August 03, 2005

EU Anti-Trust

I heard a radio story about the EU trying to encourage more civil torts for anti-trust cases against businesses in Europe. Their complaint was that the regulators can go after big-names like Intel but smaller violators get away with being overly successful ('uncompetitive') and more civil litigation could stop it. The statistics cited showed that the US has far more civil anti-trust cases than the EU. What I found intriguing about both the EU position and the NPR reporting was how the position of business owners, stockholders and potential business owners was totally absent except as 'victims' of uncompetitive practices. The pack of lawyers chomping at the bit to sue the pants off of any company in the EU that expands too quickly, too far or too long didn't ring any bells as a major future impediment to growth - and to job creation. It was surreal, like a report from the 1970s or earlier that somehow doesn't realize that making life difficult for businesses CAN have consequences to the success of businesses.

The problem in the EU is that the state is the biggest violator of competitive principles. Various EU governments nationalize industries and technologies and keep private competitiors either weak or illegal. Canada's even worse, where private health care is (or was, before the Quebec court ruling) flatly illegal in most cases.

It's almost a parody how the old lefties see business as something to be controlled, punished and deterred, rather than a series of voluntary transactions among colleagues and interested parties that need only be honest and peaceful. I'm almost surprised that Democratic politicians don't have "Get Tough On Capitalism" pin buttons.

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