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As a Rule, Protectionism Masks Itself as Competition

Here’s a letter to the Wall Street Journal:

Attempting to defend intrusion by antitrust bureaucrats into Google’s business operations, Charles Rule writes that “Ironically, many of the most ardent defenders of Google are the same individuals – such as Eric Schmidt, Google’s CEO who was an executive at Sun and later Novell – who devoted so much time, money and effort to pushing the frontiers of the law and government regulation against Microsoft a decade ago” (“‘Trust Us’ Isn’t An Answer,” Sept. 17).

Nothing about this fact is remotely ironic.  Business executives use antitrust to throttle their competitors: businesses accused of antitrust violations point out (almost always rightly) that they are guilty only of unusual success at pleasing consumers, while businesses that are either too lazy or too incompetent to excel in the marketplace turn to antitrust legislation for relief from the rigors of competition.

The real irony is that, for its entire 120-year history of being used to stymie competition and the forces of creative destruction, antitrust regulation continues to be portrayed as pro-competitive.

Donald J. Boudreaux