Monday, September 22, 2003

Antitrust News: What are the DOJ's priorities?

The Wall Street Journal has been reporting that the Justice Department has more than 70 grand juries convened throughout the United States to investigate price fixing and other criminal antitrust violations. At a time when the nation is engaged in an ongoing war against terrorist organizations and the economy is recovering from a prolonged downturn, the Justice Department is running around looking to charge businessmen with criminal price fixing in industries such as glass and industrial chemicals. This is on top of the DOJ's massive civil antitrust enforcement regime that wins more than 90% of its cases by settlement.

Hewitt Pate, the Republican head of the DOJ's Antitrust Division, is steadfast in his belief that antitrust is the pillar of a successful market economy, despite all evidence to the contrary. Pate also is a leading advocate of expanding antitrust's international reach--he considers antitrust a leading "export" of American ideals. One wonders if Pate and company aren't prepared to introduce antitrust into Iraq. After all, if you accept Pate's philosophy, it's impossible to have a free market without antitrust.

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