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Why Bill Gates Will Win

          I've removed the author's name from the communication below because
  it was sent to me privately--in response to my post, Why Bill Gates Will
  Win.  He takes me to task for not relating, in that post of mine, the other
  side, i.e., why Bill SHOULD win.
          Charles Mueller, Editor
  	In your unpacking of the debate, you consistently neglected one point of
  view:  namely, that it is _not within the purview of government_ to
  forcibly affect changes in production for the purpose of maximizing
  consumer welfare.
  	I don't suggest that this argument is legally germane to the Microsoft
  case, which is a dispute over the particulars of compliance to an
  agreement.  But.  If we're going to enter into the broader issues of
  antitrust action, surely it is relevant that reasonable persons have
  objected to the very idea of antitrust law.
  	The efficiency basis for anti-antitrust, while not the strongest possible
  foundation, is nevertheless plausible.  The anti-antitrusters declaim:  How
  can Janet Reno, the blundering anti-Holmes of the Whitewater investigation,
  she who has produced nothing but a bit of scorched earth in Texas, decide
  what direction the Byzantine software industry needs to go to benefit
  consumers?  If the government has such omniscience, why doesn't it produce
  the software itself?  Renosoft -- one shudders to think.
  	Related to the efficiency basis is the consumer choice basis.  How has
  Microsoft become a monopoly in the operating-system market (pray don't tell
  Apple)?  Was it born a colossus, throttling ever dollar from a captive
  market?  Except for government fiat, _the only road to market dominance is
  an enthusiastic market reaction_.  It is contradictory to say that
  Microsoft is a strategic monopoly (a company with a lock on something _it
  created_ that people now define as a _need_) and is, at the same time, the
  inept producer of a product hopelessly inferior to what the consumer
  	The prosecution of Microsoft not only ignores past consumer choice (the
  rush to switch from text-based DOS to GUI-enabled Windows), it also
  traduces current consumer choice.  How?  As someone active in the
  information technology industry, I can't tell you how many shops _insist_
  on being Microsoft-only.  These people choose technologically inferior
  Microsoft Outlook over Lotus Notes because _they want to minimize their
  risk_ of being stuck with an application no-one services two or three years
  hence.  To batter Microsoft until it is no longer able to offer consumers
  this security, all in the name of consumer choice, is surely to be guilty
  of a cruel irony.  
  	The third basis for anti-antitrust is partially prudential politics, but
  is primarily moral.  Prudentially, it will not do to give government the
  power to deligitamize voluntary transactions between free people.  The
  venders want Microsoft Windows without Internet Explorer, at an affordable
  price?  It is a legitimate want.  In a democracy, if people feel a
  physical, non-personal want is legitimate and is not serviced by the
  market, the mode of correction is subsidy.  It is not coercion.  We should
  mark it as a grave event when the want of a consumer becomes the
  government-enforced duty of a producer.
  	Shall we, by threat of jail or dispossession, force Bill Gates to make
  specific changes to his product?  Why not decree that he must unveil a new
  operating system every year (in Swahili, of course, to deteriorate his
  market position and "help the consumer")?  Shall we void, by means of the
  not-so-subtle gun ensconced in Reno's law, the agreement of one businessman
  or businesswoman to pay another a set price for specific services?  
  	Article XIII, Section 1 of the US Constitution states in no uncertain
  terms, "Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment
  for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist
  within the United States."  There is no exception to this prohibition on
  utilitarian grounds -- our need most emphatically does not create a claim
  on the work of others.  
  	Either we are all is possession of this inviolable right, or none of us
  	The foregoing is the anti-antitrust argument, as competently as I can lay
  it out.  It is, even it's advocates must admit, based on axioms which are
  not self-evident.  The moral basis is particularly prone.  If one believes
  that a citizen who has revolutionized the way we work and live is thereby
  bound by our need for his gifts, that he is thereby deprived of
  self-sovereignty over his work;  if men with guns are just in traducing the
  agreements of freely trading citizens, then there is no basis to believe
  that antitrust laws are immoral.  If the acclaim and trust of consumers are
  of little note, then there is no reason to believe that antitrust laws are
  patronizingly paternal.  If a woman who has never written a line of code
  can decide what the software industry needs, there is no reason to believe
  that antitrust laws promote inefficiency.
  	Hence, I readily admit that we are not compelled by logical certainty to
  the anti-antitrust position.  But perhaps, Charles, you would agree that
  these positions deserve a passing note in your expositions of American
  industrial policy.
  Just a passing thought...