Microsoft vs. the Government Monopoly
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Excerpted from Howard Phillips Issues & Strategy Bulletin of June 15, 1998
ARE NOT POLITICAL CONCENTRATIONS OF POWER MORE DANGEROUS THAN PRIVATE POWER CENTERS?
Joe Sobran observes in The Wanderer (5/28/98, p. 5) that "The federal government wants to protect us from Bill Gates. The Justice Department is bringing an antitrust action against Microsoft for including Internet-browsing software in all copies of Windows 98. A federal appeals court has ruled in favor of Microsoft on a narrow point, but that will merely delay rather than halt the government's prosecution of the software giant.
The action is based on the contention that the inclusion would give Microsoft too great a competitive advantage over its less successful rivals....I must be stupid. I've never understood why concentrations of private property are more dangerous than concentrations of coercive power.
"I went to government schools where I was constantly told about the evils of 19th-century robber barons who sought monopolies, while I was taught that 20th-century governments which had slaughtered tens of millions of people would protect people like me. Of course there were distinctions between good and bad governments. The Hitler government was bad; the Roosevelt government was good. (The Stalin government was at first thought to be good, by an innocent mistake on the part of our government, but later turned out to be bad.)"
UNCLE SAM HAS NO COMPETITION
"If what Gates owns is a monopoly, even though he has countless competitors, why is the federal government, which has steadily eliminated its own competition, not a monopoly?"
PAYMENTS TO MICROSOFT ARE VOLUNTARY
"Personally, I don't feel threatened by Gates. He can't take a penny of my earnings if I don't want him to have it. I don't have to work for him for the first four months of the year. He can't put me in prison for refusing to pay him or for disobeying his orders. He can't break into my house and search for drugs. He can't send my sons to war. He hasn't incinerated any religious sects, and none of his agents has shot a mother in the head while she was holding her baby. He doesn't even seem interested in doing any of these things...."
WHY SHOULDN'T MICROSOFT SET THE TERMS FOR ITS OWN PRODUCTS?
"All in all, Gates has been leaving me alone. He is a lot better at leaving me alone than the federal government is, so I really can't take it as an injustice or a threat that he wants to be free to stipulate the conditions under which I can buy his products. I want the same freedom for myself.
"As you may have observed, the sort of people who are always warning us against business monopolies never worry about monopolies of government power. Just the opposite: They think government monopolies are the cure for all evils."
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