Someone once asked Joel Klein why he chose to work for the government if he was so smart. For Klein, the assistant United States attorney general of the Antitrust Division, the decision to work for the government was an easy one since he believes public service is the highest calling. And he wants Penn students to know that. On Thursday, Klein -- who has made a name for himself as the chief prosecutor in the Microsoft trial -- discussed antitrust policy in the 21st century to a roomful of about 45 students and professors. The second speaker in this year's Gruss Public Management Speaker series, Klein stressed the importance of antitrust regulation in keeping markets competitive. He discussed the Justice Department's actions in last fall's Microsoft case and explained why the courts ruled that Microsoft's actions were unfair business practices. Klein also pointed to three European companies -- including one vitamin cartel, which had thrived for nine years -- that have been "knocked down" due to antitrust violations. He stressed that large corporations are not guilty of antitrust violations just by virtue of their size. "Big is not necessarily bad," Klein said. Students agreed that Klein did an excellent job in defending the stance of the United States government with regard to the antitrust policy. "He reaffirmed my faith in the Antitrust Division," Wharton and Engineering senior Josh Loyd said. Audience members applauded Klein's eloquence and straightforwardness. "I thought he was a real example of communication skills in action," said William Whitney, an Economics Professor and the associate director of the Wharton Undergraduate Division. Whitney had urged his students to come listen to Klein speak. "The speech showed that Econ 1 and 2 are directly related and applicable to the big public policy that we read about in the paper everyday," Whitney said. Klein opened his talk by discussing the growth of the American economy and the Internet in the last decade. "Ten years ago, we didn't know of the Internet [and] the economy was sluggish. Antitrust was not being seriously enforced," Klein said. With increased competition, Klein said, the emphasis on antitrust policy has grown. Now, about 30 grand juries are looking at various cartel cases, according to Klein, as antitrust enforcement continues to catch on globally. Many students were glad they were able to relate Klein's lecture to information from their classes regarding economic policy, cartels and mergers. "He didn't use terms beyond our understanding," College freshman Narahari Phatak said. At the end of his lecture, Klein reminded the students present that they "owe this country something" and urged them to consider public service as a career. Speaking at universities like Penn, Klein explained, "gives me a chance to get my message across to people who, I think, are our future leaders of this world. Young people have an obligation to give back."Comments powered by Disqus
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