Forget the Lindbergh Kidnapping. The Crime of the Century is Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson’s Finding of “Fact” against Microsoft.
The 207 page condemnation of Microsoft as a “monopoly” that “hurts consumers,” is one of the most egregious violations of individual rights and liberty ever committed. Moreover, it symbolizes this century’s persecution of American businessmen, not for their crimes, but for their virtues.
The government has harangued Microsoft since 1990. At that time, most of us could not afford personal computers, nor were they particularly versatile for the individual user. Microsoft’s expertise, ambition and business strategies brought computers into our lives with remarkable speed. Avoiding the flaws and narrower visions of IBM and Apple in the 80s, Microsoft’s business practices spread a new and valuable tool across the globe, making all kinds of work more productive and more efficient.
The rapid growth in computer use, including the subsequent development of the Internet, created an array of new businesses that are a major factor in our nation’s–not to mention the world’s–economic growth. The value of our mutual funds, investments and retirement portfolios depends heavily on the high-tech markets that would not exist were it not for the expanded computer usage that Microsoft has made possible.
Is this a company that has hurt the consumer?
Yet, for the “crime” of making flexible, useful and valuable technology available, Microsoft now waits under a Sword of Damocles wielded by the malignant atavist presiding over the case.
Microsoft’s power is not like the government’s; it cannot exclude competitors from a market. Microsoft’s power, and its success, derives from its capacity to offer us values. That it has a 90% market share in operating systems is due to its good products and service, and the fact that people choose to use them. Do you see any competition for the Post Office? To what does the Post Office owe its 100% control of the mail? Do you stand for hours in Post Offices because the service is good? Microsoft flourishes because it constantly improves its products and lowers its prices–regularly offering us more for less. When was the last time the Post Office offered an upgrade in service or a lower price?
Microsoft is not and can not be a monopoly; it does not have the power of the government behind it. Yet it is being attacked by people who could not keep up with it, second-raters who–unable to match Bill Gates’ vision, ambition and ability–have run whining to the government to help them beat up on the most successful and beneficent businessman of our time. (The vicious irony is that their efforts to trample Microsoft–to “level the playing field” and “open it up for competition,”–will stifle the innovation and competition that are the lifeblood of the computer industry, ultimately strangling their own enterprises. Worse, it establishes the principle of government intervention in the previously liberated computer industry–and that is what creates monopolies.) This case, regrettably, is the hallmark of the 20th Century. Standard Oil, ALCOA, General Electric, DuPont , IBM, and AT&T have all been victimized because they offered us more values than anyone else. In this decade alone, Wal-Mart, American Airlines, Staples, Intel, Visa & Mastercard all suffered because they produced more efficiently than their competitors.
The Christian parallel is inescapable. Christianity required that its moral ideal be nailed to the cross, sacrificed in the name of the unworthy. So, too, in our century, the best and brightest of our times are crucified. Microsoft is the biggest victim of all, and if this is what our century is to be remembered for, then God have mercy on us all.