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Court Ruling on Discounters

May 14, 1988

The front-page story regarding the Supreme Court decision in BEC vs. Sharp is one more dramatic indication of the damage done by the Reagan Administration through ideological judicial appointments.

The Reaganites attempted, through the appointment of ideologues to the Federal Trade Commission and Justice Department, to gut the antitrust laws which positively affect consumers and less powerful businesses in favor of serving the interests of the rich and the powerful. The ideologues were thwarted by Congress and could not accomplish what the Reagan-appointed judges have now done.

Your story notes that conservative economists view this decision as "market freeing." The conservatives have a strange understanding of the free market. To them free market does not mean that a buyer-business is free to purchase a product if it can meet the price. Nor does it mean that a business is free to sell a product at any price which it chooses. What it does mean is that the big guy with the heavy clout is free to do whatever is deemed necessary to be able to extract the highest price possible.

The decision is not market freeing. Rather it is a blatant restraint of trade, restraining the rights of smaller and independent businesses to buy products and restraining the rights of ordinary consumers to buy at the most favorable price made available by competition.

It is ironic that those who trumpet the free-enterprise system and proclaim their allegiance to free-market economics are the very same fat cats who pour their resources into obtaining an exemption from the very competitive system that they allegedly espouse.

PAUL W. TURLEY

Los Angeles

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