How much money did taxpayers spend last century to break up the telephone company? And why, exactly, should anyone expect today’s merger announcement will face scrutiny from what remains of America’s anti-trust enforcement in America?

AT&T just announced it will buy T-Mobile USA for $39 billion. If the transaction gets approved by the government and closes in a year as planned, it will create the nation’s largest wireless carrier by far.

While this is great news for both companies, it’s an awful idea for consumers – and I desperately hope the US antitrust authorities rake this merger over the coals.

The federal government spent ten years (1974-1984) divesting the phone company, only to have them reorganize themselves into international behemoths with no compunctions about acceding to warrantless federal wiretap requests, as long as they got immunity for same.

Lily Tomlin might not have thought she was predicting the future, but her Laugh-In sketch about an omnipotent phone company with access to all our financial information rings pretty true 45 years later.

UPDATE: Oh, look, more telecom consolidation!