregulation, converted "POTS"[1] lines into DSL lines with additional features. The "baby" bells, had to upgrade their networks in order to compete. As part of that upgrade, they needed much more network capacity between their central offices (one copper pair could now host 3 or 4 voice calls, be sending video for example) and much of the late 90's saw miles and miles of new fiber optic networks laid in across the country.

Deregulation also gave phone companies the option of raising their rates without the strict controls of the regulatory infrastructure of "pubic" monopolies, and they sought to recoup their investments in creating new infrastructure by raising rates.

[1] "Plain Old Telephone Service" - aka a switched, voice only network with one channel per line.


The quip about texting over copper was only in response to a presumption that I was comparing a $75/mo cell phone plan, when I was directly referencing Verizon's landline price in 2019. It was actually $85/mo before I called up to attempt to drop DSL (no savings from that, actually. I'm resisting the urge to plug the DSL modem into the router to play with multihoming, to not further increase the dependencies on this copper).

I'll admit their absolute lowest price isn't $75/mo, but $40/mo for "local only". Which I would actually accept, but for caller ID (a modern necessity) being $20/mo on top of that. The whole setup wreaks of gouging a captive market, which effectively describes why I am in this position.

I do fondly remember DSL from Speakeasy/Covad. My point is most CLECs have effectively gone out of business, seemingly due to unbundling going out of fashion and never being applied to coax networks. Although I will say MegaPath remains a great resource for enumerating all services available at an address, the prices will just be at the business level.


> Which explains nicely why tax "loopholes" are much better at achieving the desired result than tax "breaks."

> In the former, the tax burden is reduced in exchange for specific actions by the taxpayer.

Then you would just have people misrepresent the "loopholes" as "breaks", like they did in the Amazon NYC fiasco.


More fully quoting him might be helpful "“From my standpoint, the driver of this is the business tax reform… if we get investment going, we get productivity going, we get wage gain going, we invest another billion dollars. Every billion dollars AT&T invests is 7,000 hard hat jobs. These are not entry-level jobs. These are 7,000 jobs of people putting fiber in ground, hard hat jobs that make $70,000 to $80,000 per year,” Stephenson said at an event hosted by The Economic Club of New York on Wednesday."


Right, but the question still is: did AT&T invest that $1 billion? AT&T's capital expenditures in 2017 was $21.6 billion, and $25 billion in 2018: https://www.fiercewireless.com/wireless/at-t-s-capex-to-rise.... In 2019, it is expected to be $23 billion: https://markets.businessinsider.com/news/stocks/at-t-expects....


nah, the question is did they create anywhere near 7000 jobs

-23,000 seems to suggest no


And given that Randall Stephenson said each billion would create 7000 jobs and AT&T got 3 billion, did they create anywhere near 21,000 jobs? He's kind of crappy at this. He was off by 44k. I guess making economic projections like this isn't in his wheelhouse.


Are you sure AT&T and the other telcos never promised to do FTTH? My understanding and recollection (I worked at QWest 1995-'98), was that this surcharge was explicitly to replace the copper infrastructure with fiber. I worked on the billing system but talked to people who were managing a pilot project in West Omaha.

https://www.huffpost.com/entry/you-have-been-charged-tho_b_6...


Actually the article does talk about whether they spent the additional $1 billion in capital investments. They didn't. They have cut capital investments. Even though they also got net neutrality eliminated which they also claimed would lead them to increase capital investment.




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