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Bill Gates becomes a Philanthropist

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Skylab, save your breath.

 

A completely free market allows (and even encourages) monopolies that thwart innovation to exist for a certain period of time--sometimes even quite a while.

 

To some, like Nicky, this destroys the belief system that allows them to call themselves, "Objectivists" (and what would they do then). To them, belief requires capitalism to have desirable outcomes every single time and in every single context for every single person.

 

If you present evidence that sometimes the outcomes are not perfect (even if, for instance, the alternative system would be much worse), then your evidence is invalid by definition, because in order for it to be true, that would mean Ayn Rand's apparent unconditional (and non-contextual) endorsement of a completely free market might have been incorrect, which of course means that everything else Ayn Rand ever said was false, up to and including "A is A".

 

So Bill Gates, Larry Ellison, Goldman Sachs, etc. etc. are all absolutely good. When the employees at Goldman call their customers "muppets" because they see them as marks in their scams, well, they are heroes because they are simply exercising the free market system. Sure, nobody questions the fact that we need to let the three of them happen because the alternative is worse. Some people don't have the cognitive capacity to tell the difference between an entrepreneur who worked hard to bring an innovative shoe polish to market--and then going on to other inventions after the initial product made a good amount of profit--and the inevitable feces emitted from the otherwise healthy body which is the free market: those who exploit loopholes in the system and profit from activities diametrically opposed to the values under which the system was conceived.

 

Which is all to say they don't know shit from Shinola. Save your breath my friend.

Good advice.

 

I would stress though, that the phrase, "monopolies that thwart innovation" refers to behaviour, and behaviour could be adjudicated by an objective court system, however long it takes...

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What in the hell is everyone going on about? Objectivism indorses Capitalism, a system of Government designed to protect individual rights, not violate them, based on moral grounds.  Separation of State and Economics, in the same way we separate State and Religion, and you go from there.   

 

This outcome argument is utilitarian and the reason Rand and friends took the libertarians to task.  Whether that is 100% accurate is another thread but the point is that is not the justification of a moral government in Objectivism or even classical liberalism.

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Good advice.

 

I would stress though, that the phrase, "monopolies that thwart innovation" refers to behaviour, and behaviour could be adjudicated by an objective court system, however long it takes...

 

Perhaps, but the wider point I'm making is this: saying that a free market is the "best" approach does not mean its a "perfect" approach. In all practicality, things like MSFT and Goldman are going to happen, and it's going to be bad. However, a system that would stop them--and inevitably non-bad actors--would be far worse.

 

Bill Gates and Goldman often operate against the best interest of their customers and they don't tell them when they do. If they did, many of their customers would leave them. That's fraud. However, they know the system they are operating within extremely well, and the know the limits of its practicality: they know how not to get caught. By definition, you can't judge this behavior legally--but you can sure judge it morally.

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What in the hell is everyone going on about? Objectivism indorses Capitalism, a system of Government designed to protect individual rights, not violate them, based on moral grounds.  Separation of State and Economics, in the same way we separate State and Religion, and you go from there.   

 

This outcome argument is utilitarian and the reason Rand and friends took the libertarians to task.  Whether that is 100% accurate is another thread but the point is that is not the justification of a moral government in Objectivism or even classical liberalism.

 

Exactly the point I was trying to make, but in another way: if Capitalism creates some bad outcomes occasionally--or even a lot--it does not invalidate the system. Moreover, as a human-operated thingy, it's bound to have practical frailties stemming from our lamentable lack of omniscience. So what.

 

To reel it back in, it's fine to judge Bill Gates and Goldman as scoundrels, and even to blame Capitalism on them. It's part of life and better than the alternative.

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... it's fine to judge Bill Gates and Goldman as scoundrels,...

Obviously, its fine to make a judgement; that's implicit in every post in this thread. The whole argument is about whether one judgement is right or another, not about whether one may make one.

And the argument that Gates is perfect exists only as a little straw-man in your mind.

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Obviously, its fine to make a judgement; that's implicit in every post in this thread. The whole argument is about whether one judgement is right or another, not about whether one may make one.

And the argument that Gates is perfect exists only as a little straw-man in your mind.

 

The argument that I possess such an argument exists only as a little straw-man in your mind.

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Interesting thought, but I can imagine a "perfect" future capitalist that would not need to keep things like Bill Gates from happening. Such a "perfect" system would however, give victims of business malfeasance some hope of reasonable recourse for their injury.

What you accuse Gates of doing is a form of "bundling": i.e. giving the customer a bundled choice where buying one product necessitates buying another one. In other words, if you buy my OS, you have to use my browser... or something similar. Is this your accusation, in an abstract nutshell? Or is it something else?

 

Once unethical behavior is detected however, it behoves a moral system to offer recourse to the victims.

I disagree, at least as you have worded it. It is important to keep a clear line between the unethical and the illegal.

The "caveat emptor" rule is applicable here, though it is one-sided. A more general rule is "caveat mercator". Every person, qua trader, can go in blind and ignorant, or with eyes open and informed. For a typical adult, the law must always assume the parties are acting with reasonable caution about the deals they make. The law has no business stopping a palmist from charging an adult customer a fee to tell his future, and the legal recourse of the customer should be limited to specific warranties made by the palmist.

The law can allow for fiduciary relationships and agent relationships, but these must always be explicit.

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What you accuse Gates of doing is a form of "bundling": i.e. giving the customer a bundled choice where buying one product necessitates buying another one. In other words, if you buy my OS, you have to use my browser... or something similar. Is this your accusation, in an abstract nutshell? Or is it something else?

 

I disagree, at least as you have worded it. It is important to keep a clear line between the unethical and the illegal.

The "caveat emptor" rule is applicable here, though it is one-sided. A more general rule is "caveat mercator". Every person, qua trader, can go in blind and ignorant, or with eyes open and informed. For a typical adult, the law must always assume the parties are acting with reasonable caution about the deals they make. The law has no business stopping a palmist from charging an adult customer a fee to tell his future, and the legal recourse of the customer should be limited to specific warranties made by the palmist.

The law can allow for fiduciary relationships and agent relationships, but these must always be explicit.

Oh No! The bundling thing was the DOJ's 'supporting evidence'. My accusations are in two parts. 

 

First those that stem from the behavior of MSFT software. The refusal to do some function implied by the UI, being only one. Another being the imbedding of function hidden from the machines owner, the trojan horse concept. There are others, but I really do not want to rant, and MSFT has even ceased some of those that resulted in consistent customer push back. 

 

Part two has to do with behaviors of the corporation, relative to customers. The single market behavior that galled me most, was the so called 'Microsoft tax' on hardware. To this day, it is very difficult to purchase an assembled commodity hardware computer without paying for a Microsoft 'operating system' to run on it, even if you persuade the assembler to not install the software. Before I gave up buying MSFT entirely, this single "Microsoft accomplishment", cost me hundreds of dollars, well north of a thousand, and cost one of my employers a documented $208,788 in a single year. We purchased fewer than 1500 commodity unix machines that year! We spent the two hundred grand assembling servers from components the following year. Call that 'caveat mercator' if you like, but that was a business we would rather have left for someone else. The total 'profit' from the exercise was about $75k (about one man year O/H loaded, at the time), mostly part margins and a little labor.

 

Another part two behavior had to do with business customers. MSFT ties their license pricing agreements to a "published table" (their website). They then can increase the rates late in any given quarter (the MSFT 'xmas present' if you let them bill annually), just in time for billing. They have found a way to implement, in essence, Ex Post Facto billing. Under US law this is acceptable for software, just not for hardware or services, thus 'caveat mercator'. After the first year I added a line item to my budget called 'MSFT rate increases'.

 

You have a point about my use of the word unethical. I was attempting to draw out a connection to Objectivist ethics, as yet not codified in law in the real world. Connections that I might hope would be codified, in a 'perfect world'. I will try to be more explicit.

 

I do want to stress here, that I do not concern myself MSFT, other than to studiously avoid their products. What damage they can do, is by and large done. The past is only useful for instruction. Even the 'MSFT Tax' is falling by the wayside. Just last week Dell, the most staunch tax collector for the giant in Redmond, announced they will work with Red Hat to engineer a system for 'enterprise customers' to be built using Dell hardware and the latest version of 'Open Stack', (ironically called Havana), featuring Red Hat Enterprise Virtualization Hypervisor and Red Hat Enterprise Linux 6.5, though were I still making choices in that realm, I would be cautious. If you do not have the in house expertise to assemble such a stack from unbundled components, you may not have the in house expertise to effectively configure and admin such a stack. Sorry, I digress...

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Exactly the point I was trying to make, but in another way: if Capitalism creates some bad outcomes occasionally--or even a lot--it does not invalidate the system. Moreover, as a human-operated thingy, it's bound to have practical frailties stemming from our lamentable lack of omniscience. So what.

 

To reel it back in, it's fine to judge Bill Gates and Goldman as scoundrels, and even to blame Capitalism on them. It's part of life and better than the alternative.

 

OK - I guess the conversation took me a different direction.  That make sense.

 

Although I don't know why anyone would equate Gates with Goldman, nor blame indibvidual rights on either.  One pioneered an industry commercially while the other is best known for taking advatage of the heavily regulated fincial system with permission of the many oversite commitees to predicatable results.  Apples and oranges. 

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If he wants to be a philanthropist, it is his privilege but he his explicit advocacy of altruism and social responsibility makes one loose respect for his genius and success. There is nothing more saddening than to see such a self-made man humble himself in such a way.

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