Economics and the mid-life crisis have much in common: Both dwell on foregone opportunities

C'est la vie; c'est la guerre; c'est la pomme de terre . . . . . . . . . . . . . email: jpalmer at uwo dot ca

. . . . . . . . . . .Richard Posner should be awarded the next Nobel Prize in Economics . . . . . . . . . . . .

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

States' Rights and Judicial Authority

Phil Miller does an excellent job of breaking down the arguments by realtors that they should have state laws prohibiting some realtors from offereing lower commissions (with the attendant lower services, possibly).

People often think of regulation as a way for the public to fight the big guys who try to take advantage of the little guys. But far too often, those being regulated hide behind the regulation - they actually prefer it. The millions of consumers who stand to gain from competition will likely gain much more than the concentrated interests stand to lose. So why don't they band together and fight? Each consumer gains so little at the margin that it little behooves any one of them to orgainize an attack on regulation lobbied for by concentrated interests such as realtors' groups.

Just the opposite is true for the concentrated interest. What it stands to receive from the regulation is not widely dispersed, so for individuals within the interest, their gains at the margin do provide incentive to fight. So the concentrated interests put forth resources to enact or enhance regulatory legislation while consumers take it up the driveway.
He has a really good critique of the realtors' position, and I recommend that you read the whole thing.

The only concern I have is that the U.S. Department of Justice is attacking the state gubmnts for their anti-competitive laws. That strikes me as possibly unreasonable [and it is a point at which I might question Phil's posting on this topic].
The Justice Department has sent notes to legislators Oklahoma asking it not to support legislation meant to keep competition out of the real estate market. It also sued the Kentucky Real Estate Commission for other measures that limited competition in the marketplace. The realtors' groups say they want to ensure that people get competent representation...
I agree with Phil that the realtors' groups' arguments are bogus. But why is it efficient for the federal gubmnt to intervene in intrastate commerce AND tell some states that their laws violate federal antitrust law? Why doesn't it attack the U.S. Congress for the Robinson-Patman Act?
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