Re: Common carriers Re: A letter to Joe

Gregory Alan Bolcer (
Tue, 19 May 1998 09:12:03 -0700

> Ah, a sane voice in the crowd! How refreshing, I thought we'd *all* (me
> included) lost it! Yeah, that's the thing that, if anything, keeps me
> from declaring myself to be a party-line libertarian. Antitrust in
> general is a real-world thorn in the side of academic libertarian
> theory. It's one thing to say, on the basis of abstract principles,
> that if a monopoly forms and eventually gobbles up a whole market, or
> even multiple markets, well hey --- that's the free market at work,
> c'est la vie. That's what most of the "academic" libertarians I know
> would say. It's another thing entirely to have to confront that
> situation in the real world. I *do not* believe that Microsoft is the
> Evil Empire and that our taxpayers need to fund some withchunt, but if
> there is the possibility of things becoming dangerously imbalanced
> through actions anticompetitive practices that are illegal, then dammit,
> yes, I support taking the issue to court. That's what the laws are for,
> that's what the court is for.

What I don't understand is why Microsoft hadn't spun off
their OS a long time ago. It's a common business practice
to maximize profits and potentials. Could it really be that
their operating system can't compete on its own?? A 90% market
share of the desktop OS market isn't enough to maintain

There's persecuting MS on a wild witch hunt for being a monopoly
and then there's sanctioning them for anticompetitive practices
which are unethical and dangerously close to illegal. All the
arguments I've seen don't mention any of the particulars of
the most important cases. 97% of the people who have blind faith in
Microsoft like to blur these two things. Anyways, it's like
Clinton and the economy (stupid), as long as the MS shareholders
keep making money, who cares about a little business ethics.


> 97% of the people whining about MS have one or more of the following

None of these apply to me. I not only must be in those
3% of stragglers, I must only hang out with 3%'rs also.
I think it's more 50%/50%.

>1) They are mad because not everybody loves Macs; [in spite of the fact
>that their software and hardware have been traditionally overpriced, now
>whose fault is that?]

Not me. One of the things I hated more than Windows 1.x-3.x was
the MacOS (no offense Ernie). I just couldn't see the attraction
and thought it sucked to high heaven. It was supposed to be
an end-user OS and not a developer's OS. Mac evangelistas were so
blind-sighted by their loyalty, they forgot to innovate for
11 years, no less. I actually thought MS did a really good thing
with Windows 95. It was a step in the right direction, although
again, still an end-users OS and not something I would want to
develop on, especially as a reasearch programmer, you will hit
the 3% of exceptional cases in both the tools and OS.

>2) They are mad because not everybody loves UNIX; [Face it, UNIX is
>for tecknickel folks, but will never catch on with the great unwashed

That's fine. The great unwashed masses don't have to
program on it. Besides, I don't love UNIX. It's far
from perfect too. I loved NeXT OS 0.7-3.1 and thought it was years
ahead of it's time. I do miss some of the games, but Roy
and I kicked eachother's asses for 2 hours yesterday on
Painkeep under Solaris. Why would someone be mad that
a non-techical person is not using UNIX?? If my dad used
it, I'd have to to support for him continually.

>3) They don't know shit about computers, but they HAVE heard of
>Microsoft.[Why?: because MS has been successful, geez they must be doing
>something wrong!, ref. Janet Reno]

I've been told I don't know shit about computers before, but
there's just so much to know and it was only because I couldn't
answer in a bar conversation how you would tweak the Windows 95
registry to swap out a motherboard while still having the same
Win95 installation work when it comes up on the new hardware. That's
one of the few things I liked about 3.1x was that you could swap
processors and motherboards out underneath it. Now you need
ghosting software to do it and not a bit dump. I do know a lot
about my own little pond though, and my relatives think I know
a lot about computers as they ask me so much about their hardware,
particularly around the holidaze.

>4) Bill Gates invokes good old-fashioned class envy. [A long time staple
>the left, class envy has become entrenched in our national mind set.]

I've followed BG for a long time now. He was one of my childhood
heroes. He was the first person who convinced me that you can be a
computer techie and also the head of your own company. When he became
a millonaire, he gave me hope that one day I could start my own company
and become one too. When he became a billionaire, he gave me hope that
information technology could really change the world. He commented
one time that there will never be another Microsoft, and instead a
good programmer could write an application for $500 a license for
10,000 license, you'd have a $5 million dollar company. I believe
this was '90 or '91. At that point, I thought to myself, what a
freakin' idiot. Doesn't he understand the potential of what he's
doing?? Maybe he did and he just didn't want the next generation
to think *too* big, just in case the next BG was to come along.
Class envy? No.

Not that this applies to Microsoft or Gates, but do you know
the word? Obtaining of power through legitimate means
and then denying others these very same means in order to
preserve this power. There's a very commonly used word
in politics and a very famous quote on the subject.

>5) They forget the fact that nobody Forces anyone to buy anything. [ You
>are confusing the concept known as a free-market with the fact that MS
>no threatening competition at the moment. People buy MS products because
>they get the job done at a reasonable price.]

People buy MS applications because they get the job done
and are very reasonably priced. Do you really think they
care what runs underneath them? Don't you think non-techical
end users would be better off if they didn't have to solve so
many technical problems and spend so much
time supporting their systems?? Tell me please, which *parts*
have no threatening competition and I will tell you which parts
should be spunoff.