In its decidedly one-sided coverage of the Detroit bridge battle, Michigan’s mainstream media has demonized a Michigan businessman in favor of a foreign government - Canada. The Lansing State Journal, for example, scolded Ambassador Bridge owner Matty Moroun for spending a ballot record ($31 million) on his Prop 6 designed to force a public vote on Canada’s new bridge.
But wouldn’t a newspaper do the same if government threatened its business?
Take the Journal. It’s the only daily newspaper in the state’s capital. What if the governments of Canada, Michigan, and the U.S. ganged up on the LSJ’s “monopoly,” and decided to publish a government-run newspaper to put the Journal out of business?
You don’t have to endorse Moroun’s over-the-top, misleading ads – or his ballot proposal – to know that is exactly what the Canadian government is doing to the Ambassador Bridge Company.
In a decades-long war with Moroun, the Canadian government has tried repeatedly to put the Michigan mogul out of business, jealous that a private company is making money on “their” international border crossing. What is dumbfounding is that it has found a Michigan governor and American government to ally with them to destroy a profitable, American business.
The American pols have a bad case of “edifice complex” – the urge to build a monument creating short-term jobs. But in pursuing their goal, they have lighted on an absurd argument to make their case: They claim Moroun’s bridge is a “monopoly” and that his opposition to the New International Trade Crossing is anti-competitive.
The charge is absurd on its face.
Begin with the fact that governments are themselves monopolies – with limitless resources and no profit motive. Which is why Canada is intent on building a bridge that has no business case. With commercial border traffic flat, and predicted to be flat for the foreseeable future, no private entity will fund a new Detroit bridge.
Then consider that the Ambassador is no more a monopoly than most newspaper towns. The Ambassador competes in a U.S.-Canada border crossing market. Its competitors are other crossings – the Port Huron bridge, the Buffalo bridge and so on. It would be as absurd to call the Lansing State Journal – competing in a market of broadcast TV, Internet, talk radio, and nearby Metro Detroit papers – a monopoly.
Finally, consider that Moroun’s bridge is a rare private exception to transportation infrastructure monopolized by governments. Canada, Michigan, and the U.S. control almost all infrastructure with no competition. Only when Moroun – operating an efficient and highly-regarded bridge – threatens their supremacy do they have the audacity to call his competition a “monopoly.”
You bet Matty Moroun is spending millions. He is up against powerful, government-run monopolists intent on running him outta town.