Quotation of the Day…

by Don Boudreaux on September 22, 2011

in Antitrust, History, Trade

… is from page 133 of economic historian Stuart Bruchey’s 1988 book The Wealth of the Nation: An Economic History of the United States:

In my view, there is something to be said for the suggestion that the main attention of the Congress during the years 1888-1890 was fixed on the tariff, that discussion of trusts was frequently interwined with it, and that since some opponents of the tariff had raised the cry that the tariff was the “mother of the trusts,” Congress enacted an antitrust bill to weaken opposition to the tariff.

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Greg Webb September 22, 2011 at 11:32 am

That sounds like normal political logic to me. The tariff proponents were worried that tariff opponents were winning the debate with their “mother of all trusts” claim so tariff proponents sponsored and passed anti-trust legislation to create the appearance that the tariff proponents were not trust proponents as well.

Frank33328 September 22, 2011 at 12:36 pm

You’ve got to love it. Bad idea A often results in (is interwined with) unwanted result B, so simply legislate again the result. I think I will try this on my wife: “Honey, being unfaithful to you often results in divorce, so I will move to outlaw divorce and therefore I can be all the unfaithful I want. Right?”

I will let you know tomorrow how this worked. Assuming I survive.

Greg Webb September 22, 2011 at 9:54 pm

LOL! I love your analogy…but I would not try it!

EG September 22, 2011 at 2:19 pm

But…but…if government didn’t prevent monopolies, today we’d be overrun by monopolies? Who will protect the consumer?

Its amazing how many times I hear this even from people who are intelligent and highly educated etc.

JS September 22, 2011 at 5:35 pm

They are highly educated, since that’s what they were educated to believe. It’s sad.

Fred September 22, 2011 at 6:28 pm

I’ve known some really stupid people with the talent to regurgitate information in such a way as to please an instructor and attain a degree, without much of any ability to independently evaluate and judge what it is they are being taught.

I wouldn’t call those people intelligent.

EG September 22, 2011 at 9:08 pm

Well I know they are intelligent because they are my friends. But its very easy to have this mindset.

Fred September 22, 2011 at 9:34 pm


mindset a – people need to be controlled. we need rules. orders. authority. supervision.

mindset b – as long as it’s consensual who cares?

g-dub September 23, 2011 at 2:21 pm

I agree.

I’ll only say that I understood that scoring points on tests was important. I didn’t have to believe “answer A.”

vikingvista September 23, 2011 at 2:19 am

If monopolies are so dangerous, how can we risk having a government?

Greg Webb September 23, 2011 at 1:46 pm

I know, EG, and it is sad. They are intelligent people who believe what the media has told them. Yet, it is government that creates monopolies when it creates barriers of entry to, and exit from, any industry. The typical barrier is extensive regulation, which keeps people from starting a new business in the extensively- regulated industry to compete with the monopolist or the oligopolists. This gives the impression that the government is regulating the monopolist or the oligopolists, but the reality is that the monopolist or the oligopolists, which is already established in the industry, makes additional profits from limited competition that greatly exceed the additional cost and annoyance of stricter regulation. Thus, established businesses always love greater regulation.

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