Bilingual Miseducation

Glenn Garvin's brilliant piece exposing the lies and corruption of bilingual education ("Loco, Completamente Loco," January) made me wonder how compulsory bilingual education programs could possibly survive scrutiny under the Equal Protection Clause of the Constitution. The Equal Protection Clause provides that when government treats people differently based on their race or national origin, it has the burden to show that the program is narrowly tailored to meet a compelling state interest. Narrowly tailored? Forcing kids with Hispanic surnames to endure a majority of their instruction in a foreign language? And compelling state interest? Where no reliable evidence suggests that kids benefit from a segregated pattern of teaching? It is clear to me that compelled bilingual education, aside from depriving them of a good education, violates those kids' constitutional rights.

Evan E. Gilbert
San Jose, CA

Glenn Garvin's excellent article makes powerful and insightful arguments about the problems caused by ineffective "bilingual education" programs. Learning English at a young age is important because it enables children to learn English better. Researchers from Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center and Cornell University Medical College last summer published important new findings indicating that within language-sensitive regions of the brain, second languages learned in adulthood are actually stored in different areas than native languages. Second languages acquired at a younger age show little or no separation from native languages. This implies that the brain treats a second language learned early more like a native language.

This research complements a large body of other scientific evidence. Professor Patricia Kuhl of the University of Washington, participating last April in a White House conference on early childhood development hosted by President and Mrs. Clinton, presented stunning new research showing how children can acquire a second language quite easily during their preschool years. "So if we're going to expose children to second languages, it's best to do it early," she concluded.

Don Soifer
Program Director
Alexis de Tocqueville Institution
Arlington, VA

While bilingual education of the type cited by Glenn Garvin is a disservice to Spanish-speaking parents and children alike, the real outrage is the bureaucratic arrogance that has perpetrated it against parental will. As a veteran of the Inter-American Magnet School, a bilingual K-8 project in Chicago, I can offer anecdotal evidence for the assertion that not all attempts at bilingual education are marred by such arrogant incompetence. Aside from charter schools, magnets are the closest thing to school choice lower-income parents have. Thus, Inter-American developed within a framework of parental choice, resulting in a program where each student is taught an equal amount of time in English and in Spanish.

Students who spoke only English when they started kindergarten were grade-level proficient in Spanish by the time of their graduation, and vice versa. More important, each and every student who attended Inter-American was there because her parents wanted her to be there. And in contrast to the heart-wrenching tales told by Garvin, any child whose parents were unsatisfied had every right to move her to a different school. And that has made all the difference.

Kevin B. O'Reilly

I appreciate Glenn Garvin's quoting me and the nice photo in the January issue. However, the caption under the photo gives the impression that I currently teach Armenian kids, which is not the case. The kids seated with me in the photo are Hispanic kids from my current class, and they were puzzled by the caption.

Doug Lasken

Rocky Regulations

Brian Doherty's article "Stoned in Santa Barbara" (January) tells truth. The county's huge and expanding bureaucracy has surrounded itself with volumes of regulatory interpretations to the point of incomprehensibility. A staff of county attorneys totaling about 100 advise the churlish cretins of the Planning and Development Department as to how far they can go in abusing the taxpayers. If they don't like your project, it may never see the light of day. If they can't stop it by the tactics Doherty describes so graphically, they call in their allies from the Citizens' Planning Association, an organization headquartered in Santa Barbara which tries to shadow-govern the Board of Supervisors. Any project that doesn't meet their criteria gets short shrift. If they can't stop it at the board level, they call on the Environmental Defense Center, a pro bono firm of attorneys who then sue the county. This process effectively delayed the Hyatt hotel project for some 12 years, and after multiple lawsuits the state Supreme Court told the EDC to cease and desist. Hyatt's financing has long since vanished, and the hotel may not be built.

The Board of Supervisors can't oversee the bureaucrats because they hide behind the volumes of regulations; they can't discipline them because of civil service protections and employee unions. So the abuse continues ad infinitum and ad nauseam. The Antolinis should sue the county under the Takings Clause of the Fifth Amendment!

Benjamin P. Hawkins
Santa Maria, CA

I found "Stoned in Santa Barbara" quite interesting. Small quarries all over the United States have been put out of business or are regularly harassed. There are several here in southeastern Wisconsin that have closed. Also, many areas around the country have closed their town roads to large trucks to keep property owners from logging. There have been many confrontations between farmers and new residents about land use–no manure spreading, etc.

All of this takes place as more people move to the country but object to traditional uses of rural lands. Also, it is interesting to see, in my unscientifically small sample, that the loggers and quarrymen, and to a lesser extent the farmers, do not realize they are all in the same boat and are quite willing to cooperate with attacks on the others. I write this as a trained geologist who also owns some forest land and farms a few areas.

Frank Luther
Helenville, WI

Car Talk

In reviewing Asphalt Nation by Jane Holtz Kay and The City After the Automobile by Moshe Safdie and Wendy Kohn ("The Quest for the Holy Rail," January), Steven Hayward has made the same errors in logic that are so prevalent in the discussion of automobiles in our society. While I agree that neither of these books is of much value in a reasonable discussion, the emotional approach taken by Hayward neglects the true nature of transportation and free markets. Like James Q. Wilson before him, Hayward holds out the automobile as a product of market forces rather than a product of government interference in the market. Like the socialist, he suggests that there is one best means of transport: the automobile. In a free market system, the natural result of a myriad consumer demands is a diversity of transportation options, produced not by government subsidy but by free interaction of individuals.

More specifically, we will never know what forms of transportation are supported by the market and in what quantities until we remove entirely the effects of government coercion. A short list of reforms would include privatization of all rail and bus systems; privatization of the entire highway infrastructure; usage fees to cover the contribution of the automobile to law enforcement costs; usage fees to cover the cost of local road construction and maintenance; payment by users for emissions for which direct costs can be demonstrated; an end to government subsidy and regulation of air travel, including airport ownership and tax credits; removal of our armed forces from foreign soil (an indirect cost of maintaining oil supply stability); repeal of zoning laws (which institutionalize automobile use); and an end to government collusion with labor unions, which tends to raise operating costs for trains and buses.

Most conservatives and advocates of small government are opposed to government ownership and regulation of industry, unless that industry is their much-revered automobile infrastructure. There is certainly a place for automobiles in modern societies, but there is most probably also a place for inter-city rail, urban bus and light rail systems, and other forms of transit which have yet to be discovered. The only way to move forward is to disband the government transportation monopoly, allow the free market to function, and watch as American innovation and American consumers create a transportation system that provides whatever services from which a profit can be made.

I am willing to accept a society dominated by automobiles, but only if it is truly produced by the action of the market and not by the power of special interests or even of the voting majority. If Hayward had bothered to review the vast literature available on free market transportation, he would have found a plethora of market-based solutions that include both automobiles and their "competitors." Unfortunately, he chose the easy path taken by most libertarians: "I am opposed to socialism in all its forms, unless you mean the government transportation monopoly." You must choose: Do you truly trust and believe in free markets, or do you wish to have your special interest (the automobile) "protected" from its competitors?

Joel D. Hiltner
Peoria, IL

Steven Hayward replies: Mr. Hiltner's powers of reading between the lines must be better than mine, for I can find nothing in my review to suggest that the current structure of our transit system is the result of pure market forces rather than government policy. In fact, with regard to his short list of sound transit policies, we're in heated agreement.

There is something peculiar, however, about the cast of mind transfixed by the government's role in the rise of the car, because the same could be said about many other industries and ubiquitous features of life. Try housing, for example. The government's huge role (through zoning and the mortgage market) has massively distorted housing, but that doesn't invalidate either the product itself or the defense of property rights, does it?

The chances of any of Mr. Hiltner's proposals coming fully into being, however, are even more remote than the full privatization of Social Security. Nearly all of the policy momentum now is in the opposite direction, toward vastly more government interference in the marketplace for transit choices. As for the criticism that I have responded with an "emotional approach," I am happy to plead guilty. Today's increasingly influential anti-auto movement is the modern-day equivalent of the Luddites, and have little truck with reason or evidence. At such times it is often best to respond to non-reason with H.L. Mencken's dictum in mind: "A horselaugh is worth 10,000 syllogisms."

Microsoft Words

Virginia Postrel's editorial "Creative Insecurity" (January) showed amazing insight into the company culture here at Microsoft. As she points out, if Microsoft has a secure monopoly, someone forgot to tell us about it. We know that at any time a better idea or a better company could come along and undermine any of our brands. Many competitors seem to believe Microsoft should compete less intensely now that we have "succeeded." We know such a static view of the world would lead to our failure.

Unlike many of our detractors, we realize the difference between political power and marketing power. This is not a politically protected monopoly. We can't force anything on anyone. There is always a choice for the consumer or the supplier. Any day of the week another vendor can introduce a competitive operating system. A market monopoly is never assured, as Postrel points out. There is only one way to achieve such success and maintain it in a free market: give customers products which they freely choose over competitive offerings.

How can Microsoft do this with products which Postrel asserts are inferior? Do consumers make mistakes? Is the free market failing us? Is Microsoft sleazy? I'm a longtime REASON subscriber myself, and such conclusions, if true, would be horrifying to me. Postrel does a good job of answering these questions. But she doesn't fully articulate the real answer: Microsoft's products have actually been far superior to those of our competitors.

Recognize that products are more than just the knobsthey are made up of price, image, distribution, compatibility, third-party support, and many other features. It wasn't just the great prices of Microsoft software that led the company to the "network externality" of compatibility among users of the same operating system–nor did the company stumble luckily into this situation. It was a calculated activity to create that as a product feature of DOS and Windows.

Microsoft recognized that users want one operating system to be predominant on a given platform. It makes more software available since developers can target just one platform. It fosters innovation since developers can focus on improving their products rather than writing for multiple operating systems. So we set out from the beginning to make DOS and Windows open in the sense that we told other software companies–even competitors–how to write for the operating system, a practice we actively pursue to this day. Some claim we were simply lucky to get a good deal with IBM all those years ago. It was a good deal–no denying that. But to focus on just that ignores all the company has done since then, and even if true, it's not clear to me how benefiting from luck or making a good deal warrants government prosecution.

Yes, Microsoft has been fortunate to be the company selling the operating system at the outset of the personal computing explosion. But that good fortune came not just through circumstance. It came through recognizing how a free market works, that it requires constant attention to consumer needs if you are to survive. We understand that the consumer should make the decisions on what products win–not industry pundits, not envious competitors, and certainly not governments. And that is why no company can ever have an assured monopoly or control an industry with bad products. Consumers can bring a company to its knees the day that company loses sight of delivering the products they want. A competitor will rush through that opening with blinding speed.

To punish Microsoft by denying us the right to leverage the fruits of our competence, persistence, luck, and dedication to delivering the best products is something I trust any REASON reader would find horrifying. I trust any reader will also find repugnant the spectacle of billion-dollar companies whining to the government for protection from their competitors.

Scott Fallon

Group Manager
Developer Relations Group
Microsoft Corporation
Redmond, WA

As a computer professional, I enjoyed Virginia Postrel's insightful editorial about Microsoft's success and the failure of competitors like Apple. I still prefer Macs, but she is right that Apple has acted more like a monopolist in many ways than Microsoft. Killing the Mac clones was very anti-competitive.

By contrast, the PC market is wide open, and many operating systems besides Windows will run on them (OS/2, Solaris, and Linux, to name a few). Of course, these have fewer apps and will either cost more or take more effort than running Windows. But it is not true that the PC market has no choice.

The browser market is even more wide open. There is nothing in Internet Explorer to stop a user from downloading Netscape and using it as their browser forevermore, or vice versa. I currently run Netscape on my PC and Internet Explorer on my Mac, because I like it that way for now. The next release, I may change my mind. What matters is that I am free to choose either way.

The Justice Department is basing its case on the worn-out fallacy of helpless consumers unable to choose any option but the path of least resistance. This is a poor description of computer consumers, at best. Surely there are greater menaces to society than Bill Gates or Steve Jobs. How about Janet Reno, for starters?

Chris Struble
Boise, ID

A brilliant piece. I wish I wrote it. I posted a message to EvangeList, so that my closest 300,000 buddies will go read it. Kick butt!

Guy Kawasaki

Virginia Postrel is the first person I have read that has hit the nail squarely on the head. As a multimedia developer I had to deal with Apple from 1991 to 1994. I can say honestly that it was a total nightmare. And while I'm still using Apple hardware and don't wish them to go away, they deserve all the pain and misery they now have come to realize. And I agree that Microsoft deserves the success they enjoy.

Here is a brief story to illustrate my point. I was talking to a vice president of Claris Corporation. I mentioned that I bought Microsoft Word with my first Mac (an SE). I believe it was Word 3.x. Regardless, I received upgrade cards with every release of Word after that, and six months after that received discount upgrade notices. This happened through Word 6. Upon hearing this the Claris V.P. looked at me and said, "Yeah, they know how to do it right." Is sending out a postcard off of your registered user database rocket science?

Tim Byars

I've been working with microcomputers since '75 (when Gates and Allen were still pounding out Altair BASIC), and this is the best analysis I've yet seen of the history leading up to the present situation. I'm a longtime Mac lover, and I think Microsoft's products are somewhat worse than mediocre–but everything you say rings true. Apple's arrogant belief that quality alone would guarantee success was their downfall. Contrariwise, Gates's belief that "good enough" software, if priced affordably, would lead to market dominance proved to be right on the money. Thanks for a thoughtful and very well written piece. (And thanks to Reason Online for a remarkably clean Web page layout. It's a joy to read an article in legible type without banners or flashing GIFs surrounding it.)

Andy Baird
Princeton, NJ

I must take issue with your comments about Microsoft. I should probably state up front that I work in the computer software industry, and so I do have a bit of a bias. That said, I do want to point out a couple of things I think are in error.

First, you write that "Microsoft accounts for a mere 4 percent of industry revenue. As Eamonn Sullivan of PC Week notes, `A lot of companies are making a lot of money on the ubiquity of Windows, providing users with a lot of choice where they want it–on their desktops. That isn't the expected result of a monopoly.'"

There are two errors here. First, the only way Microsoft has a "mere" 4 percent of the market is if you lump in all the computer hardware vendors. This isn't fair or accurate.

If you limit yourself to the software industry, and in particular the software industry of PC products, you will find that Microsoft has either complete or nearly complete monopolies in every important business software category: 90 percent of OSes, 80 percent in suites, equally high percentages in word processors, spreadsheets, and business presentation graphics.

And now they're after the one large part of the PC software market they don't control: games. They vowed last summer to be the largest supplier of games in two years. Another innovative market down the drain.

Also, the "choice" you talk about is illusory: They're all IBM PC clones! They may differ in minor ways, such as SCSI vs. IDE disks, better (or worse) quality control, and different ways of bundling the products. Sure, there are lots of different vendors who screw together boxes containing motherboards designed and manufactured by Intel, but the "choice" they offer customers is illusory. No matter what the hardware, they're still running Windows on an Intel box.

Where's the innovative (and superior) Digital Alpha chip? The HP PA-RISC? MIPS? PowerPC? SPARC? VAX? All have been smashed in favor of the "good enough" (and really poorly designed and implemented) but marketed-like-hell Intel architecture with their stupid dancing clean-room workers, along with M$'s "Where do you want to go, toady?" ads.

Unchecked, Microsoft and Intel will own the basic computing architecture of the world. I believe this situation is not at all unlike the situation in the 1900s when the big trusts were stifling innovation and competition in many industries. The trust busters were right to go after those companies then, and the Justice Department is right to go after Microsoft today.

John Francini
Nashua, NH

Virginia Postrel writes, "Customers who paid their own personal money for Macs might be able to justify the high price simply because the computers were fun and easy to use. But business managers who paid Apple prices for any but the most specialized applications, notably graphics-intensive work, were either fiscally irresponsible or just plain dumb."

As a Mac owner/user for many years, I've complained loudly many times about Apple pricing. But in many cases buying the more expensive machine wasn't at all dumb or irresponsible. Up until very recently, it was indeed smart to buy software to run on a Mac to do publishing and the allied graphics work.

But it was also smart, at least for small businesses, to buy Mac because the cost of owning was measurably lower for years after the initial purchase. This has been demonstrated in many, many studies. Unless you had a team of technicians on hand to do debugging, upgrades, and repair, Macs were indeed fiscally responsible. (Then along came System 7.5, which pretty much ended the era of tech-less software troubleshooting.)

Most colleges had such a team of technicians on hand. Thus it was more fiscally senseless for colleges to purchase Macs than any other sector I can think of. I read reports about colleges where a technician was needed for 70 Macs, while a tech was needed for every five PCs. Cost aside, the colleges stayed with Macs for so long simply because they cause far fewer headaches for novice computer users.

On the whole, though, I agreed with and enjoyed your piece. "Apple screwed Mac lovers all by itself" pretty much says it all. They also screwed themselves with their marketing ineptness and software bungling.

Tony Kalar

While Postrel makes a number of interesting points, there are others on which I feel some corrections are needed.

1) Postrel wrote: "Customers who paid their own personal money for Macs might be able to justify the high price simply because the computers were fun and easy to use. But business managers who paid Apple prices for any but the most specialized applications, notably graphics-intensive work, were either fiscally irresponsible or just plain dumb."

Why? There are many companies which use Macs, and I think they are doing fine. You miss a very important point here: Price should be read "total price of ownership," not just "hardware purchasing price." Macintosh computers are a lot cheaper to maintain and support, cheaper to learn to use, they last longer, and so on. Macs make a lot of sense from an economical point of view: They are much more productive than PCs dollar for dollar. But myopic corporate greed, information systems people who want to keep their (unproductive) jobs, and lobbying have a lot to do with purchasing decisions. When the choice is left to users who know both worlds, they almost always will choose Macs (Postrel herself is an example).

2) Postrel wrote: "What Microsoft has delivered is pretty much what most people want: a way to use computers easily, for many different purposes. Its software isn't always elegant, but that's the criterion of programming elites, not everyday users."

I couldn't disagree more. How easy a computer system is to use is especially important for the (more or less computer-illiterate) end user. Here Microsoft failed miserably. Since Postrel is a Mac user, she never experienced the delights of, say, adding a new CD-ROM or networking card to a PC. Ease of use is the most important challenge in the computing industry.

3. Postrel wrote: "So if the computers caught on fire, as they sometimes did…." This is totally unfair. The computers which "caught on fire" were a few of the first PowerBooks with a defective LiIon battery (made by Sony!). Very few got to customers, and they were promptly recalled. Mac hardware is in fact usually of high quality, which may alone justify the higher price.

4) Postrel wrote: "Apple screwed Mac lovers all by itself. Far from the marketing whizzes of 1983 conventional wisdom, its executives were enamored with the cult of the machine, too hung up on the beauty of their product to understand that consumers actually cared about many other things: price, plenty of software, and compatibility with other systems." While Apple indeed made mistakes, I don't feel "screwed." Apple has made progress in all these areas in recent years. I may be an idealist, but I rather prefer a company enamored with its machines that brings us superior products while just surviving to a company whose only goal is to make money at any price. Lots of loyal Mac fans didn't become such without good reasons.

Davide Guarisco
Department of Materials Science
Stanford University
Stanford, CA

Microsoft's license with hardware manufacturers (IBM and every other) mandated one copy of the operating system for each computer sold. We consumers were never given a chance. No matter what good or bad things Apple, Digital, Novell, Lotus, Borland, Netscape, etc. did or does, Microsoft never loses because they were guaranteed a constant cash cow.

Everybody fails when one company sets the rules of the game. Microsoft set the rules from day one. Under the pretense of an open market, they kill their competitors.

Burton Cohen

I have just a quibble or two about your article "Creative Insecurity." Overall, I think you make a good point. Really Minor Quibble #1: "And Apple has never been particularly good at manufacturing." Actually, Apple is really good at manufacturing: it's forecasting and distribution where it screws up. That doesn't change your point, but it does skew the perception slightly. You imply that Apple does not make well-manufactured machines, which is not the case. Compare any Macintosh to any PC clone in terms of quality.

Quibble #2: "After the company tepidly began licensing a couple of years ago, Mac clone makers did what Apple had feared: They cut into its revenue. But they also expanded the market." Had this actually been true, then we'd still have clones. But look at the figures: Before cloning, Macintosh products had a 9 percent market share. After cloning (the very next year), Macintosh products had an 11 percent market share. A market expansion of only 2 percentage points. Now couple this with the downside: Of that 11 percent, Apple got only 5 percent. This isn't growing a market, this is cannibalizing the existing one. Apple had to get rid of clones to save its own neck.

To me, the hardest thing to understand is why people are not only willing to settle for, but actually glorify, an inferior product. The old maxim "build a better mousetrap" is looking real long in the tooth.

Owen Hartnett

Virginia Postrel replies: My thanks to the hundred or so readers of REASON and Reason Online who sent letters in response to "Creative Insecurity." Obviously, the Microsoft antitrust case and the market competition between operating systems have aroused very strong, and often very well informed, opinion among computer users and software developers. I thank Messrs. Fallon, Struble, Kawasaki, Byars, and Baird for their kind and thoughtful comments. To those convinced that Microsoft is destined to control 100 percent of the operating system market forever, I particularly commend Chris Struble's mention of Linux, a version of Unix developed to a remarkable level of sophistication by the volunteer, shared labor of programmers worldwide. Linux demonstrates that no operating system can ever gain a true monopoly.

John Francini disputes claims that Microsoft controls only 4 percent of industry revenue. As any antitrust lawyer or economist will tell you, defining an industry is not an easy task, and it is often the issue under dispute in antitrust cases. But the figure Eamonn Sullivan used did not include hardware; it was specifically limited to software, a very large industry with many specialized products. Obviously, Microsoft has a very large share of certain segments of that industry. But there are other substantial segments–desktop publishing, CAD/CAM, and accounting packages, to name just three–that are easy to lose sight of. And software is not, of course, limited to personal computers.

Mr. Francini dislikes the dominance of PC clones over much more expensive, if very innovative, machines based on non-Intel chips. He attributes that dominance to advertising, which he mistakenly equates with marketing. He is wrong about the advertising–both Microsoft's and Intel's TV ad campaigns are relatively recent, coming long after their market dominance, and it was Apple which used touchstone TV commercials–but right about marketing. These companies did in fact understand the markets better than their competitors. And they understood what many technologists can never grasp: Price matters. A lot. Financial constraints are just as real as technical constraints. Sun may make really cool workstations based on impressive chips, but if an Intel-based PC can do most of the same things for thousands of dollars less, Sun's market share will rightly shrink.

Tony Kalar and Davide Guarisco take issue with my claim that Macs were too expensive for businesses to justify outside of graphic applications. I plead guilty to a bit of overstatement: Unlike many Mac fanatics, I do give managers credit for knowing their particular circumstances and making appropriate purchasing decisions. Macs, while far more expensive to buy than competing clones, are indeed easier to learn to use. And they are easier to link to each other and to other equipment–an advantage that Apple, with its contempt for the business market, failed to exploit when it had the chance.

That said, I do not think that the Mac's failure to attract business customers was because of, in Dr. Guarisco's words, "myopic corporate greed, information systems people who want to keep their (unproductive) jobs, and lobbying." Hundreds of thousands of decision makers in completely separate firms would not all make the same mistake. For routine applications, using the same software over and over again, the upfront cost difference swamped the training and maintenance cost advantages of Macs. And while Macs may "last longer," the relevant criterion is not physical endurance but technical obsolescence. A price difference that lets you buy three PC clones for the cost of a Mac means you can stay technically current. On this point, Dr. Guarisco misreads what I said about my own Mac use. I use a Mac at home, and REASON's production department uses Macs; for the editors' routine word processing and Internet use, Macs are impossible to justify. (And simple though it was to install, my Mac CD-ROM has never worked.)

Burton Cohen attributes nefarious motives and a monopoly outcome to Microsoft's pricing of DOS by machine sold rather than machine using it. This argument, which other letter writers made as well, strikes me as a red herring. That contract, which no one was obligated to adopt, is a simple matter of monitoring costs. It is easy to track the number of machines shipped, far more difficult to monitor just what software has been installed on them. The royalties to Microsoft were not so high, as a proportion of the machine's cost, that computer makers could not have adopted a better system, assuming it was compatible with their chips.

Owen Hartnett, among other readers, disputes my charge that Apple is not good at manufacturing. This charge must be understood in the context of the worldwide revolution in manufacturing practices over the past two decades. Standards of excellence in manufacturing are extraordinarily high today and entail a lot more than simply building solid machines. Manufacturing excellence means driving costs continually down, with the aim of becoming the low-cost producer; it means developing tight and reliable relations with suppliers; it means learning to make rapid adjustments in model mix; it means careful and lean inventory management; it means accurate forecasting. Apple is not particularly good at any of these things. That in the late 1980s I saw two Macs–not the recent PowerBooks–spontaneously burst into flames also leads me to question its manufacturing excellence.

As for Mr. Hartnett's analysis of the effects of Mac clones, I disagree not with his facts but with their interpretation. Apple's market share was falling when the clones were introduced. Clones expanded the overall market for Mac OS, from which Apple also makes money–without the expense of manufacturing and distribution. Mr. Hartnett sees only the loss in sales to Apple. He does not consider its profits from licenses on machines it did not have to produce or sell. More important, he does not consider the long-run effects. Canceling the clones makes it much more likely that the Mac OS will continue to lose share and significantly reduces the prospects for innovation in Mac-based machines.

It is fun to play Monday morning quarterback on business strategy, and I have my own opinions. (Apple should get out of manufacturing.) But for public policy, the main points are these: Microsoft did not get where it is by waving a magic monopoly wand or even running snazzy TV ads. Its actions were important, but so were decisions by its competitors. Contrary to the resentful thinking of Microsoft haters, it is highly unlikely that millions of computer customers were dupes or victims, trapped into making bad decisions against their own interest, when they bought the products that built Microsoft. It is even more unlikely that Janet Reno would do better.