Tag Archives: Antitrust

Regulation Roundup

The latest happenings in the world of regulation:

A new Senate bill amending copyright law would make lip-synching to other people’s music a jailable offense. The legislation has bipartisan support.

Two women were arrested in New York for eating donuts in a park while unaccompanied by minors. Strangely specific!

A church in Charlotte, North Carolina was fined $4,000 for violating the city’s tree-pruning regulations. The penalty is $100 per branch incorrectly cut.

-Another bill winding its way through the Senate would allow states to tax companies that have no physical presence inside their borders. I’ve written on similar state-level proposals before. It’s a bad idea.

A new Mercatus Center study ranks the 50 states by economic freedom and regulatory burden. New York scored the worst. New Hampshire and South Dakota did best. You can read the study here.

-Wayne Crews has a good article in Forbes about why antitrust regulators should back off the proposed AT&T/T-Mobile merger.

Los Angeles would like to pass regulations for what colors BB guns can be.

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6 Pages of Legislation, 1,000 Pages of Regulation

HHS is about to issue over 1,000 pages of new regulations stemming from last year’s health care bill. That’s not a huge surprise, considering the bill is about 2,000 pages long.

But these regulations all come from a 6-page section covering accountable care organizations, or ACOs.

According to Politico, John Gorman, who runs a health care consulting firm, “expects a 1,000-page rule to come out on Thursday, March 31—because he doesn’t think HHS will want to deal with releasing the regulations on April Fool’s Day.”

Are Text Messages an Antitrust Issue?

Text messages cost 20 cents to send, even though they use a fraction of a penny of bandwidth. What gives? Antitrust authorities want to know.

Over at The American Spectator, I explain that it is likely a case of unbundling:

Maybe phone companies are unbundling texting from their other services. That way the only people who pay for text messages are the people who use them. If phone companies don’t have to provide texting service for people who don’t want it, they can keep costs down and charge lower prices.

This is much more fair to customers:

Why not just give all customers unlimited texting and charge a higher monthly bill? That would punish people who don’t text, such as this writer. By eschewing the flat rate and tolerating a few texts per month from family and friends who haven’t been properly trained, non-texters can save $50 or more per year.

Monopolists (and oligopolists) don’t behave that way. Companies competing against each other on price do. Trustbusters are forgetting something else, too. If a monopoly exists at all, it is very temporary.

It turns out that a young company called Beluga makes a free texting application for smartphones. Few things are as temporary as monopoly (or oligopoly) power. Since Beluga bypasses the texting cartel, you can have unlimited texting without the $5 monthly fee. Think of it as Skype for the text messaging set.

Read the whole article here.

CEI Podcast – October 14, 2010: Antitrust Follies and Regulatory Reform

Have a listen here.

CEI Vice President for Policy Wayne Crews talks about why antitrust actually hurts competition, and offers some ideas for regulatory reform based on his recent articles for BigGovernment.com and The Washington Times, and on his annual Ten Thousand Commandments report.

The Wisdom of George Stigler

George Stigler won a Nobel Prize for his work on the economics of regulation. He wrote extensively about regulatory capture, and in fact coined the term. He was one of only a few sane souls who stubbornly insisted that regulations be judged by their actual results, not their intended results. Good intentions, however noble, are not enough. Here’s an example of Stigler at his finest:

Regulation and competition are rhetorical friends and deadly enemies: over the doorway of every regulatory agency save two should be carved: “Competition Not Admitted.” The Federal Trade Commission’s doorway should announce , “Competition Admitted in Rear,” and that of the Antitrust Division, “Monopoly Only by Appointment.”

-George Stigler, “Can Regulatory Agencies Protect the Consumer?”, from The Citizen and the State: Essays on Regulation (1975), p. 183.

Antitrust as Corporate Welfare for Aggrieved Competitors

Wayne Crews and I have an article in today’s American Spectator about the antitrust crusade against Intel. Our key points:

-An FTC picking winners and losers is not capitalism. It is crony capitalism.

-Chips in “Wintel” desktop computers increasingly constitute just one subset of a vast semiconductor market. Only a small fraction of the chips in non-PC devices are Intel’s — and these devices are where the future lies.

-Regulators’ charges against Intel have changed over the years, but their verdict always remains the same: guilty. Suspicious.

-We’d be better off prosecuting the DOJ and the FTC for colluding against free enterprise.

Andrew Cuomo Sues Intel

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Over at the Washington Examiner‘s Opinion Zone, Wayne Crews and I explain why New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo’s antitrust lawsuit against Intel is a mistake.

Calling Intel’s business practices “bribery” and “coercion” is little more than argument by assertion. Rebates and exclusivity deals are normal competitive behavior. Not only is Intel facing increasing competition in its home turf, that small segment is hardly the extent of the relevant competitive market. Intel faces an uncertain future as consumer tastes shift to smaller products powered by non-Intel chips. Cuomo’s antitrust lawsuit does not stand up to scrutiny. It deserves to be dropped.

Antitrust policies thwart the competitive process whenever and wherever they are applied.