Thursday, June 12, 2003

Rights & Reason: Getting it Right

Mike Walters, writing in the Texas A&M University student newspaper, demolishes the moral foundation of the Telecommunications Act of 1996, the law which forces the local Bell companies to lease their infrastructure to competitors:
The Telecommunications Act of 1996 is a more subtle type of antitrust law, which claims to promote competition and eliminate the possibility of an emerging monopoly through government intervention. A common misconception is that the government has to protect its citizens from big business through the prevention of monopolies. This is completely unnecessary in a capitalist economy. Any company that manages to drive away competition cannot set prices as high as it likes. Were a company foolish enough to raise prices excessively, a free society allows for the emergence of new competition that is encouraged to charge a fair price, meeting immediate success by providing a cheaper alternative to the abusive monopoly.

Even if such a built-in safeguard did not exist, one must ask about the cost of enacting anti-monopoly legislation. Would it be moral to let the government intervene on a situation in fear that a company that has sole reign in a market will act oppressively? In his essay, "Antitrust," Alan Greenspan writes, "The effective purpose, the hidden intent, and the actual practice of the antitrust laws in the United States have led to the condemnation of the productive and efficient members of our society because they are productive and efficient."
Greenspan, of course, wrote those words more than 30 years ago, and he's long since exchanged genuine free market principles for the power of the Federal Reserve Board. In any case, Walters gets it exactly right. He not only identifies the practical failures of antitrust, but its moral ones as well:
America boasts the fact that it is a country in which its citizens are free to work hard to achieve their goals, dreams and happiness. Is there some sort of "fine print" on the Declaration of Independence that says the pursuit of liberty and happiness exists for everybody but a successful businesses? Instead, it says only a few lines afterward "That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it."

Evil is not to be tolerated in a just society, and if our government allows economic success to be a punishable offense, it is the public's privilege and obligation to alter the government by pushing for the abolishment of such legislation.
The most difficult aspect of education people about the antitrust laws is getting them to understand that the core supporters of antitrust—regulators, lawyers, academics, et al.—are not simply misguided individuals, but proponents of an evil, anti-human philosophy that will ultimately reinstitute feudal serfdom in this country. Nice to see some folks, like Mr. Walters, are still able to recognize their enemies for what they are.

No comments: