The FTC lawyers believe that the Whole Foods-Wild Oats merger is costly to consumers. But they seem oblivious to the costs their own policies impose. As Mackey told me:
"Whole Foods has now spent over $35 million in legal expenses battling the FTC ... We do not know how much of taxpayers' money the FTC has wasted. With the FTC continuing to bring anti-trust actions, we will spends tens of millions in additional legal expenses and waste enormous management time dealing with the FTC instead of creating value for our customers.
"This thing will now likely drag on for many years into the future before all the legal options are exhausted by both sides."
Taxpayers and consumers will pick up that tab, just as they did when the Justice Department spent 13 years prosecuting IBM, before finally dropping monopoly charges in 1982. What a waste of time and money. If IBM had monopoly power, why wasn't it able to dominate the PC market? And why is it now smaller than Microsoft?
The problem Mackey cites goes beyond the FTC. Despite media talk about the Bush administration's "handcuffing" regulatory agencies, regulators pass more rules and file more lawsuits every month. After all, they're regulators. If they're don't regulate, they're not doing their job.
Now that the media is screaming "economic crisis" and politicians of both parties are bashing business, I assume we'll see even more destructive regulation.
If America's professional bureaucrats have their way, they will regulate until they kill off just about everything America creates.