Ethics of Antitrust Laws


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Here's a thread that I posted on another web site. Every response boiled down to "I have a moral right to your property, resources, services, etc. because I benefit from them, and if you complain while I rob you, then YOU are the one destroying liberty, not me."

http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/...97D14D20130814

An antitrust law is a regulation that prevents individuals from conducting business because the government considers the intended business to negatively affect consumers.

The companies US Airways and American Airlines have been blocked by the US Department of Justice from merging because the "creation of the world's largest airline that would result would stifle competition, drive up airfares and reduce services." The merging airlines argue that they "would be weaker rivals if the merger did not take place, an outcome that would not be good for consumers who deserve more choices..." The airlines said "a merger would increase competition by adding a viable competitor to two dominant carriers, Delta and United Continental, both the result of recent megamergers."

I think it's a gross miscarriage of justice that a citizen has to argue for his social utility in order to maintain his liberty. These two companies have to argue that consumers could use them better if they merge. I wouldn't be surprised if Delta or United Continental paid the US Department of Justice to prevent the merger. Consider this exchange, the trial of Hank Rearden:

Defendant
"A prisoner brought to trial can defend himself only if there is an objective principle of justice recognized by his judges, a principle upholding his rights, which they may not violate and which he can invoke. The law, by which you are trying me, holds that there are no principles, that I have no rights and that you may do with me whatever you please. Very well. Do it."

Judge
"The law which you are denouncing is based on the highest principle - the principle of the public good."

Defendant
"Who is the public? What does it hold as its good? There was a time when men believed that 'the good' was a concept to be defined by a code of moral values and that no man had the right to seek his good through the violation of the rights of another. If it is now believed that my fellow men may sacrifice me in any manner they please for the sake of whatever they deem to be their own good, if they believe that they may seize my property simply because they need it - well, so does any burglar. There is only this difference: the burglar does not ask me to sanction his act."

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What do you think about antitrust laws?
Should you be required to prove to the government that your business should be justified by social utility?
That your RIGHT to sell a good or service rests on the principle that other people must benefit from them, whether you consent to their use or not?
That people have a right to your goods and services merely because they benefit from them?

Antitrust laws are widely popular among Congressmen and Senators, among Democrats and Republicans. There is a stench of cronyism around antitrust laws, where one business can pay a Senator to stop another business from being more competitive.

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  • 2 weeks later...

The supposed necessity of antitrust has to be one of the most overblown statist talking points of all time. The most widely touted examples of monopolizing behavior are hundreds of years old, having to do with railroads and ferries and such, and there are so few cases of successful DOJ intervention from the past century that it's not even a blip on the radar of the economy. Even so, simply being a monopoly is entirely legal, yet we have so few monopolistic firms in the U.S. today (debatable whether we even have any).

When the government sued IBM for "monopolizing" mainframe computer sales in 1969, the case dragged on and sapped IBM's resources until the DOJ dropped the case 13 years later. At that point, IBM wasn't even the dominant market share anymore. Most of the firms progressive-types complain about being "monopolies" today (e.g., Walmart - which is actually highly competitive in its business practices) won't be dominant in another decade or two.

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The supposed necessity of antitrust has to be one of the most overblown statist talking points of all time. The most widely touted examples of monopolizing behavior are hundreds of years old, having to do with railroads and ferries and such, and there are so few cases of successful DOJ intervention from the past century that it's not even a blip on the radar of the economy. Even so, simply being a monopoly is entirely legal, yet we have so few monopolistic firms in the U.S. today (debatable whether we even have any).

When the government sued IBM for "monopolizing" mainframe computer sales in 1969, the case dragged on and sapped IBM's resources until the DOJ dropped the case 13 years later. At that point, IBM wasn't even the dominant market share anymore. Most of the firms progressive-types complain about being "monopolies" today (e.g., Walmart - which is actually highly competitive in its business practices) won't be dominant in another decade or two.

Anti-trust lawsuits only target practices though, correct?

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Anti-trust lawsuits only target practices though, correct?

Yes, so-called anti-competitive business practices, like pricing below cost, bundling products, price-fixing, or geographical collusion. There is very little evidence that any of the above is even remotely common in industry or that it would be a sustainable modern business practice even if it were tried.

I was solicited to join an antitrust class-action lawsuit against Barbri and Kaplan in 2010-2011. Publicly sacrificing my integrity wasn't worth the $50-100 I could reasonably have expected to gain from the lawsuit, which I viewed as little more than a legal shakedown of corporations with deep pockets. Nobody was "forced" to buy Barbri's products by any stretch of the imagination.

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Eh, I think you're blowing it out of proportion.

No, not really.

Q. When does a Statist government fiercely uphold a capitalist principle?

A. When it forces 'competitive practice' through anti-trust laws.

This irony is regularly played out in my country by "The Competition Tribunal" which has the power to impose multi-millions in fines - and has- on anything from the large bakers to the construction industry.(Who always meekly pay up, knowing they have little recourse.)

Heads you lose, tails you lose.

All these scenarios have come up:

Your prices are beneath your competitor's?

Guilty of undercutting and attempting to unfairly eradicate competition.

They are higher than his?

Guilty of profiteering.

They are exactly the same?

Both of you guilty of collusion.

[Heh. Just listened to Yaron say almost the same, word for word.]

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