Monday, April 23, 2012

Antitrust Prosecution of Apple is Rotten

The New Jersey Star-Ledger has published my letter-to-the-editor on the Apple antitrust case, making it the featured letter in the Readers Forum of the 4/18/12 print addition. My letter has also been published on-line under the heading, Antitrust case against Apple is unfair. Here is a reprint:

The antitrust case against Apple and five major book publishers — Hachette, HarperCollins, Macmillan, Penguin and Simon & Schuster — exposes the true nature of the antitrust laws.

These companies’ only “crime” was to engage in free, voluntary and morally legitimate business contracts for the purpose of maximizing their profits earned from their products — products of such high value and incredibly cheap prices that untold millions of “consumers” are willing and able to buy them; products marketed in a spirit of free and open competition.

Yet, in what can be described only as Orwellian, federal and state government officials — who themselves produce nothing of value for “consumers” to buy — have decided to prosecute these great American companies for the alleged criminal activity of “conspiring to fix the prices” on their own products!

This is nothing more than legalized extortion. The antitrust laws are, and always have been, a grossly unjust travesty that punishes successful companies — for being successful. Such arbitrary laws have no place in a society dedicated to the protection of individual rights and the rule of objective law, rather than of men over men. The antitrust laws are un-American and should be abolished.

Michael A. LaFerrara, Flemington
I also responed to the article Apple Should Settle E-Book Antitrust Case, Expert Says in the comments section. Citing a former DOJ attorney, the article called the evidence "so strong that the companies would be foolish not to settle the case with the Department of Justice out of court." The attorney, David Balto, was quoted as saying ""Government enforcers fantasize about this kind of evidence but this is beyond their fantasies."

What is this "evidence?"
Among the government's evidence is records of emails and phone calls that allegedly show executives from the companies, including late Apple CEO Steve Jobs, openly conspiring to use their market clout to increase the price of e-books industry wide.
I left the following comments:


I see nothing wrong with anything the companies did as described here. What I do see is Orwellian claptrap relating to the government’s case, such as “Federal Trade Commission, which regulates industry competition,” “restore the free market” by governmental decree, or the characterization of the executives private contractual correspondence as “conspiracy.” What Apple and the publishers did is competition in a free market; the “free” meaning free from physical force and coercion. What government is now doing is force, not free market competition.

These companies’ “market clout” represents benign economic power earned from the valuable products priced to attract untold tens of millions of willing “consumers” voluntarily buying them. It is the government that is attempting true price fixing—i.e., by political power of force and coercion. By what perverse logic do Apple and the publishers’ voluntary actions constitute “fixing” the price, but government’s coercive actions do not?

The Antitrust laws are an American travesty, and should be abolished.
For more on this, please read:

States Join Extortion Racket Against Book Publishers

3 Things Everyone Needs to Know About the Apple Antitrust Case

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