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Quotation of the Day…

… is from page 334 of my late colleague Gordon Tullock’s 1987 essay “Concluding Thoughts on the Politics of Regulation,” which is the final chapter of the important 1987 collection, Public Choice & Regulation: A View from Inside the Federal Trade Commission (Robert J. Mackay, James C. Miller III, and Bruce Yandle, eds.):

If we look over the entire spectrum of government activity, we observe immediately that the creation of monopolies is one of the government’s major preoccupations.  It is traditional to say that the tariff is the “mother of monopolies,” and certainly no one who contemplates the U.S. trade-barrier structure would raise any question about this, except possibly to call attention to the existence of quotas as well.  Agriculture has been thoroughly monopolized by the Department of Agriculture, which not only restricts production, thus raising the price of food, but also uses the taxpayers’ money to subsidize the farmers in return for their agreeing to reduce production.

To anyone who is even passingly familiar with economic and regulatory history, the notion that the state is the – or even a – safeguard against monopolies is laughable.  People who fall for the commonly heard assertion that antitrust and other modes of state intervention play an important role in the process of keeping markets competitive are people who fall for mere words and expressed intentions.  They are not people who know anything about the history of such state interventions.  Nor are they people who possess an adequate understanding of market processes or of political processes.