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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: pollack@cs.brandeis.edu
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