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Let me lay this out clearly. Bill Gates’ Microsoft has made a stupendous amount of money. This fact makes some of its competitors, who haven’t done so well, go all pouty and jealous. It also annoys lots of insecure ordinary people, who don’t like the idea of anybody making as much money as Gates because it makes them feel like such losers by comparison. But what really twists the knife in the wound for all these Gates-haters is that Microsoft has made all that money fair and square — by selling what buyers want.

Is Microsoft now a monopoly? Does it really matter? Harmful, coercive monopolies do exist. They come about as the result of government regulations, subsidies, and privileges. But a monopoly that’s based on offering better products at lower prices is a legitimate monopoly.

So why all this fuss and whining? Frankly speaking, it’s because the unsuccessful not only love to hate and drag down the successful, they actually consider it virtuous to do so. They pride themselves on it. They feel it makes them better human beings.

You know how today’s “self-esteem” educators insist that the smartest, potentially highest-achieving pupils sit out their school years bored and stagnating in lowest-common-denominator classrooms? See, letting the smart kids have challenging honors courses would mean the dumb kids might feel bad about themselves — and, besides, it’s worth stiffing the next Einstein out of the rigorous education she needs and deserves, just in case a tiny bit of her intelligence somehow magically rubs off one day upon the borderline retarded kid at the next desk. Why is it worth it, you ask? Because, well, see, it’s morally correct for us to care more about the stupid kids — they’re inferior (excuse me, I mean “less fortunate”), which means they deserve more . . . right? This is what “compassion” has been perverted into today: the authoritarian sacrifice of the best to the worst. There’s a name for this. It’s called socialism.

The same evil principles are at work in this ugly fashion you see all around you for hating Microsoft and/or Bill Gates. Success is suspect because it makes the succeeder look better, richer, smarter than everyone else. So the individual’s freedom to succeed is everywhere sacrificed to “equality.” Or, sometimes, “fairness” — a word that’s lately become a toxic catalyst for the hopeless confusion of the concept of “equality” with the concept of “sameness.”

These days in America one pattern is quietly becoming clearer and clearer: the higher the caliber of creativity or intelligence or excellence or entrepreneurship you see, the surer you can be that attempts at its penalization and dragging down will occur. The profoundly anticapitalistic antitrust movement — the crest of which the Department of Justice is riding in its current case against Microsoft — represents not only a dangerous threat to American business but also a grotesque assault upon the idea of achievement itself.

If you want more information, start at the sources. Microsoft posts its own (very extensive) coverage of the case here . Be “fair” and take a look at the Department of Justice’s page on the case, too. There’s an excellent and well-measured Washington Post piece on the issue here
, and here’s another good take
. And here’s Reuters’ LegalNews page on the trial. Read up.

Then fight the power. E-mail the Department of Justice’s Antitrust Division and tell them to lay off. Go to Microsoft’s Freedom to Innovate page , from which you can send Microsoft your personal support and (more to the point) e-mail your Congressional and state representatives. Then sign the online petition in defense of Microsoft, which is at the Web site of The Committee for the Moral Defense of Microsoft
. Be patient; it’s crowded.

(Incidentally, you’ll notice the CMDM page cites a Jeff Jacoby piece on the Microsoft case. The CMDM’s own hot link to it is outdated, but this one should work. It’s uncompromising, outspoken, and right on the money.)

Check in, relax, take a shower

Today’s the day. Unfortunately for us North Americans, the Leonid meteor shower will best be viewed in places such as Bangkok. Still, as savvy citizens of the cyberglobe, you and I know that at times like this there’s always the World Wide Web — assuming the meteors don’t end up battering to death any key portions of the information infrastructure.

Read up on the Leonid shower at Dr Peter Jennisken’s NASA-based Leonid ’98 Meteor Outburst page
or at NASA’s accessible general-information Leonids page
. Chiang Mai News of Chiang Mai, Thailand, is planning a live Webcast, and the International Meteor Organization runs a news
page promising “first results which are obtained immediately after the maxima of meteor showers or other important events.”

Regarding the threat posed by meteoric impacts to satellites, take a look at the European Space Operations Centre’s information sheet for spacecraft operators on the Leonid shower, or click here
for a marginally less technical rundown. And here’s what Intelsat and PanAmSat , two major satellite-operating companies, are offering in the way of information and risk mitigation.

Governors’ collaboration unmasked

On Friday, WorldNetDaily’s David Bresnahan brought you the news that the National Governors’ Association wants to see the notorious, currently suspended Executive Order 13083
reinstated. (The NGA, of course, took plenty of vocal credit for criticizing EO 13083 in the first place.) According to documents obtained by Bresnahan, the expressed purpose of the NGA is now to work with the White House in order to alter state and federal government relations so as to provide for “preemption of state and local laws” by the federal government. In other words, NGA goals currently include making it easier for the federal government to step in and impose its own law upon the states on behalf of environmentalists and other “selected special interest groups.” Bresnahan’s research also reveals that the NGA is now explicitly interesting itself in the facilitation and furtherance of a national ID system; for more information on the national ID, click here
.)

Is this a major turnaround for the NGA? Maybe not. The truth is, the NGA is just mighty squishy on the whole question of federalism. Take a look at the positions set forth in the 1997 NGA policy paper on “Principles for State — Federal Relations.” Squishy, squishy, squishy. It’s almost Clintonesque in the extent to which it beats around every bush and hedges every statement. Not impressive. But the paper does at least repeatedly emphasize the need for a Congressional determination of a compelling need for federal action — there’s nothing in here that comes right out and suggests a ticker-tape parade welcoming the executive branch to just tromp on in and take over. This apparent eagerness on the NGA’s part to give a sort of carte blanche authority over internal state policy and lawmaking over to federal agencies and/or to the White House seems to be something it’s been able to keep more or less veiled till now.

Want to tell the NGA what you think of its just-unmasked true colors? Its Web site is unfriendly to email contact, alas, but here’s its address: National Governors’ Association, Hall of States, 444 North Capitol Street, Washington, D.C. 20001-1512. The NGA’s general phone number is (202) 624-5300. Its Executive Director is Raymond C. Scheppach, and his phone number is (202) 624-5320. The director of the NGA’s Office of State-Federal Affairs is James L. Martin, and his phone number is (202) 624-5315. Call them up and give them an earful. Then call your own governor, whose address and phone number is right , and give him or her the same earful. As we saw with the original suspension of EO 13083, the single best thing you can do regarding this one is to tie up the phones and flood the mailboxes with righteous public outcry.

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