Re: Why Microsoft is a Threat to Freedom

Anton Sherwood (
Wed, 5 Nov 1997 19:30:09 -0800 (PST)

Arjen Kamphuis asks
: How about the diamond monopoly that DeBeers company has, they own more
: than 95% of all the diamond mines in the world and are working hard to
: buy those that remain, they have been dictating prices for a century or
: so now. [...]

DeBeers has political friends. Like Bill Clinton, who (I've heard)
put an Arkansas diamond mine out of business (by making it a park,
or some such trick).

The Aluminum Company of America *did* apparently have a genuine monopoly --
which it kept by keeping the price of aluminum *down*.

: It is well known that Shell (Royal Dutch Oil) frequently buys patents
: for solarenergy and hydrogen fuelcells and puts them in a vault.

Are any of these patents more than 17 years old?

: Daniel, with all due respect, why do you have such an unshakeble faith
: in the free market mechanism as the best, only and ultimate resource
: allocator? Isn't it a bit dogmatic? While free market is probably the
: best system in many cases it is _far_ from perfect and in some situations
: other mechanisms can complement it. There's nothing wrong with
: aknowledging that some things can't and won't be solved by market forces.

Experience suggests that if an agency is empowered to override
the choices of the marketplace, it will go far beyond "solving
the problems that the market cannot solve" and extend its power
as far as it can reach. I prefer the minor inconveniences of
market solutions, to the side-effects of superseding the market.

: The idea that there is a single method/solution/answer to all problems
: is (IHMO) denying the complexity of some of those problems.

The idea that the market represents "a single solution" is denying
the very natures of market and government! The market is many methods
running in parallel; government is ONE answer imposed by force in place
of all possible others.

: How much would people have been willing to pay to win the cold war?

How much would people have been willing to pay to save Stalin in 1942?
How much did we pay to subsidize grain sales to Brezhnev?
Both interventions kept the USSR alive longer than it deserved.

America could have just stood back and let the USSR learn
what Britain and France already learned: empires are expensive.

(How do you spell Brezhnev in Dutch?)

: I don't think the zillion dollars it cost. But it was money well spent
: considering the alternative

For whom? America was never in any serious danger of conquest, only of
destruction - and that was brought on by its own imperial foreign policy.

: and, in retrospect, maybe even a good investment with the
: technology spinn-off and the Chinese market opening up and such...

How many war-dead is a spinoff worth?

What research never happened, because the money to do it
was taxed away to spend on war?

How the Cold War is relevant to Microsoft, I'm sure I don't know.

Anton Sherwood *\\* +1 415 267 0685 *\\*