Last night on Twitter when the Comcast/Time Warner news was announced, people were immediately talking about how this deal proves that libertarianism doesn't work. (That conversation was quickly supplanted by lame jokes about how shitty everyone's cable service was about to become.) I think this point needs to be discussed by a larger audience.
Libertarians argue that the market knows best what the people want, because people vote with their dollars. This works when you're in high school and arguing about imaginary lemonade stands, but when you're dealing with enormous corporations, the libertarian argument fails. The libertarian argument relies on competition. Corporations hate competition. Corporations buy one another until they're a monopoly, and then they fall back onto a holding pattern where they try to minimize expenses and maximize profits, usually at the expense of customer satisfaction.
I know someone who owns a business. The business relies on the internet. The internet wasn't working. The business called Comcast customer service and asked for help. Comcast said they would come fix the situation...in one to six months. Who else can this business turn to? Nobody. There's no competition. That's your libertarian dream-world? (I didn't want to identify the small business publicly, because I'm honestly a little afraid that they would suffer repercussions if I took their complaints public.)
One of the major purposes of government in modern times should be to protect the people from corporate overreach. Libertarianism would culminate in a world where every industry suffers from this kind of monopolistic hunger and the consumer is basically forgotten, a clueless ant feeding on crumbs. This is happening in the news right now, and yet some people still argue that the market knows best, that libertarianism is the answer. These people are idiots who can't see their argument falling apart in the world all around them.