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Retail Industry Leaders Letter to Federal Trade Commission Asking for Antitrust Investigation, Action – Plus Antitrust Division Comments

RetailIndustryLeadersLetterToFederalTradeCommissionAskingAntitrustINvestigationActionPlusAntitrustDivisionComments

RILA is the acronym for the Retail Industry Leaders Association. Why this is of interest to manufactured housing pros will become evident as this report is developed. RILA includes big names like Target and Walmart, who have formally addressed the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) about their concerns about the market power of several of the tech giants.

That power by some tech giants goes beyond pricing practices, says RILA, it goes to control over information too.

The issues raised by RILA in their letter, linked here as a download, in several ways could prove insightful for manufactured housing.

  • First, why is there no similar letter from the Manufactured Housing Institute (MHI) or state associations to the FTC?
  • Second, why is it that for decades, under both Democratic and Republican Administrations, antitrust has been allowed to languish?

Note that RILA cited one of the speeches by the Department of Justice (DoJ) top antitrust official, Assistant Attorney General Makan Delrahim.

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That speech by Delrahim is linked here as a download, but some interesting pull quotes are as follows.

 

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  • The United States has a long history of trustbusting.  Early cases against titans of industry offer valuable lessons for today’s antitrust enforcers.
  • The United States has a long history of trust-busting in emerging and technologically-advanced markets.  The cases I just described offer a handful of important lessons for antitrust enforcers and practitioners alike.
  • First, as the Microsoftcase and other enforcement actions involving digital technologies show, we already have in our possession the tools we need to enforce the antitrust laws in cases involving digital technologies.  U.S. antitrust law is flexible enough to be applied to markets old and new.
  • Good students of history… will remember that Thomas Jefferson was serving as U.S. Ambassador to France at this time.  On December 20, 1787, Jefferson wrote to his friend James Madison with his views about the draft Constitution… “I will now add what I do not like.  First the omission of a bill of rights providing clearly and without the aid of sophisms for freedom of religion, freedom of the press, protection against standing armies,  restriction against monopolies, the eternal & unremitting force of the habeas corpus laws, and trials by jury in all matters of fact triable by the laws of the land & not by the law of Nations.”

Rephrased, as MHProNews and MHLivingNews have noted several times, the history of anti-monopoly goes back to the earliest days of the war for Independence, and the formation of the federal government after freedom from England was won.

While the conference those remarks were delivered to was more tech-giant focused, they apply in some instances to other industries, which should include housing and manufactured housing.   Back to Ast. AG Delrahim’s comments, after citing the point that “Congress nevertheless passed our first antitrust statute, the Sherman Act, in 1890

  • Through their general wording, and their focus on competitive process and consumer welfare, the antitrust laws allow U.S. courts to continue to apply legal principles and sound economic reasoning to identify harmful practices that the antitrust laws should prevent.”

Second, in order to understand what conduct is anticompetitive and thus unlawful, the Antitrust Division works hard to become expert on the commercial realities of the digital economy.

Once more note that the digital economy isn’t the only part of the economy. Principles routinely flow between digital and other economic movers.

Here comes one of several useful pull-quotes: “Third, clever positioning should not obscure what is otherwise ordinary evidence of an antitrust violation.  Where a company has market power, enforcers should be circumspect about conduct that does not plausibly advance a legitimate business objective and transactions that eliminate competition.”

Once more, Ast. AG’s Delrahim’s full comments are found here, and the RILA letter is found here.

 

MHI, MHEC, Retailers, MHIndustry Pros and Antitrust

These are post-production issues, so they technically fall under the interest of MHI, not MHARR.

MHI, and MHEC executives – if you are serious about protecting the interests of independents and consumers, there is a need to push-back against the practices that are harmful to the marketplace.

Per Delrahim: “…because where competition is harmed, consumers and markets lose with higher prices, lower quality, lower rate of innovation, less free speech…Protecting competition means protecting all of those dimensions of competition. 

In supporting the passage of the law that came to bear his name, Senator Sherman said: “ If we will not endure a king as a political power, we should not endure a king over the production, transportation, and sale of any of the necessaries of life.  If we would not submit to an emperor, we should not submit to an autocrat of trade…” 

 

The Antitrust Division is working hard to stay true to this vision today.”

It is time for more industry professionals to grow a spine and fight back any way they can. Make no mistake, there are those who are at least providing tips, documents, and other insights. But others are either laissez faire, think they are benefiting, or hoping that if they are nice that they won’t be harmed themselves. That’s not how monopoly power, or any corrupted power, works. The sooner someone intelligently and prudently stands up, the safer they are and the better off they are.

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That’s your second installment of “News Through the Lens of Manufactured Homes and Factory-Built Housing,” © where “We Provide, You Decide.” © ## (News, analysis, and commentary.)

SoheylaKovachDailyBusinessNewsMHProNewsMHLivingNewsSubmitted by Soheyla Kovach for MHProNews.com.

Soheyla is a managing member of LifeStyle Factory Homes, LLC, the parent company to MHProNews, and MHLivingNews.com. Connect with us on LinkedIn here and and here.

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