My former GMU colleague and now Macaulay Professor at Clemson, Tom Hazlett, writes eloquently in the Wall Street Journal of the market’s robustness and of the pretensions that power antitrust regulation . The late, great Hugh Macaulay, after whom Tom’s chair is named, would be pleased and proud that this essay is written by a scholar holding a chair named in his honor. Here’s Tom’s conclusion:
There are lessons here for the left-right condominium on antitrust. Elizabeth Warren says tech companies have “bulldozed competition” and “tilted the playing field against everyone else.” She demands the government break up tech companies. Steve Bannon has said that companies such as Google and Facebook “are so essential to daily life that they should be regulated as public utilities.”
These arguments will likely one day seem as quaint as the alarm over AOL’s acquisition of Time Warner. And it isn’t an isolated example. In 2005 the Bush administration prevented Blockbuster from acquiring Hollywood Video on antitrust grounds: The merger would threaten to monopolize video rentals. Blockbuster filed for bankruptcy in 2010 and today has a single store, in Bend, Ore. It sounds like the plot for a movie, if Netflix is interested in making it.
As an academic, Warren did research on personal bankruptcy in the United States. “Our research ended up showing that most of these families weren’t reckless or irresponsible,” she writes, “they were just getting squeezed by an economy that forced them to take on more debt and more risk to cling to their place in America’s middle class.” That is a peculiar claim. Borrowing money that you cannot repay in order to finance personal consumption that you cannot afford is precisely the sort of thing one might wish to indicate with the words “reckless and irresponsible.” To claim that this is the result of “getting squeezed by the economy” is a way of giving your morality play a villain without making any specific person feel bad.
George Will is rightly critical of Congress for its dereliction of duty . Here’s his opening:
There are 99 better, or at least less abject, senators. However, Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.) is inadvertently useful by incessantly demonstrating the depths to which senators sink when they jettison institutional responsibilities to facilitate subservience to presidents of their party.