AEP President, Robert H. Bork, Jr., writes in the Wall Street Journal on how Xi Jinping and Joe Biden are waging their version of Maoist rectification that is driving against successful firms.
“Republicans who buy into the dangerous antitrust theories of Sen. Amy Klobuchar will find themselves responsible for turning over terabytes of U.S. customer data to China. They will kill popular services that Americans love. They will subject all American businesses a potential death penalty fine of 15 percent of their total U.S. revenues. At this time of high inflation, we don’t need policies that will kill growth, job creation, and innovation.
“If conservatives think U.S. corporations today are too ‘woke,’ just wait until we put them under the heavy thumb of the Federal Trade Commission and Chair Lina Khan. We are on the threshold of turning all private business decisions over to government control.”
COMMENTARY FROM AEP'S PRESIDENT, ROBERT H. BORK, JR., ON REAL CLEAR POLITICS
Congress can be like a frozen lake in the Midwest, solid on the surface but with schools of fish beneath the ice. While Democrats are locked into conflict over spending, and Republicans burrow into opposition, senators from both parties are cooperating to craft bipartisan legislation to subject a handful of Big Tech companies to stringent new antitrust regulations.
If they succeed, these senators are setting out to prove that with a little hard work and cooperation, leaders in Washington can still reach across the aisle to harm consumers and the economy.
The Antitrust Education Project (AEP) joins a coalition of 30 conservative and free market groups and activists to deliver a letter in opposition to the Senate Democrats who plan to pass a package of European-style antitrust regulations.
THE ANTITRUST EDUCATION PROJECT PRESENTS: THE FUTURE OF ANTITRUST WITH SENATOR CHUCK GRASSLEY
Robert H. Bork, Jr., President of the Antitrust Education Project, talks with Sen. Chuck Grassley, Ranking Member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, about the radically changing landscape of antitrust enforcement in the United States.
After this 30-minute “fireside chat,” Mr. Bork was joined by Ashley Baker, Director of Public Policy at the Committee for Justice and founder of the Alliance for Antitrust, and Jan Rybnicek, antitrust and competition counsel at Freshfields to discuss Senator Grassley’s insights and the outlook for antitrust enforcement.
Robert Bork, Jr.
On September 15, 2021, the Federalist Society presented this special day-long, in-person conference on Judge Robert Bork's The Antitrust Paradox. The influential work has been recently republished so that the new generation of general practitioners and antitrust thinkers alike can bring his work to bear on their own. This conference featured discussion of the book and its relevance to contemporary antitrust issues.
AEP's President, Robert H. Bork, Jr., joined the panel to discuss the republishing of the book and the Consumer Welfare Standard today.
AEP PRESIDENT, ROBERT H. BORK, JR., SPEAKS AT REGULATORY TRANSPARENCY PROJECT EVENT HOSTED BY THE FEDERALIST SOCIETY
LISTEN BY PODCAST HERE
TRANSCRIPT OF AEP PRESIDENT, ROBERT H. BORK, JR.:
Thank you for the invitation to participate in this discussion. I am humbled to be in the company of my fellow panelists.
The title of this panel is: Competition at a Crossroads: Will the Executive Order on Competition Advance Competition, or Restrict It?
I believe that the answer is, on the whole, that it will restrict competition.
Although some suggested reforms among the 72 make sense – most notably relaxing restrictive occupational licensing – on balance the President’s XO will increase burdensome, confusing regulation on both big and small business. Let’s be clear – more redtape and control from the federal government restricts competition. Politicians and bureaucrats always seem to overlook the effect of their own actions. They are blind to Newton’s third law as it might be applied in their own realm.
Of course, I reserve my final judgment, as we all should, until we see what the agencies and departments of the federal government actually produce. I hope they take their time about it and weigh costs versus benefits – but who am I kidding.
But here are just three examples why I am prepared at this point to pass my preliminary judgment:
And, I haven’t even mentioned the infusion of social policy regulation that will be part of this effort from labor, to climate change, to equity. The agencies will have companies large and small coming to Washington for permission to run their businesses at every level.
I must note, on a point of personal privilege, based on the President’s remarks announcing the XO – that it is based on faulty facts and logic.
When President Biden announced his XO he chose to name my father and his failed “experiment” by which he meant the economic and legal analysis of his book The Antitrust Paradox and the consumer welfare standard that has repeatedly been endorsed by the courts. As measures of its failure he cited:
“Less growth, weakened investment and fewer small businesses.”
The president is simply wrong:
Instead of “less growth”, the economy almost tripled in size from 1980 to 2020 under the consumer-welfare standard. Over this time, the World Bank reports that Americans’ per capita income has nearly doubled.
Instead of weakened investment , we have enjoyed a 9.99% inflation-adjusted annual rate of return from 1980 to 2020 -- more than 2 points above returns during the prior 40 years before the consumer welfare standard.
Instead of “fewer small businesses” the overall trend under the consumer welfare standard had for decades been strong, with a 54% increase in small businesses since 1980.
So, to sum up, on the whole, the XO will lead to less competition and harm consumer through higher prices, less choice, fewer jobs, and less innovation. It is part of larger plan hatched by Elizabeth Warren, Amy Klobuchar, and their twin Rasputin’s: Tim Wu and Lina Khan.
The goal to remove the neutral principle of the CWS that is neither conservative nor liberal, Republican nor Democrat and replace it with an anti-capitalist, big is bad, woke set of laws and regulations that harken back to a time in this country where competition policy was built on subjective biases of its enforcers.
The result of all of this will be antitrust law detached from the Consumer Welfare Standard that is becomes a regulatory, statutory, and judicial Ouija board – it is apt to go anywhere and spell out anything guided by the personal preferences of the legislator, the regulator, or the judge. Such rootless jurisprudence allows judges to create new law, introducing a level of unpredictability.
BY AEP PRESIDENT, ROBERT H. BORK, JR
The Biden administration, finally beginning to worry about the political impact of the rising cost of food, fuel and other basic consumer necessities, is neatly dovetailing its push for aggressive antitrust enforcement by blaming inflation on big business and market concentration.
Politically speaking, it is a neat fix. It drives one of the central policies of the Biden administration — to shift antitrust enforcement from the consumer welfare standard of the past 45 years back to an earlier era’s more nebulous standard against “bigness.” And it deflects blame for inflation.
President Biden lacks the theatrical flourish of a Huey Long, but he is nevertheless trying out his best version of the Kingfisher routine. “I’ve directed my administration to crack down on what some major players are doing in the economy that are keeping prices higher than they need be,” Biden said in August. The cause of higher prices, he argued, is greedy big business and its stranglehold on the American consumer.
There has never been a significant antitrust ruling against a company that offers a service at a zero-price point. The Federal Trade Commission, under the leadership of Chair Lina Khan, is seeking to make history. The FTC’s amended filing on Thursday, after being thrown out earlier by Judge Boasberg in D.C. federal court, tries (in the words of a puckish Law360 headline) to “plug holes” in its original case.
Judge Boasberg noted that the original filing made a “naked allegation” that Facebook has a dominant share of a market, without defining what that market is. Lina Khan has returned from the second-hand store to try to dress this mannequin.
Reading between redactions, Chair Khan’s amended complaint claims Facebook has at least 80 percent of the “personal social networking market.” Left out of FTC’s definition are Twitter, TikTok and other popular services that allow people to make and follow friends.
Many questions emerge from this amended filing, which reads like the same-old, same-old, only with more hyperbolic language – a company with “staggering profits” that “kneecaps” competitors. Did James Patterson have a hand in writing this? The Zuckerberg Conspiracy?
What about the recent growth of personal networks on other major social media platforms? What about people with multiple accounts with multiple services? Then again, it is undeniable that Facebook has a 100 percent market share of major social media platforms founded by someone named Mark.
If Khan prevails, it will have to be under the standard still held by courts – the Consumer Welfare Standard. Maybe there’s a pony in there somewhere. But the breadth and brazenness of some of FTC’s claims in this filing hints at how reckless filings would become if the Biden Administration succeeds at scrapping the Consumer Welfare Standard altogether.
AEP's President, Robert H. Bork, Jr., will be headlining a special day-long, in-person conference hosted by The Federalist Society on Judge Robert Bork's The Antitrust Paradox. The influential work has been recently republished so that the new generation of general practitioners and antitrust thinkers alike can bring his work to bear on their own. This conference will feature discussion of the book and its relevance to contemporary antitrust issues.