Competition Policy in America: History, Rhetoric, Law

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Oxford University Press, Apr 5, 2001 - Law - 424 pages
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Americans have long appealed to images of free competition in calling for free enterprise, freedom of contract, free labor, free trade, and free speech. This imagery has retained its appeal in myriad aspects of public policy--for example, Senator Sherman's Anti-Trust Act of 1890, Justice Holmes's metaphorical marketplace of ideas, and President Reagan's rhetoric of deregulation. In Competition Policy in America, 1888-1992, Rudolph Peritz explores the durability of free competition imagery by tracing its influences on public policy. Looking at congressional debates and hearings, administrative agency activities, court opinions, arguments of counsel, and economic, legal, and political scholarship, he finds that free competition has actually evoked two different visions--freedom not only from oppressive government, but also from private economic power. He shows how the discourse of free competition has mediated between commitments to individual liberty and rough equality--themselves unstable over time. This rhetorical approach allows us to understand, for example, that the Reagan and Carter programs of deregulation, both inspired by the rhetoric of free competition, were driven by fundamentally different visions of political economy. Peritz's historical inquiry into competition policy as a series of government directives, inspired by two complex yet distinct and sometimes contradictory visions of free competition, provides an indispensable framework for understanding modern political economy-- whether political campaign finance reform, corporate takeover regulation, or current attitudes toward the New Deal Legacy. Competition Policy in America will be of great interest to lawyers, historians, economists, sociologists, and policy makers in both government and business.
 

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Contents

Introduction
3
Free Competition and Freedom of Contract
9
Trade and Labor Associations Political Majorities and Speech Rights
59
From Organic Body Politic to Unified Body Economic
111
4 Competition Pluralism and the Problem of Persistent Oligarchy 19481967
181
Efficiency Property Rights and Equality
229
Free Market Imagery Corporate Control and the Problem of Equality
265
On the Limits of Competition Policy
301
Market Access Innovation and Being Bill Gates
305
Notes
331
Index
397
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About the author (2001)

Rudolph J. R. Peritz is Professor of Law at New York Law School. He has been a Langdell Fellow at Harvard Law School, as well as an Assistant Attorney General for the state of Texas. He has written and spoken widely on competition policy, antitrust history, and computer law and policy.

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