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Quotation of the Day…

… is from page 316 of the late Wesleyan University economic historian Stanley Lebergott’s phenomenal 1984 book, The Americans: An Economic Record:

As the rail network expanded after the Civil War consumers faced a new reach of opportunity. They were increasingly offered products from all over the nation. Instead of buying from the local producer and supplier they now confronted wide product variety.

DBx: Post-civil war America was extraordinarily entrepreneurial and economically dynamic. The resulting increased competition upset several established and politically powerful producer groups wishing to be spared the inconvenience of having to work hard to persuade buyers to purchase their outputs. So many of these producers sought out and obtained special privileges from government. One of these special privileges came in the form of a number of state-level antitrust statutes in the years 1889-1891 and, at the federal level, in the form of the Sherman Antitrust Act, which was signed into law on this date (July 2nd) in 1890 by President Benjamin Harrison.

Cleverly disguised as legislation meant to increase competition, the Sherman Act (and each subsequent antitrust statute) was meant – and has largely been used – to suppress competition.

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