[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index][Thread Index]

Microsoft vs. Justice Department

  [From The CHicago Tribune, etc.]
  Microsoft and Nanny Reno
  Tibor R. Machan
          Here we go again!  About twenty five years ago it was IBM, now
  it's Microsoft!  The Justice Department just needs to have its bogeyman!  
          Any firm that is very successful in making itself appealing to
  millions of customers stands a good chance of getting nailed.  Some
  aluminum giant the name of which I now forget (was it Anaconda?) had been
  the victim of such harassment several decades back.  Now it is Bill Gate's
  highly effective company.
          Never mind that there is nothing to worry about with Microsoft, as
  there was nothing to worry about other companies that played by the rules
  of the free market.  If a firm does not steal from or defraud others, if
  it pays the wage it agreed to pay, if it practices no industrial
  espionage, government has no business interfering with its operations.
          And the charge against Microsoft is not that it does any of these
  things but that it has sold us an option we might be tempted to use to its
  advantage (and, of course, to ours as well). What is this?  
          Well, Microsoft's very popular Windows program, Windows 95, comes
  with the option of making an easy connection to the Internet, of course,
  for a price.  I have it right here, on my personal computer and, as
  millions of others, I have never used it.  Instead, I use another browser
  and have never chosen the Microsoft option.  
          The same happens when I buy other conveniences for myself  I can
  purchase accessories for my stereo tuner  speakers, tape and CD players,
  turn tables, all in one big bulk, made by one company.  Or I can buy a
  bunch of different units and connect them myself  which is just how my
  sound system is set up in my home.  I can go to Sears & Roebuck and buy
  not just pants but shirts, jackets, shoes, socks and the whole clothing
  ensemble, or I can confine myself to buying some of the stuff there, then
  go to Robinsons, Maceys or Walmart for other things.  
          What the US Justice Department is doing by hassling Microsoft is
  not just attacking big for being big  which is, curiously, done only in
  the USA, nowhere else  but also demeaning the millions of customers who go
  shopping every day by implying that they need their hands held to do the
  best for themselves in the market place.  
          This, of course, is not new.  It fits well with the increasingly
  paternalistic way the US federal and state governments have been looking
  at us for decades.  Just consider Food and Drug Administration, Federal
  Trade Commission, Securities and Exchange Commission, Occupational Health
  and Safety Administration and the hundreds of other agencies of the state,
  all of which pretend to help us but are wholly unaccountable for their
  deeds  notice the Federal Aviation Administration does not get sued when a
  plane crashes, even though it is responsible to supervise safety in the
  skies.  What they are telling us over and over again is that we are too
  inept as free men and women to care for ourselves, we need Big Daddy to
  watch over us, whether or not we want it.
          Do you think if the Justice Department's Antitrust Division
  undermines Microsoft's operations -- raises its cost of doing business,
  leads to increases in it prices, and even stifles budding firms by scaring
  them away from innovating marketing practices  Janet Reno will be sued and
  made to make up these losses?  No, because Janet Reno is part of the team
  of state agents who have convinced themselves that they are our pretend
  moms and dads with even greater powers than the originals.
          Much of what is wrong with our country is that people are not
  treated as adults, thus they become dependent upon government to look out
  for them.  That is at least one of the main things wrong with the welfare
  state: it fancies itself as surrogate parents of the citizenry, thus
  encouraging everyone to remain dependent only not while a child but in
  their adulthood.  This is not less unwise than treating children as if
  they were adults  both approaches do violence to our nature.
          But here is how it is done to make it all look palatable: Play to
  people's adolescent fears about dealing with Big Businesses like
  Microsoft, offer them what appears to be a friendly helping hand, the
  psychological drug of dependence on the state.  
          Never mind that this is more like the "protection" of organized
  crime than help from a friend, which is usually temporary and comes only
  in emergencies.  No, make government a permanent nanny and that will make
  the bureaucrats feel saintly as well as indispensable.  We, in turns, will
  indeed tend to become the helpless creatures Janet Reno already assumes we
  are  when she claims that we are unable to say either "yes" or "No" to a
  measly little icon on our Windows 95 desktop and do what we think is best.