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Letter to Reno
I'm impressed by the savvy strategy of Marvin Slayton (below)--a
letter to the U.S. Attorney General, Janet Reno, with a copy to Ralph
Nader's operative in charge of his Microsoft Conference on Thursday and
Friday. It's so sensible we should all have thought of it instanter. You
can rest assured that Bill Gates' lawyers will comb through the archives of
this list, codify every criticism, computerize and classify every scrap and
tidbit of information you've contributed. But will the Justice lawyers do
the same? Hardly. As bureaucrats with no real commitment to the antitrust
goal of a level playing field in the economic world, they'll do the 9-to-5
minimum and avoid anything so tedious as poring through all of our hundreds
of posts looking for critical leads and insights.
Marvin has shown us how to make sure that this lawyerly lethargy at
doesn't doom our individual or our collective effort. Why can't each of us
write such a letter to Reno? Why can't we all write a letter to her that
sums up our sense of the facts involved in Microsoft's monopoly, our
appraisal of its costs, and our concerns as to what it means for the future
of the industry and the country? We've had quite a bit to say in our
postings here. Why can't we, at a minimum, write her a note with an
attachment--the attachment being what we consider the 2 or 3 or more of our
best posts to this list?
You bet she'll read them. And, bureaucracy being what it is, she'll
pass them down to Joel Klein and his 300 lawyers and economists in the
Antitrust Division with a note suggesting rather strongly that they, too,
The last time I checked, this list had only 270 members. A dozen
good letters could have a profound effect at Justice. Those of us who are
old and battle-scarred veterans of the Washington political wars know what
it's like to be called into the boss' office and read an especially good
letter from an informed citizen. If the word should go out from our 270 to
the many thousands of savvy computer professionals who're concerned with the
Gates monopolization of their industry, the letters on Reno's desk could be
measured by the foot--and the Clinton administration would suddenly develop
a deep appreciation for the merits of a tough antimonopoly policy.
As my own contribution here, my journal, the Antitrust Law &
Economics Review (below), will review for publication all such letters to Reno.
In the last analysis, the computer/software industry will get the
competition/ monopoly policy that it demands. Sit quiet and Bill wins.
Write to Reno--and enlist the support of your colleagues--and you win.
Charles Mueller, Editor
ANTITRUST LAW & ECONOMICS REVIEW
At 12:00 PM 11/11/97 -0500, you wrote:
>This a copy of an e-mail I had sent James Love earlier today.
>From: Marvin C. Slayton <email@example.com>
>To: firstname.lastname@example.org <email@example.com>
>Date: Tuesday, November 11, 1997 9:40 AM
>Subject: I'm behind you all the way.
>>I'm the president of a small software company (35 people, $5mm sales)
>>located in Connecticut. We've been in business since 1977, and have seen
>>rise and fall of some industry titans (IBM, WANG, DEC, Cullinet, Software
>>International, McCormick & Dodge, etc.). I believe we are NOT in the middle
>>of one of these "history-repeats-itself" business cycles. Bill Gates
>>history passionately. He for one, will not let this happen. We
>>unfortunately, are at his mercy, in no small degree now, and to an ever
>>increasing and alarming degree in the not-so-distant future. Attached is a
>>copy of my letter to our Atty. General. I add my support to your efforts
>>regarding this matter.
>>Attorney General Janet Reno,
>>I personally applaud and support your recent actions against Microsoft.
>>been in the computer industry for 27 years and spent considerable time
>>during my college years studying monopolies as part of my course work for
>>degree. Although we're in the information age rather than the steel,
>>automotive, and transportation era, the issues are the same and the wolf
>>just as black.
>>We can not let the invisible nature of software lead us to belittle its
>>importance. Netscape, Sun (as well as others) are trying to break out from
>>under the tyranny of a monopolistic giant who is casting a shadow of
>>across an entire segment of our economy. As the current line of thinking
>>goes-- information is power, computers provide information, Intel makes
>>computers, Microsoft makes them work, therefore....
>>Microsoft controls information, which is an absolutely critical element of
>>our country's success on into the new millennium. If we do not engage this
>>enemy now, then its like watching the Nazi push across Europe, gaining
>>strength, resources, and appetite (as well as arrogance) as they went. We
>>must fight these oppressive tendencies NOW, stop them in their tracks, and
>>force them to play fair.
>>The heart of the current issue is very simple. The Internet browser is not,
>>nor need to be, nor does it significantly benefit from being part of an
>>operating system. Microsoft is using its huge monopolistic advantage to;
>>a) destroy the competition, by "giving" IE 3.0/4.0 away for "free" and then
>>by integrating it into the Windows OS to circumvent the prior DOJ orders,
>>force their OEMs to distribute it.
>>b) by using IE as a loss leader (it has cost them millions to build but
>>costs us nothing) it can squash Netscape's efforts to promote their
>>Navigator. This is a blatant abuse of power and market position.
>>If there is anything I can do to lend assistance to your efforts please
>>me the opportunity.
>>Keep up the good work,
>>Marvin C. Slayton, mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org
>>Structured Computer Systems, Inc., http://www.scsinfo.com
>>30 Tower Lane, Avon, CT 06001
>>phone: 860.677.0222, fax: 860.677.7157