An excellent letter from the Wall Street Journal (4/2/2003):

A Consumer’s Right to Cheaper Goods

If Mr. Jenkins does indeed reveal “an indifference to consumer welfare,” as Messrs. Simons and Kovacic claim, it is a perfectly valid point of view, as cold and unfeeling as it may sound. A democratic government has no business giving preference to one group of citizens (consumers) over another (business owners), and to use the coercive power of the state to benefit the former by restricting the property rights of the latter is morally reprehensible. (The idea that government action must be justified morally may seem quaint to Messrs. Simons and Kovacic, but nonetheless it is true.)

Few moral philosophers have posited a consumer’s right to cheaper goods, but the right of business owners to use their property as they sees fit, absent of fraud or deceit, is essential to the operation of a free-enterprise system. Antitrust, on the other hand, is anathema to it.

Mark D. White
Assistant Professor of Economics
College of Staten Island/CUNY
Staten Island, N.Y.

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