Macro-Hypocrisy about Microsoft

Submitted to the Rocky Mountain News, November 8, 1999.


I hope I am not the only person to notice the hypocrisy so rampant in the November 5 federal court ruling against Microsoft. The ruling condemns Microsoft for many things which the government practices regularly.

U.S. District Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson wrote that, "Microsoft has demonstrated that it will use its prodigious market power ... to harm any firm that insists on pursuing initiatives that could intensify competition against one of Microsoft's core products," and that "some innovations that would truly benefit consumers never occur for the sole reason that they do not coincide with Microsoft's self-interest." Substitute the word “government” for “Microsoft” and the resulting accusations will be extremely truthful.

Consider attempts to compete with the postal service. UPS and Federal Express might deliver packages for you, but Uncle Sam has repeatedly stifled attempts to compete in the letter delivery business.

Consider the reaction of the public education establishment to vouchers, home schooling, or any other proposed alternatives. You do not absolutely have to send your kids to government schools. However, even if you home school, you still must support government schools with your tax dollars.

Consider the bias of the federal government toward conventional medicine and against alternative medicine. Thousands of people die each year from taking FDA-approved medicine. Thousands more die because they cannot legally obtain medicines they need (and which work wonderfully in other countries) because they are not approved by the FDA.

Consider transportation. How come we have never seen an initiative in this town that would allow more bus companies to operate? Can RTD not withstand competition?

Consider our “two-party” political system, which is more of a political caste system than anything else. The two privileged parties (i.e., the Brahmin parties) have set up a system in which any “third” (i.e., untouchable) party must invest enormous money and energy just to get on the ballot.

The list of governmental abuses goes on. Microsoft may sometimes be ruthless and heavy-handed in pursuing its objectives, but unlike the government, it has no gun at my head to buy its products, and no power to jail me for my refusal to do so. Microsoft’s computer innovations have done far more to benefit the American consumer than any government program possibly could. If anyone needs to get out of the monopoly business, and allow the consumer to benefit from its competitors’ innovations, it is government at all levels.

Freely Speaking: Speeches and Essays by Doug Newman

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