Another Gem from the New Deal

by Don Boudreaux on October 14, 2013

in Antitrust, Crony Capitalism, History

Here’s a letter to the Wall Street Journal:

Marc Levinson offers a splendid history of A&P and of the Robinson-Patman Act’s assault on that company’s efforts to translate its superior efficiencies into lower grocery prices for consumers (“When Creative Destruction Visited the Mom-and-Pops,” Oct. 12).

The Robinson-Patman Act of 1936, although trumpeted as an act to enhance competition, is such a barefaced effort to protect politically influential producers from having to compete against more innovative rivals that it was called by the late Donald Dewey – a usually soft-spoken antitrust scholar at Columbia University – “an execrable concession to small business groups and an insult to the public intelligence.”*

Indeed it is.  Unfortunately, other antitrust statutes, including the Sherman Act, differ from Robinson-Patman only in being less blatant about their anti-competitive goals.

Sincerely,
Donald J. Boudreaux
Professor of Economics
and
Martha and Nelson Getchell Chair for the Study of Free Market Capitalism at the Mercatus Center
George Mason University
Fairfax, VA  22030

* Donald Dewey, Monopoly in Economics and Law (Chicago: Rand McNally & Co., 1959), p. 198.

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