The Sherman Act of 1890 finished the era of truly free market in the United States of America, although, ironically, it has been directed at protecting the freedom of competition. It may seem obvious that the law that limits the competitors cannot be protecting the competition, but, nevertheless, this law became the foundation of what we know today as the American antitrust legislature.
The Sherman Act prohibits all kinds of all contracts, combinations and conspiracies in restraint of trade, and monopoly in interstate and foreign trade. On paper it seemed to be perfect for protecting smaller participants of the market from being eliminated by the larger ones; in reality everything turned out much worse. The main flaw of the Act is that it is unacceptably vague for a law according to which people have to act. It can be interpreted in any way depending on the need of the government official who does it, enabling the state effectively apply pressure to business in almost any circumstances. It has been even reflected in a bitter joke: if you sell for the lower price than the rest, you are charged with rapacious competition; if you sell for the same price as the others, you are charged with cartel conspiracy; if you sell at a higher price than all the rest, you are charged with overpricing.
And it is true, as well as the disastrous results on business. Who can one properly direct one’s business to if one doesn’t know and has no way to know when he is acting according to the law and when not? The Sherman Act is a shameful page of the American legislature that has been causing harm for more than a hundred years now.