Microsoft Hatred FAQ

Terry Hancock hancock at
Fri Oct 28 01:18:29 CEST 2005

Okay, I admit I'm wasting time answering this stupid thread, but
what the hey, what's usenet without a flame war now and then. ;-)

Into the fray ...

On Thursday 27 October 2005 05:17 pm, David Schwartz wrote:
>     No. I have never received a dime from Microsoft, either directly or 
> indirectly. I am one of those people who believes that conduct that's 
> perfectly legal, moral and ethical before you can be said to have a monopoly 
> does not suddenly become immoral or unethical the day you acquire 51% of 
> what someone calls a market. I am not the only person with this view.

Yeah, and if you thought the world was flat or only 6000 years
old, you wouldn't be the only person with that view either. You'd
still be wrong. ;-)

This is an example of an established legal principle. Consider:

   If someone gets into a fight and someone gets injured, the court's
   determination will be entirely different depending on whether the
   person is untrained or has a blackbelt or other martial arts training.

   In the same vein, the exact same behavior will get very different
   treatment depending on whether there was "no harm done" or if
   one of the participants in the brawl died.

The *effect* of a monopolist's anti-competitive actions ARE a consideration
under law. We permit behavior from people who do not have effective control
of a marketplace that we do NOT permit from those who do.

We are not a "winner take all society".

You are perfectly free to dislike this fact about the American economy,
and you are welcome to move to some other country where they love
monopolism, anarchism, and corporate hegemony.  Except I think
America is the closest you're going to get to that, actually.
Tough luck there.

Meanwhile, the majority of people in this country are of
the opinion that this is a reasonable degree of economic
moderation.  So, get used to it.

Besides, no one ever argued that anti-competitive behavior
was ethically or morally acceptable even when it *is* legal.
You are the only one I've seen make that claim.  We only
assert however, that such behavior is *illegal* when the
perpetrator has monopoly power over the marketplace. This
is reasonable, because we may rely on market forces to
remove non-monopolists who try these tactics. The anti-trust
laws are there to protect us from a *failure* of the market
economy, which is what a monopoly is. Whether it is legal or
illegal is irrelevant -- capitalism has *failed* when a single
competitor beats all other competition and controls the marketplace,
because the market is then no longer free. We can respond either
through anti-trust laws, in an attempt to restore a capitalist
free market; or we can nationalize the company and put it under
taxpayer control (the latter solution is more popular in Europe,
but as a proponent of capitalism myself, I prefer the anti-trust
solution).  Its nonsensical to talk about free market rules in
a monopoly situation, because in that situation there IS NO
free market -- only a market controlled by the monopolist. Just
because the monopolist isn't a government doesn't make it any
better than a communist centrally controlled economy. Except
of course, that at *least* a government monopoly has a basis
*in principle* for serving the needs of society, which you
quite rightly argue that a corporation needn't have.

It might be nice to live in a fantasy dreamworld where
capitalism never fails, but the reality is that without
controlled boundary conditions, market failure is pretty
much inevitable.  That's why governments set boundary
conditions on the marketplace through legal regulation.

Too much regulation chokes the economy and makes massive
inefficiencies, but too little is just as bad.

Capitalist free markets *work* because it is an (interesting
and non-intuitive) fact that *many selfish people* are
collectively more efficient and fair that *one representative
power*. But *one selfish power* is far worse than either --
and that's what we call a "monopoly".

You are *somewhat* justified to question the choice of
market segmentation that makes Microsoft a monopoly, except
that 1) it IS a natural division in terms of customers, outlets,
advertising channels, and distribution, 2) it IS the way Microsoft
itself divides its services, 3) judged by people affected instead
of dollars exchanged, it would still be a monopoly overall even
if you included servers and other types of computers, and
4) hairsplitting or not it was that courts job to determine that
division, and they have ruled (end of story).  You may feel that
that was a discretionary decision, but it remains a fact that it
WAS at their discretion, not yours.

I don't really expect you to absorb this information, because
you are so obviously opposed to facing this reality, but
I also think it's dangerous to let extremists go unchallenged,
lest they be believed to lack opposition.


Terry Hancock ( hancock at )
Anansi Spaceworks

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