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Won't anybody screw it up? The dichotomy between what we know to be human nature -- that people make mistakes, that not everything goes well -- and the sheer joy with which every deal announcement is met seems incredibly naive to me.

An overwhelming number of deals and mergers and joint ventures will go awry because managements will get things wrong. Just because two companies get together does not mean that everything works out in the end.

Yet, here I am watching


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Time Warner


rally on a joint venture that seems no more certain than any other. Heck, I like the announcement, too. But what happens if


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gets it right, and

America Online


gets it right, and AT&T and Time Warner get it right, and






get it right, and


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gets it right, and


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gets it right, and

Bell Atlantic


gets it right, and


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get it right, and

MCI Worldcom


gets it right?

Isn't it possible that if everyone gets it right, we will all have to have five phone numbers and five sets of personal databases that we zip around cyberspace as we watch our kids play soccer and surf our communities? Won't we all have to have our own Net sites and never shop at a mall again and never go to work because we will be shopping nonstop and watching millions of different shows on streaming video while we trade around the clock?

I don't know where all of this ends, but I know that someone has to screw up -- or else we will live in a world that assumes we will never sleep, always shop, always trade and always learn. Seems unlike human nature to me.

Something to think about.

James J. Cramer is manager of a hedge fund and co-founder of At the time of publication, his fund was long Time Warner, Cisco, Intel, Microsoft and America Online, though positions may change at any time. Under no circumstances does the information in this column represent a recommendation to buy or sell stocks. Cramer's writings provide insights into the dynamics of money management and are not a solicitation for transactions. While he cannot provide investment advice or recommendations, he invites you to comment on his column by sending a letter to