John Ransom

Heavyweight conservatives and banterweight conservatives are lining up on both sides the Comcast/Time Warner merger.

The heavyweights, which include Grover Norquist at Americans for Tax Reform, Wayne Crews at the Competitive Enterprise Institute and Duane Parde at the National Taxpayers Union, have penned a letter to influential Senators including Mike Lee, Chuck Grassley and Ted Cruz, urging them to look past the politics and approve the merger between the two cable giants on traditional grounds—you know, the grounds under which the anti-trust laws were written and passed in the first place?

“As advocates for a free market,” the heavyweights write, “we believe that the Sherman and Clayton antitrust laws require the government to abstain from intervening in such transactions on antitrust grounds absent any clear showing of actual or potential market failure of which there is none here.”

And they are right.

Let me make it clear: I don’t like Comcast’s politics. I once ran a company that was a competitor to Comcast and know full well what they can do to the competition. And I think they are at the sleazy end of the K Street shuffle.

But none of those reasons are reason enough for anti-trust policies to apply.

Anti-trust laws were created to prevent any company from so dominating the marketplace that they could damage competitive pricing for consumers. They were created to make sure that business combinations didn’t unfairly cooperate on prices too.

On both counts the Comcast/Time Warner merger clears the hurdle.

We have become so accustomed in this country, on both sides of the aisle, that all is fair in love and war and politics, that we have forgotten that laws are not meant to be used as hammers against people we disagree with, but rather are made to be enforced, under the Constitution for the expressed purpose for which they are enacted.

And those protections should apply to everyone.

The bantamweighters, which include Judson Phillips with Tea Party Nation, Colin Hanna with Let Freedom Ring and Stephen Demaura with Americans for Job Security, are arguing that Comcast and Time Warner merger would provide less diversity of thought, amongst other things, which is not what the law was meant to ensure.

They cite the First Amendment to the Constitution as a “guarantee of a diversity of viewpoints.”

The First Amendment does no such thing as guarantee diversity of thought. Only a liberal would argue such. Their argument is not just wrong historically, but a very different plain meaning than our Founders intended for the First Amendment.

In essence, the arguments the "liberty" people make are political arguments that conservative interests might be harmed by the merger.

It always pains me when I have to point out to good, faithful conservatives that they didn’t invent the Constitution even if some of them just discovered it six years ago.

In their discovery, they should be careful not to twist it as our liberal friends would do.

The Comcast/Time Warner deal might have some hidden problems that the Senate Judiciary Committee will have to sort out.

But from here, it looks like neither the Sherman and Clayton anti-trust provisions nor the First Amendment to the Constitution would be violated.

I’m not a big fan of cable either.

But if you have problem with it you can change the channels just as well at DirecTV.


John Ransom

John Ransom is the Finance Editor for Townhall Finance.