Microsoft Monopoly

This editorial was published in the April 25th, 2000 Atlanta Journal.
— 05/25/00

Dear Atlanta Journal Constitution Editor:

Consumers hold absolute power in free markets. People and companies only prosper when they serve their customers and provide products consumers want. How long can a person or company prosper if they provide inferior products or cheat their customers? When this happens, other companies quickly fill the void.

Does anybody anywhere know what constitutes a monopoly? What are the measurable boundaries of monopoly and how can a company know if it crosses those boundaries? I submit that the only time a free market does not work or a monopoly can exist is when legislators and bureaucrats restrict competition or enable con artists.

Take the extreme example of Georgia’s lottery. Georgia declares all gambling illegal except the gambling they control. Since there is no free market competitor, Georgia only has to pay out about 60% of their gross revenue. Las Vegas pays out about 95%. Government penalizes gambling consumers and totally restricts their free market power. This is state sponsored monopoly.

Why not make dry cleaning a monopoly and use dry cleaning proceeds to educate our children? Instead of “sticking it” to people who want to gamble, let’s “stick it” to people who like pressed shirts. What’s the difference?

Every time government grants a subsidy, restricts entry, collects a tariff, sets prices, guarantees wages, or protects us from ourselves; the free market becomes less free, less efficient. Nobody forced me to buy Microsoft products or shun Apple, Sun, or Unix.

We don’t need government or the courts to tell us where or how to shop. Our economic vitality depends on free markets, not state controlled markets.

Wes Alexander