Thursday, February 05, 2004

Antitrust: What's the Difference?

Antitrust supporters need to explain to me why this isn't an example of outright socialism, i.e. the confiscation of private property by the government:
SAO PAULO, Brazil -- The Brazilian Antitrust Agency on Wednesday ruled that Swiss food giant Nestle must sell the Garoto chocolate company it bought in 2002 for $250 million.

The agency cited "a high degree of market concentration" in its 5-1 ruling. Under the ruling, Nestle must divest itself of Garoto, although no specific deadline was set.

Furthermore, Nestle must break up the formerly Brazilian-owned company into separate units and sell them to buyers who do not control more than a 20 percent market share for any given product.

Nestle bought Garoto in February 2002, a move that united two of Brazil's three largest chocolate companies and gave Nestle a market share as high as 90 percent for some products.
Cases like this demonstrate the fundamental difference between antitrust advocates and supporters of capitalism: The antitrust folks say "competition" is the foundation of a market economy; we say it's private property rights. You cannot, however, have it both ways. If you accept any form of antitrust regulation, you are not a capitalist in any meaningful sense of the word.

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