Businessman, academic and former bureaucrat Roberto de Ocampo, in his article ‘Thrust of anti-trust’ in today’s (July 30, 2011) Inquirer, says:
It is not enough for us to simply tout privatization and private sector led economy as elixirs to our economic woes in the face of a consistently weak public sector without putting firmly into place the basic operating principle underlying a truly democratic business environment, namely, competition.
Attempts to level the playing field and bring about competition were successfully done in the past, notably in the breakup of monopolies in the telecommunication and inter-island shipping sectors. But the time has come to institutionalize a competitive framework rather than relying on sporadic exercises in enforcing competition.
What he is actually saying is that enterprise should be allowed to be free, and big ― but only to the degree that its direction is determined by a central authority: coercive government, that is. But of course, decentralized valuations and “sporadic” decision making by which market prices manifest themselves, are contradictory to the notion of central planning.
In calling privatization and laissez faire “elixirs,” he is portraying such initiatives as utopic and impractical, for which the government must step in and make things right.
De Ocampo actually grasps that regulatory capture and Public Private Partnerships make for an uncompetitive environment, but his solution is not to remove such governmental barriers to trade, but to foster even more governmental discretion as to the allocation of resources, via antitrust.
According to his logic, a “weak public sector,” that is, a government with limited controls over private affairs, is a bad thing. Although government is that which makes a market uncompetitive, and makes for harmful monopolies, increasing government would increase competition. How messed up is that!
Or by ‘public sector,’ does he mean “the people”? But there is no such entity. ‘The public’ is a mere construct relating to individuals ― whose valuations are best represented when buyers and sellers are not inhibited by coercion, e.g. government, from making market decisions.
He is under the delusion that the state could ever be “in the hands of the people,” when the notion of people-state harmony is logically false. If a people were to be truly represented by a state, why then are state policies coercive? Surely it is free actions, and not those as determined by an inherently violent institution, that would truly represent “the people”?
It is these little false premises that make for twisted misconceptions, and ultimately, poor policy recommendations, such as antitrust. In actuality, big business in a free market can only thrive for however long consumers allow. Remaining competitive is always a matter of being of service to ‘the public.’