Re: what if microsoft disobeyed the breakup?

From: John Clark (
Date: Thu Jun 08 2000 - 07:37:13 MDT

Matt Gingell <> Wrote:

> The only reason corporations can't use violence is because there's
> someone bigger and nastier who won't let them.

Yes, government has a monopoly on violence and are abusing their dominant
position in that area beyond anything Microsoft could dream of.

>I think there are instances where regulation can improve the functioning of a market.

It might be helpful to have an all wise disinterested third party who regulated
computer software with a gentle hand, it might be helpful to have a perpetual
motion machine too but you're not going to find either one in the real world.
Scientific savvy is not a skill needed to get to the top in politics and petty civil
servants are never disinterested or gentle, they're always trying to expand their
little fiefdom to demonstrate how important they are, if they didn't have that sort
of personality they wouldn't have gotten into that line of work. So we were not
just unlucky, we'll always get somebody like Janet Reno running the show.

As for the Supreme Court who will make the final decision in the Microsoft case,
their engineering ignorance is legendary. They were the last government
department to get on the Web and I'll bet 5 out of 9 judges haven't touched a
keyboard, even a typewriter keyboard, in at least a decade and if prompted by a
screen to hit any key would start searching for the "any key". And yet these
technological illiterates will decide the direction computer science will move into as
we start the 21 century. The Free Market is not perfect (what is?) but it works
pretty damn well, don't mess with it.

John K Clark

 It does not
> logically follow that I think government ought to be deciding how many
> bars of soap get manufactured.
> > So, what do you do when a company you consider to be inferior comes to
> > dominate the market? Accusing them of evil anti-competitive practices misses
> > the point - companies would do the same kinds of things in a stateless
> > society, and in that case there would be no one to stop them. No, there are
> > really only two viable explanations: either free markets don't actually work
> > very well, or your personal evaluation of which companies ought to do well
> > is somehow flawed.
> Free markets work, in general, very well indeed - that doesn't mean
> there aren't situations when they don't. Who 'ought to do well' is a
> function of what you're trying to optimize.
> > Now, the interesting thing here is that our standard arguments for why
> > central control is bad predict that the second explanation will usually be
> > correct. In general, I can't reliably tell which product is best for you,
> > you can't predict which one is best for me, and neither of us can speak for
> > Tom, Dick or Harry. It should therefore not be surprising if the dominant
> > product in an industry isn't the one you like - all that means is that most
> > of the market has different needs than yours.
> Then government is optimal. Model the historical evolution of top-down
> control as a bottom-up market process and the aggregate result of billions of
> locally rational, self-interested decisions. If you don't think the best
> political/economic system won the market, you're just another mistaken expert
> trying to out-guess the emergent result.
> -matt

This archive was generated by hypermail 2b29 : Thu Jul 27 2000 - 14:12:52 MDT