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Re: interface based monopolies
Interface based monopoly is the best analysis to emerge in this forum. To tweak it
a wee bit: To "nationalize the Windows API" is a good idea, but to Washingtonize it
has been a bad idea since about 1973.
My own historical and strategical analysis is pure politics, of course. I make no
apology for that since I am a political strategist of some antiquity. The
libertarians have not yet outlawed or just shot all the political folk like me or
just unlike their own freedom-loving selves. So, I beg leave again to address this
My analysis goes to the problem of mobilizing people besides lawyers, geeks, and
Republicans from Utah to stand up, speak up, and actually resolve some of the
public, not personal, problems which have come up in this forum.
Professor Pollack goes to the heart of what to do beyond what the AAG already seems
to be doing:
The executive branch can "attack" Microsoft and should do albeit on nothing
but the facts and the law such as they are. They cannot prosecute everybody,
all the time, for everything in a country which libertarians correctly note
has far too many laws and lawyers for anybody's good, even the poor lawyers.
So, the executive branch must proceed selectively, using judgement about what
sort of case they can make with limited resources and what action will have
the most effect not just on Microsoft but on its rivals, all of which might do
what Microsoft does, too, if they can or must. This capacity for selective and
exemplary action is hateful to libertarians who think government should not
act save by super-majority rule or unanimous consent. This blurs the
distinction between a legislature and a judiciary. To libertarians,
libertarian judges and bailiffs are the only necessary politics. The rest of
governance and security can be provided by the free market and individual gun
owners, in their utopia, dystopia or sci-fi novel. This seems like perfect
freedom to them but perfect tyranny to me.
An old-time legislature, though, writes robust and simple laws, not
regulations, which can be applied to one and all, advancing the greater good
of the majority, maybe "taxing" a minority, like rich people, but not so much
as to force them into rebellion or treason. Rebellion is a bad thing. Believe
me. The former secessionist states are still dramatically poorer than states
which stuck with the Union. This should not be forgotten from generation to
Regulatory agencies can and should, pursuant to law and convention, frame,
yes, regulations of temporary and limited but surprisingly dramatic effect.
They act like a soccer referree, they are very much in the game and of the
game, but they are "fair", not "competitive". Fair means without interest in
who wins the present game and right there on the field for all to see. Such as
we see of regulation today in Washington, however, is only one sort or style
of regulation, namely, rent-sharing. The other kind of regulation is that of a
regular army or navy with uniform pay grades, kit, drill, ordnance, munitions,
signals, and so on, or of a well-regulated militia with all those save regular
pay. Recall that the US Consitution and Bill of Rights provide for federal,
French-style, regular, and state, Swiss-style, militia forces. Neither
provision has much bearing on gun ownership, all those NRA legal scholars to
the contrary notwithstanding.
Such historical curiosities are not without bearing on Professor Pollack's insight.
There are, in fact, legal, ordance, and admiralty styles of economic regulation in
both the modern and archaic meanings of the word regulation. Today, we have federal
legal regulation only. This is, as both the liberal and conservative think tanks
point out over and over, mostly lawyerized, Washington-centric, rent-sharing. Its
doctrines are "hold harmless" and "too big to fail". This federal-legal style of
regulation is, in a few words, just a protection or concession rackets run by and
for the Congressional barons. This undisputed fact of political life today renders
the FCC, FTC, FAA, NRC, EPA, and so on unfit for much of anything save make-work
for lawyers.Worse, to my mind, federal regulation has now totally displaced
ordnance or admiralty style regulation at the "state level" where, incidently, all
this started long before there were XYZ agencies or the Pentagon Parody of Horse
Guards, The Admiralty, and Whitehall in Washington were conjured up by Woodrow
Wilson's racist and anglophile elite.
Here is the point: Regulation is strategical in its ordnance and admiralty styles
only. Only in these modes, can it truly deal with progressive or just changing
technology standards. Standards are conventions, not laws. Libertarians should love
them because they begin with very individual initiative, what the French call
genius and we call RFCs, but proceed towards near-unanimous adoption and almost
universal adherence. Lets be clear: Standards originate with just about anybody,
including geeks and visionary French virgins. They are universal in form, but as a
practical matter proceed up from humble draft origins to "Geneva Convention" treaty
Now, here is a curiosity: Great Britain, while an absolute monarchy and a unitary
state, competes in soccer as England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland seperately.
So, finally, here is my suggestion. The standards problem, I would call it an
opportunity, should be addressed first by some states exercising vestigial
sovereignty and powers, much as they used to back in the days of black powder and
steam. My observation and experience is that little countries, like Finland,
Switzerland, and Israel, even city-states like Singapore, do both ordnance and
admiralty regulation well. It is central to "security", "economic development",
"industrial", and "competitive" policy. It is an integral part of their educational
and military establishments, including their plain, old, not-a-buzz-word, strategy
for survival on the edge of other hugely violent nations.
For instance, how telephone exchanges do signalling and how directories are
maintained on the public network in Israel has to do with everything you would
expect it to. But, it also has about the same role in mobilization of the armed
forces as "railroad timetables" had in Germany a century ago or, for that matter,
how railroad tracks were laid out in Texas and East Prussia a century ago.
You may ask what about interstate commerce and global markets?
What about them? They are not new. They are actually attentuated today relative to
our past. The facts are that a political economy with the economic scale and
political discipline of Helsinki-Finland (St. Petersburg-Nokia) or
Seattle-Washington (Vancouver-Microsoft) competes in world markets and interstate
commerce in a sophisticated way that (1) nobody in Wasington understands and (2)
will surely convert to rent-sharing and indirect taxation, or just crush, oops, if
they do figure it out, sort of, much to the world's detriment outside of
Washington's very peculiar precincts.
So, the matter of Microsoft's "public communication interface" ought to be taken up
by the sort of folk who have done world-class, admiralty-style, regulation in the
past and will have to do so again if they do not want to pay "tribute" to
Helsinki-Finland (St. Petersburg-Nokia) or Seattle-Washington (Vancouver-Microsoft)
every time their own people try to make a buck off of or with cell phones and
computers, for instance. Can the Great States of New England, Northern California,
and Texas-Louisiana "compete" in these leagues?
Well, I guess so. They did so, as I reckon things, up until about 1973 when what my
fellow Texan, Michael LIND, calls the Third American Republic, was inaugurated. For
some reason, LIND does not know either, we stopped competing as a nation using our
old-style federal system wherein Texas-Louisiana was OPEC, for instance, and the US
did not pay tribute to British or French client-states in the Persian Gulf and
Northern Africa. We just had seven frigates in the whole Navy back then, but we had
not paid tribute in Arabia or Africa since the 1790s. Now, our flotilla in the Gulf
is bigger than the entire Royal Navy, but we pay tribute to the sort of folk our
frigates used to handle well enough.
At some risk of sounding nutty-reactionary, but admittedly self-servingly, I
propose that the present matter in Washington might be followed up on along the
lines suggested by Professor Pollack by the Great State of
Texas-California-Massachusetts (San Jose-Boston-Houston-Sun-DEC-Compaq) with a
combination "standards forum" and "R&D consortium". If the educational and military
establishments in the three vestigial states would cooperate, today's "desktop"
piracy, slavery, and filibustering could be ended. To be sure, everything is all
cool and changed now, but what I propose has been done before by generations of
folks who we would consider "low-bandwidth" but who were smart enough to master
some heavier challenges than we are now making a big mess of.
Jordan Pollack wrote:
> Alan and Hans replied to my suggestion to nationalize
> the windows API as (essentially):
> >"sun and netscape arent problems; lets worry about microsoft first"
> My point is that a case against Microsoft needs to be drawn in the
> public interest, on historic principles which would apply to all,
> rather than as a fight for wealth among charismatic, cherubic, or
> geeky technology CEOs.
> I also think that a general piling on to Bill Gates as a paranoid
> world conquerer, a.k.o napolean or hitler, is the wrong approach. it is
> also a hard ball to get rolling now that MS advertises in all major
> media and can stop advertising in those who cover Nader's meeting.
> (For all we know, IE is the official browser for the democratic and
> republican parties, except in Utah!:)
> Finally, if MS perceives that laws are written just to punish it, it could
> easily buy a Berne Convention signatory island nation, which would
> welcome infinite returns. And the US immigration department has no way
> of evaluating source code for value to charge an export tariff.
> Professor Jordan B. Pollack DEMO Laboratory, Volen Center for Complex Systems
> Computer Science Dept, MS018 Phone (617) 736-2713/Lab x3366/Fax x2741
> Brandeis University website: http://www.demo.cs.brandeis.edu
> Waltham, MA 02254 email: firstname.lastname@example.org
fn: John Robert BEHRMAN
n: BEHRMAN;John Robert
org: TETRA ENGINEERING, Inc.
adr: 1436 West Gray, Nbr 298;;;HOUSTON;Texas;77019;USA
title: Chief Analyst
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