The antitrust pendulum is swinging back in the right direction. This development, long in the making and now more and more in evidence, is the culmination of our long experiment with lax antitrust enforcement, or even thinly disguised hostility to antitrust enforcement, which began in the 1970s. It a necessary response to the facts on the ground.
In the real world, you see, there are only three practical options.
Option number one is an economy composed of free-markets, in which most of the key markets eventually become dominated by monopolies or oligopolies; then over time the firms that control the markets end up controlling our politics and society while giving us inferior products and especially inferior service. I call this the option of cartels and monopolies.
Option number two is to discipline or break up the monopolies and oligopolies by the use of oppressive regulations and public oversight; then over time society suffers because everyone is over-regulated by a stultifying bureaucracy. I call this the option of misguided over-regulation.
Option number three, which is very imperfect, has the advantage of being better than the other two alternatives, to paraphrase Winston Churchill. It recognizes that market economies are the best way to organize economic and social life but by their own tendencies they eventually give way to the an economy dominated by cartels and monopolies. At the same time, trying to correct these failings by intensive regulation leads to an Orwellian misery that all of us wish to avoid. So what we need is vigorous antitrust enforcement, not the mushy, measly stuff bequeathed to us by the Chicago School of Economics. The Sherman Act was not enacted to ensure that firms charge only their marginal costs for their products and services, but otherwise they can do whatever they wish. No, it was enacted to curb the excesses and harm of extreme concentration of economic power in our key markets.
I think many on the right and left are reminding themselves that we have antitrust law, and it has its intended and proper uses.