The Federal Trade Commission is supposed to enforce “fair” competition in the economy. It’s supposed to make sure evil capitalists don’t collude to charge the consumer more than the consumer “should” have to pay for something. In this case that something is piano lessons.
That’s right, the federal trust busters have taken action to make sure our kids aren’t overcharged by the little old lady down the street.
It has targeted the Music Teachers National Association, crushing the $2 million organization with document requests and other regulatory hoops even though no one seems to know why the investigation was begun, and even though there was no instance of demonstrable collusion even alleged.
Meanwhile the federal government actively enforces monopolies for the big guys in farming, entertainment, energy, transportation, shipping, food, you name it.
Again, the feds don’t turn a blind eye toward the actions of these industries, these industries operate business models which only work when they are protected from competition BY the government.
But we are supposed to spend tax dollars busting up the piano teacher cabal.
(From The Wall Street Journal)
The association’s sin, according to the feds, rested in its code of ethics. The code lays out ideals for members to follow—a commitment to students, colleagues, society. Tucked into this worthy document was a provision calling on teachers to respect their colleagues’ studios, and not actively recruit students from other teachers.
That’s a common enough provision among professional organizations (doctors, lawyers), yet the FTC avers that the suggestion that Miss Sally not poach students from Miss Lucy was an attempt to raise prices for piano lessons. Given that the average lesson runs around $30 an hour, and that some devoted teachers still give lessons for $5 a pop, this is patently absurd.