This new embrace, by economic libertarians, of anti-trust activism on the
part of the federal government certainly is intriguing and even somewhat
amusing, given the fact that anti-trust enforcement was more or less gutted
in the Reagan years and only recently revived in the Clinton
administration. But even in the Clinton administration, anti-trust
enforcement has been the handmaiden of organized business interests, not
the result of a comprehensive grasp of the public interest. So, for
example, the most famous anti-trust case of recent years, involving
Microsoft, was prompted primarily by executives in the computer industry
angered by Microsoft’s business practices. Other more significant
developments of potential trusts, such as in the defense industry (the
merger of Lockheed and Martin Marietta comes to mind), are defended as
economically rational and beneficial. Moreover, the federal government has
done nothing to halt the massive concentration of media and information
sources, to say nothing of the vertical integration of the entertainment
industry. Economic libertarians, once again, view everything in economic
terms, even when they express concern for democracy and universal access.
They can’t cope with the natural development of capitalist enterprise,
which is toward increased concentration, without the help of the federal
government that they would otherwise strip of powers designed to take care
of equally inequitable features of the market.


Return to the Magna Carta