Chillin'Competition

Relaxing whilst doing Competition Law is not an Oxymoron

The B******t Test

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As demonstrated by H.G. Frankfurt, we are surrounded by b******t.

One of the methods for spotting b******t it is the “not test“. As explained here and there, this test checks whether “it is possible to negate the statement and create a sentence that any sane person would utter in public“.

The “not test” has been applied by development economists to G20 declarations.

In concrete terms, the idea is to take a speech and turn its sentences to their opposite, i.e. turn all positive sentence to negative and vice versa.  If the revised sentence makes sense and could equally be voiced by the speaker, then it enshrines worth content. If, on the other hand,  the changed sentence makes no sense and would never possibly be pronounced by the speaker, then it is a vacuous statement which conveys b******t.

Now let’s see whether b******t is also pervasive in the antitrust field.

To apply the “not test“, I have chosen a policy speech of former Competition Commissionner Neelie Kroes. I apply it to  bits and pieces of the speech which seem to convey opinions rather than descriptions. Instead of systematically using the “not” word, I occasionally apply antonyms.

Together with the Court of Justice, the Commission has been an independent driving force to promote antitrust compliance to bring better products, greater choice, and lower prices to the citizens of Europe” gives =>  “Together with the Court of Justice, the Commission has been a biased inefficient force to promote antitrust compliance to bring better products, greater choice, and lower prices to the citizens of Europe” => b******t

this is an impressive record, I still believe that more can be done” gives => “this is an unimpressive record, I believe that more cannot be done” => b******t

Let me be very clear. These discussions are not about bargaining or negotiating. The Commission will not bargain about evidence or objections” gives => “Let me be very clear. These discussions are just about bargaining or negotiating. The Commission will  bargain about evidence or objections” => no b******t

We have a lot to be proud of. But as you can see, we are not resting on our laurels: our commitment to designing ever better competition policy and enforcement is as strong as it was fifty years ago” gives => “We have a lot to be ashamed of. And as you can see, we are not resting on our laurels: our commitment to designing ever better competition policy and enforcement is as weak as ever” => definitely b******t

I leave it to our readers to draw their conclusions on this. But it seems we’d  save a lot of time and paper if speeches were better drafted…

A disclaimer: this post was inspired by Alfonso’s last post + drinks yesterday with my LL.M students…

PS: I suppose only die-hard fans of AC/DC-like sound will know the LP that illustrates this post. Jackyl was a great band, and their titles are worth re-listening.

Written by Nicolas Petit

22 December 2011 at 1:57 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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