An op-ed in the LA Times by three law professors (via Mark Thoma) calls for the Justice Department to sue OPEC for violating U.S. antitrust laws. The op-ed is about as stupid as you'd think. But for a few sentences in the middle of the piece, the authors took brazen stupidity to a whole new level:
Imagine suing OPEC members for the amount they overcharged for petroleum products the U.S. government purchased. Then triple that amount -- for that is what can be awarded to consumers injured by cartel activity.Please tell me how these law professors plan to figure out how much OPEC "overcharged for petroleum products." There's already a fierce debate over whether the current oil price is justified by the market, and you want a court to decree not only that the current oil price isn't justified by the market, but also how much the current oil price is above the market-clearing price? Please. Back to the professors:
Imagine the seizure of OPEC assets to pay this award, such as Venezuelan government-owned Citgo headquarters in Houston or Saudi Arabia's Aramco assets in New York. Imagine criminal charges filed against key cartel individuals when they come to the U.S.Yes, and then imagine all 13 OPEC nations declaring war on the U.S. We could take them, of course, but that's not the point. I'm no international relations expert, but I'm pretty sure it's not in our long-term interests to start arresting heads of Middle East nations and seizing assets that are the lifeblood of their domestic economies. I think that would probably harm our standing in the Middle East. But that's just me.