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Antitrust Attacks on Economic Liberty

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The Justice Department has filed an antitrust lawsuit against Apple and five of the biggest book publishers. The action alleges that Apple and the publishers secretly got together and colluded to fix prices of e-books.

If they did, so what? Isn’t it their property? What is private ownership of property if it doesn’t include the right to sell what you own at whatever price you want? And given that that’s the case, then why shouldn’t people be free to set their prices in concert with other owners?

What does the term “free market” really mean?

It does not mean a market that is regulated or controlled by the government. That’s what the terms “regulated market” or “controlled market” mean.

The term “free market” means a market that is free of government regulation or control.

Of course, statists would say, “But if owners are free to sell their products for whatever they want or collude with other people to sell their products at whatever they want, that will cost me more money.”

Yes, that might well be the case. And you, as a consumer, have a remedy: don’t buy the product. No one has the right to purchase something that belongs to someone else unless the owner wants to sell it and at a price that the buyer finds attractive.

One more thing: a genuine free-enterprise system does not use the state to ensure “competition.” That’s just one of the many excuses for the state’s maintaining dominion and control over people and their economic activity.

A genuine free-enterprise system is not about competition, it’s about freedom. Genuine freedom entails the right to do whatever you want with your own products, including setting your own prices and agreeing with other owners to set prices, so long as you don’t use your property to trespass on the rights of others (e.g., pollution).

In an era in which politicians are denying they’re socialists and proclaiming how “free-enterprise” they are, wouldn’t now would be a good time to talk about repealing the Sherman Antitrust Act of 1890 and all its subsequent, attendant branches?

This post was written by:

Jacob G. Hornberger is founder and president of The Future of Freedom Foundation. He was born and raised in Laredo, Texas, and received his B.A. in economics from Virginia Military Institute and his law degree from the University of Texas. He was a trial attorney for twelve years in Texas. He also was an adjunct professor at the University of Dallas, where he taught law and economics. In 1987, Mr. Hornberger left the practice of law to become director of programs at the Foundation for Economic Education. He has advanced freedom and free markets on talk-radio stations all across the country as well as on Fox News’ Neil Cavuto and Greta van Susteren shows and he appeared as a regular commentator on Judge Andrew Napolitano’s show Freedom Watch. View these interviews at LewRockwell.com and from Full Context. Send him email.