Why the government is attacking Microsoft

By Alan Caruba
web posted June 19, 2000

For many, understanding why the Clinton-Gore Administration attacked Microsoft remains a mystery. Fortunately, two commentators whose work is posted on the web site of the Ludwig Von Mises Institute have provided an excellent explanation.

Thomas J. DiLorenzo who teaches economics at Loyola College is an expert on the Sherman Antitrust Act of 1890, the legislative sledgehammer used by the Clinton Justice Department. "In reality, the history of antitrust has been a history of politically-inspired witch hunts launched against America's most innovative and entrepreneurial businesses."

Citing a number of antitrust actions, DiLorenzo notes that, over and over again, companies that were actually providing consumers more product at lower costs were attacked. The most famous case was John D. Rockefeller's Standard Oil Company, said to be a monopoly. The company, however, had caused the price of refined petroleum to fall from more than 30 cents per gallon in 1869 to 5.9 cents by 1897 "while stimulating an enormous amount of innovation in the industry, just as Microsoft has stimulated innovation in today's computer industry. For this great service to consumers, Rockefeller was prosecuted and forced to break up his company."

This bit of history comes at a time when Americans are paying the highest prices for gas in modern memory, thanks to the decades of attacks on the petroleum industry by the Greens who have long targeted "fossil fuels" as the cause of a non-existent global warming. Their favorite phrase, "sustainable development" is a code for no drilling, no mining, no timber, no use of any natural resources, the basis for economic growth anywhere in the world.

Right now, the Clinton Administration is targeting a huge reserve of oil in Alaska as a "national monument" that will insure no drilling and extraction will ever occur. This nation is dependent on foreign nations for more than half of the gas and oil on which we depend. Denying access to our own natural resources is an act of treason.

Just as Microsoft is under attack today, IBM found itself under attack to the point that "undoubtedly weakened the company and weakened the level of competition in the industry as well." In 1969, IBM had a 65 per cent market share and was sued for allegedly monopolizing the industry. It remained mired in a court battle for thirteen years.

DiLorenzo noted that "RCA was prohibited by antitrust regulators from charging royalties to American licensees, so the company licensed its products to Japanese companies. The entire Japanese electronics industry is based on this." Antitrust regulation killed Pan American World Airways by forbidding it from acquiring domestic routes. "Most Americans have never heard of any of these facts because they have been fed the Official History of antitrust, which is that free markets are a source of monopoly power which must be restrained by enlightened antitrust regulators." The truth, however, is that antitrust either puts successful businesses out of business or seriously harms their growth. Along with the companies under attack, consumers become the ultimate victims, along with the health of the nation's economy.

The president of the Institute, Llewellyn H. Rockwell, Jr., wrote about "Trotskyites & Microsoft." He directs readers to the web site of the World Socialists that "displays lots of love toward Marx and early Lenin, albeit not toward Stalin." It was Stalin who ordered the murder of Leon Trotsky who fled Russia after he took control. "Revealingly," writes Rockwell, "there's not a dime's worth of difference between what the Socialist International says about Microsoft and the position of the Clinton Administration, Joe Klein, and Judge Jackson."

Capitalism is about the right to own private property. Under communism, the state owns everything, including the people. "The government's case seem to raise fundamental questions of Microsoft's right of private property in its own products," says Rockwell. Consider now, the differences between communist nations and ours. "When the Soviet Union crashed, Western observers were astonished to find a society decades out of date technologically. Today, Cuba looks like a run-down 1950's movie set, a place frozen in time from the period when capitalism was abandoned for socialism." We now know that the Clinton administration had made up its mind to return Elian Gonzalez to this hellhole just shortly after he was saved from a fate that claimed his mother, seeking freedom and opportunity for her son.

"How is that the orthodox Troskyite socialists and the Clinton administration's favorite judge agree on Microsoft?" asks Rockwell. "Because there's a shared ideological assumption in both camps that the privatization and commercialization of the Internet was a bad turn of events. They hate the company that has done more than any other to make this possible. In their hearts, they dream of history moving in only one direction: toward a larger and larger state administered under socialist principles. The triumph of Microsoft represents the opposite trend of history. It illustrated that the greatest and most socially transforming innovations originated and are managed under capitalist means."

This, then, explains why, as one of its final assaults on this nation's economy, the Clinton-Gore Administration has attacked Microsoft. It explains why this administration is moving at breakneck speed to put millions of acres of land off limits to any recreational or commercial use. It explains the use of "endangered species" and "wetlands" regulations to thwart any development.

It explains why "urban sprawl" is the excuse to thwart the provision or drive up the cost of new housing for our growing population, its support of costly mass transit programs and draconian auto inspection systems when most Americans prefer automobiles. If you want to continue along this path, vote for Al Gore.

Alan Caruba is the founder of The National Anxiety Center, a clearinghouse for information about scare campaigns based on junk science and other baseless claims. His commentary, Warning Signs, appears weekly on the site.

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