Amid government objections, a court has approved the merger of Imperial Sugar and U.S. Sugar Corp. Despite the rejection of the big-is-bad philosophy, this case demonstrates attempts to move the philosophy beyond tech.

Since the 1970s, U.S. antitrust regulators have applied the consumer welfare standard (CWS) to determine whether an action by a corporation violates antitrust laws. Born out of an attempt to standardize the government’s approach to antitrust, it established that the effect on consumers was the ultimate test for legality; lower prices and higher-quality goods were the goals.

This standard came under fire by the chair of the Federal Trade Commission, Lina Khan, when she critiqued the pro-consumer focus on prices in her article “Amazon’s Antitrust Paradox.” 

Khan is not the only commissioner to criticize modern antitrust law. Alvaro Bedoya gave a speech criticizing the focus on efficiency in antitrust enforcement, further making a case for a move away from the CWS as the standard for antitrust enforcement.

Read the full DC Journal article here.

Trey Price is a technology policy analyst for the American Consumer Institute, a nonprofit education and research organization. For more information, visit or follow us on Twitter @ConsumerPal.