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Quote of the Day: Antitrust Enforcement, and the Purpose of Economics
This quote comes from an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal, Monday, April 4, by Phil Gramm and Christine Wilson titled “The New Progressives Fight Against Consumer Welfare.” They are describing the new anti-trust regime in the “Biden” Administration, now led by Lina Khan at the Federal Trade Commission; Tim Wu, a special assistant to the White House National Economic Council; and Rohit Chopra at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
They note that in the past, anti-trust law and enforcement were “anchored in consumer welfare”. Here are a few pithy quotes from the article.
These officials see the world through the lens of class warfare, as a zero-sum game. Like Progressives before them, they view the rule of law not as a cornerstone of liberty and democracy, but as an impediment to equality and the means by which the ruling class suppresses the masses. In their view, economics-based antitrust enforcement under the consumer-welfare standard drives this oppression. Sandeep Vaheesan of the Open Markets Institute, who has written academic papers with Ms. Khan, claims that an “antitrust enforcer anchored in consumer welfare is an antitrust enforcer anchored in anti-labor.”
And the “money quote”:
Matthew Stoller, who worked with Ms. Khan at the Open Markets Institute, believes that “the point of economics as a discipline is to create a language and methodology for governing that hides political assumptions from the public.”
That sounds like class warfare to me, brainwashing the public to accept anything the ruling class decides is good for it. And the only acceptable “ruling class”, which in their view oppresses the masses, is the Administrative State, which has only good intentions for those masses, and could never be oppressors.Published in Group Writing
We will be lucky if they let the “proles” to continue to exist. I would hate for 1984 to be the best case scenario.
Scary stuff, to see this admitted openly. I missed the article today, will have to catch up.
Not today, April 4. Whenever I find a suitable QOTD in my WSJ, I mark it to use later. We were out of town from the 17th to yesterday.
Who are these people?
e.g. Lina Khan, now 33, born in London to Pakistani parents who moved with her to US when she was 11. … Finished Yale Law School in 2017. Chair of the Federal Trade Commission just 5 years later.
Since Wikipedia doesn’t care about minor details, I have to wonder if she is an American citizen.
The ancient Dems, like PRE-boomer Biden, promote these brilliant young things as if they’re going to war and don’t have enough experienced and indoctrinated generals to lead their operations.
I don’t think the experts view their exercise of authority as oppression because they think it is done for our own good. I’m no economist, but I think there are probably two camps: those who seek to describe what’s happening and those who seek to influence what will happen.
This post is part of the Quote of the Day (QOTD) Series, which is one of the group writing projects here on Ricochet. The other is the monthly group writing theme organized by @ cliffordbrown, currently featuring musings from members on “Folly.” The QOTD Signup Sheet for April is here.
And the QOTD signup sheet for May is here.
Which definition of “economist” are you using? I don’t know whether what you are saying is true, false, or nonsense unless I know that.
I’m disagreeing with the “money quote” I guess, but I don’t really care enough to get into the weeds. Happy to read whatever definitions you care to provide though.
I try never to write to someone who doesn’t care enough about the subject he or she brought up to discuss it. It’s no way to keep your friends!
If others are interested in the subject you raised (which I am very interested in) I hope they will comment!
I don’t want to supply definitions, but my comment is informed by reading Thomas Sowell’s A Conflict of Visions. The Econ classes I took were, I think, focused on describing how the supply and demand curves operate to determine prices, but not so much focused on whether the demand for butter “should” be more than the demand for guns. Knowing a few economists who spend their time on modeling, it seems to me there’s more room for social engineering in that effort. (Suggesting that my comment is nonsense might not be the best way of making friends.)
I learned more about human behavior in two quarters of Econ at the community college than in four years and a Master’s degree in psychology.
I didn’t suggest that your comment is nonsense, and I hope that in falsely giving you that impression I’ve not damaged our prospects for civil exchange of ideas.
I know that and I completely understand it.
But it means we can’t have a conversation. To have a two-way exchange of ideas, I always need
It would be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron’s cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience.
― C. S. Lewis
Careful, or liberal spies on Ricochet will report you to Mary Popp- I mean, the Disinformation Board . . .
Young enough to be a part of the progressive vanguard. We wouldn’t expect anything less from our Soros-funded cabinet.
Most folks have a little common sense about their own lives, although that may kick in much later in recent years, but they’re fed through coordinated TV and each other and don’t question much as they’ve not been educated to do so and for many it wasn’t their tendency. There are also those who follow local politics and are engaged but don’t understand that local politics and Washington are completely different, with different people and different objectives. Washington is the problem as there will always be folks who want it to behave in ways and have concerns that it doesn’t and can’t. Bottom up worked for 200 years then gradually rotted. Big states rotted first then were taken over by Washington who knew better what face to show the world, to be orderly and to just extract wealth gradually and orderly. Both are deeply dysfunctional and there may be no fix, but Washington is in a state of deep rot, not because folks there are rotten, they’re not, they probably even believe what they’re doing matters but it can’t govern the most diverse, richest country in history, from the top. Even folks on our side think we can fix it by changing the top.
At the core of everything, curiously, are external threats because we’d all be better off as small places with minimal government. We had that but also uniform external policy, which forced broader external and tariff policies and that allowed functional external defense. Defense in this world is essential. We have to figure that out again, but in the hands of current Democrat leadership, whoever that is, if not the Chinese themselves, it doesn’t matter. They’re systematically destroying the United States and don’t know what that means in the long run and the long run is shorter than they realize.
The left used to look at antitrust law and think it was not about competition to increase consumer welfare and control prices but about harassing big companies supposedly to protect little firms. Now the left openly opposes consumer welfare and a functioning economy to pursue ideological mandates. Screw all business.
The Biden staffing policies are pretty consistent in requiring high levels of incompetence and sheer malevolent attitudes.
Okay, but why then are you fixated on what my definition of “economist” is? Couldn’t you cite at least a handful of terms from the OP that are not defined within? What is meant by “progressive” or “consumer welfare” or “economics” prior to my comment? I agree with you, but I think you can attempt to understand from context and maybe offer clarification as you see it. Perhaps posit what I could mean in the way that you read it? Like by asking, is this what you might mean?
Agreeing to definitions is necessary in order for us to communicate. So when I ask what you mean by a critically important term that is ambiguous, it is rational for me to ask.
It isn’t caused by an irrational mental state, including fixation.
Rush Babe, Absolutely great post, despite the carping from the sidelines.
This is just another case whether the Left has interpreted the law in a way that absolutely contradicts the original intent and weaponizes it for their own destructive purposes. How does the “consumer- welfare standard” actually drive the oppression of the masses, one might ask?
This issue is more like another case of Leftwing projection where the new handy dandy Left-wing interpretation of anti-trust laws are really one of the many Left-wing vehicles that drive “oppression of the masses” in the form of less jobs, much higher inflation and a lower standard of living due to the creation and entitlement of more monopolistic practices of their favored Corporatist Corporations.
There are already reports of Orwell being seen smashing his head against a wall.
He really tried, but the majority of people like being brainwashed, and feel safer under Big Brother than living in a world where each of us has autonomy.
I never ask for an explicit definition of a term that is not both critical and ambiguous in the current context. Taking time to discuss definitions is administrative overhead that takes away time from the discussion of the issue. We should only do it when it is absolutely necessary in order to prevent the discussion from becoming pure nonsense.
Yes, I will do that. (The reason I chose the direct path is that it is often quicker just to ask and read the answer, because I could guess for a long time and never guess right.)
Do you mean a theoretical economist, like Keynes or Mises? Or do you mean a professional (i.e., modern) applied economist, like someone who works for the Fed making predictions of GDP growth?
If pressed, I’d say I was thinking of professors and applied economists (I have several friends in that business), who could fit into either camp depending on their worldview. Ultimately, I’m speaking more generally of utopians versus realists.
It sounds as though you are using “economist” to refer to an ideologue (an advocate of a position about how an economy ought to work), not to a kind of scientist, who searches for objective truths about how an economy does work..
Others use it to refer to a subcategory of scientist.
The two meanings are completely different. This is why I needed to know which you meant.
One person can of course be acting as one thing at one time, and another at another time. I can be an accountant (per se) at one time and a poker player at another time.
It would seem that not all self-styled “economists” make the same distinction you do. I think that you are right, by the way, but there are those who consider their pronouncements to be facts and their theories to be axioms.