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[P]
Microsoft - Undeserving of Libertarian Praise

By duncan bayne in Op-Ed
Wed Aug 21, 2002 at 07:52:47 AM EST
Tags: Politics (all tags)
Politics

Prima facie, all Libertarians should champion the story of Microsoft's rise to dominance over the software industry. Microsoft pioneered the business model for the software industry. It maintained dominance over the industry it pioneered for decades, generating an incredible amount of wealth for its employees, customers, and associated companies. Indeed, many people consider Microsoft to be an example of capitalism at its best and brightest, as evidenced by the Walk for Capitalism (Scoop). On the other hand, statists and sundry other malcontents have attacked Microsoft for its success, citing their business practices, shoddy products and 'unfair competition' (an oxymoron if ever there was one).

In response to this, many Libertarians have come out in defense of Microsoft, and Bill Gates, who was until recently its CEO (The Center For The Advancement Of Capitalism). These supporters are quite correct in their defense of Microsoft with respect to anti-trust litigation. However, both Microsoft's supporters, and many of their detractors, are ignoring the relevant ethical problem: Microsoft has based its success in no small part on theft, fraud, and abuse of the legal system. In addition, Microsoft's general business practices may violate Libertarian principles. Any proponent of a political system that claims to support ideals of property ownership and denounce fraud or force should hold Microsoft in very low esteem.


The story behind the meteoric rise of Microsoft due to the PC-DOS product in the early '80s is known to almost everyone in the software industry. Not so widely known is that PC-DOS, the basis for almost all Microsoft operating systems to date, is claimed to contain stolen property. PC-DOS was known for its similarity to the CP/M operating system (Paterson). This similarity was one of PC-DOS' attractions, as it could run most CP/M software with little modification (Antov) - industry legend has it that WordPerfect Corporation ported their word processor from CP/M to PC-DOS by changing one byte of machine code. Unfortunately, this high level of compatibility wasn't achieved by reverse engineering, or by licensing code from Digital Research, who produced CP/M. It was achieved by theft of Digital Research code; in 1982, Gary Kildall of Digital Research produced evidence to IBM that his code and copyright notices were present in PC-DOS (van Wensveen). However, due to lack of money, he was unwilling to fight either IBM or Microsoft in court (Cygnus). This means that all of Microsoft's success from PC-DOS onwards was built upon the success of a product that was in essence stolen from another company.

The hypocrisy of Microsoft's position in this issue is blatant - in 1983, Gates complained about theft of intellectual property:

"Imagine the disincentive to software development if after months of work another company could come along and copy your work and market it under its own name...without legal restraints to such copying, companies like Apple could not afford to advance the state of the art." (Gates)

Meanwhile, Microsoft continued to build upon the PC-DOS / MS-DOS product with intellectual property stolen from others. An example of this can be found in Microsoft's theft of intellectual property belonging to Stac Corporation:

"During that conversation, Mr. Chase admitted that, during Microsoft's "normal due diligence process," Microsoft had concluded that the DoubleSpace data compression utility of the MS-DOS 6.0 operating system software infringed Stac's '009 patent, one of the two patents in suit." (Stac Electronics vs. Microsoft Corporation).

Microsoft was perfectly aware in advance that what they were doing violated a Stac patent, and yet they continued on their way. Ignoring the Stac patent afforded Microsoft the ability to add a useful feature to MS-DOS in a timely manner; the DoubleSpace technology in MS-DOS 6.0 was one of its major features (Huxford), especially for those with older or portable systems.

One strategy that Microsoft has employed in the past is paying for the silence of people and companies. Charles Pancerzewski, formerly Microsoft's chief auditor, became aware of Microsoft's practice of carrying earnings from one accounting period into another, known as "managing earnings". This practice smoothes reported revenue streams, increases share value, and misleads employees and shareholders. In addition to being unethical, it's also illegal under U.S. Securities Law and violates Generally Accepted Accounting Practices (Fink). Mr. Pancerzewski claims he was forced to retire, for raising the issue of deferred earnings with Microsoft executives, thereby making plausible deniability more difficult for said executives. He has since sued Microsoft, who responded by settling out of court, but also sealing the records to prevent public disclosure (Fink).

There is another defense available to a company that steals, but can't silence its opponents by buying them out - render them bankrupt by fighting them in court. In 2001, Microsoft was convicted of software piracy and fined - they illegally copied 3D animation features from a product produced by French company Syn'x Relief (Hoie). However, rather than pay up or admit their guilt (not acceptable PR for a company with such a strong public position on piracy), they have fought the case, driven Syn'x into bankruptcy, and still intend appealing the ruling that found them guilty. This sends out a strong message to anyone who would report theft by Microsoft - complain against Microsoft, and be financially destroyed.

Microsoft has also lied about its products. Consider the buffer overflow bug that allows anyone to crack a Windows XP system over the internet (USA Today). The discovery of this bug was no real surprise to the IT industry, but Microsoft's then Group Vice President of Windows, Jim Allchin, had earlier promised that all such bugs had been removed from Windows XP (USA Today). In this case, Microsoft made a claim which was clearly unsubstantiated - and, in the opinion of this author, should never in good conscience have been made.

Finally, there other arguments against Libertarian praise of Microsoft. These arguments claim that Microsoft violates the very principles of Libertarianism (Thompson) as part of their natural business practices, not just in the cases of theft, fraud, and abuse of the legal system. These arguments will not be expounded upon in this essay, as they are not as easily quantifiable as proven cases of theft and fraud, but should nonetheless be examined carefully by any person considering giving his support to Microsoft.

From the start, Microsoft's business practices were ethically and legally unsound, they have built their current wealth upon a product that was essentially stolen from a competitor, and through the legal system they have used the State to destroy their victims. Microsoft does not deserve moral support from anyone, least of all Libertarians. They should be supported against anti-trust litigation, as should any company, but they should not be held up as an example of the greatness of capitalism.

References

"A Petition Against the Persecution of Microsoft (US Version)." The Center For The Advancement Of Capitalism.

"Auckland Joins Global Pro-Capitalism Rally." Scoop. 22 Nov 2001.

Antov, Leven. "History of MS-DOS." MaxFrame Corporation. 1996.

"Complaint for Patent Infringement - Stac Electronics vs. Microsoft Corporation." United States District Court Central District of California. 25 Jan 1993.

Cygnus, Andrew."Microsoft the Company." Automation Access.

Fink, Ronald."Smooth Operator." CFO Magazine. 01 Aug 1999.

Gates III, William H. New York Times, 25 Sep 1983, p. F2.

Hoie, Oystein W. "Microsoft found guilty of software piracy." InfoSatellite.com. 08 Dec 2001.

Huxford, David C. "Technology New Releases." Journal Of Financial Planning.

Paterson, Tim. "An Inside Look at MS-DOS." Seattle Computer Products.

Thompson, Joe. "Why Moral Defense is Wrong." 11 Feb 1999.

van Wensveen, Frank W. "Why I Hate Microsoft."

"XP flaw due to 'buffer overflow'." USA Today. 21 Dec 2001.

©2002 Duncan Bayne. This document may be distributed under the terms of the GNU FDL.

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Poll
Do you believe Microsoft deserves to be...
o supported against anti-trust litigation 6%
o praised as an example of the greatness of capitalism 4%
o both of the above 7%
o none of the above 81%

Votes: 124
Results | Other Polls

Related Links
o Scoop
o Scoop [2]
o The Center For The Advancement Of Capitalism
o Paterson
o Antov
o van Wensveen
o Cygnus
o Gates
o Stac Electronics vs. Microsoft Corporation
o Huxford
o Fink
o Hoie
o USA Today
o Thompson
o "A Petition Against the Persecution of Microsoft (US Version)."
o "Auckland Joins Global Pro-Capitalism Rally."
o "History of MS-DOS."
o "Complaint for Patent Infringement - Stac Electronics vs. Microsoft Corporation."
o "Microsoft the Company."
o "Smooth Operator."
o "Microsoft found guilty of software piracy."
o "Technolog y New Releases."
o "An Inside Look at MS-DOS."
o "Why Moral Defense is Wrong."
o "Why I Hate Microsoft."
o "XP flaw due to 'buffer overflow'."
o GNU FDL
o Also by duncan bayne


Display: Sort:
Microsoft - Undeserving of Libertarian Praise | 273 comments (236 topical, 37 editorial, 2 hidden)
Ah, yes, let's get some libertarian defections. (3.33 / 3) (#1)
by Apuleius on Tue Aug 20, 2002 at 01:11:48 AM EST

Surely the blow to Microsoft's political efforts will teach them a lesson they won't forget. Sorry, man, but the only thing worse than futilely denouncing MS's actions, is futilely denouncing MS's actions in front of an objectivist audience.


There is a time and a place for everything, and it's called college. (The South Park chef)
I *am* a Libertarian (4.50 / 2) (#3)
by duncan bayne on Tue Aug 20, 2002 at 01:16:13 AM EST

Um, I am a Libertarian myself, and am learning more about Objectivism on a daily basis. I suspect that anyone with a real sense of Libertarianism, and especially Objectivism, would denounce theft and fraud when practiced by any person or body, including Microsoft.

In writing this article, my hope is to convince other Libertarians (and Objectivists and sundry other Capitalists) that Microsoft isn't worthy of their praise.



[ Parent ]
And that's fine. (5.00 / 2) (#4)
by Apuleius on Tue Aug 20, 2002 at 01:23:39 AM EST

But I refer you to the Onion article, "Libertarian Party Hosts Convention in LA Efficiency."


There is a time and a place for everything, and it's called college. (The South Park chef)
[ Parent ]
The URL: (none / 0) (#138)
by Gord ca on Wed Aug 21, 2002 at 01:37:28 PM EST

http://www.theonion.com/onion3624/libertarian_convention.html

Pretty funny... Not the best piece to come out of America's Finest News Source.

If I'm attacking your idea, it's probably because I like it
[ Parent ]

Learning more about Objectivism daily (none / 0) (#25)
by William Franklin Rothman on Tue Aug 20, 2002 at 09:34:12 AM EST

I take that to mean you've started reading Atlas Shrugged for the first time.

[ Parent ]
Very few objectivists exist... (4.00 / 1) (#167)
by bitgeek on Wed Aug 21, 2002 at 05:21:35 PM EST


Because you're the first libertarian / objectivist   I've met who agreed with me on the microsoft issue.

I've brought it up many times in objectivist forums and gotten the most idiotic, irrational, emotional responses.  They just frankly don't listen to reason.

There are many many objectivists who became that way because they see it as an excuse to give up intellectual rigor.   I hope I've just been finding the wrong forums....

But the microsoft issue is the best litmus test for whether someone is really and objectivist or not.  That and whether they hate libertarians.

Hell the movement split over libertarianism.  ARI going off to the never-never land of "since some libertarians are not objectivists, all libertarians are evil" and TOC, which I belong to, saying that libertarians are kindred spirits and that we have much to gain from them.

But TOC, I suspect, supports microsoft.  

These people are those who will set aside their system of morality in favor of an ideological stand that they WANT (eg emotion) to support.

Anyone like that is not an objectivist.  And its unfortunate that so many fail this test.
-- Between 1982 and 1988 US Income tax revenues doubled from approx. $500 Billion to $1 trillion due to Reagans tax cuts.
[ Parent ]

Libertarians - sigh (2.55 / 9) (#6)
by Maclir on Tue Aug 20, 2002 at 02:21:44 AM EST

Are libertarians a USA specific political group? Are they so caught up in their own adoration of the rights of the individual at the expense of the good of society? Anyone have a thesis on "Libertarians and the rise of corporate greed", "Libertiarians and the loss of Community Spirit", or even "I'm OK, and I don't give a fuck about anyone else"?

yea, you're right (3.50 / 2) (#9)
by tealeaf on Tue Aug 20, 2002 at 02:36:38 AM EST

But the article is still good.  I totally detest the narrow mindedness and downright philosophical loopiness of Libertarianism, but this article has meat on its bones, and it addresses an important class of people who are some of the most ardent supporters of MS.  So basically, it's good old information (that most people who care already know) with a Libertarian spin on it.  If I just close my eyes and ignore the Libertarian spin, it's a good article.  And fact is, there are many Libertarians out there and I have to live with them.  That means someone needs to talk to them in their own language, and if I agree with the message, then so be it.

[ Parent ]
ummm... (4.66 / 3) (#13)
by ragabr on Tue Aug 20, 2002 at 04:17:55 AM EST

care to back up Libertarian's being narrow-minded? I'm just not seeing it. In fact, Libertarian's, in my personal experience and in readings, are the most open-minded people I know.

-------
And my tongue would be made of chocolate. Mmmmm. Chocolate.
-rusty
[ Parent ]
perhaps... (3.50 / 2) (#37)
by ceejayoz on Tue Aug 20, 2002 at 11:59:22 AM EST

perhaps by "narrow minded" me meant "unable to realize that their proposed political system won't work"... libertarianism has about as much potential of succeeding as did communism... it just doesn't work on a large scale

[ Parent ]
Hmmm... (4.66 / 3) (#46)
by ragabr on Tue Aug 20, 2002 at 01:53:07 PM EST

well, it's never been tried on a large scale, so we can't say that for sure. One also has to remember that there are several versions of Libertarian thought, especially dealing with economics, but that they all agree that the individual has to be protected from the tyranny of the majority. I believe that Libertarianism can succeed on a large scale, especially the version supported by the U.S. Libertarian Party, with one or two small qualms. Also, one has to remember (as this seems to be one of the largest objections people have) that Libertarianism does not necessarily have to degenerate to corporatism. This is for two reasons, the first being, since corporations are created by the State, they only exist on pen and paper, it is not restraining individual rights to put as many restrictions on the post of corporation as the government sees fit, even within Libertarian thought (note that this does not restrict the free market at all under general economic theory) , secondly (this only applies to Constitutional Libertarians, but the only Libertarians I've met who didn't fall into this category were Randians) as long as the government stays within the bounds of the Constitution, corporatism is impossible anyway. Of course the second reason relies on both a vigilant populace along with a balanced checks and balances system, neither of which we have at the moment, but ho hum. It is more likely to happen than everyone being honest and just taking what they need while doing all the work they can.

-------
And my tongue would be made of chocolate. Mmmmm. Chocolate.
-rusty
[ Parent ]
I never understand this.. (none / 0) (#190)
by Kwil on Wed Aug 21, 2002 at 06:38:56 PM EST

..thought that "It's never been tried on a large scale."

Was mankind born with kings or something?

Some brat pop out of the womb with a crown on his head and a sceptre in hand?

Guess what, it has been tried - and rapidly evolved into power structures and government.

One of the larger failings with libertarianism is that they think all wrongs can be righted through a fair justice system and the proper penalties. Except, not all wrongs can be righted, and not all penalties can be applied. Murder can not be righted. Long term environmental damage not only can not be righted but often the discovery of the damage is so far after the act that penalties become meaningless - assuming there is anything left to penalize.

The only things that work in these types of cases is preventitive laws - the exact things that libertarians tend to cry will stifle their freedoms.

That Jesus Christ guy is getting some terrible lag... it took him 3 days to respawn! -NJ CoolBreeze


[ Parent ]
ummm, wtf? (none / 0) (#198)
by ragabr on Wed Aug 21, 2002 at 08:25:21 PM EST

it has not been tried. I'll happily acquiesce if you can give me an example, but I assure you the closest you'll come is early United States, and even then they had laws based in a majority's morality, ignoring the minority. along with tariffs and trade protections.

you can also look at renaissance era italy, but that had it's own issues as well.

anyway, wtf are you talking about bringing up kings? feudalism did not evolve from libertarianism, it evolved from tribalism and decay of the Roman empire.

umm, and they don't say all wrongs can be righted through a fair justice system with proper penalties. you're pulling that out of your ass, or from some other asshole's missinterpretation. unless you can completely undo the results of something, it can't be righted. all that can be done is equitable handling of the after-effects. apparantly you are unfamiliar with libertarian environmental policy, so i will leave your comments on that alone.

anyway libertarian philosophy allows for preventative laws for anything that results in direct harm. if there's no direct harm then there shouldn't be a law against it, simply because if you do sooner or later it results in a tyrrany of the majority. the only laws that can be said to be moral are those that protect everyone from direct harm, because anything else is based upon a certain groups view of right and wrong, and their is certain to be someone out there who disagrees with them and is being oppressed. not to get too much further into this, but to stall off an argument i can feel coming, the State has the right to form policy when it comes to publicly funded endevors or is within the rights of the government entity, such as the highway system or interstate trade.

-------
And my tongue would be made of chocolate. Mmmmm. Chocolate.
-rusty
[ Parent ]
a hint (none / 0) (#165)
by tealeaf on Wed Aug 21, 2002 at 05:19:11 PM EST

To really write a rebuttal of libertarian philosophy would take a lot of time, space and effort.  Other people have already done this, so I assume you know the standard counters.

I'm going to point at what I think is the central weakness of Libertarianism.  Ignoring society and ignoring the government is this weakness.  Pretty much every person hates the government for one reason or another, but most people agree that it's a necessary evil.  The problem is that Libertarians are dangerously close in their philosophy to total anarchy (and anarchy, while a noble concept, also can't work due to the same reason as pointed out below; and don't even bother to write a lame reply to me about what Anarchy REALLY is, yes, I know what it is, I know the political movement, etc.. blah blah  and YES I know Anarchy is not the same as total chaos, so please spare me), so while the rights of individuals are "protected", this also allows individuals to abuse minorities because of their "protected" rights.  Sure, that may be against the ethos, but there is not going to be a significant and well respected government to enforce the ethos, so basically Libertarianism shoots itself in the foot.

Secondly, community is a very important thing that Libertarians overlook.  They focus on individuality and freedom for individuals, but that's wrong.  A sound system should be just like Dao, it should seek balance and it should avoid "my simple answer is the solution to all evils" panaceas.  Problem is that balance is hard to achieve and Libertarians have no appreciation whatsoever for balance.  Libertarians think there is some really easy answer, like "oh, we just follow this simple rule, blah blah, we are all going to be so happy and fulfilled as a society."  That's bullshit.  There is no simple prescription to fix "everything" and Liberarians are fools for trying to portray themselves as guys with all the answers to societal ills.

Personally, I think community and culture play a critical role on societal wellbeing.  Culture should absolutely, most definitely, NOT be commercialized to the point it is now.  There should be plenty of culture that is free and accessable to all, and with every day there is less and less such cultural content available for people.  You have to buy your cultural "injections" in small dosages, and that's sad.  This leads to a completely ethically and morally bankrupt society as we have now.

So, my answer, if I had one, would stress culture and community, AND invidual in a FINE BALANCE.  It's like saying the best engine is not the one with the most cylinders or with the most valves or with the fastest RPMs.  Any engineer knows this is bullshit.  The best engine is the one that is the most balanced set of compromises and the same is true for society.  The problem is that to find an excellent balance is extremely hard, and that today, we definitely do not have such a balance, so people always come up with idiotic, oversimplified easy answers like, "Yo, just double the number of cylinders!!! CYLINDERS ARE KINGS!!! IT'S ALL ABOUT THE CYLINDERS!!!"  Then another idiot asserts, "No fool, it's ALL ABOUT RPM!!! RPM IS KING!!"  But none of them can see that they are all wrong.

That's why Libertarians are fools.

[ Parent ]

ummm... (none / 0) (#197)
by ragabr on Wed Aug 21, 2002 at 08:12:53 PM EST

libertarians focus on the idea of a community. a community doesn't exist once you grow beyond a certain amount of people though. which is one of the key reasons they oppose high level governing.

as for allowing individuals to abuse minorities, that's complete bullshit. there is no way to abuse someone without infringing upon their rights, it just can't happen. and don't give me any of that "verbal abuse" shit either, because it doesn't fly here.

i think you have a warped view of libertarianism that focuses on their economic principles while ignoring the social ones.

have a nice day. sorry about no capitalization, but my 'y' and shift keys are fucked, so i'm too lazy to work around it.

-------
And my tongue would be made of chocolate. Mmmmm. Chocolate.
-rusty
[ Parent ]
abuse will happen all the time (none / 0) (#204)
by tealeaf on Wed Aug 21, 2002 at 10:14:29 PM EST

"as for allowing individuals to abuse minorities, that's complete bullshit. there is no way to abuse someone without infringing upon their rights, it just can't happen."

Fact: ABUSE CAN AND WILL HAPPEN.  Question is, how will you deal with it?  I'm saying, under Libertarianism, everyone is going to be out for themselves, same as now, except without a strong and well respected government, there isn't going to be a way to deal with abuse effectively.  Let's put it this way, even DOJ can't deal with Microsoft abuse, can they?  But at least DOJ tried and at least the case has publicised abuse and opened many people's eyes!  So the case DID do MUCH GOOD in slowing down the Microsoft's abuse of the world.  Under the Libertarian system there would be NO case at all, and NO, people wouldn't "just choose another OS".  That's bullsh*t.  People would make the same decisions as they do now, except that Libertarian system can't handle the consequences of bad shit and it doesn't encourage any good shit, except the "me, me, me".

Secondly, a strong government is needed for international affairs.  Even if your country doesn't plan to be take a passive role in world politics, you need some force to act in case some other country invades yours.  So, with a tiny and majorly ignored government, what would you have?  You'd have chaos if the country was invaded.

Have you read "Snow Crash?"  The social and economic system in that book is EACTLY what would happen if Libertarian system was in place.  Just read "Snow Crash" to see what I mean.  It's a very fun book anyway, so you won't lose anything by reading it.

Like I said, dismantling government is a nice idea in theory, in confines of the classroom discussion and in a computer simulation experiment.  But it's not something that's going to work in real life.  If it worked, then our Army/Navy wouldn't have the hierchy that it does now.  But, fact is, it does.  Every 3-5 people have a superior.  Why?  Because this keeps things organized when shit hits the fan, and it works because we have experience to back this up: we KNOW it works.

Social life is sort of like a war.  No bullets, but people are animals and they're fighting for themselves.  Not every person does this, but enough people do, and enough of some of the most powerful people on Earth do this to make peace time a dangerous place for everyone.  There will always be super-powerful people, this is a fact of life.  And it just so happens that people tend to be corrupted by power, more so than not.  So the percentage of powerful assholes is going to always be large, that's how nature works.  Without checks and balances and without a GENERALLY BALANCED system, shit will hit the fan in ways you never thought possible (like privately owned atomic weapons, for example).  That's why Libertarianism is skin deep and it can never work in a real world situation.  It has no balance and no teeth.  Libertarianism is same as communism in a sense that it's based on a completely wrong conception of how human beings behave in the wild.  Take a look at all the scandals at the top corps executive boards.  I'm sure the government just barely scratched the surface.  Would a Libertarian government do an audit of all the corps, or would they "let the free market (cough*the rich and powerful*cough) decide?"

What will happen is that under Libertarianism we won't have to hide the fact that we are at war on a social level.  People will be more overt in their attacks on the powerful instead of going through the "proper" channels.  And the powerful will make much more overt power grabs: you think patents and copyrights are bad now?  Maybe this is better for the underprivileged, to actually fight it out?  Maybe.  But it won't be a peaceful and productive time.  With private militias, tiny government of no consequence, private corps that will do revenge for you if you pay them $$$, justice that is paid for, super strong local government where you need visa to drive to the next state..  Come on!!  Don't think that government will disappear.  If you think so, you're a silly goof.  If Libertarians eliminated strong federal government, then all the state governments would become as powerful as separate countries.  What, are you going to reform each state to Libertarianism too?  Come on.  That's nonsense.

Of all places, Libertarianism can never work in USA.  Maybe it can work in a large homogeneous country where citizens are naturally well cultured and treat each other well.

I think if society didn't have any subversive elements: greedy, selfish, anal people for whom 1 billion is not enough and who must have 10 billion and when they get 10, they must have 20 billion, etc.....if our society didn't have these kinds of people who wanted to control everything, then sure, Libertarian system might work.  But then Communism would work too.

[ Parent ]

structured society is heirarchal... (none / 0) (#208)
by ragabr on Wed Aug 21, 2002 at 11:11:39 PM EST

due to the primary focus of tribal dominance vs submition instinct. it is very easy to establish strict order and submission to the wishes of superiors where the superiority is strictly inforced, like the military. government on the other hand is not supposed to be in the business of demanding submission to arbitrary orders. in fact the only duty government should enforce is 'do no harm.'

as for the rest of it, it seems you've either taken fiction too seriously and not have studied libertarianism enough or are insane. it seems like you've taken all the bad things about anarchy and state monopoly capitalism put them together and defined it as 'libertarianism.'

have a nice day.

-------
And my tongue would be made of chocolate. Mmmmm. Chocolate.
-rusty
[ Parent ]
blah (2.00 / 1) (#245)
by tealeaf on Thu Aug 22, 2002 at 04:26:56 PM EST

It's not about submition.  I gave the Army example to show something else.

When you sue someone, you have the confidence that you can find an impartial court (government system) and that the decision of the court is going to be respected on a federal level (government system again) even if you sue on a state level, because you can sue all the way to the supreme court on fundamental issues (the kinds we really care about).  This decision is respected because there is a powerful executive branch that can enforce it.

I leave it to you to add one plus one.  (But I doubt you can do it, considering how you think the only duty of government is to do "no harm", which is extremely naive, because the very concept of "do no harm" is extremely difficult, philosophically, to resolve.  I actually studied this part in-depth, so I know about this for sure: "do no harm" is very, very difficult to resolve to a clear set of policies and actions; it is NOT straightforward and it is NOT an easy issue, but rather it is an issue that you can write a book about.  In fact, if you know what "do no harm" means, you are either: a) God, or b) idiot, or c) you know the answer to Life, Universe and Everything.)

Fact is, every system has flaws, and so does Libertarian system.  Problem is, you don't discuss Libertarian flaws.  No Libertarian ever does.  All Libertarians talk about is how the system is great and will cure cancer.  That's bullshit.  The answer is balance.  Everything is good in moderation.  You don't just cut a certain thing because it looks good on paper.  You have to examine, why is that thing there to begin with?  If you do this, you will find, that no matter how flawed things are, they still serve a purpose and they got to be a certain way thanks to cause and effect.  You can't just whipe the slate clean and replace it with your brand spanking new Libertarian system.

In order for you to get your wish, you have to prove to people like me, why your system can work (unless you are planning a military coup and don't care about my vote).  So, don't tell me to go study, because I don't care enough.  I don't have time (opportunity cost).  I studied Libertarian philosophy very little, but did study it enough to know that I don't like it because of the fundamentally flawed values (individual is prime).  If you don't care to explain to me why Libertarianism is better or why or how it can work, then screw you.  I gave you my thoughts and backed them up with examples and my vision of how I see it not working.  All you do is offer me garbage in response: "blah, you're wrong, you don't know jack".  Obviously you don't care about your Libertarianism enough to explain it or to give a vision of it with examples.

[ Parent ]

ummm... (1.00 / 1) (#254)
by ragabr on Thu Aug 22, 2002 at 08:33:00 PM EST

i said the duty of the individual is to do no harm, not the government. if you want to discuss the flaws of libertarianism, discuss them then. to this point you've not pointed to any specific problem, just giving vague notions of harmful policies.

-------
And my tongue would be made of chocolate. Mmmmm. Chocolate.
-rusty
[ Parent ]
your sentence was poorly worded (none / 0) (#257)
by tealeaf on Thu Aug 22, 2002 at 11:19:50 PM EST

"in fact the only duty government should enforce is 'do no harm.'"

Ok, so I misread this.  This is a minor quibble.  Point is that Libertarians want a smaller government with fewer powers.  I suggest that this has bad ramifications.  And did you read what I said about "do no harm" being extremely hard to convert to a set of policies?  Likewise, how it is silly to take something so vague as "do no harm" as your main objective when you're talking about something that needs to be practical, first and foremost, and thus, needs to be easily legislated with simple policies.

Secondly, you don't understand that I ask you to tell me what the drawbacks of Libertarianism are.  Don't wait for me to give that to you.  I want to see YOU tell me.  Why is that?  That's because I want to see that you are fully aware that there is a compromise involved and that no system is perfect.

If you can't tell me what the drawbacks of Libertarian system are, then I class you as incompetent and there is no need to argue with you.

You skip everything else I wrote for no reason.  Don't reply with 3 setences.  Please put some meat on your reply.

[ Parent ]

Matching Natural Rights and Civil Law (none / 0) (#209)
by cam on Wed Aug 21, 2002 at 11:13:02 PM EST

The problem is that Libertarians are dangerously close in their philosophy to total anarchy

Government is to protect individuals from arbitary power from other individuals. The basic protections are for life, liberty and property, or what would be termed in modern language as the natural rights of humans. Locke wrote that harmony in Liberty and consented Government Authority is when the natural rights match civil law.

The balance between Liberty and Authority has been out of balance towards Government Authoritarianism for a long time.

cam
Freedom, Liberty, Equity and an Australian Republic
[ Parent ]

agreed, but only very cautiously with disclaimers (none / 0) (#248)
by tealeaf on Thu Aug 22, 2002 at 05:03:12 PM EST

I think, with regards to some aspects, I agree with you.  For example, it's none of the government's business what you do in your spare time as long as you don't harm others.

With other aspects, I see that government doesn't have enough power, like when it can't punish Microsoft effectively when when Microsoft is allowed to abuse the system to pretty much make the whole case irrelevant by stretching the time.

Thirdly, government needs to be a well respected body for the purpose of international politics.

Fourthly, thanks to the way USA works, in USA, you want federal government that dominates state governments in order to act and exist as one country (strength in unity).  You enjoy driving to another state and still being able to use the same driver's license?  You enjoy going to another state and buying things from there without any difficulties?  You enjoy having the same basic rights in all states?  That's thanks to our federal government.  If states had their way, many of the simple, basic things would differ from state to state to the point where perhaps Constitution itself would become fragmented and later ignored (same way as free speech is ignored once you cross into another country like China who disagrees about what kind of speech is free or whether speech should be free at all).

Fifth, there is no such thing as free market.  Market has to be regulated same as the social life to protect it from the dominance and abuse by the powerful few (this is something that's totally NOT being done right now, as bribery and corruption are rampant today, as well as insane ability by the few individuals to buy and dump insane amounts of stocks and commodities on the market, at will).

Therefore, the Libertarian direction is good in some narrow aspects, but is extremely bad in other aspects and there is NO WAY I can agree with it wholesale.  Considering that I also disagree with some fundamental assertions, like that individual is important above all, this makes things difficult.

[ Parent ]

libertarianism (5.00 / 1) (#127)
by lonemarauder on Wed Aug 21, 2002 at 11:34:26 AM EST

I think the biggest problem leftists have in understanding libertarianism is that leftists (and rightists) believe that government can be done correctly and justly if only the right system is employed. Libertarians generally don't share this notion. They don't believe that any form of government can ever really work toward the "public good". At the very onset of looking at that thought in the context of world history, it becomes shockingly obvious that the track record of governments supports that theory.

If you can abandon the idea of a perfect government, if only for the purpose of discussion, libertarianism makes much more sense.



[ Parent ]
Political Compass (none / 0) (#217)
by DodgyGeezer on Thu Aug 22, 2002 at 02:21:30 AM EST

I think the Politcal Compass website goes a long way to helping people understand how libertarianism fits in to the traditional scene of left and right. What I have a problem with are Libertarians who categorise themselves as if they're an alternative to left or right. When in reality they could a left-wing, a centrist or a right-wing libertarian. I think a lot of Libertarians - especially American ones - tend to be quite right-wing too.

[ Parent ]
influx (none / 0) (#241)
by lonemarauder on Thu Aug 22, 2002 at 04:12:49 PM EST

At the moment, most new Libertarians are disaffected Republicans. This is OK with me, as long as they acknowledge that freedom means drugs, abortion, sex toys, and violent TV are all fair game. Until you've crossed that line, you're still sitting on the fence.

[ Parent ]
comment in infinite loop (see your link) [n/t] (none / 0) (#269)
by 5pectre on Mon Aug 26, 2002 at 11:03:05 AM EST



"Let us kill the English, their concept of individual rights might undermine the power of our beloved tyrants!!" - Lisa Simpson [ -1.50 / -7.74]

[ Parent ]
Corrected Political Compass web site link (none / 0) (#270)
by DodgyGeezer on Mon Aug 26, 2002 at 03:37:50 PM EST

Thanks for pointing that out.  I must have been careless.

Here is the correct link: http://www.politicalcompass.org/

[ Parent ]

No (4.16 / 6) (#45)
by PullNoPunches on Tue Aug 20, 2002 at 01:49:37 PM EST

Are libertarians a USA specific political group?

The Libertarian Party is mostly specific to the US. Other countries have similar parties, but they go under different names. The libertarian movement is active to some degree in most non-communist, non-dictaorship countries.

Are they so caught up in their own adoration of the rights of the individual at the expense of the good of society?

Libertarisn believe that individual rights do more for the good of society than any other system. You may disagree, but it is simply a fact that the vast majority of libertarians believe this. You do yourself a disservice by refusing to understand this.

------------------------

Although generally safe, turmeric in large doses may cause gastrointestinal problems or even ulcers. -- Reader's Digest (UK)
[ Parent ]

Libertarianism IS the good of society. (none / 0) (#164)
by bitgeek on Wed Aug 21, 2002 at 05:15:02 PM EST


Everyone I've ever talked to who talked aobut the "good of society" had the idea that "good " was enslavement, brutal repression, and tyranny.

I don't see who that is "good" for society.

Libertarians, on the other hand, actually work for the good of society, rather than its enslavement.

A free people who trade freely, without coercion, is a good society.

Why is it those who want brutality and oppression always say its for societies own good?
-- Between 1982 and 1988 US Income tax revenues doubled from approx. $500 Billion to $1 trillion due to Reagans tax cuts.
[ Parent ]

Bull. (none / 0) (#187)
by Kwil on Wed Aug 21, 2002 at 06:26:25 PM EST

A free people who trade freely, without coercion, is a good society.

Remember the old joke:

Person A: "I'll give you $1 profit to feed & clothe this child."

Free Trading person: "Cool! $1, bring the little tyke over."

Person B: "I'll give you $2 profit if you butcher this child and serve it to me for supper."

Free Trading person: "You want fries with that?"

Some coercion is necessary.

That Jesus Christ guy is getting some terrible lag... it took him 3 days to respawn! -NJ CoolBreeze


[ Parent ]
What's the point of this example? (none / 0) (#229)
by tekue on Thu Aug 22, 2002 at 06:22:21 AM EST

Person B: "I'll give you $2 profit if you butcher this child and serve it to me for supper."
What exactly are you implying here? That a child is not a person? We all know that libertarians are against allowing hurt to persons. Or is butchering not harming the child? We all know it does. Or, maybe, you're not talking about libertarians at all?

People often see in others what they fear in themselves — like a man who beats up a gay person because he doesn't want his peers to find out that he's a homosexual too. Consider in that light, that one of the often used arguments against libertarian thought is that people are stupid and/or evil. Nice.
--
Humanity has advanced, when it has advanced, not because it has been sober, responsible, and cautious, but because it has been playful, rebellious, and immature. --Tom Robbins
[ Parent ]

not true. (none / 0) (#214)
by MyraLuva on Thu Aug 22, 2002 at 12:39:38 AM EST

whats good for the individual is not always good for society.

[ Parent ]
Anarchists (5.00 / 1) (#218)
by DodgyGeezer on Thu Aug 22, 2002 at 02:26:43 AM EST

I think they go under different names in different countries.  I know several people in the UK who call themselves "anarchists".  They seem to believe in many of the same things as American Libertarians, although all the ones I know are also very socialist too.  Some of them go by the mantra: "Do as you do, but harm none".

[ Parent ]
Well, said. (4.66 / 6) (#12)
by strlen on Tue Aug 20, 2002 at 04:04:21 AM EST

Libertarianism doesn't mean corporate prostitution. In fact, many corporate abuses are due to the exactly the fact that the corporations have taken advantage of the statist regulatory infrastructure that's been placed by the government (originally designed to protect us from those very corporate abuses). ESR shares this position, you can find his writing on this matter at:

[ http://tuxedo.org/~esr/writings/libgates.html ]

--
[T]he strongest man in the world is he who stands most alone. - Henrik Ibsen.

ESR (1.00 / 1) (#94)
by yooden on Wed Aug 21, 2002 at 08:57:39 AM EST

ESR shares this position

Ah, so it must certainly be true. It doesn't matter that he intentionally uses misleading arguments to make his points.

[ Parent ]
I never implied that it must be true (4.00 / 1) (#96)
by strlen on Wed Aug 21, 2002 at 09:04:08 AM EST

Hence, I said 'opinion'. I happen to agree with that train of that. And please tell me how he uses mis leading arguments when he calls himself an anarchist, and explains the reason he holds libertarian views (which make total sense, even to a non-libertarian).

--
[T]he strongest man in the world is he who stands most alone. - Henrik Ibsen.
[ Parent ]
ESR again (3.00 / 2) (#109)
by yooden on Wed Aug 21, 2002 at 10:15:57 AM EST

please tell me how he uses mis leading arguments when he calls himself an anarchist

I really don't care whether he is an anarchist. Actually, I can't even remember whether I read the whole text (before today, that is).

Hitler seized power in 1933, the election Raymond talks about occurred in 1934. The totalitarian regime Raymond talks about was in full sway and democracy in Germany was dead for one and a half years.

  • Even after the terror on the streets made possible by the Reichstagsbrandverordnung and with the most vocal political enemy, the KPD, verboten, the NSDAP got not 44% of votes in March 1933.
  • The Law Against the Re-Formation of Political Parties from 14. Juli 1933 made any organized political opposition illegal (and the first concentration camps were already established to back that up).


Some more points from his text:

But constitutional democracy itself is not proof against the short-sightedness and moral blindness of its own people. This is not a new insight; two centuries ago Gibbon's "Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire", the book which effectively founded the modern study of history, found there its major theme.

I don't know the book, but I would like to learn why shortcomings of constitutional democracies are a major theme in a book about an absolutist empire. And no, the Roman Republic was no democracy either.

A modern, educated, civilized, and cosmopolitan people in the heart of the liberal West (...)

There was no liberal West, Germany was under severe economic pressure and democracy in Germany was a mere fifteen years old.

The terrible lesson of Weimar Germany is that constitutional restraint doesn't work either.

There was no constitutional restraint. Article 48 gave the Reichspräsident dictatorial powers.

(...) the confiscation of civilian weapons as a sure harbinger of the Holocaust to come.

Two minutes before he told us that they "voted for 'Mein Kampf' and the Nuremberg rallies and the repudiation of the Treaty of Versailles and Kristallnacht" and that they "surrender[d] their liberty and condemn[d] millions of innocent victims to mass death". Why would they even want weapons?


Three years before the the fall of the Berlin Wall, the communistic government in the GDR got 99.94 percent of votes. What is more likely: That they all changed their mind in those three years or that democratic elections simply don't happen in totalitarian states?


I'd be hard pressed to believe that this is a mistake on ESR's part. Hitler's power grab is the most momentous event in the 20th century and all he need to know about it is the year it occurred. So ESR is intentionally misleading the reader.


[ Parent ]

absolutism is in the eye of the beholder. (4.00 / 1) (#117)
by aphrael on Wed Aug 21, 2002 at 10:50:35 AM EST

but I would like to learn why shortcomings of constitutional democracies are a major theme in a book about an absolutist empire

Because it wasn't an absolutist empire at all points in its history. *In the beginning*, at any rate, most power still lay with the Senate; well into the second century AD, there were still customary restraints on the exercise of power by the emperor that functioned as an unwritten constitution. Aristocratic-Republican principles remained of high importance *in theory*.

All of this was abandoned, and the political system degraded, in the course of the late second century and the subsequent century of horror, and what emerged from that period *was* an absolutist state, and remained so until the final collapse of the empire more than a thousand years later.

[ Parent ]

Sure, but where is the democracy? (4.00 / 1) (#120)
by yooden on Wed Aug 21, 2002 at 11:09:03 AM EST

Rome was never a democracy nor meant to be.

[ Parent ]
minsleading arguments? (2.00 / 1) (#125)
by lonemarauder on Wed Aug 21, 2002 at 11:23:21 AM EST

What misleading arguments exist in that essay? I could find none.

Or were you hoping that your opponents would not bother following the link?



[ Parent ]
Read, think, write (none / 0) (#128)
by yooden on Wed Aug 21, 2002 at 11:36:12 AM EST

Read the message I wrote an hour before yours.

(It is also blatantly obvious.)

[ Parent ]

write, insult, defend (none / 0) (#130)
by lonemarauder on Wed Aug 21, 2002 at 11:48:24 AM EST

So you characterize the single error with regard to a date as deliberate misrepresentation?



[ Parent ]
Sure (none / 0) (#134)
by yooden on Wed Aug 21, 2002 at 12:22:27 PM EST

I call it deliberate because an accidental mixup is highly unlikely. I'm sure this Shirer guy mentioned the date of Hitler's power grab.

I call it misrepresentation because it invalidates his whole point. There was no vote for Kristallnacht, no deliberate forsaking of liberty. The Weimarer Verfassung was broken, not constitutional democracies.

[ Parent ]

Mistaken Rating? (none / 0) (#131)
by yooden on Wed Aug 21, 2002 at 11:55:02 AM EST

Or do you despise any text blemishing your heroes on general principle?

[ Parent ]
no, why (none / 0) (#242)
by lonemarauder on Thu Aug 22, 2002 at 04:17:01 PM EST

I read the linked page carefully, and rated your comment according to what I found there and my opinions with regard to your statements about it. I rate bullshit as I see it.

[ Parent ]
So (none / 0) (#261)
by yooden on Fri Aug 23, 2002 at 03:10:35 AM EST

Please tell me where ESR is right and I am wrong wrt the matter at hand.

[ Parent ]
re: (none / 0) (#263)
by lonemarauder on Sun Aug 25, 2002 at 01:44:54 AM EST

That's rather an invalid challenge. Are you asking me to evaluate the statements of ESR and yourself?

You made an accusation, and didn't come up with sufficiently compelling evidence to back it up. The practice of trying to replace significance with intensity is a common flaw in contemporary Western debate, and one of which I am profoundly weary. It is not your charge that is judged, but your evidence.



[ Parent ]
Evidence for what? (none / 0) (#264)
by yooden on Sun Aug 25, 2002 at 04:17:19 AM EST

You made an accusation, and didn't come up with sufficiently compelling evidence to back it up.

My accusation is based on two facts: Pray tell me which fact you need further evidence for.


[ Parent ]
rubber, glue (none / 0) (#265)
by lonemarauder on Sun Aug 25, 2002 at 01:59:59 PM EST

You made an accusation, and didn't come up with sufficiently compelling evidence to back it up

Um... no. You see, in debate, when you make an assault, whether or not that assault stands is your problem. The burden is on your shoulders to make your statements matter by virtue of the evidence you use to support them. Until such evidence exists, you've made no contribution which can be attacked. Therefore, the rubber/glue defense doesn't hold up.

You've raised evidence of error, but not deceit. Therefore, your accustion of having misled does not yet exist as a valid debate point.



[ Parent ]
Rubber/Glue? (none / 0) (#266)
by yooden on Sun Aug 25, 2002 at 02:45:15 PM EST

You don't have a leg to stand on and continue to avoid the points I raise. Go play elsewhere.

[ Parent ]
+1FP Anything libertarian! (3.00 / 3) (#14)
by Fen on Tue Aug 20, 2002 at 06:12:51 AM EST

Anarchist works too.
--Self.
Missing Poll Option (4.42 / 7) (#16)
by kaemaril on Tue Aug 20, 2002 at 07:20:24 AM EST

... Deserves the same fate as the Sirius Cybernetics Corporation.


Why, yes, I am being sarcastic. Why do you ask?


Re: Missing Poll Option (3.00 / 2) (#143)
by baldnik on Wed Aug 21, 2002 at 03:17:26 PM EST

Go stick your head in a pig.

[ Parent ]
Wow, I'm devastated. (5.00 / 1) (#175)
by kaemaril on Wed Aug 21, 2002 at 05:48:48 PM EST

Damn it, ol' fruit, the towering insight of your post quite staggered me. In fact, I found it almost overwhelming. Seriously, let me stroke your ego a bit and say "Dood, U rool!"


Why, yes, I am being sarcastic. Why do you ask?


[ Parent ]
Libertarian? (4.50 / 8) (#18)
by PresJPolk on Tue Aug 20, 2002 at 07:55:25 AM EST

Do you have a *single* reference of Libertarians specially praising Microsoft as a company connected with Libertarian thought or ideals?

I've frequently seen Microsoft held up as an example of "capitalism" or modern corporatism, and I've seen (and made) Libertarian criticism of US DOJ attacks on Microsoft, but not Libertarian endorsement of Microsoft.

Libertarian endorsement of Microsoft makes no sense to me for one big reason: the Microsoft business model is centered on government-enforced monopoly of copyright.

www.cato.org (4.00 / 1) (#163)
by bitgeek on Wed Aug 21, 2002 at 05:12:18 PM EST


Read their articles on microsoft.

The LP doesn't have a position, that I know of, though.
-- Between 1982 and 1988 US Income tax revenues doubled from approx. $500 Billion to $1 trillion due to Reagans tax cuts.
[ Parent ]

intellectual property (4.57 / 7) (#19)
by tps12 on Tue Aug 20, 2002 at 08:21:07 AM EST

I don't buy the claim that Libertarians should denounce Microsoft for intellectual property theft. Actually, maybe the Libertarian Party is indeed in favor of intellectual property law. But most of the little-l libertarians I've read consider "intellectual property" an unnatural creation of the state that discourages competition.

Well, they were fools (3.33 / 6) (#27)
by bc on Tue Aug 20, 2002 at 10:44:05 AM EST

These "little l" libertarians you speak of clearly adore wish-fulfilment policies, where they can copy mp3s or software all the like.

The simple fact is, there is no genuine distinction between "intellectual property" and physical property, or any other sort of property. property, in the end, is an idea, and areas of thought can be carved up into neat parcels just as land can be. If you create an area of thought, just as if you create an area of land, there's no reason why it shouldn't be yours.

♥, bc.
[ Parent ]

hehe (5.00 / 6) (#31)
by tps12 on Tue Aug 20, 2002 at 11:35:48 AM EST

areas of thought can be carved up into neat parcels just as land can be
How, other than metaphorically?

Physical property has intrinsic ownership by virtue of its own scarcity. Only one person can wear a given hat at any one time, so the notion of property allows us to determine who gets to wear it and who doesn't. But an infinite number of people can think about how a certain type of corkscrew works, remember a favorite poem, or whistle a particular tune whenever they want to. So intellectual and physical property are essentially different; there is no reason we should treat them the same.

Further, this does not have anything to do with copying music or software. Contract law is sufficient to protect ideas. Indeed, it is better at protecting ideas, because it protects instances of ideas, rather than ideas themselves. So if I invent a clever machine, I write up a contract to be signed by anyone who wants to use it. The contract requires them to pay me money if they make copies of it. The contract can last however long I want it to last, making it stronger than a patent. Now if you come up with the same clever machine, without ever seeing mine, then you are free to start making money off of it, without paying me. Contracts of this sort prevent the stealing of ideas, without the artificial monopolies guaranteed by patents.

[ Parent ]

No (4.50 / 4) (#36)
by bc on Tue Aug 20, 2002 at 11:55:37 AM EST

Physical property has intrinsic ownership by virtue of its own scarcity.

Don't you see? Physical property is an idea. Ultimately, these real, "physical" things are just ideas in your head, and in other's heads, interpreted and filtered through the mind. I don't see why, ultimately, notions of physical or intellectual property should necessarily vary at all.

Intellectual Property is a response to problems of scarcity, for IP is ultimately Secondly, Intellectual Property assures greater openess of ideas. Without IP, there is less motivation to invent, to stake out new claims on the frontier of knowledge, for the inventor has difficulties claiming advantages from the toils of his labour. Your machine example assumes the inventor has the resources to make a machine, to exercise benefit from his idea while necessarily keeping the idea secret from wider society as best he can. IP allows ideas to be shared, and new ideas to be born, while retaining essential rights over the ideas for the original creators. Without IP, you can forget places ike Bell Labs, IBM research, MS Research, etc etc, from ever releasing their findings for wider scrutiny. An IPless land would create an anarchy, a lawless fronteir, where the biggest corprorations with the most bucks would win, and damned to the little guy with the great idea.

Intellectual ideas are created by one man, they are toiled and sweated over by him, and it is Just that he should have some say over how they are used, and how they spread, within reason. That, in the end, is the final point, that a Man should have an absolute right to have ownership over his creations, and a right to profit from them.

♥, bc.
[ Parent ]

okay... (3.00 / 1) (#40)
by tps12 on Tue Aug 20, 2002 at 12:12:19 PM EST

I agree that IP provides incentive to invent. That doesn't make it morally sound, in my mind. What is gained through IP law that can't be had in contract law?

[ Parent ]
Contracts to govern IP (3.00 / 1) (#87)
by mdabaningay on Wed Aug 21, 2002 at 06:49:05 AM EST

The problem is you would have to have a contract with everyone who saw your product. If you sell a product which has some IP value then you would have to get the customer to sign a contract which says that they will not show it to any one who has not signed a similar contract with you.

IP law should be there to eliminate this need, the fact that this law is hazy when applied to software is why Microsoft etc. have ridiculous EULAs.

In my opinion patent law should be restricted to specific innovations rather than ideas. You should be able to patent a pseudo code algorithm, but not an idea. E.g. compression routines vs. BT's insane hyperlink patent claim.

As far as copyright is concerned then I think copyright should not be transferrable and should expire at a fixed point after the death of the authors. Where someone is employed to create content for a company then they should grant an exclusive license to their employer to use their copyrighted material.

[ Parent ]

pragmatism (none / 0) (#88)
by tps12 on Wed Aug 21, 2002 at 07:28:05 AM EST

Again, your suggestions make "common sense." They strike a balance between complete government-enforced monopoly and complete liberty. The libertarian stance would (or should) be that any steps toward government control are immoral.

[ Parent ]
Copyright lengths (5.00 / 1) (#137)
by Dragomire on Wed Aug 21, 2002 at 12:58:53 PM EST

Current copyright law lasts for the lifetime of the creator plus 70 years.

I'm unsure as to how long corporate copyrights last, but it is a set amount of time. The reason the Sonny Bonny Act went into effect was because Disney, Warner Bros. and a few other companies lobbied congress to pass it. Why? Because Mickey Mouse was set to enter the Public Domain. Followed soon after by Buggs Bunny, Donand Duck, Daffy Duck, etc.

The Sonny Bono Act effectively increased copyrights by 20 years. Expect Disney et al to try and get copyrights increased again in the next 10 years or so, because even with the 20 year extension, Mickey Mouse will enter the Public Domain in 2016.

Certain other things have differing lenghts. Software copyrights, for example, are at a set 75 years. No more, no less.

[ Parent ]

Longer than you think... (5.00 / 1) (#147)
by upsilon on Wed Aug 21, 2002 at 04:40:05 PM EST

OK, here's the deal as laid out in US copyright law (17 USC 302): For works made by an individual, copyright is for the life of the author plus 70 years. For works made by multiple authors not for hire, copyright endures until 70 years after the death of the last surviving author.

In the case of works for hire, it's a bit different: copyright lasts for 95 years after date of first publication or 120 years after date of creation, whichever comes first.

There's other details in the copyright law (such as works by anonymous authors), but that's the gist of it right there.

Thus, since Mickey Mouse first appeared in "Steamboat Willie" in 1928, he now enters the public domain in 2023.

However, I see nothing in the USC to substantiate the "75 year software copyright". As far as I can tell, software is treated as any other copyrightable work, with the corresponding terms of copyright as I have laid out above... Did I miss something?


--
Once, I was the King of Spain.
[ Parent ]
stuff (none / 0) (#225)
by Dragomire on Thu Aug 22, 2002 at 05:00:50 AM EST

I actually knew about the corporate terms (for hire), but was tired when I worte that, and had forgotten. You are correct that works for hire are 95 years from publication OR 120 years from creation, whichever comes first. IE if a work is finally published 119 years after it was written/created by other means, it does not gain an addtional 94 years of copyright protection.

As to Mickey Mouse et al, if you click the "next" link in your link provided, you will see that certain copyrights are ending this year. Unfortunately, some of the wording is obtuse. However, it does appear that since Mickey Mouse et al were not in the public domain by January 1, 1978, that you are correct as to the time of 2023. Other copyrights that had not yet entered the public domain in 1978, but were much closer to doing so, might be expiring Dec. 31 2002.

Of course, the whole idea of retroactively extending copyrights made on a date 20, or more, years before the legistlation was enacted seems a bit absurd. By this enactment, anything that had just been ready to enter the public domain in 1998 was effectively given a 20 year 'bonus' copyright.

As to the software, I may have been thinking of Japanese copyright law. I remember reading something from Nintendo (a Japanese company) about the use and distribution of ROMS and emulators. They had stated that the term was 75 years. Of course, it could have also been a typo.

[ Parent ]

There's currently a legal challenge to this (5.00 / 1) (#166)
by aphrael on Wed Aug 21, 2002 at 05:21:01 PM EST

being brought before the supreme court by Lawrence Lessig and others. The case is Eldred v. Ashcroft, and more information is available at the website of Copyright's Commons.

The basic argument is that the most recent extension violates the constitutional provision that grants Congress the power to secure copyright "for limited Times", and that *retroactive* term extensions are violations of the first amendment.

Significantly, the circuit court said that the law was fine; the fact that the supreme court took the case implies that at least some of the justices disagree with the circuit court.

[ Parent ]

Revising IP (none / 0) (#115)
by Znork on Wed Aug 21, 2002 at 10:47:21 AM EST

Bell Labs, IBM Research and MS Research would release their findings either way. Or they would cease to exist rapidly, being without a point.

We already have a lawless frontier. You may have missed it, but the biggest corporations with the biggest bucks usually do win, because the little guy cant afford to defend his patent in court anyway. Not to mention that the big guys can usually countersue the little guy for countless of patent violations over trivial ideas they've patented as an exercise.

The idea of IP as a stimulant for innovation has been corrupted and doesnt work anymore. Trivial ideas that are the result of natural progression are allowed to be patented rather than new insights. Rather than protection for the little inventor they've become a legal liability for anyone developing new products.

But I'd agree they would have some use if they followed the original intent. For that to happen we'd have to revise most IP laws from the ground up. Starting with vastly stronger checking of what is actually patentable innovations. And probably progressing until patents and copyright become non-transferrable entities that only individuals can hold title to.

[ Parent ]

But ... (none / 0) (#118)
by waverleo on Wed Aug 21, 2002 at 11:07:20 AM EST

... (this point has been mentioned before, I believe) IP is made scarce artificially. If you have one diamond, and want another, tough luck. If you want another "idea" (not even going to address the metaphysical problems here) just write it down or tell it to a friend.

IP is fundamentally from all other property: once distributed it ceases to be a scarce resource. Hence, if economics deals with the distribution of scarce resources (which it does, read any economics intro), it cannot apply to "IP".

People-time is scarce, intellectual property is not.

Leo

[ Parent ]

Creativity is Scarce (none / 0) (#156)
by Kintanon on Wed Aug 21, 2002 at 05:01:39 PM EST

The Creativity (tightly linked to man-hours) is the scarce product that most people who support IP law point to. Since not everyone could have come up with the idea, there is a scarcity of creativity which makes the idea valuable. All perfectly reasonable and understandable, right? So you keep the idea in your head until you find someone who will buy it, then you sell it to them, take your money and go think of another idea. The company makes the product you gave them the idea for. End of transaction, right? Well, what if you go sell the idea (since you still have it) to someone else as well? You've transferred ownership of your idea twice, and still have it. Of course, what if someone else looks at the widget that is being made and says, 'Hey! I can make those!' and does so, do you deserve any money for it? In my opinion, no. Once you've made the original sale the Idea is out of your hands, if you can sell it to other people great for you, if someone picks it up and starts making it, too bad, you made your money already.
Or am I being hopelessly naive?

Kintanon

[ Parent ]

I had assumed ... (none / 0) (#168)
by waverleo on Wed Aug 21, 2002 at 05:25:59 PM EST

... that the blatantly obvious was a given. The fact that there does not exist an infinite well-spring of ideas renders their generation scarce, as I mentioned. That does not detract from the fact that information (of which ideas in the IP sense of the word are an instance) fundamentally differs from other forms of property.

If you can't afford a watch and you take someone else's, you have deprived them of a piece of property. If you can't afford a piece of software (literally beyond your means) and you copy it off someone else you have not deprived anyone of anything.

Leo

[ Parent ]

help me out (none / 0) (#123)
by lonemarauder on Wed Aug 21, 2002 at 11:14:18 AM EST

Let's accept your premise for a moment, and move on to the practical question...

If ideas are the purview of individuals, and if IP exists to protect the property of individuals, give me an example of invidual protection under IP. From where I'm sitting, IP laws seem only to protect corporations from the innovation of their competitors and employees, to say nothing of potentially allowing the content industry to summarily put a stop to the free exchange of information.



[ Parent ]
Don't pull this "perception is reality" (none / 0) (#153)
by kcbrown on Wed Aug 21, 2002 at 04:57:55 PM EST

Don't you see? Physical property is an idea. Ultimately, these real, "physical" things are just ideas in your head, and in other's heads, interpreted and filtered through the mind. I don't see why, ultimately, notions of physical or intellectual property should necessarily vary at all.
If I come over there and punch you in the head, don't get mad at me -- it was just an idea in your head.

If all of reality is just "ideas in your head" then you can leave the discussion now because it means that the current state of IP and property is also just some idea in your head, and has nothing to do with any external reality.

Either there's an external reality which has elements beyond your control or there's not. Choose one.

Intellectual ideas are created by one man, they are toiled and sweated over by him, and it is Just that he should have some say over how they are used, and how they spread, within reason. That, in the end, is the final point, that a Man should have an absolute right to have ownership over his creations, and a right to profit from them.
Thinks so, huh?

Okay then...then see if you can think of one, just one useful idea (one that you might want to patent) that you had that was not in any way influenced, inspired, or derived from someone else's idea or from nature itself.

A truly unique, new, and useful idea which doesn't build on top of something else is so rare that one has to wonder if it exists at all. So that leaves the remaining 99.9999999999% of the ideas out there that aren't so unique.

And you think that people in the rest of the world should be forced to pay someone for coming up with a slightly new and slightly unique twist on what has already been done before? What right do they have to the money of others just because they took the thoughts and expressions of someone one step further?

The concept of "intellectual property" is useful for one thing and one thing only: to encourage people to publish their ideas so that the state of the art is improved. And it might not even be useful for that. How would we know, without examples of societies where such things weren't enforced by law? We've already seen what happens when you take "intellectual property" too far: we get the mess we're in right now, where corporations crow about how every lame brained half-idea is their "intellectual property".

[ Parent ]

Uhh....not quite. (4.66 / 3) (#38)
by Bill Barth on Tue Aug 20, 2002 at 11:59:40 AM EST

Now if you come up with the same clever machine, without ever seeing mine, then you are free to start making money off of it, without paying me.
Suppose I haven't signed any contract with you, but I have seen your clever machine (i.e., I went to the store and bought one or borrowed it from a friend). What's to prevent me from copying its design and producing my own version of your great toy at a reduced cost since I haven't incurred your development expenditures? I think that this is the situation that patent law was designed to prevent. Without the patent system there is no way for you to force me to sign a contract in order for me to get my hands on your product. The hardware store isn't going to be interested in doing the contract negotiation every time it sells your WhizBang2000 Hammer-of-Death-and-Nail-Pounding. Don't tell me that your going to slap an EULA on every good that you produce and expect the courts to enforce your terms.

Patents are like compulsory contracts on the buyer of goods. They carry the force of the law to prevent copying of designs and ideas of inventors. It's really the abuse and mismanangement of the patent system that has gotten us into trouble lately, not its existence.


Yes...I am a rocket scientist.
[ Parent ]

yes, EULA's (3.00 / 1) (#39)
by tps12 on Tue Aug 20, 2002 at 12:10:19 PM EST

I sign a contract with every distributor, each of whom sign contracts with every retailer, each of whom sign contracts with every consumer, each of whom sign contracts with everyone to whom they resell the machine.

It sounds tedious, but most of these would be standard contracts, so you would save time by signing a single agreement with a third party that then agrees with any retailers you patronize that you effectively agree to any terms of contracts for goods you buy. In the end, the consumer experience would be much the same, except when selling used goods.

[ Parent ]

Sorry, don't like it. (4.66 / 3) (#58)
by Bill Barth on Tue Aug 20, 2002 at 06:12:53 PM EST

It only takes one. One person (per product) to write up a design spec and send it through a third party as an "idependently developed" invention to a company who wants to compete.

Besides, companies love to advertise their new features and products, most of which are patented. Am I going to have to sign a contract with every manufacturer who might adverstise in order to watch my television lest I steal and idea having seen it once on TV? I don't mean to be rude, but your plan is way more than tedious. It's hopelessly impractical and Byzantine.

The legal implications of your thrid-party contracting are horrible. If I've agreed to any possible terms, what's to prevent them from taking my firstborn? Besides, I don't want to have to sign a contract to buy a grapefruit only to find out that I've agreed to buy a grapefruit spoon, some soap, and a new car!


Yes...I am a rocket scientist.
[ Parent ]

yes (5.00 / 3) (#59)
by tps12 on Tue Aug 20, 2002 at 06:33:18 PM EST

Welcome to the free market. Ayn Rand supported patent laws because she believed that businesses were so great that they should enjoy privileges not available to normal people. Patents are a pragmatic device intended to spur economic development. However, they aren't defensible (to my satisfaction, anyway) by any kind of consistent morality.

It's even debatable whether patent laws truly do aid businesses. Surely, they protect patent holders. But they hurt the firms that would compete in the production of patented goods. They even hurt innovation (the "rabbit" corkscrew is a good example...as soon as the patent expired, a bunch of new, better, cheaper variations on what had until that point been essentially a static design, became available to consumers). Inefficiency and stifling of innovation: sounds like a government enforced monopoly. Which is exactly what it is.

I apologize for suggesting that contract law could practically replace patent law. Clearly, it would not. Companies that rely on IP would have to adapt. But I think we would all be better off for it.

[ Parent ]

Real Property for example? (4.75 / 4) (#63)
by iwnbap on Tue Aug 20, 2002 at 07:42:21 PM EST

This is like saying there's no difference between real property and other kinds of physical property.  However this isn't the law; there is a huge system of title, planning permissions, limited leases, and so on sitting behind real property.  When you have freehold title to a piece of land it isn't yours in the same way that a brick is yours if you own it.  You simply cannot do whatever you want. As an example, if you build an illegal dwelling, some nice person from the council will come along  and knock it down.


Similarly intellectual property is a special construct.  It is not property in the same way a brick is property.  Consider compulsory disclosure of patents; why must I tell everyone that I own a patent, and precisely what it is?  Because a patent is not a brick.  


Essentially when you say:



The simple fact is, there is no genuine distinction between "intellectual property" and physical property, or any other sort of property.


you are simply wrong.  There are genuine distinctions between different kinds of property.   All that "property" means is that you have a right over something which is (generally) transferrable. It does not say anything about the nature of the "something".


You have to say more than "intellectual property is property, so people shouldn't be able to copy mp3s".  You have to say the rights assigned to intellectual ideas need to be sufficiently broad to prohibit the copying of mp3s on a non-commercial basis for some reason. You need to justify that allocation of rights. Just because the mp3 is "property" doesn't mean that people can't copy it wholesale.


[ Parent ]

awesome (5.00 / 1) (#178)
by btb on Wed Aug 21, 2002 at 06:03:36 PM EST

best. troll. ever.

[ Parent ]
And... (4.50 / 4) (#34)
by Ken Arromdee on Tue Aug 20, 2002 at 11:54:36 AM EST

I don't consider myself a libertarian, because I do have some disagreements (I don't necessarily think affirmative action is bad, for instance, and I wouldn't agree with a libertarian position of doing away with public libraries or the space program).

But I am somewhat libertarian on a lot of issues. And with respect to IP, IP is a government granted monopoly. You may call it 'property' but it's not really the same as physical property.

But from there, I'd have to disagree with you. Someone who doesn't believe in intellectual property might not care about Microsoft's intellectual property theft. But consider then that Microsoft's entire existence has been based on its *own* intellectual property. If anyone could make a copy of Windows the same way anyone with a pile of wood could build a table, Microsoft would not exist. So someone who doesn't like intellectual property should *still* be anti-Microsoft. In fact, the government's antitrust action is just the government toning down what it gave to Microsoft in the first place.

[ Parent ]

Those aren't libertarians (2.00 / 3) (#47)
by PullNoPunches on Tue Aug 20, 2002 at 01:54:25 PM EST

But most of the little-l libertarians I've read consider "intellectual property" an unnatural creation of the state that discourages competition.

Those aren't libertarians, they are socialist-anarchists who are so pathetic that they think riding libertarian coattails will give them a step up.

------------------------

Although generally safe, turmeric in large doses may cause gastrointestinal problems or even ulcers. -- Reader's Digest (UK)
[ Parent ]

well... (1.60 / 5) (#48)
by tps12 on Tue Aug 20, 2002 at 01:59:08 PM EST

You're a poopy pants.

[ Parent ]
speak of the devil (4.50 / 2) (#60)
by mikpos on Tue Aug 20, 2002 at 07:14:28 PM EST

This topic just came up in another thread.

Not that it matters much anymore, but the socialists did use the word "libertarian" before the capitalists did. Many socialists still accuse the American Libertarian Party of riding the coat-tails of the socialists (as you put it), but that doesn't make much sense to me. It would seem pretty foolish of the capitalists to want to be associated with socialists.

Likewise, your assertion that socialists are riding the coat-tails of capitalists, even if it weren't factually incorrect, wouldn't make much sense at all.

I believe both camps were influenced by political philosophies of individual freedom that were floating around at the time, and arrived at the word relatively independently.

[ Parent ]

Could be (3.00 / 1) (#68)
by PullNoPunches on Tue Aug 20, 2002 at 09:31:23 PM EST

That's interesting information. One way or the other, the word libertarian does not mean what I thought it did a few years ago. Either you are correct, and the word never did mean that, or the word is getting usurped by the socialists. The problem is that in politics, meanings are constantly shifting, either from one group trying to associate itself with another, or one group trying to differentiate itself from another.

I could call myself a liberal, and say that the socialists took that word, but it wouldn't help anybody understand what I meant. Even "capitalist" has been corrupted to mean "socialist who sells stock".

So I think I'll just call myself a propertarian. At least for now, it doesn't leave a lot of room for doubt.

------------------------

Although generally safe, turmeric in large doses may cause gastrointestinal problems or even ulcers. -- Reader's Digest (UK)
[ Parent ]

Who gets the word 'libertarian'? (4.00 / 1) (#95)
by Shren on Wed Aug 21, 2002 at 09:03:58 AM EST

Well... whoever is fighting for liberty! Since we never seem to get all the liberty we want, indeed, we always seem to be losing liberty, obviously the liberty is in the direction we arn't going. During the rise of state capitalism, anarcho-socialism was 'libertarian'. Now that the needle of state swings towards socialsm, capitalistic anarchy is 'libertarian'. If the whole shebang collapsed into total violent anarchy, we'd doubtless have people running around yelling 'authoritarianism! FOR LIBERTY!'

Libertarian is perpetually the oppisite direction of the state - but anarchist is such a dirty word in many minds. (Not that really has any bearing on the possibility of an anarchist future. Democracy was once a dirty word, too.)

[ Parent ]

Liberty from business (none / 0) (#236)
by DodgyGeezer on Thu Aug 22, 2002 at 11:04:36 AM EST

> "Libertarian is perpetually the oppisite
> direction of the state."

I'm sure we're now seeing increasing numbers of people wanting liberty from corporations than the state.  Personally I'm happy with my government: it doesn't threaten me.  I just find its constantly bowing to American pressure contemptible and pathetic - we'd have more personal freedom if they didn't, e.g. legalized pot.  I'm pro free-market (on a global scale too), but I'm not pro-business.  They seem to operate outside of the laws that we've imposed on our goverments, e.g. laws to protect us from the goverment.  I think the G7 protesters are deluded, but they are the tip of iceberg as people around the world worry more and more about liberty from corporations.

[ Parent ]

That's an out and out lie (none / 0) (#172)
by RyoCokey on Wed Aug 21, 2002 at 05:46:04 PM EST

The Libertarian party platform refers to real property rights only. Not that of ideas. Patents and copyrights are specified in the constitution, and we support a strict interpretation of that. Extending it to software and genes is ridiculous. Expanding the term beyond that suggested by the constitution is unconstitutional (Sunny Bono Copyright Extension Act.)



If there really is a causation between porn and rape, then I say bring on the bukkak
[
Parent ]
That's far different (none / 0) (#179)
by PullNoPunches on Wed Aug 21, 2002 at 06:04:05 PM EST

Than a rejection of intellectual property. It's somewhat leans that direction, but it is not a rejection of IP.

Besides, the LP is infested with anarcho-socialists, its no surprise that the platform reflects this.


------------------------

Although generally safe, turmeric in large doses may cause gastrointestinal problems or even ulcers. -- Reader's Digest (UK)
[ Parent ]

Definitions (none / 0) (#205)
by RyoCokey on Wed Aug 21, 2002 at 10:22:36 PM EST

It wasn't referred to as intellectual property at that time. The phrase was intentionally coined to try to expand the definition. Thus I object to the "concept of intellectual property" but not copyrights on books, patents on chemical processes, etc.



If there really is a causation between porn and rape, then I say bring on the bukkak
[
Parent ]
Thos are communists in libertarian clothing. (1.00 / 1) (#162)
by bitgeek on Wed Aug 21, 2002 at 05:10:05 PM EST

They call themselves libertarians, but when you get down to it they are liberals who actively support their own enslavement.

Especailly the GNU crowd- - a larger modern communist movement I have never met.

If they were libertarian, they would accept that the software industry is a free market.  GNU products have thier advantages and compete well, but they would not oppose the right of people to make non-GNU software, as stallman does.
-- Between 1982 and 1988 US Income tax revenues doubled from approx. $500 Billion to $1 trillion due to Reagans tax cuts.
[ Parent ]

hm (4.50 / 2) (#170)
by tps12 on Wed Aug 21, 2002 at 05:31:16 PM EST

I have no problem with making GNU software compete in the free market against closed source software. Patent law, however, is decidedly anti-free market.

If I have a factory that can churn out five widgets a day, while your factory can only manage three at the same cost, then in a free market you would have to adapt to survive. But if you hold the patent on the widget, then you get free monopoly status, backed up with government guns, for seventeen years. You might even decide to just make two a day, just to drive the price up a little. The consumers suffer, because a) the most efficient producer (me) is not permitted to produce, and b) you no longer have any motivation to improve or replace your product, because you have a guaranteed monopoly.

The retort is that I will then be motivated to invent my own product, so that I can have my own monopoly. But that is a pragmatic, as opposed to a moral response. IP laws are coercive tools used to give businesses an edge, and their existence is in opposition to the ideals of liberty.

[ Parent ]

Not just that... (5.00 / 2) (#169)
by wnight on Wed Aug 21, 2002 at 05:29:59 PM EST

While Microsoft broke IP laws it also used them and lobbied for the creation of more IP laws.

If you support IP laws, I think you need to call Microsoft a thief and a liar for stealing code and misrepresenting competitors' products.

If you don't support IP laws, I think you need to recognize the distastefulness of a corporation looking to bind their consumers by rules they've never read, and to force other companies to deal with them through unfair economic pressure.

By "unfair economic pressure" I don't just mean that MS didn't play nice, I mean that they leveraged IP laws to prevent their competitors from  seeking alternatives and then they started applying economic pressure to a captive audience. Every libertarian I've ever talked to has acknowledged that it's not a market I'm required by force (of law in this case) to deal with you. Microsoft's licenses are this way, buy our product (Visual Studio .NET) and you aren't allowed to use it to create GPL'd code. (Most libertarians I know support the GPL, either they see all IP laws as irrelevant, or they acknowledge that the GPL is a fair contract and that you have the choice of writing your own version. Copyright allows that, unlike patents.)

I think most libertarians also support honesty in business. Not necessarily telling everyone what your finances are like, but not lying about your competitors finances. While they perhaps don't support slander/libel laws, they usually agree that this isn't actual competition.

And, perhaps above all else, Microsoft, through the BSA, has government assistance in raiding your home or business, on the word of an informant alone, and searching your computers and files for unauthorized information. They also but the burden of proof on the citizen, not the government-backed thugs. I don't know many libertarians who support this...


[ Parent ]

And then.. (4.22 / 9) (#21)
by Eight Star on Tue Aug 20, 2002 at 08:31:58 AM EST

There are also those of us who are so Libertatian that we don't support most forms of property ownership, especially IP.

Precisely (3.75 / 4) (#23)
by RyoCokey on Tue Aug 20, 2002 at 09:15:48 AM EST

That would include myself. Anyone who terms software copying piracy has obviously never been waylayed on the high seas.



If there really is a causation between porn and rape, then I say bring on the bukkak
[
Parent ]
whether you like it or not, it's staying "pir (4.00 / 2) (#35)
by ceejayoz on Tue Aug 20, 2002 at 11:54:41 AM EST

http://www.dictionary.com/search?q=piracy

Fighting the definition is useless, it has already entered common usage...

[ Parent ]

ROFL!!! n/t (1.00 / 2) (#104)
by vile on Wed Aug 21, 2002 at 09:49:48 AM EST

That's almost sad!

~
The money is in the treatment, not the cure.
[ Parent ]
Hmm.. ot (none / 0) (#121)
by vile on Wed Aug 21, 2002 at 11:13:47 AM EST

someone seems to be pirating the messages I post here. Second time that's happened.. sigh. So, I'll try again. Message:

ROFL!!! That's nuts! Since when did that happen?

~
The money is in the treatment, not the cure.
[ Parent ]
If they keep devaluating thier terms, (4.50 / 2) (#57)
by mingofmongo on Tue Aug 20, 2002 at 05:51:15 PM EST

There won't be be anything splashy to call it when people start REALLY screwing with the IP Robber Barons.

"What they don't seem to get is that the key to living the good life is to avoid that brass ring like the fucking plague."
--The Onion
[ Parent ]

you're "so" libertarian (3.66 / 3) (#24)
by Shren on Tue Aug 20, 2002 at 09:17:54 AM EST

Which definition of Libertarian would that be? I'm worried about some word confusion here - the word Libertarian has meant many different things over the years. It's a word everybody loves to coopt.

[ Parent ]
Libertarian (3.00 / 1) (#100)
by Eight Star on Wed Aug 21, 2002 at 09:26:55 AM EST

Someone who thinks government should protect people's rights, and that's about all.

[ Parent ]
So denying people the right to IP is... (4.00 / 1) (#105)
by TunkeyMicket on Wed Aug 21, 2002 at 09:51:19 AM EST

...protecting their rights HOW? If I design something on my own and it is truely an invention of my own doing, why shouldn't I be allowed to have the exclusive rights to it. If IP wasn't enforced most businesses wouldn't be able to operate in the black. Alot of businesses today rely on IP to make money.

By taking away IP laws you are, in effect, removing rights from the people. If you're too lazy to do anything for yourself or to get a job to pay for things people have created, you're not being a very productive member of society. I think you just want a free ride.
--
Chris "TunkeyMicket" Watford
[ Parent ]
IP is a constructed right, not an inalienable one (4.75 / 4) (#144)
by ethereal on Wed Aug 21, 2002 at 03:31:25 PM EST

"Rights" to intellectual property, in the U.S. at least, are specifically created by the government in order to provide a benefit to society as a whole. The U.S. Constitution doesn't put intellectual property "rights" on the same level as basic human rights, such as the First or Fourth Amendments.

Removing IP laws is the same as removing, say, farm subsidies - it removes a government crutch that has supported some industry and also may or may not have been to the benefit of society as a whole. It is not like preventing political speech or throwing somebody in prison on a whim; you haven't oppressed someone as much as you've just stopped doing some things for them to help them out.

If you're too lazy to do anything for yourself or to get a job to pay for things people have created, you're not being a very productive member of society. I think you just want a free ride.

If you're too lazy to keep creating new intellectual property, and instead want to just sit their and earn money from past creations based on your intellectual property "rights", perhaps it's you who's not a productive member of society, and wants a free ride on the government's behalf :)

That was a tongue-in-cheek exaggeration, of course, but the important point is that intellectual property "rights" exist as part of an arrangement that is supposed to benefit society, not because of an innate human "right" to be able to control forever the fruits of one's creativity. If the bargain shifts too far away from being a benefit to society, then it is entirely reasonable for society to renegotiate the arrangement with rights-holders.

--

Stand up for your right to not believe: Americans United for Separation of Church and State
[ Parent ]

rights to what? (3.00 / 1) (#106)
by kubalaa on Wed Aug 21, 2002 at 09:53:26 AM EST

Humans have physical bodies, which means that to survive they must have physical possessions. Someone can kill you by taking all your food, so the concept of property defines this correctly as an act of force against you. Likewise you must control the means of production of your food, and housing, and so on.

[ Parent ]
EXACTLY! (none / 0) (#267)
by Eight Star on Sun Aug 25, 2002 at 11:33:53 PM EST

Likewise you must control the means of production of your food, and housing, and so on.

If I said that, I'd be accused of being anticapitalistic.

[ Parent ]

sorry, no (4.00 / 1) (#114)
by avdi on Wed Aug 21, 2002 at 10:45:05 AM EST

That's like me saying I'm so Socialist that I don't believe in any social safety net at all.  I can say it, but it just means I don't understand the term.  Look it up. That's just not libertarian, and it's certainly not "big-L" libertarian.  Property rights is a fundamental tenet.  If you don't support property rights, you're not libertarian, you're something else.

Note that I don't specifically include Intellectual Property rights in that definition.  I'm iffy on them myself, as a libertarian.  I believe in ownership of tangible property of the kind that when I give it to someone else, I cease to have it myself.  I'm leary of the laws which attempt in futility to create an artificial scarcity of something of which there can be no real scarcity.  And I don't believe I should be paid in perpetuity for work I did once a long time ago, which is what most IP laws are crafted to ensure.  And I am certain that Patent laws, even if they were once intended to encourage good capitalist entrepreneurialsm(sp?), have now been entirely subverted to encourage the opposite of that.

--
Now leave us, and take your fish with you. - Faramir
[ Parent ]

Pro-Market vs. Pro-Business (4.20 / 10) (#26)
by Anatta on Tue Aug 20, 2002 at 10:35:52 AM EST

I'm a libertarian, and while I think most anti-trust litigation against Microsoft is brought on by companies that can't compete with Microsoft asking for government aid, I certainly would not consider Microsoft a shining light of libertarian principals.

Most businesses are not pro-market, despite their rhetoric. They love to get taxpayers to subsidise their profit-making venture, or tariffs raised to shut out their competitors, because it makes it easier for them to make money. In the long run, though, such policies end up making everybody poorer.

Most libertarians are pro-market, not necessarily pro-business. I'm not exactly sure what the point of this article is.


My Music

Well, it is a nice article. (5.00 / 1) (#93)
by Shren on Wed Aug 21, 2002 at 08:55:26 AM EST

I had to use google instead of a local DB search, so I couldn't search in high detail, but I didn't see a better Microsoft refutation of any philosophy. That alone makes it interesting.

Also, you'd be suprised how many libertarians, especially new ones, mistake pro-market for pro-buisness, especially if they've read Atlas Shrugged somewhere along the way. I've lost track of how many arguments I've been in where they demand you allow "existing buisnesses would be more moral without government intervention" as a premise for free.

[ Parent ]

the argument that government corrupts business (none / 0) (#247)
by Wolf Keeper on Thu Aug 22, 2002 at 04:39:12 PM EST

is actually pretty logical, it just has too narrow a focus.  

If government has a lot of authority to influence business, then whichever business is most willing to bribe legislators will be successful.  The most corrupt player will win.

If government has very limited authority to influence business, then a business willing to bribe legislators won't have any edge.  The business that offers the best value will win.  

It makes sense.  But it doesn't consider all factors.  If the government stopped controlling business, Apple might just start outperforming  Microsoft... right until Microsoft took advantage of the government's passive stance to engage in false advertising, bribing the CEOs and CFOs of major companies, or outright assassination to regain their edge.  Unfortunately, the corrupt business still has an advantage.  It may be smaller, but it still exists.

[ Parent ]

If you were a libertarian... (none / 0) (#161)
by bitgeek on Wed Aug 21, 2002 at 05:07:53 PM EST


... you would oppose microsoft.

That's the point of the article.

This is not a situation of companies failing to compete.  Thats a convenient excuse that pro-microsoft people who don't want to really think about it much often use.

Microsoft violated property rights wholesale.  Hell the windows GUI is a illegal copy of the Mac GUI.

If you were a libertarian, you would take property rights as a core belief, and thus you would oppose the theft of other people's property, including when it is done by microsoft.
-- Between 1982 and 1988 US Income tax revenues doubled from approx. $500 Billion to $1 trillion due to Reagans tax cuts.
[ Parent ]

Pro-market vs. pro-Individual freedom (4.00 / 1) (#219)
by DodgyGeezer on Thu Aug 22, 2002 at 02:33:50 AM EST

Right-wingers are pro-market. Libertarians are pro-individual freedom. That's not to say you can't be a right-wing Libertarian. I can see how many Libertarians wouldn't be pro-business, as many of the huge corporations today impinge on personal freedoms more than the State does. It's also possible to be pro-market, but also authoratarian (opposite of libertarian) too.

[ Parent ]
Corruption ... (3.00 / 7) (#29)
by frillyfrufru on Tue Aug 20, 2002 at 11:17:35 AM EST

is part of the capitalist mode of production. Here's the punchline: rare isn't the kurobot5wanan who disdains religion because there isn't any empirical evidence for its precepts, yet who believes in a free market. Capitalism (the ideology) is a rational religion.

---
Madame Bovary, c'est moi!

Not really... (4.50 / 2) (#53)
by Urthpaw on Tue Aug 20, 2002 at 04:06:29 PM EST

Being someone, who, as you said "disdains religion because there isn't any empirical evidence", I don't think it's hypocritical to support capitalism. It's not that I "believe in" Capitalism, but rather, I haven't seen any other system that works better in a modern, industrialized society. That counts as empirical evidence to me.

[ Parent ]
Just cause you close your eyes... (none / 0) (#160)
by bitgeek on Wed Aug 21, 2002 at 05:05:34 PM EST

... doesn't make the market go away.

In fact, only by closing your eyes and pretending the world is different, can you hold such an idiot perspective.

Wake up.  Stop advocating slavery.
-- Between 1982 and 1988 US Income tax revenues doubled from approx. $500 Billion to $1 trillion due to Reagans tax cuts.
[ Parent ]

show me this: (none / 0) (#246)
by Wolf Keeper on Thu Aug 22, 2002 at 04:31:10 PM EST

In the 6,000+ years of human history, show me the religion that raised the standard of living for human beings as much as secular government and capitalism have in the last hundred years. I don't think it's possible. Define capitalism as a religion if you want. This 'god' has done more to aid the human condition then any of the previous ones. And unlike the previous ones, it doesn't claim to give the follower perfection. I'll take it. Science and research, which are an integral part of capitalism, have helped eradicate some diseases and fight others. Life spans have improved. Quality of living for some has increased. Perfect? Not by a long shot. But I'd die before I lived the rest of my life like a 17th century citizen of any part of the world.

[ Parent ]
Islam & Romans (none / 0) (#250)
by DodgyGeezer on Thu Aug 22, 2002 at 05:22:03 PM EST

Go and read about the rise and fall of the power of Islam as an empire.  You might be surprised at how much they advanced science and literature during their time.  You could even make comments about the Romans who went around civilising the world - they were a bunch of religious nuts in my opinion.

[ Parent ]
Industry Legend (none / 0) (#42)
by davidduncanscott on Tue Aug 20, 2002 at 01:01:35 PM EST

industry legend has it that WordPerfect Corporation ported their word processor from CP/M to PC-DOS by changing one byte of machine code.
Considering that CP/M was written for the 8080 and MS-DOS (IBM's versions was PC-DOS) for the 8086, that would have been a neat trick -- the two chips are more-or-less source-code compatible (just about every 8080 instruction has a corresponding 8086 instruction), but not binary compatible.

As for similarities, of course MS-DOS emulated CP/M. At the time, CP/M was the dominant business micro OS. That, per se, makes it "stolen" in much the same way the Linux is "stolen" from Unix. (BTW, if you want to hate somebody for the backslash, hate Kildall -- CP/M used the forward slash for option switches, so MS-DOS did likewise). And why didn't Kildall have the money to sue Microsoft? Digital Research was practically printing the stuff back then.

Oh, wait a sec':

Kildall allegedly went to IBM
"QDOS, which is an abbreviation for Quick & Dirty Operating System, was derived (pirated, it has been said) from CP/M
"allegedly", "it has been said"...maybe you could find a source with sources?)

On the other hand, all the best people are named "Duncan". :)

CP/M and Dos are so compatible (3.16 / 6) (#55)
by mingofmongo on Tue Aug 20, 2002 at 05:28:22 PM EST

that the 'com' style executables have the exact same binary header info on both systems. The 'changing one byte' quip might be exaggeration, but it might not.

Dos was stolen, not in the "Teacher, he copied me" way, so much as in the "They stole all the code while they were reviewing it in preparation to buy it" way.

Bill Gates is a theiving bastard who got where he is by family connections and familly money - and later by just stealing and badgering - not by any business skill, or by virtue of good products.

"What they don't seem to get is that the key to living the good life is to avoid that brass ring like the fucking plague."
--The Onion
[ Parent ]

Huh? (none / 0) (#124)
by davidduncanscott on Wed Aug 21, 2002 at 11:21:55 AM EST

What header on a CP/M com file? It's been a long time, but my recollection is that com files were simple memory images -- save a chunk of memory to disk, and there you are (Life was simpler back in 8-bit days.) Are you thinking of CP/M-86?

Bill Gates may be Evil Incarnate, but I don't think he shot JFK and I don't think he "stole" CP/M. Emulated it, yes, just as FreeDOS emulates MS-DOS, but that's not theft and neither was MS-DOS.

Put it this way: is DOS written in PL/M or C?

[ Parent ]

Executable files have header info to tell (none / 0) (#140)
by mingofmongo on Wed Aug 21, 2002 at 02:28:33 PM EST

how to execute them. The headers on com files are exactly the same as in CP/M.

"What they don't seem to get is that the key to living the good life is to avoid that brass ring like the fucking plague."
--The Onion
[ Parent ]

Sort of (none / 0) (#173)
by RyoCokey on Wed Aug 21, 2002 at 05:48:21 PM EST

The 256 byte "header" on COM files generally is blank in the file, and isn't used. In DOS, you could actually just omit it entirely and start your code at the first byte.

The PSP header is built when the program is executed, and includes sections like "CALL 5" redirects that are obviously there for CP/M compatability.



If there really is a causation between porn and rape, then I say bring on the bukkak
[
Parent ]
And what, pray tell (none / 0) (#251)
by davidduncanscott on Thu Aug 22, 2002 at 05:23:19 PM EST

...would you need to tell CP/M? It loads the image into the TPA (0100H) and jumps to the first byte of the TPA. That's it. If you want things like a stack, that's the programs responsibility, not CP/M's.

Stuff like relocation arises in 16-bit worlds, but in 8 bits you just keep banging those rocks together.

[ Parent ]

CP/M (5.00 / 4) (#69)
by John Thompson on Tue Aug 20, 2002 at 10:05:14 PM EST

duncan bayne wrote:

industry legend has it that WordPerfect Corporation ported their word processor from CP/M to PC-DOS by changing one byte of machine code.

And davidduncanscott replied:

Considering that CP/M was written for the 8080 and MS-DOS (IBM's versions was PC-DOS) for the 8086, that would have been a neat trick -- the two chips are more-or-less source-code compatible (just about every 8080 instruction has a corresponding 8086 instruction), but not binary compatible.

As I have several CP/M machines and early MS-DOS machines around here still, I can attest that they are not binary-compatible. However, source code written for CP/M systems can readily be recompiled for MS-DOS with only minor changes.

And as a historical note, WordPerfect never had a CP/M version; I suspect the OP intended to write "Word Star" instead, which was popular on both CP/M and MS-DOS.

Nor was DRI "practically printing money" at the time CP/M was popular. They were the dominant OS for business desktop computers, but that market was only a tiny fraction of the size of today's market and DRI did not have the degree of penetration that Microsoft currently has. There were many other non-CP/M (and non-MS-DOS) systems available then from Apple, Amiga, Commodore, Sinclair and others) and it was not clear then which, if any, would come to dominate. The position Microsoft currently holds is unprecedented.



[ Parent ]
DRI vs MSFT (none / 0) (#129)
by davidduncanscott on Wed Aug 21, 2002 at 11:36:52 AM EST

Yes, I over-stated it in saying "printing money", but they were certainly a sight bigger than Gates' little operation, and since IBM was careful not to have bought MS-DOS, but rather simply agreed to bundle it cheaply, there wouldn't have been any real need to sue Big Blue. My guess is that DRI would have sued the hell out of Microsoft if they'd had a case.

Yes, there was a much more diverse market out there, but it's worth noting that Microsoft derived a significant chunk of their pre-IBM income from the 8085 card for the Apple II, enabling users to run CP/M on the Apple. Of all the computer companies you and I could remember if we exerted our graying heads (Cremenco, North Star, Sage...) how many were CP/M machines, and how many had proprietary OS's (and of that latter group, how many had a business role?) Not many offices used Sinclairs for their accounting, or even Amigas. Commodores did a fair amount of business work in Canada and Europe, of course, and VisiCalc surely made Apple, but most small DP work, the market targetted by IBM, was done on CP/M.

[ Parent ]

Yes and no (4.80 / 5) (#89)
by epepke on Wed Aug 21, 2002 at 08:21:07 AM EST

I worked on a project like this back in the early 1980's. We had a fairly mature CP/M product that ran on a lot of computers. When the IBM PC came out, of course we needed to port it. We decided to port to CP/M-86 as an intermediate step.

Porting to CP/M-86 was essentially a null operation, because the 8086/88 was assembly language compatible with the 8080. This, incidentally, is the source of all that little-endian crap that makes Intel processor development such a "joy" today. The only difference was in the treatment of the status registers, which was all mungable by a source code filter you could get for free. For performance reasons, we went through and fixed them. (This was a high-speed bisynchronous communications package, and the 8080 version at first ran too slow. We were getting 56KBaud on 2 MHz 8-bit machines, and at first the PC could only do about 16KBaud.)

The biggest hassle was changing our HIOS, the portion of the code that talked to the serial hardware. (Because we were doing bisync rather than async, it was a bit trickier.) All the 8-bit machines we used were either bisync-ready or could be made bisync with minor hardware mods (jumpers and switches). The IBM PC, however, was engineered so that this was impossible, requiring you to buy a $250 bisync card, starting another distressing trend that has continued until this day.

That having been done, our code was still CP/M, but for the 8086/88.

Then we had to convert it to MS/DOS. (Not specifically PC/DOS--there were other machines, such as the Zenith Z-100 that we supported, too. Yes, Virginia, there was a time when Zenith not only made televisions but made computers, too. It was actually quite an excellent machine. The color graphics model, for example, was way ahead of its time. But I digress.)

It would be an exaggeration to say that it only required changing one byte, but it wouldn't be a large exaggeration. It was an utterly trivial job. I imagine a word processor would have been even easier to do. Strictly speaking, CP/M-86 is still CP/M and was already for the 8086/88. That's where the "-86" comes from.


The truth may be out there, but lies are inside your head.--Terry Pratchett


[ Parent ]
Good writing, bad thinking (2.00 / 5) (#50)
by enVy on Tue Aug 20, 2002 at 02:53:44 PM EST

You repeatedly attack MS for using the court system to silence corporations and individuals.

The courts are a tool. MS is using a tool to their benefit.

Perhaps you should be criticising the courts and not MS.

What, now the tools get the blame? (4.66 / 3) (#91)
by Shren on Wed Aug 21, 2002 at 08:50:07 AM EST

If I shoot somebody, can I blame the gun?

[ Parent ]
IOW people don't kill people, guns do (NT) (2.66 / 6) (#101)
by kubalaa on Wed Aug 21, 2002 at 09:33:04 AM EST



[ Parent ]
On first read, I thought you were full of it, but (none / 0) (#185)
by Mantikor on Wed Aug 21, 2002 at 06:23:27 PM EST

...now I'm conflicted.

The DMCA could be considered a tool, but although we despise the people who abuse it, we DO recognise that it's a bad tool, and we try to remove the tool instead.

So, because the courts allow something (via a law, I imagine), is the court the tool, or the law?


[ Parent ]

It's a COMPUTER company! (3.66 / 6) (#54)
by wji on Tue Aug 20, 2002 at 05:12:17 PM EST

No computer company could possibly deserve "libertarian praise". Computers were developed within the military sphere and handed over to corporations once they were profitable. Just like networking (University sphere this time) and the Internet. This is the way the system works.

In conclusion, the Powerpuff Girls are a reactionary, pseudo-feminist enterprise.
Marx has left the building... (1.00 / 3) (#56)
by mingofmongo on Tue Aug 20, 2002 at 05:41:19 PM EST


"What they don't seem to get is that the key to living the good life is to avoid that brass ring like the fucking plague."
--The Onion
[ Parent ]

What ? (none / 0) (#70)
by fhotg on Tue Aug 20, 2002 at 10:56:08 PM EST

Yes, but how is this not compatible with 'libertarian' philosophy ??
~~~
Gitarren für die Mädchen -- Champagner für die Jungs

[ Parent ]
Um? (4.28 / 7) (#72)
by wji on Wed Aug 21, 2002 at 12:40:05 AM EST

I'd think that using STOLEN taxpayer money to finance EVIL SOCIALIST development projects is kind of incompatible with GOD-GIVEN principles of free-market competition. The Microsoft WELFARE QUEEN corporation owes its existence to technologies developed by the EVIL BLOATED POINTY-HEADED BURECRATIC FEDERAL DICTATORIAL government, making it an odd candidate for libertarian praise under any circumstances. It's like holding up THAT BASTION OF FEDERAL PROPAGANDA, PBS as an example of the wonders of the free market. (Although it's fast becoming that way, what with documentaries on corporate responsibility being underwritten by Enron...)

If you're a "libertarian", read through unadulturated, if you're sane omit the bolded words. The idea is everyone gets an argument they can understand.

In conclusion, the Powerpuff Girls are a reactionary, pseudo-feminist enterprise.
[ Parent ]

haha (3.00 / 1) (#83)
by fhotg on Wed Aug 21, 2002 at 02:04:34 AM EST

If you're a "libertarian", read through unadulturated, if you're sane omit the bolded words. The idea is everyone gets an argument they can understand.
a good one !

I get your drift now, however, libertarianism still remains a mystery to me: I thought libertarians accept military spending and its funding, because it's needed to defend the essential ingredient, private property, against external (i.e.evil socialist) forces. If that wouldn't be the case, there wouldn't be much companies left to praise, as the high-tech sector as well as the industrial sector are both heavily dependent on these kind of subsidies.

In case something useful comes out of military expenditures, it should be sold (to decrease the need to steal tax) to the highest bidder, because this automatically favours the entity which can make the most profit from it, and this in turn guarantees (by means of the infallible invisible hand) the optimal use of that resource.

Admittedly, I'm ignorant about the canon of this fine religion and might be dead wrong.
~~~
Gitarren für die Mädchen -- Champagner für die Jungs

[ Parent ]

libertarians (5.00 / 1) (#116)
by lonemarauder on Wed Aug 21, 2002 at 10:49:41 AM EST

I thought libertarians accept military spending and its funding, because it's needed to defend the essential ingredient, private property, against external (i.e.evil socialist) forces.

Most Libertarians aware of Waco and Ruby Ridge would disagree. Libertarians are a varied lot these days, and are therefore very easy to take shots at. You have everyone from bleary eyed free love drug legalization fanatics to right wingers too extreme for the Republican party. They agree on almost nothing other than the idea that there simply is too much authority. Libertarians are just as capable of viewing the "invisible hand" as a euphamism for back-room deals and the good-ol-boy network as they are of impuning PBS for being a leftist propaganda outlet.

Their idea of property rights usually has a lot more to do with being able to use sex toys and marijuana in their homes than with Microsoft's "intellectual property" rights.



[ Parent ]
The bigger danger... (4.63 / 11) (#77)
by Dragomire on Wed Aug 21, 2002 at 01:07:32 AM EST

However, is the fact that even though MS has been found to be an illegal monopoly, according to the law, they aren't even getting what could be considered a slap on the wrist.

I don't care if you're Libertarian, Conservatrive, Pro-Barney the Dinosaur, or whatever, not seeing the potentially damaging effects that this can bring about is plain stupid.

MS has settled with most of the states who sued them. However, these settlements do absolutely NOTHING to curb MS' monopolistic practices, and in fact ENCOURAGES MS to do more of the same in the future, with no threat of legal action taken against them. In effect, MS has won the war, even though they lost the first battle.

An example is that one part of the settlement is that MS will 'donate' computers, and MS products to schools. What does this do? Curb monopolistic practices? Not at all. It allows MS a new gateway into an area that one of their competitors, Apple, has normally held a strong presence in. It encourages MS to spread it's monopoly even further.

This also sets bad precidents for other companies that can become monopolies. Take Clear Channel, for example. If CC was able to buy up every radio station in the US, because of the precident set with the settlemets of MS, nothing would be done to them, even though they'd control all radio media. Clear Channel already owns 60% of all the rock and roll radio stations in the US.

MS should have been fined $100 billion, forced to not raise software prices to make up for the fines for a set amount of years, and had all of it's high ups, including Billy Boy, sentenced to years of jail time. Instead, MS continues doing buisness as usual, and is now being given more oppertunities to spread it's monoploy power into new areas. And that's the real kicker to it all.

School donations (none / 0) (#133)
by salsaman on Wed Aug 21, 2002 at 12:10:30 PM EST

An example is that one part of the settlement is that MS will 'donate' computers, and MS products to schools.

I agree with most of what you're saying, but I think that that was offered as a 'punishment' in a civil trial, and was rejected by the judge in that case.

[ Parent ]

I hope they win that war (none / 0) (#174)
by duncan bayne on Wed Aug 21, 2002 at 05:48:27 PM EST

Microsoft should be punished where it has stolen, or committed fraud. Microsoft should not be punished for being an 'illegal monopoly' - that's basically punishing them for being too good at what they do.

The irony of it is that you support competition up to a point - you want the State to force Microsoft to allow its competitors to compete more freely, but not allow them to beat their competitors outright. In other words, you don't like winners.

Sheeple.



[ Parent ]
Stupid (4.00 / 2) (#189)
by Danse on Wed Aug 21, 2002 at 06:35:51 PM EST

Microsoft should not be punished for being an 'illegal monopoly' - that's basically punishing them for being too good at what they do.

Do you even know what an "illegal monopoly" is? It means that they obtained monopoly status by breaking the law. Are you saying that they should not be punished for that? That it's a legitimate way to do business? Great. I can't wait to buy stock in the Mob's upcoming IPO. I'm sure they'll take off like a rocket.






An honest debate between Bush and Kerry
[ Parent ]
I won't speak for duncan... (none / 0) (#193)
by magney on Wed Aug 21, 2002 at 07:06:35 PM EST

Do you even know what an "illegal monopoly" is? It means that they obtained monopoly status by breaking the law.
...but it seems to me that, in rejecting the concept of an "illegal monopoly", one is disagreeing with the very premise of the law you refer to them as breaking.

Personally, I'm ambivalent on the matter.

Do I look like I speak for my employer?
[ Parent ]

Ok... (none / 0) (#194)
by Danse on Wed Aug 21, 2002 at 07:30:21 PM EST

If that's his argument then I would have to ask him how he justifies a monopoly, apparently gained through any means possible, as anything but a bad thing. When a company has overwhelming control of a market, then most of the benefits of capitalism are lost. I don't see how this is defensible.






An honest debate between Bush and Kerry
[ Parent ]
No need to justify (none / 0) (#200)
by duncan bayne on Wed Aug 21, 2002 at 08:42:47 PM EST

IMO they should not be penalised for being a monopoly, nor for using that monopoly power however they choose (say, bundling IE and Windows), provided they don't steal, lie, or use force upon people in the process.

If they stole along the way (and they did), then they should be penalised for it. I just don't see how holding a monopoly makes this any different.



[ Parent ]
consider this... (5.00 / 3) (#201)
by Danse on Wed Aug 21, 2002 at 09:04:54 PM EST

A monopoly is the end goal of a business. The less competition they have, the more money they are likely to make. When an entrenched monopoly can prevent others from entering the market, then the benefits of the market system are no longer being realized by consumers in that market, thus the system has failed. Laws to restrain the actions of monopolies are a good thing. Becoming a monopoly is not a crime. Using tactics that attempt to prevent others from entering the market (which are more or less effective depending on the market. All markets are not created equal) only allows a single company to charge monopoly prices, which is likely to aid them in monopolizing other markets as well. The end result of this is that you have a few companies that control a group of markets each, and competition is non-existant.






An honest debate between Bush and Kerry
[ Parent ]
Additionally... (5.00 / 1) (#224)
by Dragomire on Thu Aug 22, 2002 at 04:23:52 AM EST

When you have a monoply, you have fixed prices. And thes prices are not fixed for anything besides profit.

MS claims that the price they charge for Windows is the price the market can bear. This is pattently false. If there was more choice in the matter, the market would not bear an OS that cost more than $90. Instead, MS has figured that selling Windows XP at $200 makes it LOOK like a fair price, but it is completely maximized for profit.

The same happens in the music buisness. Even though there is competition between the big 5, they are all part of the RIAA. Thus they were caught price fixing for maximum profit, while appearing to be competing with each other. So smaller labels, who are not in the RIAA, were losing money trying to compete with the big 5. Add in that the RIAA member companies can buy more store space, and the smaller labels are selling even less, even if they sell below the price of the RIAA comapnies.

MS is a single monopoly, which price fixes its product. The RIAA is another type of monopoly, just with 'competing' companies within it, which also fixes prices.

[ Parent ]

Take an economics class? (4.00 / 1) (#220)
by number33 on Thu Aug 22, 2002 at 04:01:17 AM EST

Total surplus in a market dominated by an unnatural monopoly is substantially reduced.

And in the long run, you know, you get nice big gaping holes in security like the one we're hearing about now.

Monopolies are fantastic, aren't they?

[ Parent ]

One... (none / 0) (#226)
by Dragomire on Thu Aug 22, 2002 at 05:14:54 AM EST

In the dark land of Redmond.
One OS to rule them all.
One OS to find them.
One OS to bring them.
And in the Darkness bind them.
In the dark land of Redmond.

(With appologies to J.R.R. Tolkien)

One has to rememebr, however, that according to MS, it isn't a lack of security that allows litterally tens of thousands of major security holes to be discovered; it's the fact that Windows is so popular.

I suppose that's why FreeBSD has only had one major security hole found in it in the past 6 years...

[ Parent ]

Popular? (4.00 / 1) (#227)
by number33 on Thu Aug 22, 2002 at 06:15:11 AM EST

It's not exactly "popular".  It's just hard for your average consumer to get a computer without it, and has been for a while.  It's a self-reinforcing cycle.

Given how the web must be universally accessible, I'm rather annoyed the bread and butter of PC applications haven't gone the same route, allowing new operating systems to join the fray and suffer no severe incompatibilities.

And if computer users were split into a number of groups using different OSes, I should think the situation safer than having a single OS dominate.

[ Parent ]

Oops, were you being sarcastic? :) nt (none / 0) (#228)
by number33 on Thu Aug 22, 2002 at 06:17:52 AM EST



[ Parent ]
Kind of.... (none / 0) (#258)
by Dragomire on Thu Aug 22, 2002 at 11:39:35 PM EST

MS is the who said that it is because Windows is so 'popular' that it is constantly targeted for viral attack (and successfully targeted more often than not), not I.

What you said is more in line with the truth. The fact that it is nigh near impossible to get a computer these days without a version of Windows installed is a major factor in MS saying it is so 'popular'.

Hell, even if I buy a computer from an OEM (IBM, Dell, HP, etc.) that is naked (no OS or programs installed or come with it), or has a different OS (Unix, Linux, FreeBSD, BeOS, etc.) installed on it, MS makes the money from that computer's sale because of its licensing agreements with OEMs. In essence, no matter how an OEM sells a computer, MS makes the same money off of that sale whether it has Windows installed or not. SO MS makes money off of their competitors.

Unfortunately, it's also near impossible to find places that will sell a computer naked. Where most people go to buy computers, such as Best Buy, Circuit City, etc., Windows comes pre-installed as well. You have to know about little shops, places where you can buy computers naked. These smaller venues normally don't have the same licensing agreements with MS that the larger retailers and OEMs do. They will still sell you a computer with Windows, but they bought those Windows disks separately.

[ Parent ]

Consumer choice... (4.00 / 1) (#222)
by Dragomire on Thu Aug 22, 2002 at 04:17:03 AM EST

I would think that consumer choice would be very high on Libertarian agendas. More choices mean better products, overall, as well as lower prices.

How a Libertarian, or anyone else, can say that MS should be punished for theft, and yet not be punished for using that theft to become the monopoly they are, is beyond me.

[ Parent ]

If... (5.00 / 2) (#221)
by Dragomire on Thu Aug 22, 2002 at 04:14:07 AM EST

MS had actually gained their monopoly position through legal buisness practices, and having the best software available, then I would not care.

However, they have not done so. In fact, as you yourself have stated, they have lied, cheated and stolen to get to where they are today. By your own words, their monoply is based off of theft. If you think theft is wrong, then becoming a monopoly through theft should be thought of as wrong.

Bundling of IE into Windows did nothing to help the stability of the product, as MS claimed (in fact it hurts it, if IE crashes you lose 90%, if not all, of Windows with it). That tactic was simply a way to ensure that competing browsers could not get a foothold. Then they used their licensing agreements to ensure that no other competing software (Internet browsers, mail programs, media players, etc.) could be installed in OEM computers, thus reducing consumer choice.

Now, if a monopoly is one because they are the only ones offering a product, or they offer the best product, then fine. However, if they use their monopoly status to disrupt competiton and consumer choice, then that is illegal. If they blatantly steal the work of other competitors, under the guise of working with them (note that this happened with both Apple and IBM to make Windows), then that is illegal.

MS gained their monopoly status by blatantly stealing other's work. Now, if you say that theft is bad, then you should also say that becoming a monopoly through theft is also bad.

[ Parent ]

Sigh, move on. (3.45 / 11) (#84)
by cooldev on Wed Aug 21, 2002 at 02:19:15 AM EST

Yay. I'm going to blatantly stand up for Microsoft here. I won't even bother addressing those ancient dubious allegations. My intent is to give you a perspective of my thoughts... let the brainwashing accusations roll in.

The Penalty of Leadership

In every field of human endeavor, he that is first must perpetually live in the white light of publicity. Whether the leadership be vested in a man or in a manufactured product, emulation and envy are ever at work. In art, in literature, in music, in industry, the reward and the punishment are always the same. The reward is widespread recognition, the punishment fierce denial and detraction. When a man's work becomes a standard for the whole world, it also becomes a target for the shafts of the envious few. If his work is merely mediocre, he will be left severely alone. If he achieve a masterpiece it will set a million tongues awagging. Jealousy does not protrude its forked tongue at the artist who produces a common-place painting. Whatsoever you write, or paint, or play, or sing, or build; no one will strive to surpass or to slander you unless your work be stamped with the seal of genius.

Long after a great work has been done, those who are disappointed or envious continue to cry out that it cannot be done. Spiteful little voices in the domain of art were raised against our own Whistler as a mountebank, long after the big world had acclaimed him its greatest artistic genius. Multitudes flocked to Bayreuth to worship at the musical shrine of Wagner, while the little group of those whom he had dethroned and displaced argued angrily that he was no musician at all. The little world continued to protest that Fulton could never build a steamboat, while the big world flocked to the river banks to see his boat steam by.

The Leader is assailed because he is a Leader, and the effort to equal him is merely added proof of that leadership. Failing to equal or to excel, the follower seeks to depreciate and to destroy, but only confirms once more the superiority of that which he strives to supplant. There is nothing new in this, it is as old as the world and as old as the human passions of envy, fear, greed, ambition, and the desire to surpass. And it all avails nothing. If the leader truly leads, he remains the leader. Master Poet, Master Painter, Master Workman; each in his turn is assailed, and each holds his laurels through the ages.

That which is great makes itself known, no matter how loud the clamor of denial. That which deserves to live, Lives.

The above was an ad from 1915 by Cadillac, and is considered to be one of the greatest ads ever run. I believe there is a lot of wisdom in that text, with respects to both industry leaders like Microsoft, world leaders like the United States*, popular music, art, actors, movies, cars, etc. Elitists always shun what the masses like because they "know" it's crap. The only problem is that the the elitists shun, but they don't create anything. They sit on the sidelines and merely judge.

* I've found there's a strong correlation between Microsoft bashing and US bashing, and it's not a coincidence we see a lot of both here.

That is all.

Disclaimer: These are my thoughts only, I am not speaking on behalf of my employer or anybody else.



Lost Opportunity (3.75 / 4) (#103)
by gauntlet on Wed Aug 21, 2002 at 09:48:17 AM EST

I was dissapointed with your response, cooldev. In the face of a poorly executed attack, instead of ignoring it as you might, or merely sending back what force is necessary to repel it, you fly flags and sound trumpets.

What you have said, though the ad agencies of 1915 were somewhat more elegant than today's, is "The only reason you attack us is because we're the best."

I'll ask you to think about these things: Did everyone own a Cadillac? Do we increasingly find that we have no option but to listen to Wagner's music? How many days can you go without using a steamboat?

Competitors may attack Microsoft because it is in front, as the author of your advertisement is inclined to believe. Regular people, however, attack it not beacuse it is in front, but because it is everywhere.

Into Canadian Politics?
[ Parent ]

Yeah (none / 0) (#216)
by cooldev on Thu Aug 22, 2002 at 02:14:47 AM EST

I was dissapointed with your response, cooldev. In the face of a poorly executed attack, instead of ignoring it as you might, or merely sending back what force is necessary to repel it, you fly flags and sound trumpets.

You're right. I try to ignore these, but every once in a while it's late at night and I can't let it pass without comment. The inner advocate in me wants to get out, but since it is inappropriate for me to comment directly on many of these issues I fell back on a more touchy-feely response.



[ Parent ]
Response.. (none / 0) (#107)
by vile on Wed Aug 21, 2002 at 10:01:04 AM EST

Great point, excellent text, good thoughts. The first reply also says a thing or two, as well.. maybe you should listen to that, too.

~
The money is in the treatment, not the cure.
[ Parent ]
Reasoning (4.00 / 4) (#108)
by Znork on Wed Aug 21, 2002 at 10:02:26 AM EST

Your reasoning would be valid, were it not for the fact that a lot of Microsofts detractors are arguing points where they have solid evidence proving the accusations.

You'll note, if you examine the Cadillac ad, that while Master Poet, Master Painter and Master Workman are mentioned, Master Criminal isnt. Al Capone may have been a leader of his field; would you argue that he was assailed merely due to his being a market leader?

Microsofts products may or may not be crap, but that is beside the point. Elitists may shun them or not, but that isnt going to land Microsoft in court time after time. Violating the law is. This  isnt about the penalty of leadership. This is about the penalty of engaging in criminal practices.

[ Parent ]

Perception vs. Reality (none / 0) (#215)
by cooldev on Thu Aug 22, 2002 at 01:51:26 AM EST

Your reasoning would be valid, were it not for the fact that a lot of Microsofts detractors are arguing points where they have solid evidence proving the accusations.

My comment was not that MS is completely innocent (very few big companies are), but that it's disproportionately vilified because of its prominance. This leads to a huge disconnect between what really goes vs. how it's portrayed by the media, and especially how it's portrayed by sites like /.



[ Parent ]
Not *necessarily* a bad thing (none / 0) (#223)
by number33 on Thu Aug 22, 2002 at 04:19:18 AM EST

The disproportionate vilification you speak of is, I think, a necessity in countering the disproportionate power Microsoft has in circumventing the law, compared to smaller businesses and people like you and me.

It's no secret that our court system undeniably favors the rich.  Not intentionally, mind you, but because of compromises we are forced to make in the search for truth.  And judges who are in a company's pockets are, in fact, real.

So sayeth Professor Malcolm Feeley of the University of California, Berkeley, and many other legal scholars, to boot.

[ Parent ]

parallels (4.50 / 4) (#110)
by lonemarauder on Wed Aug 21, 2002 at 10:18:00 AM EST

I find a flaw in the parallels you intend to draw between Fulton and Gates in the ad you cited. To my knowledge, no one has told Gates that he cannot produce a technically inferior and criminally insecure O/S and use strongarm tactcis to force everyone to use it. Therefore, no one has gathered on the shoreline to see this edifice of Capitalism steam by.

I fear you have your Fultons and Fords confused with railroad barons.



[ Parent ]
Let me get this straight.... (5.00 / 4) (#112)
by Harpalus on Wed Aug 21, 2002 at 10:36:53 AM EST

Your argument boils down to "leaders take a lot of heat because they are leaders..." Well that is certainly obvious, completely true and yet utterly pointless.

The problem, as raised by the author is how microsoft came to be a leader. Not microsoft is a leader therefore they are bad and should be hated. It is an important argument that has to do with the legitimacy of leadership when it is ill gained.

And now we come to that little gem of a statement at he bottom of your post "leaders like the united states" I love that statement, so much room for debate and yet I doubt that anything I say about it will sink anydeeper than those cadillac ads you are so fond of.

Is the united states a leader, well yes it is:
No 1 in military Spending per capita
No 1 in percent of population imprisoned
No 1 in teen pregnancy rates among develloped countries
No 1 in percentage of people living below the poverty line among developing countries
No 1 in amount of CO2 produced per citizen

Oh NO statistics I must be america bashing. Give me break, stop using arguments like everybody hates america because americs is the leader therefore it must be true that america is the leader. Prove to me that america is the leader of world as surely as 1 + 1 = 2 and i'll go with it, but you are going tohave to work harder than quoting an cadillac ad.

[ Parent ]

america basher (1.00 / 1) (#171)
by MyraLuva on Wed Aug 21, 2002 at 05:45:52 PM EST

of course youre america bashing. you failed to mention other statistics (no 1 in GDP, anything good, etc.) and your implication that no 1 in military spending per capita is bad... why? america is leader of the world because we can outspend, outfight, and generally outcompete any other entity on the planet. only if that ever changes will america not be leader of the world.

[ Parent ]
Not exactly (5.00 / 1) (#181)
by Mantikor on Wed Aug 21, 2002 at 06:13:09 PM EST

I believe the point was that America has it's dirty side too, and when you pay attention to some of those nastier points (achieved by POINTING THEM OUT, holy shit!), America doesn't exactly look like a shining solid gold world leader.

Another sub point is that just because a huge number of people hate America, doesn't mean that this is proof they are the world leader - given his list, there are enough reasons to hate America beyond so-called "world-leadership".


[ Parent ]

ah yes... (4.00 / 1) (#211)
by mairidhin on Thu Aug 22, 2002 at 12:01:09 AM EST

jingoism at its best. how old are you? 3? There is much more to being a world leader than being able to outspend, outfight, etc. America always tries to take the moral high ground and fails miserably (yes i'm an American).

[ Parent ]
huh? (3.00 / 1) (#213)
by MyraLuva on Thu Aug 22, 2002 at 12:37:18 AM EST

give me a better example of how to judge an entire society against another. the ability to outcompete another country is completely objective, which is more than one can say about "moral high ground". who do you think is the world leader if not the US?

countries and political systems around the world are gradually looking more and more like the US. its irrelevant whether thats a bad thing because of the homogenization of societies, whether the US is forcing its will to bring about this change, etc. etc. the fact is: thats how it is, thus the US is the world leader.

[ Parent ]
it is not that simple (5.00 / 1) (#239)
by mairidhin on Thu Aug 22, 2002 at 12:55:15 PM EST

Making a judgement about who is the world leader is far more complex than just using a metric like 'leader in GPD'. The only thing that metric says is that the US is the world leader in GDP. It says nothing about overall world leader.
the fact is: thats how it is, thus the US is the world leader.
No. That is your opinion. It is not fact and there is little point in continuing this conversation if your thinking is that black and white.

[ Parent ]
What are your goals in life? (none / 0) (#249)
by DodgyGeezer on Thu Aug 22, 2002 at 05:17:37 PM EST

How about the happiness and fullfillment of it's citizens?  I don't like GDP as a metric of how good a country is as it fails to take in to consideration quality of life, and it encourages consumption and destruction of the world around us.  My goal in life is not to be bigger, better and richer than my neighbour (which is a pretty shallow attitude that rarely leads to happiness), but get through it happy, comfortable and stress free, and without hurting my neighbours too.  As I probably have different goals in life than you, I probably put emphasis on different metrics of comparison.  At the end of the day though, I see little need to compare myself with others - I'm just not that insecure about my situation.

[ Parent ]
But does the Emperor have clothes ? (2.00 / 1) (#132)
by salsaman on Wed Aug 21, 2002 at 12:05:39 PM EST

I'd like to shout "*Free* Software !" at Microsoft conventions.

[ Parent ]
Correlation != Causation (3.66 / 3) (#157)
by bitgeek on Wed Aug 21, 2002 at 05:03:11 PM EST


Yes, idiot liberals bash Microsoft.

But smart libertarians do as well.

The points made in the article stand.  Microsoft is a criminal enterprise.

You're knee jerk support for them merely because liberals are bashing them is the act of one spouting an ideology rather than thinking for himself.

Even a broken clock liberal is right twice a day--  Microsoft is a blatent violator of property rights.  

You cannot support capitalism without supporting property rights.

Therefore, you cannot support microsoft if you truly support capitalism, as you say.
-- Between 1982 and 1988 US Income tax revenues doubled from approx. $500 Billion to $1 trillion due to Reagans tax cuts.
[ Parent ]

What about the lack of dividends? (2.50 / 2) (#86)
by cts on Wed Aug 21, 2002 at 05:40:03 AM EST

<disclaimer>I haven't bought any stock other than through the company I worked for, so I don't know who gives out dividends anymore.</disclaimer>

Why does a company with $31B in "short term investments" not pay dividends. I want pay back for MS-DOS 4.0 and having to learn that stupid psuedo-code of MSC (6 or 7.) Alright, I'm really asking for some good info on dividends and capitalism in general, but does any remember the pain of DOS (and the comparitive beauty of the BIOS?)
Or maybe it's the fact that I read how MSFT stock could have gotten me $1M in '92 if I bought $10,000 in their IPO, or if I had put $10,000 in '92 I would probably have a $1M now.

Sometimes it's better not remembering,
chris



why do stocks without dividends have value? (4.00 / 2) (#90)
by Shren on Wed Aug 21, 2002 at 08:47:04 AM EST

I know the arguments about increasing value, and that it's similar to real estate, but it has always suprised me that stocks without dividends are able to even remotely compete with stocks that offer them. "Look, we're making money. We'll even give you some." What could be more persuasive than that?

Companies these days - they want the press, the increase in value, and the stock options of public companies, yet have all of the advantages of private companies as well, such as control over assets.

[ Parent ]

Its about leadership (4.00 / 2) (#92)
by X3nocide on Wed Aug 21, 2002 at 08:52:56 AM EST

As far as I can tell, the value of common stock is leadership. Each stock gets a vote at stockholder meeting votes. Commonly stockholders vote on the board of directors, who in turn control the C?O's. So each share represents a tiny amount of control over the company and its resources.

pwnguin.net
[ Parent ]
when I throw a rock (3.50 / 2) (#97)
by Shren on Wed Aug 21, 2002 at 09:06:37 AM EST

When I throw a rock, I have control of it. It doesn't mean it automatically has value. Similarly, no matter how much microsoft I own, I can't walk in and grab some source code.

[ Parent ]
If you own 100 percent of the stock... (5.00 / 1) (#99)
by X3nocide on Wed Aug 21, 2002 at 09:09:46 AM EST

you can do whatever you damn well please. Its now your fucking company.

pwnguin.net
[ Parent ]
Not if the company is incorporated in Delaware (5.00 / 2) (#141)
by valency on Wed Aug 21, 2002 at 02:46:01 PM EST

Seriously, read up on Delaware State Incorporation statutes. There's some terrifying stuff in there. Management has more control than stockholders.

---
If you disagree, and somebody has already posted the exact rebuttal that you would use: moderate, don't post.
[ Parent ]
even 51% should be work, wouldn't you think? NT (none / 0) (#148)
by ethereal on Wed Aug 21, 2002 at 04:44:03 PM EST


--

Stand up for your right to not believe: Americans United for Separation of Church and State
[ Parent ]

Who cares then.... (none / 0) (#186)
by Danse on Wed Aug 21, 2002 at 06:25:36 PM EST

So unless I control 100%, my stock is basically worthless because it doesn't entitle me to a share of the profit or anything else of tangible value.






An honest debate between Bush and Kerry
[ Parent ]
The arguments against dividends (4.66 / 3) (#98)
by X3nocide on Wed Aug 21, 2002 at 09:08:38 AM EST

I'm not here to defend the practice but to expose it. The Nader arguments are somewhat correct. A company with that much in liquid or semi liquid assets that doesn't pay dividends is performing the job of a tax shelter. From a share holder perspective (especially the high execs) reinvesting the money in the company is more valuable than paying taxes on it and giving it away, shifting the tax from an yearly income tax to a capital gains tax when you finally sell MS. Theres a saying, "A tax deferred is a tax lessened." The yearly tax on dividends is money that could have reasonably been spent on growth of shareholder value. The problem with this comes in that a lot of the reinvestment is not in their own company but in loans and other "financial securities." I remember a Salon article saying that MS makes half its revenues from Windows and the other half from interest.

Another good reasoning is that MS has some major legal liablities at the moment and 40b in the bank is a pretty good way to offset that in the balance sheets. Yet another reasoning is that MS may be planning an acquisition. When it was broke to the public just how much money MS is managing, the "market capitalization" of Sony was approx. 40 billion. If MS decided they needed a strong hardware manufacturing and distrobution arm, they could almost afford to buy MS outright. Fortunately, if word got out that MS was trying to buy Sony then there'd be a major increase in the value of the stock. Basically 40b wouldn't be quite enough as people would be more willing to hold on to their shares until MS acquired a majority of the shares, increasing the price of shares.

pwnguin.net
[ Parent ]

only cash cows, not "innovators", pay di (5.00 / 1) (#102)
by sethg on Wed Aug 21, 2002 at 09:36:10 AM EST

Zimran Ahmed comments on this (scroll down to the May 21 and May 28 entries). Aside from the tax advantage that someone else mentioned, if MS spent its cash horde on dividends, or bought back more of its own stock, then they would be admitting to Wall Street that they don't have any new ideas. If MS were really such an innovative company, shouldn't they be ploughing that cash into R&D, to generate new innovations that would further increase their earnings?

[ Parent ]
Ok... (none / 0) (#183)
by Danse on Wed Aug 21, 2002 at 06:15:19 PM EST

But doesn't that make the stock market into a big game of musical chairs? Everyone passes the stock around, trying to sell higher until someone gets stuck holding a stock that has gone into the crapper. There is no real value in the stock itself. You will never get any money from it unless you can convince someone else to buy it from you for more than you bought it for.






An honest debate between Bush and Kerry
[ Parent ]
Dividends == Corporate Irresponsibility (2.33 / 3) (#154)
by bitgeek on Wed Aug 21, 2002 at 05:00:14 PM EST


Any growing company that pays dividends is one that should have no value-- for obviously the company does not respect its shareholders.

I don't know why it is all these liberals get it in their thick heads that dividends are shareholders right or something-- it not as if they buy stock to begin with anyway, thinking it is all some las vegas style gambling.

That ignorance is enough annoyance-- don't add the "companies who don't pay dividends are stealing" bullshit on top of it.

Dividends are taxed like regular income.  Capital gains have a lower tax rate.  Any company that holds onto the $5 per share in dividend they would otherwise pay increases its book value by $5 a share... which increases its stock value.  If you realize that $5 increase by sellign you're stock, you pay %10 or %20 on it in taxes.

On the other hand, if they gave you that $5 in cash as a dividend, you'd pay %30 or %38 in taxes on it.  

Furthermore, if they retain that $5 they can put it into a plant, or other investment that will return $0.50-$1.50 a year for the next 20 years, meaning that $5 in retained earnings returns $30 in further earnings over the next 20 years, which can in turn, also be reinvested to return even more money.

This is what compound growth is.

Anyone who questions dividends does not understand compound growth.  

(And I'm not saying this to attack the person I'm responding to-- but to attack the people who put the question in his head.  Nadar is an idiot, who by the way, sells short stocks that he's going to bash and then gets  protection money from the companies to call off his "watchdogs".)

If you want a good explanation of why companies should never pay dividends, look at the CEO of the most valuable company on the NYSE (in terms of share price) Berkshire Hathaway.  Read the book Buffetology which explains it well, or if you're cheap read the website for the company which has letters from the chairman going back at least ten years.  He discusses the issue periodically (and a lot of other stuff.)
-- Between 1982 and 1988 US Income tax revenues doubled from approx. $500 Billion to $1 trillion due to Reagans tax cuts.
[ Parent ]

dividends (none / 0) (#203)
by felixrayman on Wed Aug 21, 2002 at 09:57:24 PM EST

There is an article in a recent issue of the Economist that references a study which found that companies that don't pay out dividends usually do an awful job of reinvesting the money, and that investors would be better off getting the dividends and reinvesting them themselves instead. As the article pointed out, why would a large companies 20th best idea be more profitable than another companies 1st best idea.

The other argument against investing in companies that refuse to pay dividends is one of verification. It is hard to verify if a company is telling the truth on its balance sheet. It is hard to tell if a company's revenues are real. It is hard to tell if a stock buyback program announced by a company is all smoke and mirrors or not. A long record of paying out dividends on a regular basis is hard to fake, and so there is a risk premium on companies that don't have such a record.

Call Donald Rumsfeld and tell him our sorry asses are ready to go home. Tell him to come spend a night in our building. - Pfc. Matthew C. O'Dell

[ Parent ]
oh come on (none / 0) (#210)
by mairidhin on Wed Aug 21, 2002 at 11:49:20 PM EST

stick to the facts and cut the stupid name calling and generalizing. For example:
I don't know why it is all these liberals get it in their thick heads that dividends are shareholders right or something-- it not as if they buy stock to begin with anyway, thinking it is all some las vegas style gambling.
Not all of us "liberals" think that and many of us buy stock.

Also Ralph Nader is far from an idiot. Read "Unsafe at any speed" and see what that did for the auto consumer and see how much of an idiot Nader is. Please post some proof to back up your assertion about his use of stock.

[ Parent ]

Is this how Libertarian orthodoxy gets shared? (4.20 / 5) (#111)
by Ruidh on Wed Aug 21, 2002 at 10:23:05 AM EST

Personally, I don't care what Libertarians do or don't think, but it's still sort of disturbing to see how the Party Line gets promulgated.

Why should Libertarians all think the same way with respect to Microsoft?
"Laissez-faire is a French term commonly interpreted by Conservatives to mean 'lazy fairy,' which is the belief that if governments are lazy enough, the Good Fairy will come down from heaven and do all their work for them."

You are misunderstanding the argument (4.40 / 5) (#113)
by aphrael on Wed Aug 21, 2002 at 10:37:49 AM EST

the author of the article is alleging that Microsoft has violated numerous core principles of libertarian thought, and is pointing out that it is logically inconsistent for someone who holds certain beliefs about private property, etc, to be a strong supporter of Microsoft.

[ Parent ]
No, I'm understanding it all too well (4.00 / 1) (#149)
by Ruidh on Wed Aug 21, 2002 at 04:45:32 PM EST

The Libertarian orthodoxy says that Microsoft is wrong and so you'd better conform if you want to call yourself a Libertarian.

I don't care about the merits of the argument either way becuase I'm not a Libertarian, though I do have an appreciation for protecting individual liberty.

What I am reacting to is the instance on ideological conformity inherent in the article.  That's the scary part.
 
"Laissez-faire is a French term commonly interpreted by Conservatives to mean 'lazy fairy,' which is the belief that if governments are lazy enough, the Good Fairy will come down from heaven and do all their work for them."
[ Parent ]

Human Rights (2.50 / 2) (#151)
by bitgeek on Wed Aug 21, 2002 at 04:51:56 PM EST


Yes, those who actually support human rights, insist that they be supported.

They see them as a RIGHT, not a priviledge.

A RIGHT that people died for, and one that once you start to compromise, you end up, well, where we are today with the bill of rights ignored and major planks of the Democractic and Republican plantforms built on the outright violation of the bill of rights.

There is only one party, that I'm aware of, that supports human rights.  When defense against the general persecution of business bleeds over into support for microsoft, this error should be put out.

Your idea that this is a statement from on high is silly-- libertarians are individualists, and this is one individuals opinion.  Correct though he may be.

You DO miss the point.
-- Between 1982 and 1988 US Income tax revenues doubled from approx. $500 Billion to $1 trillion due to Reagans tax cuts.
[ Parent ]

*laugh* (3.00 / 2) (#152)
by aphrael on Wed Aug 21, 2002 at 04:56:58 PM EST

I don't see it as being about ideological conformity at all. It's not about social pressure to believe what everyone else does; it's an argument that the principles underlying [x] directly conflict with viewpoint [y]. It's totally reasonable to point to them and say "those are inconsistent, how can you believe both at the same time?". To do so is not to conjure up some nebulous enforcer-of-the-party-line; it is to attempt to use logic in a political argument.

Which, admittedly, is often construed as evil, and annoys the hell out of people engaging in the arguments. But it's not intimidation, and it's not demanding conformity to orthodoxy.

[ Parent ]

Laughing with you? (4.00 / 1) (#232)
by Ruidh on Thu Aug 22, 2002 at 10:04:48 AM EST

At the same time as you are trying to deny the ideological nature of Libertarianism, you give arguments to support it's ideological nature.

American politics is characterized by pragmatism. Values, even values that are deeply held, are sometime in conflict. Reasonable people can and do disagree on how to resolve those conflicts. You may disagree with how one politician or another balances conflicting values, but you'll never catch him with logical arguments from first principles.

Libertarianism, apparently, is ideological. There is no room for compromise because only one thing is valued and there is no conflict because everything is subservient to individual rights.

All I'm saying is that Libertarianism will continue to be a fringe movement becuase of its ideological nature and becuase of Amercian's fundamental distrust of ideologues. Should Libertarians be elected to some inportant political position, I expect that they would be turned out again in a very short time.

Americans want results, not ideology.
 
"Laissez-faire is a French term commonly interpreted by Conservatives to mean 'lazy fairy,' which is the belief that if governments are lazy enough, the Good Fairy will come down from heaven and do all their work for them."
[ Parent ]

wait a sec... (none / 0) (#180)
by Danse on Wed Aug 21, 2002 at 06:12:13 PM EST

I guess your real issue is with the fundamental tenets of Libertarianism, and who decides what they are. I think that they've been laid out pretty well over the years through consensus. If you don't agree with them, then why the hell would you even want to call yourself a Libertarian? Call yourself something else or nothing at all and be done with it.






An honest debate between Bush and Kerry
[ Parent ]
What part of ... (none / 0) (#188)
by Ruidh on Wed Aug 21, 2002 at 06:28:56 PM EST

I don't care about the merits of the argument either way because I'm not a Libertarian don't you understand?
 
"Laissez-faire is a French term commonly interpreted by Conservatives to mean 'lazy fairy,' which is the belief that if governments are lazy enough, the Good Fairy will come down from heaven and do all their work for them."
[ Parent ]
I understand fine... (none / 0) (#191)
by Danse on Wed Aug 21, 2002 at 06:56:02 PM EST

You are complaining that the article insists that Libertarians should be consistent in their beliefs because you seem to think that nobody should be able to establish what those beliefs are. Or possibly that everyone should be able to make up their own beliefs and still call themselves a Libertarian. I'm simply saying that if someone doesn't agree with Libertarian principles, then I don't see why they would want to call themselves a Libertarian in the first place. I was speaking hypothetically in my previous post. I didn't mean it to be directed at you.






An honest debate between Bush and Kerry
[ Parent ]
Excellent summary (none / 0) (#159)
by duncan bayne on Wed Aug 21, 2002 at 05:05:25 PM EST

Perhaps I should ask you to write my intro copy next time :-)



[ Parent ]
Finally!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! (2.33 / 3) (#119)
by glanz on Wed Aug 21, 2002 at 11:08:20 AM EST

Thanks for that article! Sometimes I feel like the Lone Ranger at Extremetech, for whom I write Linux and Open Source-related articles. I took the liberty of posting your entry there. ....just a snippet! ...Ralph Glanz Has-been hippy, FreeBsd Geek, and OpEnSoUrCe advocate , mathematician, MD and OfFiCiAl Drop out.

It's FDLd (4.00 / 1) (#158)
by duncan bayne on Wed Aug 21, 2002 at 05:03:57 PM EST

....just a snippet!

I've released the article under the FDL - feel free to distribute it in its entirety, if you desire. In fact, please do! :-)



[ Parent ]
Every fact in this article is incorrect (1.36 / 11) (#122)
by StephenThompson on Wed Aug 21, 2002 at 11:14:05 AM EST

I was there. This story is entirely false. A classic example of a know-nothing picking random 'facts' and making a 'story'.

This is what's great about academics (5.00 / 5) (#126)
by Quila on Wed Aug 21, 2002 at 11:34:16 AM EST

The author properly cited several sources to back him up. Now it's up to you to cite sources with opposing views to back up your assertion.

Let the games begin. We'll all come out of it a little smarter.

[ Parent ]

References/Links Seem Solid To Me (5.00 / 3) (#135)
by EXTomar on Wed Aug 21, 2002 at 12:31:36 PM EST

This article seems well researched. Properly cites all of the right stuff to support his article. If you can't use facts to make a report what can you use?

[ Parent ]
I was there too... (4.00 / 2) (#145)
by bitgeek on Wed Aug 21, 2002 at 04:32:34 PM EST


And the article fits the experience I've seen directly -- both while working for microsoft and while working for competitors.

I find it hard to believe you were there for the DR DOS case and for the  STAC case, unless you're an MS lawyer... in which case, you have no authority to speak.
-- Between 1982 and 1988 US Income tax revenues doubled from approx. $500 Billion to $1 trillion due to Reagans tax cuts.
[ Parent ]

Lame... (none / 0) (#177)
by Danse on Wed Aug 21, 2002 at 05:55:32 PM EST

Back it up or don't bother to post.






An honest debate between Bush and Kerry
[ Parent ]
You forgot Corona/Burst (4.66 / 3) (#139)
by bill_mcgonigle on Wed Aug 21, 2002 at 01:52:09 PM EST

Allegedly, Microsoft had extensive talks with Burst, gave them every indication there was going to be a license/buyout, got full source-code and technology briefings, then decided at the last minute to pull out and released 'their own' stunningly similar technology several months later.
ZDNet article

wow (4.00 / 1) (#231)
by Shren on Thu Aug 22, 2002 at 09:34:44 AM EST

Someone needs to start a company to buyout all of the companies that were crushed by Microsoft, then sue Microsoft for damages. There's better promise of return there than with the average dot.com...

[ Parent ]
Oxymoron? (4.50 / 4) (#142)
by ethereal on Wed Aug 21, 2002 at 03:11:28 PM EST

'unfair competition' (an oxymoron if ever there was one).

So, you don't believe in the rule of law for business, or perhaps for any pursuit? All competitions should be no-holds-barred to-the-death conflicts? Come strong, or don't come at all?

Or are you trying to say that it wasn't really a competition in the first place? I'm a little at a loss trying to figure out what a statement like this might mean. Perhaps I just need coffee, though.

--

Stand up for your right to not believe: Americans United for Separation of Church and State

All competition is fair (2.33 / 3) (#155)
by duncan bayne on Wed Aug 21, 2002 at 05:01:32 PM EST

So, you don't believe in the rule of law for business, or perhaps for any pursuit? All competitions should be no-holds-barred to-the-death conflicts? Come strong, or don't come at all?

All competition is fair. If Microsoft want to bundle products together, or leverage one product to compete in multiple markets, that's their business.

Theft is not fair, and that's what Microsoft does, and that's why I'm suggesting that, although they should be supported against anti-trust litigation, they should be castigated for their immoral behaviour.



[ Parent ]
Makes no sense... (none / 0) (#176)
by Danse on Wed Aug 21, 2002 at 05:54:08 PM EST

We've seen what happens with capitalism when anti-trust laws don't exist. That's why we have them now. Allowing a single company to take over an entire market, especially a critical market, removes virtually all of the benefits of capitalism.






An honest debate between Bush and Kerry
[ Parent ]
competition (4.66 / 3) (#202)
by ethereal on Wed Aug 21, 2002 at 09:50:02 PM EST

Unless you're talking a to-the-death struggle, "competition" is defined by the rules of the game that define how far before the death you stop. Even world wars are played by a loose set of rules governing prisoner treatment, etc. It's meaningless to speak of a competition of any sort without rules; if there weren't any rules at all the Microsoft could have just destroyed competitors by sending their larger employee base around to each to bash their heads in. Your agreement that theft is not "fair" implies your belief that there are rules to the competition.

Once you admit the need for rules in any sort of competition, it becomes clear that "fair" means adhering to those previously-defined rules, and "unfair" means acting outside of them. The only question is the extent of the rules, and in a larger sense whether the existence and enforcement of the rules is really a benefit to society. Which I believe is where you are saying that the anti-trust rules can be safely disregarded, while the rules against theft may not be so easily ignored. In this case, I tend to agree with the justification for anti-trust laws, and thus find those to be no more stifling to competition than the laws against theft which we both find to be "fair".

--

Stand up for your right to not believe: Americans United for Separation of Church and State
[ Parent ]

Very Pro-Capitalism Here... (2.80 / 5) (#146)
by Alethes on Wed Aug 21, 2002 at 04:39:44 PM EST

As an strong supporter of Capitalism and most of the Libertarian platform, I used to speak in defense of the Microsoft monopoly and just suggest that other software companies were just being whiny babies and they just needed to write better software, but over the last year or so, I've learned that in order for capitalism to work well there must be competition.  When one person or group controls the whole market it is no longer a Free Market system.

You were a strong supporter of capitalism.... (4.00 / 1) (#207)
by kisielk on Wed Aug 21, 2002 at 10:45:39 PM EST

but you didn't know it required competition to function properly?! If anything, that is one of the most basic requirements for a capitalist system, that's one of the ways a market can regulate itself. Remember that capitalism is about economic *freedom*. Last I checked, freedom does not mean having your competing business beaten down by large predatory corporations.

--
Talk, talk, it's only talk. Arguments, agreements, advice, answers, articulate announcements. It's all just talk."
- Elephant Talk, King Crimson


[ Parent ]
I'm curious (none / 0) (#255)
by epepke on Thu Aug 22, 2002 at 09:15:31 PM EST

Since Microsoft software has always been of poor quality (the original MS BASIC being the sole exception), and it's very easy to do better, what was your reasoning back then?


The truth may be out there, but lies are inside your head.--Terry Pratchett


[ Parent ]
Just the beginning... (2.50 / 2) (#150)
by bitgeek on Wed Aug 21, 2002 at 04:47:02 PM EST

I've been pointing out this hypocrisy to Libertarians and Objectivists for years.  The situation for Objectivists is much worse, as Objectivism allows now quarter when it comes to sanctioning people who violate property rights.  Thus any objectivist who supports microsoft, is not an objectivist, leaving very few real objectivists indeed.

Furthermore, this article just scratches the surface.  Microsoft has been caught with its hand in the cookie jar many times-- the ripping off of the Copyrighted and Patent Applied for Macintosh Gui being the biggest example, and lets not forget "Clearview" technology, which they announced, only to discover apple had patented it about 15 years prior.  

Hell, for the last 5 years Microsoft has been paying Apple billions in compensation as part of a "technology cross licensing agreement" that allows each of them to use the others technology without getting sued, and as reparations for MS's previous theft of apple technology-- brought about when apple caught them shipping quicktime code in part of windows media player.

Yes, it's still going on.  I've personally witnessed the attempts of microsoft employees to get their hands on the proprietary, patented code belonging to a company I worked for.   The threat was "play ball" (ie: give us the code) or we'll destroy you-- and they didn't mean on the field of competition.  

Anyone who is a libertarian or objectivist MUST stand behind human rights, and property rights are one of the most fundamental human rights.  (Those marxists of you who don't believe in property rights are arguing that we don't own our bodies and therefore should be slaves of the state-- for without property rights, who owns  your body?)

Lets not forget the property rights violated when Microsoft charged people for windows when they didn't want (or use) it.... or for the fact that their license agreement (the contract) clearly states that you can return windows if you don't agree to the terms, but they have never  once given anyone a refund.    Hell, the going out  of business dry cleaner has enough respect for their customer to still give refunds... but not microsoft.

And lets not forget that they have been going to schools and companies and demanding that they pay a license fee for windows for every computer they have (whether they've already paid the fee, or not.  whether the computer is running windows-- or even capable of it-- or not.)  and threatening legal action if they don't pay up.  That's extortion.  When you know you don't have a case, that's extortion.  And its illegal.  How can you demand that schools pay $200 for every Macintosh they have so that its legal to run windows when they aren't, won't and can't run windows on those computers??  How can that be justified?

With this continuous and blatent record of property rights violations, fraud, and outright criminal activity, Anyone who supports microsoft is not a moral person.  There is no moral justification for it.  You have overlook far too much that is far too obviously deliberately criminal behavior.

This is what I saw when I worked there.  This is what I've seen as a competitor, and this is also a matter of public record.  The public record is the tip of the iceburg of criminality, but it is enough that if you believe in human rights, you have no choice.
-- Between 1982 and 1988 US Income tax revenues doubled from approx. $500 Billion to $1 trillion due to Reagans tax cuts.

for the record... (none / 0) (#244)
by Wolf Keeper on Thu Aug 22, 2002 at 04:21:31 PM EST

I may be in the minority, but I'm a libertarian (but ex-Objectivist, not that it matters) that agrees with you fully. Microsoft is not an indicator of successful capitalism. They have abused the legal system and the market, and they did not rise to primacy through true competition.

[ Parent ]
marxian concept of property (none / 0) (#273)
by sethw on Wed Jan 01, 2003 at 11:12:47 PM EST

you said:

(Those marxists of you who don't believe in property rights are arguing that we don't own our bodies and therefore should be slaves of the state-- for without property rights, who owns  your body?)

Property was considered "real estate".  Virtually every marxist in the world is for personal property, the property of the individual, and property of personal belongings that exist in reality.

They feel, however, that land ownership, which is what most capitalists talk about when they say "property rights" is what is not absolute.  That's why it's called "real estate" or "real property".

If you'd actually studied things a bit more in depth, you'd note that, say, French socialists often advocated property for what you could manage to grow stuff as yourself, that the laborer was the owner of the property.  You must understand that Marxism is labor-centric and that it is the value of labor that is the ultimate goal to uphold.  That's why they talk about "exploitation of labor" quite a bit.  The whole class analysis bit is a historical analysis of non-proximate causes.  It says, "this is why", not "this is how"  The "how"/functional causes are immediate causes, which is what capitalist economists try to emphasize.  It's clearly an ignorance of ultimate causes that enamors the rationalist thought.

I'd suggest you read Ernst Mayr's 113 page introduction to his Grown of Biological Thought for a good overview of the historical analysis, as that is what Evolutionary Biologists do.

He goes so far to say that he's Hegelian, but not a Marxist, to make sure.  (He's not right Hegelian either, which is obvious).

The reason why most Libertarians are young high-school to early-college people is, in my mind, because they've not quite read much about history yet and are mistakenly rationalistic.

The reason why Libertarians don't see their mistakes is that they will not let empiricism infect their rationalism.  They are so premise-axiom/deductive that it goes against their very philosophical framework to let in any empirical evidence that's contrary to their fundamental axioms.  It's really emotional.

There's an intellectual history standing in the way of Liberatarianism from getting anywhere, and that will only be fixed by Libertarians understanding history and being able to write deep analyses that aren't sweeping deductions that ignore reality.  This will require more depth to their principles and maybe some modification of their premises to be historically and empirically aware, but I see many Libertarians doing this.  They then re-register Green (which is a kind of decentralized non-communist anarcho-socialist-libertarianism, more similar to Chomsky than Rand).  I'd be willing to bet that more people in the Greens have read Rand than Libertarians.  We're quite voracious readers.

[ Parent ]

Its bullsh*t (1.00 / 2) (#182)
by StephenThompson on Wed Aug 21, 2002 at 06:13:27 PM EST

This article is inflamatory and just plain wrong. As I posted earlier, I was there. I was a developer on MSDOS as know all the key players on the project. Also I was a developer of doublespace, windows, NT and several other products. You can read all sorts of links that supposedly 'back up' the claims in this article, but you can read stuff that back up UFO's and psychic phenomena too. You can choose to believe this garbage if you choose; but it is garbage. I am telling you first-hand, not through third hand gossip spread by sour grapes and yellow journalists. I won't argue every point either; would you argue against the enquirer and even stoop to that level? Just let me say that NOTHING here is true.

Okay then... (4.66 / 3) (#184)
by duncan bayne on Wed Aug 21, 2002 at 06:20:31 PM EST

This article is inflamatory

This article is intended to be inflamatory. I intend for people to read it, realise the wrongs that have been perpetrated, and become inflamed.

I am telling you first-hand, not through third hand gossip spread by sour grapes and yellow journalists.

I suggest you try arguing with courts that have found Microsoft guilty of theft, rather than shooting the messenger :-) If you have evidence that proves Microsoft didn't steal from Syn'x, why didn't you provide it during the court case, if you feel so strongly about it?

Basically, if you have something worthwhile (evidence, perhaps) to contribute, please do so.



[ Parent ]
Hi Bill! (4.00 / 1) (#195)
by Roman on Wed Aug 21, 2002 at 07:40:05 PM EST

Hey, Gates, how is it going?

Facts:
MS-DOS 6.0 - March 1993, adds utilities and enhancements, multi-config, defrag, buggy-DoubleSpace disk compression, numerous other bugs and problems
IBM DOS 6.1 - June 1993, same as MS-DOS 6.0 without DblSpc.
PC-DOS 6.1 - October 1993, same as IBM DOS 6.1, with compression
MS-DOS 6.2 - October 1993, fixes DoubleSpace bugs
MS-DOS 6.21 - March 1994, drops DoubleSpace after Microsoft was sued by Stacker for copyright violation

[ Parent ]
mmm nope (none / 0) (#237)
by StephenThompson on Thu Aug 22, 2002 at 12:43:43 PM EST

Dblspace was never dropped, and PC-DOS is the same as IBM DOS, which are both MS-DOS with different packaging.

[ Parent ]
The problem here... (4.50 / 2) (#199)
by RofGilead on Wed Aug 21, 2002 at 08:25:53 PM EST

 While I agree that this argue is inflamatory, and pretty much propaganda, I also believe what it says.   I've read the links and done my own research in the past, and from all the information I've seen Microsoft does/has resorted to non-competetitive tactics in the past.
 You should argue your case, if you care about this enough to post.  Perhaps all the information on Microsoft available that I have read was wrong.  Alot of people are also going to believe it, like I did.  If you can prove otherwise, you should be posting counterproofs to support your argument.

-= RofGilead =-

---
Remember, you're unique, just like everyone else. -BlueOregon
[ Parent ]
Well, I'd like to believe you, but... (5.00 / 5) (#206)
by dinotrac on Wed Aug 21, 2002 at 10:45:29 PM EST

It would be so much easier to take you seriously if Microsoft hadn't been found to have violated Stac's patents -- an event that took place in a Court of Law, not in the wilds of some conspiracy nut's imagination.

Gee -- wait a minute! Wasn't there another court case more recently than that? Couldn't be for acquiring, then illegally abusing a monopoly? That might be propaganda as well, but it's propaganda that was unanimously upheld by the Court of Appeals. Feel free to correct me if I'm wrong, but I believe that ruling was handed down by the full Court, not just a panel. Either way, the decission is all but unreviewable. The Supreme Court rarely hears requests to overturn a unanimous court of appeals.

An interesting thing is that the case, rather badly handled from the beginning, didn't even address one of Microsoft's most egregious abuses: their agreements (and the agreements themselves were trade secrets, BTW) forbidding OEMs from selling dual boot machines. This killed any chance Be had of gaining a foothold. Fortunately, what's left of Be does retain a right of civil action. Of course, it might be wrong of me to mention that, as I understand some people consider the truth to be propaganda.

Is it rude to mention the phony demonstrations that were entered into evidence? Would that be propaganda as well?

How about the recent agreement with the FTC to stop lying about both the level of security offered and amount of information being passed by Passport? Really, I wouldn't want to be unfair to those hard working boys and girls up Redmond way.

There are many definitions of what a libertarian is and isn't, but I haven't seen a serious definition that doesn't accept state sanctions against various forms of violence, including violence against the proper workings of the marketplace. This article may be a bit over the top. Maybe even more than a bit. OTOH, its essential premise is correct: it's silly to claim that support of Microsoft at this point is consistent with libertarian beliefs.

[ Parent ]

Thought About Making An Article In Response?? (5.00 / 2) (#212)
by EXTomar on Thu Aug 22, 2002 at 12:06:03 AM EST

As said in another post the links have solid facts behind them. Everything seems to support the positions stated in this article.

Okay so you state it this article is chalk full of BS. How about backing them up with some of your cited facts? Or even better, make an article in response?

It boils down to this: Who are we going to believe? Someone who just goes "I was there and this is BS" but fails to produce facts, evidence or any other collaborating evidence? Or someone that did the research and writes a slanted but solid article backed up by information and resources?



[ Parent ]
Exactly.. (none / 0) (#238)
by StephenThompson on Thu Aug 22, 2002 at 12:46:17 PM EST

It does come down to who do you believe. Someone who was there, or someone who did 'research' on the web? If you choose to believe everything you read that is your choice. But rhetoric is not fact and wishing wont make it so.

[ Parent ]
So...Why Should We Believe You? (5.00 / 1) (#240)
by EXTomar on Thu Aug 22, 2002 at 02:32:26 PM EST

You say you were there but so far you've just said where been there. Why should anyone believe you? I could if I wanted to be devious say I was worked at Microsoft too. Just because I say it doesn't make it so which is were facts and evidence comes in.

So just short of digging through the internet for some vauge clues that a Stephen Thompson actually worked at MS at the right time period, how do we even know you are in fact that person. So far you've just said "I was there and this is BS" and offered no collabrative proof.

In fact I seem to remember another poster said he worked for Microsoft that says you are full of it. Do we believe you or him? Hurm....

I believe the facts presented. The conclusions drawn in the article are based on the facts cited. So far your "this is BS" argument isn't compelling.

So enough of your BS. Please present something more elegant than "I was there and this was BS". If you have the facts which conclusions can be drawn on then it will make for just as interesting article as this was.



[ Parent ]
Two words: Intellectual Property (2.00 / 1) (#192)
by Fen on Wed Aug 21, 2002 at 06:56:58 PM EST

Libertarians do not support intellectual property (only stupid idiots support intellectual property, or anything other than libertarian politics). No copyrights=no Microsoft.
--Self.
Um (4.00 / 1) (#234)
by greenrd on Thu Aug 22, 2002 at 10:43:10 AM EST

only stupid idiots support intellectual property, or anything other than libertarian politics

I think you misspelled "socialist".


"Capitalism is the absurd belief that the worst of men, for the worst of reasons, will somehow work for the benefit of us all." -- John Maynard Keynes
[ Parent ]

not quite (none / 0) (#243)
by Wolf Keeper on Thu Aug 22, 2002 at 04:19:12 PM EST

Many libertarians (including, for instance, Ayn Rand), support short term intelligectual property. In Ayn Rand's case, it was 7 years. That way, inventors get to profit from their inventions for a bit. It's a form of monopoly, but it is an incentive to invent. If libertarians supported no intellectual company, there would be no profit in doing your own medical, chemical, or phsycis research.

[ Parent ]
Copyrighted work is not Intellectual Property (none / 0) (#252)
by Peaker on Thu Aug 22, 2002 at 06:12:05 PM EST

As explained by Thomas Jefferson: there is no such thing as Intellectual property.

[ Parent ]
Thomas Jefferson==cool (none / 0) (#259)
by Fen on Fri Aug 23, 2002 at 02:10:02 AM EST

Wow, that's great. Greatly increased my respect of Thomas Jefferson.
--Self.
[ Parent ]
then Ayn Rand is not libertarian (none / 0) (#260)
by Fen on Fri Aug 23, 2002 at 02:11:25 AM EST

Intellectualy property needs to be in technology. Government has no business here.
--Self.
[ Parent ]
On Libertarians... (4.00 / 2) (#196)
by nemiak on Wed Aug 21, 2002 at 07:40:18 PM EST

American Capitalist Libertarians have hijacked the term "Libertarian".. American Capitalist Libertarians and the American Libertarian Party are NOT Libertarians.

inform us. who is? list names/web sites [nt] (none / 0) (#230)
by Shren on Thu Aug 22, 2002 at 09:25:56 AM EST



[ Parent ]
Anarchists, for example (none / 0) (#233)
by greenrd on Thu Aug 22, 2002 at 10:40:01 AM EST

But American "Anarcho-capitalists" have also hijacked the term "anarchism" to some degree.

Disclaimer: I am not an anarchist.


"Capitalism is the absurd belief that the worst of men, for the worst of reasons, will somehow work for the benefit of us all." -- John Maynard Keynes
[ Parent ]

For my feelings on this issue (none / 0) (#235)
by Shren on Thu Aug 22, 2002 at 10:44:00 AM EST

See this comment

[ Parent ]
A list of non-capitalist libertarians... (4.00 / 1) (#253)
by nemiak on Thu Aug 22, 2002 at 07:32:21 PM EST

"Libertarianism" by definition is anarchism, before the term was hijacked by Rand and co. The amazing contradiction inherant within Randian "Objectivism"/ Liberterian Capitalism is that Rand managed to turn the concept of "Reason" into a religion that only makes sense if you accept Rand's "universal truths".

For a list of non-capitalist liberatarians, see this webpage - http://flag.blackened.net/liberty/libertarians.html.

Noam Chomsky is one of the worlds most respected social-libertarian/anarchists (but often ignored/vilified within the United States).

[ Parent ]
thanks (none / 0) (#268)
by Shren on Mon Aug 26, 2002 at 07:02:28 AM EST

The amazing contradiction inherant within Randian "Objectivism"/ Liberterian Capitalism is that Rand managed to turn the concept of "Reason" into a religion that only makes sense if you accept Rand's "universal truths".

You don't have to tell me. For such a 'logical' philosophy, supposedly based entirely on reason, you'd think they'd lay out all of thier premises clearly so you could come to thier own conclusions. They don't, however. If you manage to get one to admit to a premise then dispute the premise, he calls you irrational even though logical discussion can not begin until the premises are agreed upon.

Noam Chomsky is one of the worlds most respected social-libertarian/anarchists (but often ignored/vilified within the United States).

Not by me. I think Chomsky rules. He answered an email of mine once, and I think I still have it in one of my mail folders somewhere.

[ Parent ]

oh my! (none / 0) (#256)
by Goatmaster on Thu Aug 22, 2002 at 11:01:53 PM EST

A group of a couple hundred teenage boys living in their parent's basements (aka libertarians) shouldn't support Microsoft! What a blow!

Seriously though, this sure could've done better without the slant to libertarians, but it's pretty well written anyways.


... and so the Goatmaster has spoken
Much Simpler than That (none / 0) (#262)
by Joshua Allen on Sat Aug 24, 2002 at 06:10:01 PM EST

Copyrights and patents are essentially temporary government-granted monopolies. Microsoft's entire existence is dependent on government enforcement of these temporary monopoplies. For that reason alone, Microsoft is a very poor example of libertarian mentality of "eliminate the government". I think the Op-Ed itself is pathetic -- in the same vein as the book "Wealth and Democracy". Certain screeds predictably use success as evidence of evil, and there are no shortage of intellectuals to make the case that wealth is dangerous. But it is really not necessary to regurgitate Chomsky in order to find differences between Microsoft and pure libertarian standpoint.
No challenge can withstand the assault of sustained thinking - Voltaire
Regurgitating Chomsky (none / 0) (#272)
by epepke on Fri Aug 30, 2002 at 11:31:15 PM EST

I wasn't aware he had been eaten, let alone digested. I wouldn't mind seeing the headline in The Onion, though.


The truth may be out there, but lies are inside your head.--Terry Pratchett


[ Parent ]
Not all Liberatarians who don't support MS (none / 0) (#271)
by mmccune on Mon Aug 26, 2002 at 11:04:30 PM EST

Although some high profile libertarians support MS, it is far from universal. Most Libertarians don't support violating other people's rights to get ahead. Most also support limited use of copyrights and not the ridiculous perpetual extension that we have now.

Microsoft - Undeserving of Libertarian Praise | 273 comments (236 topical, 37 editorial, 2 hidden)
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