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Quotation of the Day…

… is from page 516 of George Will’s excellent 2019 book, The Conservative Sensibility:

The Founders bequeathed to posterity a republic that throve under a limited government that provided social space for the creativity of society’s spontaneous order.

DBx: This space is shrunken by government intervention into the economy, and few interventions shrink it as much as does antitrust legislation.

From its start a policy of penalizing or preying upon successful companies – typically for the benefit of these companies’ less-successful rivals – antitrust interventions upend the results of competitive market processes. The pretensions of bureaucrats and judges disturb the unfathomably complex processes that give rise to today’s market ‘outcomes.’ (I put ‘outcomes’ in scare-quotes because genuine market processes never really have outcomes in the sense of final, equilibrium arrangements. In markets, that which is popular and successful and even ‘dominant’ today will tomorrow or the next day be superseded by something else, typically something else that is new and that is today non-existent and perhaps even unimagined.)

As is true of so many interventions, antitrust thrives, intellectually, on the mistaken notion that spontaneous orders are stupid and random and that human intelligence can improve upon their operation. Also as is true of so many interventions, antitrust thrives, politically, because this naive faith in intervention provides intellectual cover for rent-seekers to use the interventions for their own venal purposes.