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Mathematically equivalent cash discounts are allowed, which effectively makes the restriction on credit card surcharges an agreement about presentation--not a ridiculous thing to have in the contract.

You might be right about M&A--specifically, a bias towards making more widgets and employing more people seems like it would cause inadvertent marginal charity. I wouldn't call the case conclusive, though; takeovers are also a potential defense against self-serving leadership, and explaining the stagnation of wages is a big open puzzle with lots of possible explanations.