Professor Henry Manne’s on Elliot Spitzer’s terrorizing of business:

In an era of general acceptance of deregulation and privatization, Mr. Spitzer has introduced the world to yet a new form of regulation, the use of the criminal law as an in terrorem weapon to force acceptance of industry-wide regulations. These rules are not vetted through normal authoritative channels, are not reviewable by any administrative process, and are not subject to even the minimal due-process requirements our courts require for normal administrative rule making. The whole process bears no resemblance to a rule of law; it is a reign of force. …Since Mr. Spitzer wins his cases in the media, where business is now all but defenseless, the best hope is for the American business community to develop its own public voice. The free-market scholarship needed for this purpose is available, though it is rarely availed of in these fights. Too often the corporate defenders conclude, out of ignorance to be sure, that the opposition really has the better case.

But make no mistake: Eliot Spitzer represents, wittingly or not, an attack on the entire corporate free-enterprise system. Clearly we need new or invigorated institutions to defend industries and companies publicly when they come under unwarranted or disproportionate attack. Responsible leaders of the business community should make it a high priority to develop these capabilities before more harm is done. [Wall Street Journal op-ed, Hat Tip: Don Luskin]

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