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In God We Antitrust, from the Netly News

---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Fri, 9 Jan 1998 11:57:07 -0500
From: Declan McCullagh <[email protected]>
To: [email protected]
Subject: FC: In God We Antitrust, from the Netly News



The Netly News (http://netlynews.com/)
January 9, 1998

In God We Antitrust
by Declan McCullagh ([email protected])

        Bill Gates likes to portray himself as a businessman hounded by
   hordes of boorish bureaucrats who resent his success. "It's absolutely
   clear that our competitors are spending an enormous amount of time and
   money trying to whip up anti-Microsoft sentiment in Washington, D.C.,"
   says spokesman Mark Murray. "For the past year, Netscape, Sun and
   other competitors have been crawling all over Washington, D.C., trying
   to use the government as a weapon against Microsoft -- rather than
   competing head-to-head in the marketplace."

        Of course, that's what you'd expect a PR flack to say, whether
   it's true or not. But maybe, just maybe, Microsoft has a point.

        A close look at the history of antitrust law reveals that its
   enforcement has always been political. The demand for antitrust
   regulations in the first place came from midwestern butchers who
   wanted to block competition from more efficient meat-packing plants in
   Chicago. Since then, execution of the 1890 Sherman Act has been highly
   partisan: Democratic administrations are nearly twice as likely to
   bring antitrust cases as Republicans. Antitrust regulations are also
   protectionist: Regulators wield them to protect domestic companies
   from overseas competitors.

        If it's politics and not policy that prompted the Justice
   Department to assail Microsoft this time around, the paper trail may
   not become public until well into the next century. For now, though,
   we can look at antitrust history instead:

        ITT and Nixon: President Richard Nixon intervened in an antitrust
   action against International Telephone & Telegraph in 1971 in exchange
   for a bribe -- a hefty contribution to the 1972 Republican convention.
   "I don't know whether ITT is bad, good or indifferent," he said on
   April 19, 1971, White House tapes reveal. "But there is not going to
   be any more antitrust actions as long as I am in this chair... goddamn
   it, we're going to stop it."


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