Names British Government Agent to Senior Position
by S.M. Oliva: Privatize
Trade Commission recently appointed a British government agent to
a senior management position, raising serious concerns about the
FTC's commitment to US sovereignty and the increasing role of unelected
foreign antitrust regulators in restricting the property rights
and economic liberties of American citizens.
On June 22,
the FTC named Dr. Alison Oldale as deputy director for antitrust
in the agency's Bureau of Economics. Dr. Oldale, who is not a US
citizen, is currently the chief economist for the United Kingdom's
Competition Commission (UKCC). According to a UKCC press release,
Dr. Oldale will be "on a year's secondment" in effect, on
loan to the FTC and she is expected to return to UKCC after completing
her service in the US. The FTC's press release on Dr. Oldale's appointment
did not disclose this.
joined the UKCC in 2009 after working as a director at LECG Corporation,
an international consulting firm that provided expert testimony
in antitrust litigation. LECG employees were frequent participants
in FTC policy workshops, and David Scheffman, a former LECG director,
served twice as director of the FTC's Bureau of Economics. LECG
ceased operations earlier this year.
At the Bureau
of Economics, Dr. Oldale will oversee approximately 45 economists
and support staff working in two groups to review potential antitrust
cases. While the FTC's Bureau of Competition one of the agency's
two enforcement arms makes the final decisions on what cases
to prosecute, the Bureau of Economic plays a critical policymaking
role, according to FTC documents:
work closely with the attorney staff in designing investigations,
formulating candidate economic theories, and searching for confirming
or denying evidence in documents, from customers, or industry
sources. BE [Bureau of Economics] takes the lead role in data
gathering and econometric analysis regarding various issues connected
with a case. For antitrust cases, such analysis might relate to
demand estimation or price comparisons across markets with differing
Interaction between BE and the parties economists
is now more common that it once was during investigations, due,
in part, to the increased use of econometric work by the enforcement
agencies and outside parties in merger investigations.
In the course
of an FTC antitrust investigation which can last for months
if not years Bureau of Economics staff has access to private business
documents obtained from investigation targets. The FTC is not subject
to the Fourth Amendment's probable cause and judicial oversight
requirements, and antitrust investigations often devolve into fishing
expeditions designed to uncover information that can be used (or
misused) into forcing companies to take certain actions desired
by Commission officials.
As deputy director,
Dr. Oldale will be in a position where she can directly influence
the decision-making of American companies and, more importantly,
provide cover for the predetermined actions of Bureau of Competition
officials who wish to oppose a particular merger or business practice
for political reasons. This is a sensitive position, and it is highly
questionable for the FTC to appoint an agent of a foreign government
to it, especially since there is no shortage of similarly credentialed
economists in the US who could fill the role.
FTC seems to value its relationship with the UKCC over any perceived
duty to serve the American public. David Saunders, chief executive
of the UKCC, said in a statement that Dr. Oldale's tenure at the
FTC "will bring longer-term benefits for us and further strengthen
our relationship with the FTC." Yet it's unclear how Americans benefit
from that relationship. The UKCC is a the democratically elected
agent of the British people. Like the FTC, it is an unelected bureaucracy
with only nominal ties to the elected constitutional government.
of inter-bureaucratic relationships only widen the chasm between
the public and the government, because they foster the creation
of networks that transcend any attempt at constitutional limits.
The FTC understands this. That explains not only Dr. Oldale's appointment,
but the Commission's creation and leadership of the International
Competition Network, a UN-type organization composed of unelected
antitrust regulators from around the world. The ICN is yet another
forum where the FTC can meet with its foreign counterparts away
from prying eyes their most recent meeting was in the Netherlands
and coordinate policies that directly inhibit the rights and liberties
of American citizens.
this is not first and foremost a "one world order" scheme for its
own sake. The international antitrust community is ultimately a
cartel designed to advance the private economic interests of its
participants. Dr. Oldale is a perfect example; a person who has
moved between government and private "consulting," where her value
increases as she becomes more and more connected to the key antitrust
decision-makers around the world.
of Economics attracts dozens of economists in the first place by
offering a credential that makes the holder more valuable to future
academic and corporate employers. For instance, Dr. Oldale's predecessor
as deputy director, Howard Shelanski, has made a career of going
through the revolving door of academia and government, serving stints
at the FTC, FCC, and the White House in between professorships at
Berkeley and Georgetown. Other academics have taken temporary leave
from their grueling teaching duties to serve temporary assignments
"secondments," as the British call it at the FTC
as "scholars-in-residence" or staff economists. As one lawyer told
me, the Bureau of Economics is really the FTC's own private think-tank.
Except that it's forcibly funded by taxpayers who are largely kept
in the dark about the group's actual work.
of academic economists at the FTC does not improve the agency's
work in any sense; it merely furthers the state's corruption of
academia. When would-be scholars know the best way to advance their
careers is by currying favor with the lawyer-politicians who run
the antitrust agencies, they will adjust their research and temper
their criticisms accordingly. The public, and their elected representatives,
are in turn less eager to challenge agency decisions supported by
the "empirical" evidence that these economists provide. And in the
end, if the FTC doesn't get the results it wants, it can simply
go out and hire new economists of, if necessary, import
them from a foreign country.
Oliva [send him mail] is
director of the National
Antitrust Hall of Fame.
© 2011 by LewRockwell.com. Permission to reprint in whole or in
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