Respecting the Harm Principle

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The '90s have struck back in a big way, as Microsoft finally settled its anti-trust dispute with IBM. Full details here; bottom line is that Microsoft will cough up $775 million to make amends for "practices [that] harmed the International Business Machines Corporation." For harming IBM and other competitors, Microsoft has now paid or agreed to pay more than $3 billion in various settlements. No word on what Microsoft owes for emotional distress inflicted.

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  1. So it appears that the way to filthy lucre is to found a company, write a mission statement where you claim you’re going to revolutionize the world with a new operating system, hire a bunch of lawyers, and SUE SUE SUE.

    Isn’t ‘practices that harm etc etc’ what competition is supposed to be all about? Yeah, McDonalds is ‘harmed’ every time Wendy’s practices of ‘having food that doesn’t taste like old socks’ and ‘making their shakes out of icecream instead of chalk’ entices me to go to Wendy’s. So why doesn’t McD’s sue the hell out of them? And *force* them to use old socks and chalk?

  2. No word on what Microsoft owes for emotional distress inflicted.

    WINNER! Dan gets the Most Understated Sentence of the Century award.

  3. Isildur, McDonald’s might be big enough relative to Wendy’s to have all of Wendy’s franchises seized under eminent domain, but I digress.

  4. I guess you get to a 95% market share by making a good product, like Windows.

    Hahahahaha… but really.

    Even Nike in its heyday had only 70% of it’s market.

  5. I worked on OS/2 at the time Microsoft was killing its chances with PC makers, including the IBM PC Company. You guys have no friggin’ clue what you’re talking about – there could not be a more textbook case of the abuse of monopoly power than this one.

    (and before any bright guy brings up IBM’s size; keep in mind that IBM was still tied in knots by the previous antitrust action against it; and effectively would not dare use their own size as a weapon against MS – the PC Company was left to sink or swim, and even though a lot of their customers WANTED OS/2, they usually wouldn’t give it to them out of fear of the kinds of things MS could and occasionally did to them which affected the 80% of their customers who wanted Windows).

  6. and even though a lot of their customers WANTED OS/2, they usually wouldn’t give it to them out of fear of the kinds of things MS could and occasionally did to them which affected the 80% of their customers who wanted Windows

    M1EK, pray tell, what might those things have been?

  7. “there could not be a more textbook case of the abuse of monopoly power than this one.”

    It’s been noted that the only way a true monopoly is possible is via the government. So, if Microsoft was in bed with the gubmint to forcibly (and thus, unfairly) reinforce their market dominance, then, sure, I see what you’re getting at. But otherwise, “monopoly” is just another word for market dominance.

  8. Well, it is interesting to note that when the Justice Dept. was making noise about Microsoft in the late ’90s, ol’ Billy had a chat with his pal Bill Clinton over a round of golf.

    Mysteriously, the JD shut up after that.

    Also, I am led to comment that whether you wish to believe a thing that is truth or not does not change the facts, only your perception. Thus, whether you wish to believe Microsoft is a crooked company with an ill-begotten monopoly or not is up to you, but the fact that it is one is not dependent on your belief.

  9. I would also like to take this opportunity to point out that in general, Reason is reasonable. When they’re right, they’re dead on — which is most of the time.

    But when they’re off, woo wee, they aren’t even in the ballpark.

  10. Once we get rid of government, human nature will comletely change, and nobody will even think of exploiting or harming anybody else in any way. Smart people will be satisfied to make some money and even help stupid people from time to time. Hunger for power and domination, which only flourishes in governments, will be a thing of the past. There will be no evil taxes and prosperity and peace will flow like a mighty stream.

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