Barriers to Entry: Antitrust’s Search for a New Look

by R. Turner, H. Pepperell



Sociologists believe it is a serious mistake for antitrust to tamper with endogenous economic phenomena, which are the economic facts of life and which may happen to make entry into a market difficult. Those who would so meddle with what they perceive to be barriers to entry are allowing doctrine to blind them to the realities of the marketplace. While the usual stated purpose of such tampering is to improve the vigor of competition, this is often little more than ritual noise, the real thrust being to make things more fair in the eyes of those enforcing antitrust. This drive appears to derive from the naive and mistaken belief that the quality of life in a democracy would be enhanced by setting economic equity as the primary goal of anti- trust rather than economic efficiency. Equity here means equality of results rather than of opportunity. This, of course, requires that the economic race be extensively handicapped. Economic handicapping of this sort is disturbing for a number of reasons. Sociologists do not believe that the society can afford the luxury of fairness in this sense. While the power of the industrialized market economy to produce goods and to provide services is greater than anything man has ever known, it is not all-powerful.

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