Monday, July 02, 2007

A Supreme Court decision that slipped under the radar

Here's a United States Supreme Court decision of greater import to every one in the United States than striking down an affirmative action law.
Manufacturers will have greater leeway to set minimum prices at the retail level without violating antitrust laws under a Thursday Supreme Court ruling that could hurt consumers and small merchants (emphasis added by me).

By allowing minimum price agreements, the court's 5-4 decision could lead to higher prices, dissenting justices said, as it becomes more difficult for smaller stores and Internet retailers to offer lower-priced goods.

The court said agreements on minimum prices are legal if they promote competition, meaning accusations of antitrust violations will be evaluated case by case.

In a 1991 decision, the Supreme Court had declared that minimum pricing agreements always violate federal antitrust law. But Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote in the majority opinion that the principle that past decisions should be left alone "does not compel our continued adherence" in this instance.
Kennedy added that "consumers," business code for two-legged, dullwitted cattle, will actually benefit because big retailers can now invest in more "customer service" without having to worry about being undercut by discout rivels. And the big retail chains will be adding more new and innovative products becuase they can recoup marketing costs faster by charging higher prices, he concluded.

Oddly enough, or maybe not so, one of the biggest winners in this decision is Wal Mart, founded on the philosopy of undercutting prices of its cheif rivels K-Mart and Permida (a discount retail chain I only saw in small Iowa towns and which now may be defunct.) The ruling protects large retail chains from competition from Internet discounters and small family-owned retailers.

So chalk up another victory for pbig business.

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