Ineffective Laws

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Ineffective Laws

You can't drop a few stones into the river and stop the full force of the Mississippi. A truly vulgar American expression emphasizes the point: 'Just a fart in a windstorm.' There are some trends in social and economic affairs that are so massive and so powerful that legislation is inherently ineffective against them. This was true of the antitrust laws. The neo-classicists saw their relationship to an economic ideal; they did not see the impossibility of arresting as basic a tendency as the great development of the large modem corporation. Affection, as happens, clouded their vision.

We should add that some of the affection for our antitrust laws comes from their being an important industry, a significant source of income. Many of our best lawyers get their early legal experience in the government, enforcing, or trying to enforce, the antitrust laws. Then, when they need a larger house, their children are going off to school, their wives are tired of economizing or alimony has become a threat, they give up working for the Department of Justice and go on to defend the corporations against the antitrust laws.

It's a very remunerative arrangement and gives lawyers a constructive stake in keeping the antitrust laws alive.

The gross revenues from defending IBM alone were recently estimated in the New York Times at between ten and twenty million dollars annually, the cost of prosecuting being in addition.

People come naturally to the defence of anything that sustains so lucrative a line of work.


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Antitrust Laws

We have never had an election in which liberal politicians did not promise to enforce the antitrust laws and in which the more reverent economists did not applaud the prospect. They both prefer hope to history. We've seen that these laws have had very little effect on the American development in 2015. Nor have they in our old home country, Canada, which has long had a Combines Act paralleling the antitrust laws of the United States. Or in Britain, which, since the Second World War, has had legislation, more cosmetic than real, against monopolies. It is persuasive that the development in the United... see: Antitrust Laws


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