Third Party & Independents Archives

Globalising the Sherman Act

There are 302M mobile phones in the US and AT&T is looking to become by far the largest carrier of these devices with its bid to buy T-Mobile. This action would reduce the number of national carriers to three. Some say Sprint is doomed if the merger goes through. The FCC and the Justice Dept will make the call on the $39B deal. Consumers are saying that the deal will lead to a rise in cost for cell phone service while ATT&T says the opposite.

The FCC and Justice hasn’t blocked any significant deals during the Obama administration. It just approved Comcast’s joint venture with NBC Universal, creating a cable, Internet service and media behemoth.
Now, both the Justice Dept and the FTC are looking into whether Google is using anti-competitive practices to protects its dominance in the Internet search business. Stephen Pearlstein writes in the Washington Post that “every big merger, it seems is now the occasion for extended wrangling over who is going to review it” Pearlstein notes that its nothing new as the rivalry has been going on since 1914, when Justice opposed the law creating the FTC.

The FTC is an independent commission run by five appointees with staggered terms and different party affiliations and doesn’t have power to bring criminal actions. The Justice Dept functions under the Executive Branch with the authority to bring criminal prosecution to bear. Only congress would know why we need two overlapping and competing anti-trust organizations. Pearlstein suggest the FTC should stick to reviewing mergers and leave the Justice Dept to enforce the Sherman Act and its prohibitions against monopolistic behavior and price fixing. And, that “thanks to globalization and new technology business in many sectors has come to be dominated by fewer and fewer giant companies”.

The effort by the Corpocracy to globalize trade has led to some real murky waters as it relates to enforcing anti-trust laws . While we live in a global economy we don’t live in a global state. And, while the Corpocracy established the WTO to function as ‘government by multinationals’ many are suggesting that the better approach to international enforcement of anti-trust is to have government representatives from countries involved handle each case based on existing laws and agreements that can be worked out between those countries. Some countries have no anti-trust law, others have laws in opposition to US law and sovereignty is a big issue here and around the world.

Case in point: (excerpt from (Trade Pacts Threaten Sovereignty) in 1991, Mexico sued the United States, saying that the U.S. Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA) unfairly limited their ability to export tuna to the U.S. The MMPA sets standards for catching tuna. Mexican fishermen didn't meet those standards, so the U.S. would not allow them to export tuna into our country.

Mexico took their complaint to an international panel. The panel reported this finding: the U.S. could not enforce this law because the law dealt with process, not product.

That is, there was nothing wrong with the product; the tuna met international standards. The problem was in how the tuna was produced.

This ruling set two troubling precedents

First, an international panel of government appointees (with no Americans) decided whether the U.S. can enforce a law enacted legally under the U.S. Constitution.

Second, the reasoning behind their ruling paves the way for other countries to use lawsuits to rewrite U.S. laws. And although these countries do the suing (per international agreements), they do so on behalf of the corporations producing the goods.

In other words, multinational corporations can use international trade agreements to strike down laws if the law pertains to the process of production, and not the product.

For example, laws barring imports of products made with slave labor or exploitative child labor would not be enforceable, because those laws deal with process, not product.

International panels are not required to rule on the law itself. In fact, they are barred from that. They only decide whether the rules of GATT or NAFTA or some other trade agreement apply. End excerpt

But, we can expect the Corpocracy, through the WTO, to press for ‘harmonizing’ anti-trust law, healthcare law and any law that appears inefficient or impeding the Corpocracy in any way.

Otherwise - -

Posted by Roy Ellis at May 8, 2011 8:03 PM
Comment #322979

I sure if AT&T offers to put enough re-election money in Obama’s coffers, it will pass.

Posted by: Mike at May 8, 2011 10:12 PM
Comment #322997

Roy, Good work, interesting post.

Mike, AT&T puts money in the hands of many politicians, Obama being but one.

Posted by: j2t2 at May 9, 2011 9:36 AM
Comment #323004

Roy Ellis,

Good post. It is very important that we work to avoid concentrating power amongst a few giants. It is better to disperse power amongst many different individuals.
It’s a real shame that too many peopl in our government are in the pocket of corporations seeking monopolistic dominance.

Posted by: Warped Reality at May 9, 2011 12:14 PM
Comment #323011

Mike, many Democrats have denounced Obama and other Democrats for their relationship with the corporations.

You could have taken this opportunity to join the cause by denouncing Republicans. Instead, you chose to denounce Obama as if it is ok for Republicans to be bribed by corporations, but not Democrats.

Do you agree with the court decision? Do you agree with the corporations that international law should take precedence over our laws and our Constitution?

Posted by: jlw at May 9, 2011 3:14 PM
Comment #323050

Roy, it seems you have exposed most of the conservatives and many of the liberals for what they are, corporationists that have no problem with a New World Order superseding our laws and our Constitution.

Posted by: jlw at May 10, 2011 1:46 PM
Comment #330323

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