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Monday, November 19, 2007

While soaring prices of gasoline and other fuels, which affect the economy as a whole, there is little effort put forth by our elected officials in Washington. Yes, Congress and Senate members with long winded oratory supposedly vent their anger over escalating prices. Then pursue the matter no further.

They should be inquiring whether or not established law is being violated.

Price fixing is a combination formed for the purpose of setting price levels or ranges by competing firms. Black's Law Dictionary (6th ed. 1990). In United States vs. Socony-Vacuum Oil Co., 60 S. Ct. 811, 845 (1940), a group of major oil refinery companies were purchasing gas on the spot market and storing it in order to prevent prices from falling for which they were convicted. The court held that this practice, whether in interstate or foreign commerce, was illegal per se under Section 1 of the Sherman Act.

The court state that the power to fix prices is not necessary to establish an illegal conspiracy under Section 1, only the need to prove an act of conspiracy. Id. Footnote 59.

In United States vs. Container Corporation of America, 89 S. Ct. 510 (1969). The court held that even the sharing of price quotes and pricing information to a competitor on request regardless of how infrequent or irregular was a violation of Section 1 of the Sherman Act.

Finally, the hearings in Washington remind me of a story about a preacher conducting services on an Indian reservation without success. He asked the chief, "What is wrong?" The chief replied, "Big thunder, big wind, no rain."

Respectfully,

Perry Moore Dexter