Dominick Armentano makes the case that a competitive economy doesn’t need antitrust laws to function well.

Dominick Armentano is Professor Emeritus at the University of Hartford. He holds a Ph.D. in economics from the University of Connecticut and specializes in antitrust studies and economic history. His books include Antitrust and Monopoly: Anatomy of a Policy Failure (1990),Antitrust: The Case for Repeal (2007), and The Political Economy of William Graham Sumner(1966).

In this lecture from a Council for a Competitive Economy seminar in 1981, Armentano makes the case that a competitive economy doesn’t need antitrust laws to function well. He approaches this thesis from moral, theoretical, and practical perspectives, gives a short history of antitrust law cases, and takes questions from the audience.

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  • All monopolies are State granted. Unless someone owns every bit of a specific resource and unless there are no other resources that can serve as substitutes (practically an impossibility, in other words) the competitive forces that exist in the market never permit the formation of a monopoly. It is only when the State – with its fascist nature – gets involved that a monopoly can ever manifest itself. The State then uses its near-monopolist position as the supplier of ‘education’ to propagandize the people into thinking that the State is needed to protect people from monopolies and to ‘equitably’ provide certain goods and services. What a myth! Such are the characteristics of living in the Dark Ages of economics!

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  • It seems to me like utilities are a sort of natural monopoly. Though you could move to another area if a utility company is charging too much for power for example, because of the way I understand the grid is configured, one is pretty much a captive of the utility company serving the area. There’s also a cap on how much a utility could abuse it’s monopoly with self-generation using solar cells or even using in-situ gas micro turbines (though it’s still a rather high cost) Has anyone ever defined a good system which could foster competition between utility companies, even in the same area? Dunno how it is in the US, but here in Quebec, there is an analogous situation with internet. The big telecom companies are obligated to allow “resellers” to use their cables for distributing internet service. But kilowatts don’t have IPs and such, so I’m not sure exactly how it could work with electricity. This always seemed to me like an “achiles heel” to anarcho-capitalism and an argument for at least minimal government to legislate against such “natural monopolies”. I was wondering if anyone had already put some serious thought into this conundrum.

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  • Many liberals accept the virtues of competition, and they’re often the fiercest opponents of monopolies. But lately I’ve noticed a lot of them attacking private companies that compete with police; essentially defending the monopoly. Why the discrepancy? For background, and for some examples of liberals attacking private protection companies, I wrote this:

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