Regulator Bullies

"Whole Foods has now spent over $35 million in legal expenses battling the FTC … We do not know how much of taxpayers' money the FTC has wasted. With the FTC continuing to bring anti-trust actions, we will spends tens of millions in additional legal expenses and waste enormous management time dealing with the FTC instead of creating value for our customers.

"This thing will now likely drag on for many years into the future before all the legal options are exhausted by both sides. It is truly like Jarndyce versus Jarndyce in Dickens's great novel 'Bleak House' -- where attorneys fought over an estate for decades until the estate was totally consumed by the lawyers."

Taxpayers and consumers will pick up that tab, just as they did when the Justice Department spent 13 years prosecuting IBM before finally dropping monopoly charges in 1982. What a waste of time and money. If IBM had monopoly power in the computer industry, why wasn't it able to dominate the PC market, which shifted computer use from its mainframes to micros?

The problem Mackey cites goes beyond the FTC. Despite media talk about the Bush administration's "handcuffing" regulatory agencies, regulators pass more rules and file more lawsuits every month. After all, they're regulators. If they don't regulate, they're not doing their jobs. I assume we'll see more of it once the Democrats are in charge.

If America's professional bureaucrats have their way, they will regulate until they consume Bleak House and kill off just about everything America creates.

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