It's time we do a sanity check on the very idea of anti-trust. We have been matter-of-factly asserting that monopolies are terrible abusive things for about a century now. Curiously, I can find no example of a naturally occurring monopoly in which the consumer did not benefit (sadly, government mandated examples abound). The most commonly cited example, Standard Oil which systematically drove inefficient oil processors out of business, resulted in prices to the consumer dropping to about a tenth of what they were before. In more recent times, the government acts proactively to ensure that market share is limited. How limited seems to be arbitrary, and begins to look suspiciously like nothing more than a shakedown. It's ironic because these days, most consolidation occurs in flat or declining sectors, where acquisition serves as a substitute for growth. So we obsess over letting Staples and Office Depot merge, when any fool can see that if they don't do something neither of them will be around in another decade. History has shown that cartels and monopolies that do not deliver, do not remain monopolies: see OPEC. Anti-trust regulation is IMO a solution for an over-hyped and unestablished problem, and is harmful to those sectors who need consolidation the most. We need to take a fresh look at our assumptions.