Monopolies (Was: Re Why Microsoft is a Threat...)

Arjen Kamphuis (
Thu, 6 Nov 1997 19:57:55 +0100

Anton Sherwood <> wrote"
>Arjen Kamphuis asks

...Many things, some out of lack of knowledge and information. Which why
I'm on this list. Some to make other rethink their worldviews (don't know
if I'm succeeding at all ;-).

>: 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?

Very possible, but even then they've slowed any competition down
considerably, bought themselves 17 more fat years (and they are fat).

>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.

That's not my experience.
Because why are so many European governements privatising things like
railroads and telecom then? Giving away control over transport &
communication to 'the market'? Not the thing power-hungry 'terrocrats' (one
of the strangest - and paranoid - terms I've learned on this list) would do.

>I prefer the minor inconveniences of
>market solutions, to the side-effects of superseding the market.

maybe we have different ideas about what a 'minor inconvienence' is, or
what effects could emerge by _not_ superseding the market every now and
then (see below).

>: 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.

Maybe I've misunderstood but AFAIKT all market mechanisms basically are
driven by the desire of sufficient induvidual consumers to pay for a
distinct product or service (but sorrect me if I'm wrong, I'm not an

The system of governement can be used _alongside_ market allocation-systems
to provide soloutions to large-scale problems that no commercial company
could solve (and that maybe a lot of consumers would, initially, not want
to pay for)

>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.

Keeping the USSR not going in '42 was not really an option, just letting
the Germans have all those resources that they controlled in the Ukraine
(lot's of coalmines and such) would have made things a lot tougher on the
west front.

I don't know about the grain, over here agriculture is heavely subsidized
and I don't agree with that at all. Why subsidize producing a product that
nobody wants (aparently) and that causes as lot of pollution on the side
(The NOx output of the Dutch cattle is greater than that of the the Dutch

>(How do you spell Brezhnev in Dutch?)

The same: Brezhnev (or maybe Breznjev), but senile dinosaur also works ;-)

>: 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.

Ah, but the world is larger that the US (Really!). I for one sure am glad
the US-gov was guarding 'our' side of the Berlin wall because without
US-aid Europe could very well have been overrun by the USSR. So thanks,
remind me to buy you drinks if/when we meet ;-)

And altough the foreign policy of the US this century has some nasty
aspects, it's lovely compared to the things Stalin would have done if given
a chance. Don't think he would have stopped his tanks once he had western
Europe, Britain & France made that mistake in the 30's, allowing a little
annexation to satisfy a little dictator. Things quickly got out of control,
and Uncle whiskers had to clean-up the mess.

Of course it is a US-interest to keep as much of the world more or less
capitalistic, you make products, you need customers to buy 'em.

>: 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?

If the US had not fought the Cold war (and WW-II) many more people would
have died. There was no alternative, you can't coexist with the likes of
Stalin and the German guy. You win the war or you get dead/annexated
(almost as bad).

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

Historically research (especially applied-technical) is always done faster,
and on larger scale, with larger budgets during a war or threat of a war.
The spinoff of this research pays for it almost always (Aluminium alloys,
Teflon, Internet) after such a war (this doesn't make war a less terrible
thing, I'd like to see the same resources going into space-exploration now
as during the sixties but this seems hard to sell to the general public).

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

The Cold War is relevant in the argument that certain problems cannot be
solved by consumer demand, because of their scale and complexity. This
discussion is relevant to MS to the extend that I do not believe that
monopolies will dissapear in a anarcho-capitalistic society (contrary to
Daniel and others ;-).

But maybe I still do not fully understand anarchocapitalism. In such a
society, without a state of any sort, who makes and upholds law's? or is it
every person for him/herself?

How do you go from the present situation to such a system?

Are these questions explained in a practical manner in any of the books on
the Extropian Reading list? (no I haven't read them all, still busy)

Thanx for the info.


Arjen Kamphuis | Learn as if you will live forever. | Live as though you will die tomorrow.