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Antitrust Bill of Rights
I'm weaving together two separate posts from last weekends
discussions about an "Antitrust Bill of Rights".
The following quote comes from a post by Charles Mueller.
> No nation's economists--confronted with the lure of monopoly
>money--will make the financial sacrifice (in foregone "consulting" fees)
> necessary to support a meaningful national antimonopoly policy.
> Economic theory is unworkable as an antitrust standard.
I would ask why so many other groups opposed to the interests of
large corporations are reasonably successful. The environmental
movement would seem to suffer from exactly the same vulnerability that
anit-trust does, yet they seem to do all right. Why can't anti-trust
do the same? Are economists more easily swayed by the allure of large
fees than environmental scientists?
If there is ever going to be effective anti-trust enforcement, there
has to be a community of scholars/academics who can help to form elite
opinion in favor of anti-trust. The solution is to bring is into
existence, not to deny them any place if they ever do show up.
And from a post by Ralph Anspach:
> If that's right, then there seem to be only two possibilities
> of reining in the big monopolists.
> One is to mobilize the 12 million businesses (compared to about
>1,000 monopolists) to look after their own interests. Not too
>promising. The monopolists are leaving little niches open for the others
>and the others, driven by the American dream to be monopolists
>themselves, go along with that happily.
> The other is to keep antitrust idea alive in areas where the
>biggest monopolists fight the smaller monopolists (Microsoft vs.
>Netscape?) and wait for the monopolized economy to self-destruct. This
>would deligitimize the leviathans and then we can look forward to a
>judiciary no longer enthralled by big monopolies - at the side of other
>unexpected excrescences which accompany economic disaster such as in the
It seems to be a common perception that the persons that are most
effected by the existence and toleration of monopolies are
capitalists, who weren't lucky enough to get in on the ground floor.
I wonder if this is true? The reaction of most entrepreneurs (as
Ralph points out) is to move on the next pasture, and try to grow
their own monopoly. Investors just buy into an already existing one
(Somebody is driving up the price of MS).
It's consumers who are hurt by the lack of anti-trust enforcement, not
entrepreneurs or investors. And yet they seem to have no place at the
table (even before the Supreme Court cut everyone else out except the
Justice Department). Perhaps the way to reinvigorate anti-trust would
be to give consumers the right to sue for damages due to restraint of
trade. Of course, no consumer would actually do such a thing
themselves, but an enterprising lawyer might be able to get a
class-action certified, and then we would be talking real money.