Re: POL: Reaction to Microsoft Ruling

From: Michael S. Lorrey (
Date: Tue Apr 11 2000 - 20:04:09 MDT

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.
> 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.

> 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....

> 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."

> Business has no
> such restrictions - it's only charter is to maximize it's stock
> holders value and the only constraints on how it does that are those
> imposed by power from above. Without federal power to protect them,
> the principles of our democracy are bullshit.

Bullshit yourself. The principles of our democracy have gotten run over
roughshod by the federal government for the last 3/4 century.

> 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.

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