Kimberley Strassel of the Wall Street Journal is upset that the Federal Trade Commission is enforcing the antitrust laws (see here). This from a writer at a publication that often rails against the lawlessness of the Obama administration and the administration’s lack of respect for the rule of law.
Evidently, the FTC is moving against an association of 22,000 music teachers who agreed previously to a code of ethics that restricts competition for each others’ students. Strassel claims that the provision is “common enough” among professional organizations, e.g., that represent doctors and lawyers, almost suggesting that the provision is not illegal.
Yet the FTC insists that the association remove the anticompetitive provision from its code and educate its members about the law. Enforcing the law seems reasonable, but Strassel calls the FTC’s action bizarre, absurd, and ludicrous. Not to mention an abuse of power from an administration that has a “tendency toward an abuse of power.”
And Strassel doesn’t stop there, but compares enforcement of the antitrust laws to IRS targeting conservatives, DOJ hounding Gibson Guitar, and the EPA conducting an armed raid in Alaska. Talk about ludicrous.
To set the record straight, the FTC is not part of the Obama administration, but is an independent agency. Strassel is also apparently unaware that the FTC has acted against anticompetitive codes of conduct of both doctor and lawyer associations, as well as others, going back, oh, at least several decades.
So we now see a WSJ that supports the concept of rule of law, except when it doesn’t. Ignoring the law is okay after all, at least when it suits the political agenda of the ignorer (gee, sounds like a certain someone we know).
The WSJ also claims to speak for free and competitive markets, yet almost never supports enforcement of any antitrust laws. The concentration of power doesn’t seem to bother the WSJ as long as it’s concentrated in private hands.
So all we get from the WSJ and its writers is lip service about competition. When it’s time to enforce the law, we can count on the editors and writers to run away like a little mouse or is it more like the Three Stooges (as in the old Seinfeld joke)? Indeed, Adam Smith must be spinning in his grave.