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Antitrust Regulators Should Break Up The Government

April 13, 2010

I am in Brazil for the inauguration of Mises Brazil, the Forum da Liberdade, and an event at the Instituto Millenium.  Today I had the pleasure of seeing my dad debate quite effectively against government intervention, getting many laughs from the crowd, as well as explaining the basic public choice critique of regulation.  I will post a video when it is available.

One of the other participants was a government antitrust regulator, who spoke about how his job is to intervene in order to promote competition and the orderly functioning of the markets.  He talked about the badness of price-fixing cartels and concentrated industries, and the need for competition.  Price-fixing cartels are like pickpockets, he claimed, transferring money from consumers to the cartel.  They raise prices and restrict supply.  He even spoke about the importance of barriers to entry – how without such barriers, cartels are not effective.

Naturally all I could think about, listening to him, was how all his arguments apply to the federal government of Brazil for which he works, and the government industry in general.  The local states in Brazil, as in most countries, are weak, most power is concentrated in the hands of the federal government.  Thus Brazilians have little competition for supplying them government services, prices are high, and quality is bad (“Scandinavian taxes and Haitian services” is what some locals call it).

Federal governments are not only monopolists, they are the biggest monopolists in the world.  The speaker talked about businessmen possibly transferring millions of dollars of value to them, but the government regularly transfers billions and more.  If we’re going to worry about monopolies, let’s worry about the federal government, let’s decrease the barriers of entry, and make the government industry more competitive.  Seasteading, secession, state’s rights, moving activities to cyberspace, spacesteading, tax competition – these are our weapons in the fight against low quality governance.

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