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Persuasion Isn’t Predation

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Here’s another letter to the Wall Street Journal:


Southwest Airlines’s plucky efforts to expand its market are described by someone quoted in your report as “predatory” (“‘Predatory and Opportunistic’: Southwest Airlines Seizes the Moment as Rivals Struggle [2],” Nov. 16). This descriptor, while commonly applied to firms that break the mold at successfully competing for customers, is utterly misleading.

Typically using violence, real predators take property that belongs to others. In so doing, they make society poorer by prompting people to produce less. Why produce a lot if it’s going to be stolen?

In contrast, so-called “predators” in business, such as Southwest Airlines, take nothing that belongs to others. Using only peaceful persuasion, they offer consumers better deals than are offered by rival firms. In so doing, they make society richer, not only by improving the lives of their customers, but also by motivating their rivals to match their superior performance.

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