Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Cartels Clearly Don't Understand Capitalism

The BBC is reporting another huge judgment against nine firms accused of operating a cartel, presumably in an attempt to fix prices. (Why don't these stories get much play in the American media?) Apparently, Shell Oil blew the whistle on the group, which included Exxon (USA) and Total (France).

Edgy is shocked that such large, prestigious companies could do something so self-destructive. We have all learned that a free-market economy motivates everyone to act in their own self-interest, and forming monopolies and cartels is clearly self-destructive because... um, ... because you'll get fined by the European Commission, of course.

Unless it was actually excess government regulation that forced these otherwise-innocent companies to unite to cheat consumers. That must be it. Clearly, the European Union should free up the market by legalizing cartels and monopolies. In turn, companies would voluntarily avoid forming cartels because it would umm, somehow make them more money.

There are people who actually believe this stuff, you know.