First among all nations the United States made “restraint of trade” a crime, and voted an economic ideal into law. One of its most energetic exponents looks back on that unique, vague, and unenforceable bit of legislation: the Sherman Antitrust Act
Ever since the Civil War there has been a continuous conflict between two opposing ideals in American economic thinking. The first of them says that business management, if relieved from the rigors of cutthroat competition, will be fair and benevolent. The age of competition is over, the theory continues, and great corporations with the power to dominate prices benefit the economy. In the field of big business, this philosophy justifies giant mergers.