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Who’s “Business-Friendly”?

Here’s a letter to the Wall Street Journal:


My former George Mason University colleague Joshua Wright deserves severe censure, if allegations against him are true, for using his position to extract sexual favors from students (“For Years, an Esteemed Law Professor Seduced Students. Was He Too Important to Fire?” June 8). It’s important, however, not to infer from Mr. Wright’s personal failings that his intellectual opposition to active antitrust intervention is misguided. Reasons for questioning the efficacy of antitrust go back to its origins more than 130 years ago, and were expressed nowhere more powerfully and completely than in Robert Bork’s 1978 book, The Antitrust Paradox.

The late Judge Bork would disagree with your description of Mr. Wright’s bases for defending Amazon and other companies from the likes of Lina Khan’s FTC as “a business-friendly view of antitrust.” Bork argued that antitrust should be guided by a standard that is now explicitly rejected by the antitrust regulators fought by Mr. Wright, namely, the consumer-welfare standard. Bork explained that antitrust assaults against successful companies such as Amazon are really assaults against consumers, for these assaults protect less-efficient businesses by restricting their more-efficient rivals from competing as vigorously and as creatively as possible for consumers’ dollars.

Those persons with a business-friendly view of antitrust view are the antitrust regulators against whom Mr. Wright fought. His view of antitrust, which is that of Judge Bork, is consumer-friendly.

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