Thursday, March 30, 2006

Millions for defense, but not one cent for suckers

Ed Thompson has a plan that he's calling the "Ragnar Danneskjold project."

As an investor, I regularly receive complex legal notices petitioning me to join a class action lawsuit against some company. I trash them. Shorn of the typical incomprehensible legalese, this is the first notice I've ever seen that I can comprehend. It's in English. And all I have to do is collect my loot.

The heading reads, "Consumers and Businessmen May Claim Microsoft Settlement Benefits."

The proposed settlement arises from allegations that Microsoft violated New York antitrust and unfair competition laws. Consumers who acquired certain Microsoft products for use in New York over the past TWELVE years are eligible to collect an estimated $350 million. No proof of purchase required.

[W]e can fight this. Class Members can write to the court if they do not like the settlement. Of course, the court anticipates exactly the opposite of what we will write, as to what is fair.

One can also ask the Court for permission to speak at a "Fairness Hearing." I intend to ask.

This is an opportunity for Objectivists to affect favorably an outcome of the continued unjust persecution of Microsoft. Since there are seventeen states involved, there are many venues for us to participate. Even those living elsewhere might participate through a proxy, if you have a willing friend or relative who qualifies for an award.

Note: vouchers may be donated to a charity. If enough of us put in claims worth up to $60 and donate our vouchers to ARI, then ARI can take the accumulated vouchers--blood money, actually--up to a total of $10,000, and donate them to Microsoft--publicly.
I would not work to return one cent of antitrust payout to Microsoft. Why? Because why should I or anyone else defend Microsoft any more than it defends itself.

Remember the "Freedom to Innovate" network--home of Microsoft's in-house argument against the myriad of antitrust cases brought against it. I just visited there about ten minuets ago and on a list of Microsoft's "Policy Priorities" I found cyber security, privacy, combating spam, intellectual property, spyware, and children's online safety. No mention of antitrust reform (or even the R&D tax credit for that matter).

Then I looked up latest statement on an antitrust case that was linked from the "Freedom to Innovate" website's main page. This antirust ruling, issued in South Korea, seeks to compel Microsoft to produce two new versions of Windows. Microsoft's response? Microsoft promised it would fight the charges, saying "[This] is one step in a long legal process, and we believe the facts will show that Microsoft's actions have respected Korean law."

Respected Korean law? The real problem with antirust rests not in "respecting" Korean, European, or American laws, the problem rests with these laws themselves for punishing businessmen for the crime of trying to make a better product. On this front, Microsoft has utterly abandoned the battle and I do not support returning to them one dime that was expropriated by laws that they themselves refuse to challenge.

As an alternative, I'd much rather see the money go to put Gary Hull, Tom Bowden, Richard Salsman and John Ridpath's book the Abolition of Antirust in law libraries across America. Let blood money from antitrust settlements go to help real egoists fight to repeal antirust law rather then return it utterly clueless businessmen who wouldn't even know what to do with your gift when you gave it back to them.

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