ON-Lion Letter

"Wisconsin’s minimum markup law, a relic of the Great Depression that tells retailers and wholesalers where to set their prices, has been on the books for 77 years," begins an introductory note from Mike Nichols in a February special report from the Wisconsin Policy Research Institute (WPRI) in Milwaukee.  "Many consumers are only vaguely aware of it -- a fact that opponents of the law say is likely responsible for its long lifespan."

Nichols is president of WPRI, which is substantially supported by Milwaukee's Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation.

"We're Wisconsinites, proud of our history and so often politely accepting of the status quo," he continues in Putting the Squeeze on Consumers:  Real-World Impacts of Wisconsin's Minimum Markup Law.  "We don’t always ask a lot of questions.  Except here at WPRI, we can’t help but ask just one:  If this law that sets minimum government-mandated prices for a broad array of goods did not already exist, how many legislators in Madison would consider proposing such a thing today?

The report provides synopses of various studies on the issue, includes excerpts of key U.S. Federal Trade Commission findings on it, and tells real-life stories of people and businesses directly affected by it.

"[I]n the end," Nichols concludes, he hopes that "you'll ask just one other question a businessman by the name of Krist Atanasoff voices here in our special report:  Is a law designed to prevent a businessman from selling a product at a price cheaper than his competitors 'really the American way?'"

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