Re: Common carriers Re: A letter to Joe

Robert S. Thau (
Mon, 18 May 1998 22:15:58 -0400 (EDT)

Jeff Bone writes:
> This whole thing pains me greatly, as I'm essentially a free marketer /
> libertarian at heart. The crux of the problem is that free market
> requires just that --- a free market --- and a market dominated by a
> single player is not free. Nonetheless, natural monopoly isn't
> necessarily a bad thing --- and make no mistake, Microsoft is
> *essentially* a monopoly --- but I do *not* believe that Microsoft is a
> natural monopoly. Rather its position or power has been gained through
> tying practices, exclusionary practices, and other actions that, if not
> illegal, are at least anticompetitive through leveraging parts of the
> Microsoft business to support other parts.

So, does this mean that you think that the companies inhabiting a
natural monopoly (e.g., arguably, some utilities) should not have
strong government oversight?

A lot of libertarians seem to have a blind spot in this general
vicinity... if you ask why they fear *government* power but not
*corporate* power, you get the strangest answers. For instance, one
fairly thoughtful libertarian of my acquaintance explained that
governments have guns and armies, and that that does not hold for any
private corporation. Of course, if that were actually true, the
history of the labor movement in the first half of this century (and
the last half of the 1800s) would be rather different from what it
actually was...