Microsoft’s Real Sin: Sanction of the Victim

by | Apr 3, 2000

Like other antitrust targets, Microsoft, is guilty–of something. They’re guilty of something terrible. They’re guilty of believing they’re guilty. They’re guilty of believing they’re evil. They’re guilty of apologizing for they’re success, for their sales, their profits, their contracts, their so-called “market shares.” They’re guilty of pledging to “share” their codes, patents and property, like […]

Like other antitrust targets, Microsoft, is guilty–of something. They’re guilty of something terrible. They’re guilty of believing they’re guilty.

They’re guilty of believing they’re evil. They’re guilty of apologizing for they’re success, for their sales, their profits, their contracts, their so-called “market shares.”

They’re guilty of pledging to “share” their codes, patents and property, like some child’s toys, with competitors who are the equivalent of neighborhood bullies.

They’re guilty of using philanthropy as absolution for unearned sins.

Each of these tactics has been deployed, with miserable practical results, by Microsoft and its predecessor victims. For no one believes a businessman who denies that, in fact, he selfishly wants to create, grow, prosper, profit, succeed, win–and to be left free to do these things. Unfortunately few businessmen realize that such aims represent the height of virtue.

They’ve accepted altruism as a moral ideal, unaware, or not willing to fully recognize, that self-sacrifice is incompatible with their freedom and happiness. Still, aside from this tragic appeasement, the victims of antitrust have not sinned–although they don’t know that. On the contrary, they’ve been sinned against.

When the creators and producers come to recognize that they live only by rational self-interest and that this is a moral ideal, they’ll begin to throw off their oppressors and live freely, as they’ve never lived before. They’ll stop signing consent decrees. They’ll stop appeasing their enemies. They’ll stand proud. Are they rare today? Yes. Do you need a vision of this? I recommend Ayn Rand’s great novel, Atlas Shrugged, within which you’ll read a courtroom speech by an industrialist under a siege similar to that of Gates. That’s the passion and moral certitude needed to launch a new revolution for liberty.


In closing, let us return briefly to the Deep South, to your stool at the bar–and the imminent lynching of a black man–because he’s black. What will you do? Will you join the mob and hasten the dirty deed? Or will you sit passively, with not a care in the world, as an indifferent, moral agnostic, crying “Who am I to judge?” Or will you care? Will you become incensed by the injustice and violence of it all? Will you alert the authorities–or at least expose their own corrupt assent to the crime? Will you exert courage and serve as a witness? Even if you take immediate action in this specific case, will you recognize the deeper principles involved? Will you realize that when one man’s liberty is assaulted–and worse, sanctioned by law, then all men are prone to assault by tyrants? Will you write essays, pamphlets and letters? Will you march or join a Civil Rights crusade to abolish the injustice permanently and for good? What will you do?

I speak now to those of you objecting to my drawing a parallel between the black man in the Deep South and Bill Gates in the Northwest. One’s poor and unknown, you might be thinking; the other is wealthy and well-known. One can’t seem to get a break in life; the other makes his breaks. One was born with his hated attribute; the other nurtured and developed it. One runs the risk of death–but no one’s trying to actually kill Bill Gates. Well, not yet at least. But there have been other villains and scapegoats–in other rights-violating nations in this century, that have been killed–or tortured, gassed, maimed, exiled. Some attempted lynchings in the Deep South did not lead to death–some victims escaped, albeit with deep neck scars and broken windpipes. Are you going to split hairs about the moral differences between lynchings and attempted lynchings? For what purpose, other than to preserve the “right” to lynch or maim whomever you please?

My parallel is between a black man being lynched because he’s black and a successful man being lynched because he’s successful. They are both injustices. But if there is a Hell of injustice, with rungs on a ladder going down, I’d say a lower rung should be reserved for the lynchers of Gates than those of the black man. Not because one’s rights are more important than the other’s. They both possess individual rights that are not to be violated. It’s certainly wrong to harbor prejudice, to discriminate against, segregate and persecute people on the basis of a non-essential human attribute, such as skin color. But more evil is to discriminate against, segregate and persecute people on the basis of an essential and life-promoting human attribute: intelligent, productive ability. Shackle or destroy this and you destroy the fruits of human civilization upon which all men depend.

Both kinds of lynchings to which I’ve referred tonight are made possible by ignorance, bigotry and hatred. Each is made possible only with the support–overt or silent–of the authorities: the police, the lawyers and judges–those whose purpose, in a free society, is to protect individual rights, not to violate them or help others to do so. The only “robber barons” among us, aside from common street criminals and firms like Netscape, reside in the Antitrust Departments, and nowhere else.

Let’s recognize antitrust for what it truly is: a thoroughly anti-American regime, an enemy within our own borders, a barbarian, not leering at us from outside the civilized gates, but careening around within, legally raping and pillaging creators like Gates. We must put an end to this legalized injustice and coercion. I appeal, not to the doubters that might still remain in tonight’s audience–those who can’t, or won’t recognize injustice and fight against it–but to those who do want to fight for justice and liberty. Forget the liberals and conservatives, the libertarians and the greens. They’re part of the problem, not it’s solution. Join me and others in a crusade for justice, to liberate business from the atrocities and lynchings of antitrust–and, I might add, from the more common regulations that shackle ability and enterprise. Help us in our crusade to abolish the antitrust laws and departments of this great and noble country. We are the abolitionists now. But we stand not merely against evil; more importantly, we stand for the good.

Also, help us to show our nation’s most able and productive leaders the way to a proper, moral self-defense, one free of guilt or apology, one full of certitude and pride–a moral and practical code–not the Sermon on the Mount or Earth Day chants, but a code of rational self-interest; a code worthy enough for the creators to state at their shareholders meetings, in their corporate mission statements and annual reports, in their boardrooms, in computer chat-rooms, in press releases and, if necessary, in our hallowed halls of justice.

If you choose to join us, you’ll be participating in the only rational, moral crusade worthy–and capable–of leading America and its great entrepreneurs into the 21st century–into a Century that can be more rational, more free, more just and more productive than the one we’ll soon be leaving behind. Evil and injustice have no independent power to survive, let alone to win–they win only when the good appease them. We have the right philosophy–and righteousness on our side. I think that’s a very good place to begin. And as for my talk tonight, I think this is a very good place for me to end.

Thank you very much.

Dr. Salsman is president of InterMarket Forecasting, Inc., an assistant professor of political economy at Duke University and a senior fellow at the American Institute for Economic Research. Previously he was an economist at Wainwright Economics, Inc. and a banker at the Bank of New York and Citibank. Dr. Salsman has authored three books: Breaking the Banks: Central Banking Problems and Free Banking Solutions (AIER, 1990), Gold and Liberty (AIER, 1995), and The Political Economy of Public Debt: Three Centuries of Theory and Evidence (Edward Elgar Publishing, 2017). In 2021 his fourth book – Where Have all the Capitalist Gone? – will be published by the American Institute for Economic Research. He is also author of a dozen chapters and scores of articles. His work has appeared in the Georgetown Journal of Law and Public Policy, Reason Papers, the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, Forbes, the Economist, the Financial Post, the Intellectual Activist, and The Objective Standard. Dr. Salsman earned his B.A. in economics from Bowdoin College (1981), his M.A. in economics from New York University (1988), and his Ph.D. in political economy from Duke University (2012). His personal website is

The views expressed above represent those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the editors and publishers of Capitalism Magazine. Capitalism Magazine sometimes publishes articles we disagree with because we think the article provides information, or a contrasting point of view, that may be of value to our readers.

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