Re: POL: Reaction to Microsoft Ruling

From: Ross A. Finlayson (
Date: Tue Apr 11 2000 - 22:24:18 MDT

Michael S. Lorrey wrote:

> Matt Gingell wrote:
> >
> > > People who live in liberal democracies tend to forget about the violent
> > > basis of government power, because it is usually hidden beneath a veil of
> > > civility and bland legalisms. But that doesn't mean it isn't there.
> > > Democratic governments kill their citizens all the time (just ask a drug
> > > dealer). Usually they direct their violence against 'criminals', which is
> > > what makes them better than police states - but you have to remember that
> > > the government gets to define who is and is not a 'criminal', and the only
> > > real limit to what it can do is the willingness of the general public to
> > > acquiesce.
> >
> > All real power is based in force or the threat of force,
> No, it isn't. Those who try to ignore the objective reality of natural
> law have to use force to fight against that objective reality.
> > and all I
> > think you're pointing out here is that we've granted a monopoly on
> > physical coercion to our elected government. That's treacherous, of
> > course, like any concentration of power, but in the end I don't see
> > what the other options would be.
> Some of the most peaceful and prosperous countries are those with little
> professional military, and highly distributed and decentralized power
> structures, where the average citizen posesses the ability to bring a
> significant amount of force to bear if needed. Switzerland, for example,
> and the US (parts that don't have gun control) and New Zealand to lesser
> degrees. Centralized power structures benefit nobody but themselves and
> their further pepetuation and growth. There are always options.
> > I like the idea of collaborative
> > anarchy - it would be great if we were all equals and we could mediate
> > all our differences from bargaining positions of equal strength, but I
> > don't believe it works. No one stays equal - you get kings,
> > syndicates, warring city states - you get power which is unaccountable
> > to the people living under it. And that power preserves and
> > strengthens itself and wipes out threats to it's survival.
> So as I've said, people who think like you buy the precept of "People
> are no damn good and need to be kept penned up for their 'own good'."
> > While we
> > differ over whether it's been excessive, I'm sure you'd agree
> > Microsoft has been a vicious competitor. I shudder to think what the
> > world would be like if they and institutions like them could raise
> > private armies to wage wars against competitors, strike contracts
> > with private police agencies to search your home for pirated software,
> > conduct tariff negotiations via cruise missile, etc. This is obviously
> > a bit hyperbolic, but it at least evokes my vision of the nation without
> > some ultimate, constitutionally restrained, publicly elected and
> > publicly accountable authority. But maybe I'm cynical or got beat up
> > one to many times in high-school.
> >

Many would have been killed.

> > I certainly don't think our government is perfect - drug laws, as you
> > mentioned, are a great example. I'm writing from New York State where
> > we live under the Rockerfeller Laws - extraordinarily harsh, mandatory
> > sentences for trivial drug offenses, deliberately designed to get
> > guilty pleas and bypass the pesky impediments to justice posed by the
> > right to trial and the presumption of innocence.
> You don't understand your own system. Your system is structured to
> maximize the possible bribes that dumb middle class and wealthy people
> have to pay to cops, prosecutors, and mayors in order to get off or get
> light sentences when they break the law. Since there are SO many laws in
> NY, the average person can easily be found to be in violation of any
> number of laws without knowing it, and that makes the average person on
> the street and easy victim for a police shakedown.

I think the goverment feels more comfortable when they have something on the
citizen that they might call into question. I read that somewhere.

It is certain that the citizens have many aspects of their government to call into

> > And I'm fairly irked
> > by paying $5 for a $1 pack of cigarettes because our leaders, in their
> > great and abiding wisdom, have decided smoking is bad for me and I
> > ought to be dissuaded or punished for a character flaw.
> You aren't being punished, you are paying for the 'cost to society' that
> your bad habit imposes, both environmentally and on the social welfare
> health care system, don't you KNOW that??? C'mon, you're a loyal New
> Yorker, thats why you people are suing gun manufacturers too....

I disagree with that, payment for cigarettes goes to the cigarette manufacturers.
In recent years, some of the cigarette manufacturers have been sued because of the
societal cost. Now they are being sued for the damages that have been incurred
against smokers by selling them a highly addictive product with harmful
additives. Cough cough. Also, a package of cigarettes doesn't cost a dollar, it
costs about a quarter.

How come the price of a barrel of gas is the same as it was when the price for a
gallon at the pump was much lower? Someone is making a lot of money off of

> > In the end
> > though - our government is, at least in principle, bound by the
> > constitution and accountability to the electorate.
> What is supposed to be and what is are completely different. "It depends
> on what the meaning of 'is' is."

It is is is is, not is not.

> > Private interests have
> > no obligation to observe them. Of course I have reservations, but
> > we've had 200 hundred years of smooth transition of power, relative
> > freedom and reasonable domestic tranquility.
> >
> > I object to the us-versus-them character that discussion of government
> > has in so many of these debates. Government is us - it's elected by us
> > and made up of us - it's not some alien force, some evil monster out
> > to crush all that's good and free in the world. I have faith that most
> > people in government are just like you and me, and most of them
> > believe in what they're doing and honesty feel they're doing what's
> > right - even when I disagree with them.
> Government is not US, its 50.00000001% of us crushing everyone else.
> Thats the central fallacy of democracy. It doesn't represent everyone,
> just those who voted for whoever is in power.

No, it's actually a much smaller percentage. The people who call the shots don't
necessarily represent the majority. That is why the framers rightly mandated at
least some modicum of accountability.

The key here is that the government irritates different sectors for different
unrelated things, so that none feel sweeping contempt for all of government, yet
each bridles against injustice only to the extent where they will still pay their
taxes and/or not start grassroots movement against government.

So, the key here is for each citizen to be educated and to have a reliable source
of news on the government, and to be able for each as they would to have their
weighted opinion made known to their representatives in voting government, ie,
representation for their state of being a citizen, that is to say, one man (that
is to say, one voting age citizen), one vote.

Government is government, it happens to be a large institutional bureaucracy that
makes money by law and having the perceived power to enforce that.

Well, I write some more about drug policy as that was noted, although the only
thing Microsoft has to do with drugs is that they like to appear high and have

I find some resources for this for my drug policy essay.

As the FBI Uniform Crime Report for 1998 notes:

"The offense that resulted in the most arrests of persons
under age 18 was larceny-theft, while adults were most
often arrested for drug abuse violations. (See Table 38.)"

So decriminalizing drugs would free up the majority of those kind of situations,
if you get my drift.

Basically what I have been finding is that the current drug policy is racist and
that it is more expensive than any costs it gains, thus the current drug policy
leads to a waste of taxpayer money. Also, it leads to perhaps among the largest
of export deficits, dissing the cigarette people who sell tobacco to everybody.

So, decriminalizing drugs would save taxpayer money and be a strike against
institutionalized racism. Saving money and fighting racism are both good goals
which would be served by drug decriminalization. Fighting immoderate drug abuse
is a separate goal that is not well served by the drug war. Also, it would
essentially remove the gray market monopolies of these goods, which would be good
for capitalism.

Anyways, I must save some of this rhetoric for my drug policy essay so I will not
write about drug policy reform specifically for a while, but maybe I will write
about reform of other parts of government.

About a ruling of a court that there has been monopolistic practices, I guess that
is the judgment of the court.


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