… is from pages 741-742 of Robert Bradley’s Winter 1990 Cato Journal article, “On the Origins of the Sherman Act“:
The Sherman Act was bad law. It not only preserved the nation’s high tariff policies by diverting attention away from the root restraint of trade; it greased the wheels for another tariff law later the same year. The McKinley Tariff Act of 1890, also called the “Campaign Contributors’ Tariff Bill,” shocked the New York Times into reversing its once ardent support for the Sherman Act. With tariffs and antitrust, the government at best was trying to undo with one hand what it was doing with the other. But at worst, as applications of the law would demonstrate, the Sherman Act discouraged scale economies that promoted lower costs and prices, penalized successful market entrepreneurship, and rewarded the political entrepreneurship of less-efficient business rivals.
DBx: The Sherman Act – signed (as they say) “into law” by President Benjamin Harrison 132 years ago today – is the first national-level antitrust statute enacted in the United States. This legislation is today still commonly presumed to have been intended to protect and promote economic competition that furthers the welfare of consumers. This presumption is terribly mistaken. (Pictured here is Sen. John Sherman [R-OH].)