Arnold Kling

Safire Bites Free Enterprise

Arnold Kling, Great Questions of Economics
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Former speechwriter William Safire certainly knows how to assemble rhetoric. In arguing for vigorous antitrust enforcement, he writes

With the roundheeled Michael Powell steering the Federal Communications Commission toward terminal fecklessness; with the redoubtable Joel Klein succeeded at Justice's antitrust division by an assortment of wimps; and with appeals courts approving the concentration of media power as if nothing had changed since President Taft's day, the checks and balances made possible by diverse competition are being eradicated...

Why, then, should we supinely go along with the seizure of economic power by today's triopolies and duopolies on their march to becoming tomorrow's monopolies?

Ironically, as Declan McCullagh reports, Safire's column was quoted at a hearing by Senator Ernest Hollings, known as the Democrat from Disney. Hollings is behind legislation favored by Big Entertainment to force all consumer hardware to incorporate copy protection technology.

The reason that we do not need government to protect us from monopolies is that other companies protect us from monopolies. When government steps in, the result often is to create and protect monopolies.

Discussion Question. Do you believe that the human beings in the government (as opposed to hypothetically omniscient benevolent deities) can regulate or break up a local phone company or Microsoft in a constructive way?

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