Re: Fear of Life (was Microsoft, Automation)

ChuckKuecker (
Wed, 6 May 1998 19:55:47 -0500 (CDT)

At 15:00 5/6/98 -0400, you wrote:
>>In the absence of any controls, how do you prevent a monopoly, given
>>somebody with the will to do it and no scruples?? A free market should be
>>free of government handouts and special favors, but should also be free of
>>coercion and use of force..
>Competition. If you're trying to jack up the prices in a nasty way, and
>I'm offering an equivalent good at the lower price, you'll fail; the
>consumers will all (freely) buy from me.

The point I was trying to make is that some folks will use the point of a
gun, or bombs, or intimidation, to put down competition. Any society must
have methods to deal with criminals.

If all players are reasonably honest, then in the free market there should
not be monopolies.

>Indeed, many economists believe that it's nearly IMPOSSIBLE to create a
>(non-natural) monopoly without government support. Once the monopoly tries
>to jack up the prices, it creates a window between the actual marginal cost
>of the product and the market price, a window which competitors can make a
>profit filling. So if you're really looking at someone to blame, look to
>the government, which has a history of corrupt corporate welfare. It's
>"good for American businesses." Heard that one before?

Amen. Uncle has much to answer for.

I have a side question - what about 'trade secrets'? If they are properly
guarded, the widget resulting is extremely difficult to reverse engineer.. I
would hope that this case is going to be rewarded by the inventor/maker
getting most of the market, as the competition's goods won't be of
comparable quality.

>You can't compare information to widgets; the transmission of information
>is a SERVICE, not the sales of goods. When I give you a backrub, I do you
>a service. I have not made a "backrub unit" and sold it to you. I have
>scratched your back, and you have paid me for it.

Perhaps I missed an initial post on this - I thought you were talking about
material goods, not products.

When it comes to paper, I have different feelings about patents.
Unfortunately, these feelings tend to be that copyright should cover plans,
software, etc, not patents. So we are still at odds, I fear..

(I LOATHE the idea of software patents, and NASA is a prime offender. See
any issue of NASA Tech Briefs..)
(and yes, I do quite a bit of programming..)

Chuck Kuecker