ISSUES IN FOCUS
Week of March 15, 1999
IT’S THE PRINCIPLE, STUPID!
Regular readers may be tired of my comments about Microsoft and the antitrust issue, since, directly or indirectly, these matters have been the subjects of recent commentary by me. However, a recent development has made it imperative for me, once again, to speak out about—and, this time, against—Microsoft.
I am not here to praise Microsoft, but to condemn it and to do so with a contempt so fulsome that my words will likely never adequately express my utter disdain for Microsoft.
The Microsoft haters were right all along, but for all of the wrong reasons. Most of the Microsoft haters have hated the company for its achievement and success. I now hate Microsoft for its stupidity and for the fact that they have now made it harder for all of us to defend our right to life, property and liberty. I cannot condemn them for a betrayal of principles, since they never had any principles to betray.
I stand by every word I have written, in the past, about Microsoft, the victim (except for what I imagined Bill Gates thought). But now, I must express my gut-wrenching disgust with the reprehensible action of a fallen hero, a company that was once a giant of achievement that has now morphed into a moral midget. The victim has now become the victimizer. The persecuted has now become the persecutor.
In one of the most sickening, and self-destructive, developments in recent years, Microsoft has now joined the statist country club. According to a March 10, 1999, New York Times’ report, Microsoft will join with others in filing, by the end of the month, an antitrust complaint against the nation’s airlines. It has become one of the boys—the boys who seek to use the force of government to achieve what they cannot achieve in free competition.
And get this: the complaint will be addressed to Joel Klein, head of the Justice Department’s antitrust division, the very statist who has spearheaded the antitrust assault against Microsoft! Joel Klein must surely be chuckling and must be reassured in the knowledge that Microsoft will never challenge his basic premises.
This action has to go down as one of the dumbest actions by anyone in living memory. How can Microsoft possibly defend, with any credibility, itself against statist parasites when they are engaging in the same activity? They can’t. Microsoft is now whining that Expedia, its online travel agency, is the victim of airlines that are supposedly restricting choice—the very charge being leveled against them by such parasites as Netscape.
The hypocrisy of all of this is so mind-boggling that it is almost incomprehensible how anyone at Microsoft could be so dim-witted. When asked about the "apparent" contradiction of their actions, a Microsoft spokesman was reduced to Clintonesque doubletalk and evasions—a disingenuous technique that will earn them deserving contempt from any honest person.
Anyone with an ounce of intelligence will see through this inconsistency and Microsoft’s defense against its own antitrust allegations will likely disintegrate. They appear to be losing the case against them, but now they have probably sealed their own fate by sanctioning the very action brought against them. The company will likely be dismantled and it will be the result of, and there is no other word for it, stupidity. And they will be undone for failing to understand the following: it’s the principle, stupid!
If there was ever a textbook case of the failure to think in principles, this is it.
I have speculated about what Bill Gates thinks. I was wrong. He doesn’t think antitrust laws are wrong. He embraces them. I foolishly thought better of him. I foolishly thought he perhaps thought his life, property and money were his. I was wrong. This was just a dream on my part, and I said as much, but I really hoped he believed his property was his own. Microsoft is a giant of achievement in the world of business, but a pygmy in the realm of ideas—philosophic ideas. Their failure in the latter will cost them their success in the former.
Microsoft doesn’t object, in principle, to the very concept of antitrust laws. They just don’t want them used against them, but wish to be able to use such laws against others.
One of the reasons statists are, for the moment, winning the battle is that they do understand the importance of principles. They fight to establish precedents that will advance their ultimate goal. As long as statists’ victims refuse to challenge statism’s fundamental principles, these victims will continue to be relegated to fighting a losing, rear-guard battle. As they stumble in retreat from the moral high ground they never had the sense to occupy, they will cede more freedom with each step back. Such witless quarries will continue to lose until they finally plant a flag in the ground, take a stand on principle, and declare that their life, money and property are theirs.
March 14, 1999
© Copyright 1999 Fulton Huxtable