THE WARPED PERSPECTIVE
career criminal, the most exhilirating part of a crime is getting away with it.
There is a distinct chemical response in the brain, a "rush" similar to
a drug-induced euphoria, that a career criminal becomes addicted to during his/her
rampages through society. Crime addiction, like any other addiction (drugs, alcohol,
sex), has a biochemical as well as a psychological component. So there is the potential
for successful treatment of a properly restrained, properly instructed member of
the class of the "ethically challenged."
The most dangerous and counterproductive course is for someone to act as an "enabler"
for the sick person or the sick company. An enabler is anyone whose permissive,
overly helpful assistance allows the twisted individual to continue on their ruinous
and decadent path. The enabler is someone who provides liquor to the drunkard (along
with a place to sleep off the hangovers), or who helps cover for the dope-addicted
person who regularly misses work. Even the police or the courts could act as enablers
by allowing career criminals to continue to victimize society without fear of significant
What we have seen in the Microsoft court fiasco is probably best described as an
ongoing criminal enterprise, addicted to the euphoria of decades of unpunished bullying,
being enabled by a legalistic system that cannot see the forest for the trees. The
same government that pretends to apply punishment on the one hand, acts as an enabler
on the other hand by doling out billions of taxpayer dollars to Microsoft in the
form of scholastic software contracts, military defense deals, and bureaucratic
rubber-stamping of monopoly product purchases. This practice of enabling the criminal
enterprise cannot be overcome by anything short of draconian court sanctions, such
as total dismemberment or confiscation of the illegally-obtained and illegally-maintained
intellectual property and facilities.
There is simply no way that a rational person can expect a company that has destroyed
the innovative process in market after market to suddenly reform because of a slap
on the wrist in a federal court. This expectation would be as unreasonable and as
illogical as to think that a crime syndicate will "go straight" if you
just leave it alone to fester. In the real world -- not the dream world of philosophical
idealists -- companies that deceive, bully, and threaten rivals to prevent the success
of superior technologies do not suddenly become soft teddy bears in the jungle of
corporate commerce, just because they have experienced the embarassment of getting
caught. They simply find new, more subtle ways to cheat.
Those who imagine that Microsoft will only threaten "adjacent markets"
(such as other software companies) are making a huge mistake. Name a market that
is not adjacent to information services. You cannot, because every form of human
endeavor is dependent on information. I can foresee the day, perhaps ten years from
now, when Microsoft has not only locked up the markets for maps, telephones, and
calculators, but they have moved into information-based enterprises such as the
gambling industry, the tobacco industry, and the prostitution industry. Every industry
is dependent on lists of suppliers, lists of customers, lists of contacts and the
ability to generate and track communication and cash flow between them. Any judge
who fails to recognize this all-encompassing nature of information systems will
fail to recognize the threat of an all-encompassing monopoly.
For Microsoft to hypocritically accuse the remaining States of "starting a
new trial" or "expanding the scope of the case" is a distraction
from the main issue. The scope of information services is absolute. Would you really
like to see Microsoft control the content of church services, wedding routines,
and funeral activities? There is no logical reason why an information monopolist
would hold back from attempting to commoditize and monopolize these highly lucrative
enterprises. As Mr. Gates' longtime venture-capital associate Ann Winblad once said,
"Wedding services are very fragmented. There is no one source for these activities
I hope the new judge thinks about that statement when Microsofties testify about
the importance of "not increasing the scope of the case." Microsoft has
no intent to limit the scope of their monopoly. The punishment that fits the crime
is to prevent Microsoft from extending that monopoly to any product beyond operating
systems, and then to break their stranglehold on the operating system market. This
proper and fair punishment could best be implemented by correctly declaring Microsoft
an "ongoing criminal enterprise" under the RICO statute, and confiscating
the entire corrupt institution before the cancer can spread. If the judge fails
to punish Microsoft sufficiently, she will merely be acting as yet another "enabler"
for the company.
The result of such enablement will eventually involve you. You may someday have
to consider attending the Church of Microsoft to marry your Microsoft-approved partner.
Most recent revision: March 28, 2002
Copyright © 2002, Tom Nadeau
All Rights Reserved.