Brad Harrington

More "Monopoly" Madness

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MORE "MONOPOLY" MADNESS

By Bradley Harrington

“There is only one way to forbid entry into a given field of production: by law. Every coercive monopoly that exists or has ever existed…was created and made possible only by an act of government.” —Nathaniel Branden, “Common Fallacies About Capitalism,” 1962—

How short a time ago it seems, back in 1998, that Microsoft was standing front and center in a Department of Justice “antitrust” trial, explaining to Judge Jackson why Internet Explorer and Microsoft Windows were not “monopolies,” but products resulting from “innovation” and “creativity.”

Well, that was then, and this is now: “Microsoft Corp. CEO Steve Ballmer intends to keep the regulatory heat on Google as his company strives to lessen its rival’s dominance of Internet search.” (“Microsoft CEO: Google merits regulatory scrutiny,” AP, Mar. 2nd.)

So, forget about the “browser wars” of the 90s’; that’s ancient history. The new front is now the “search engine wars,” and it is now Microsoft’s turn to bloviate about “unfair” business practices: “In an appearance Tuesday at a search engine conference,” the article continues, “Ballmer said Microsoft believes Google, Inc. has done things to gain an unfair advantage in the Internet’s lucrative search advertising market.”

Like what? Ballmer, the article states, “didn’t specify the alleged misconduct.” That’s because, in the absence of force or fraud, there isn’t any—just voluntary agreements reached by voluntary groups, with consumers free to bite, or not. Just like in 1998.

So much for “innovation” and “creativity,” now that Microsoft is on the losing end of the stick. And, therefore, so much for the notion that Microsoft’s original stand ever had anything to do with principle or a reasoned opposition to government interference in the marketplace.

These are the kind of “business” practices that give businesspeople a bad name. Are there any businesspeople left in the country that have any integrity? Who won’t grab the government’s “antitrust” club in order to clobber the skulls of their competitors whenever they feel threatened? Yet many of these same businesspeople will talk out the sides of their necks about the state’s power to regulate their activities, when that club descends on their own craniums—just like Microsoft did in 1998. A pack of gutless cowards, every last one of them.

While it is true that Microsoft’s hypocritical hollering merits nothing but complete contempt, however, a wider view needs to be adopted here, and the true villain in this picture needs to be properly identified, for it is what makes all the rest possible: “antitrust” legislation itself.

The Sherman Antitrust Act of 1890 was, allegedly, intended to protect consumers from capitalistic monopolies—“trusts”—yet the very notion of a “capitalistic monopoly” is a contradiction of terms. Observe that Merriam-Webster defines a “monopoly” as “(1) exclusive ownership”; and “(2) a commodity controlled by one party”—but it is precisely this kind of control that capitalism forbids, by opening the field of competition to any and all who choose to enter.

While it is true that companies such as Standard Oil or Microsoft achieved very large market shares in their respective areas of operation, that fact, in and of itself, does not create a monopoly—which requires exclusive control of a particular commodity or sector of the economy. (Such non-coercively-achieved market shares, indeed, have always been accompanied by better products at better prices for the consumer, which is how those firms achieved dominance in the first place.)

No, it is the coercive monopoly that is the real threat, and such a monopoly can only be granted by a legislative body. The Post Office, with its monopoly on the delivery of first class mail via the Private Express Statutes of 1792, is a coercive monopoly. Many utility companies all over America, granted exclusive franchises of operation by local, county and state governments, are coercive monopolies.

The entire history of “antitrust” is therefore a fraud; and, far from “protecting” the consumer, the sole results of the Sherman Antitrust Act have been to punish achievement, stifle competition and outlaw business. It is nothing more than government-mandated jealousy, envy and hatred of the good run amok, and deserves absolute abolition. Who can say what products and inventions were never produced or marketed for the last 120 years because of this economically invasive nonsense?

And who can say, should Microsoft succeed in its vile venture to throttle the productive energy of its betters out of existence, what products and inventions the marketplace will miss out on in the future?

--

Bradley Harrington is a former United States Marine and a free-lance writer who lives in Cheyenne, Wyoming.

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Totally agree.

That being said I've always had a lot of respect for Ballmer, but I guess, much like Milken, great men do fall eventually.

This is actually well timed since Seth Godin talks about a related subject, the paradigm change, which is what is causing Microsoft unrest: http://sethgodin.typepad.com/seths_blog/20...fect-axiom.html

You can't regulate away a paradigm change, unfortunately. And since Google is so strongly associated with Democrats, and Microsoft with Republicans, I am sure the current administration will avoid challenging it too hard. Google IS "not evil", after all.

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"A pack of gutless cowards, every last one of them."

That is telling them the way it should be told. Pull the "moral" rug out from under them. Well done.

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"A pack of gutless cowards, every last one of them."

That is telling them the way it should be told. Pull the "moral" rug out from under them. Well done.

Thanks, Arnold.

I'm toying with the idea of wiping Windows off my computers as well and loading Linux instead. Kind of like refusing to see any Jane Fonda movies. <hoot>

With Regards,

Bradley

timeforeverymantostir@yahoo.com

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"A pack of gutless cowards, every last one of them."

That is telling them the way it should be told. Pull the "moral" rug out from under them. Well done.

Thanks, Arnold.

I'm toying with the idea of wiping Windows off my computers as well and loading Linux instead. Kind of like refusing to see any Jane Fonda movies. <hoot>

With Regards,

Bradley

timeforeverymantostir@yahoo.com

Brad,

Although it is tempting to act based on supposed "moral" grounds, the only moral thing to do is to use the superior solution in terms of your set of values for the problem you have to solve. Morally, the only consideration that a man should have when picking a solution is which is the best, not where it comes from. This allows the market to operate freely and weed out the bad companies. Google is run by Democrat and global warming-backing men, and a lot of the revenue you personally generate by using it (whether or not you click on ads) may be used towards such causes as Obama and Al Gore's agendas. But Google is still by far the superior search solution, so why switch and make your life worse, whilst supporting an inferior solution?

This argument of looking at the ethics of the source of a product is that used by the Green lobby to back inferior organic produce (I am not talking here about the premium stuff but supermarket range).

This of course does not apply to Jane Fonda, since as far as I am aware she did not act particularly interesting characters, and therefore based on my code of values I have no problem never seeing her movies. There are so many great Vietnam era movies too, like The Green Berets. No need to waste time on communist propaganda.

Now, an argument could be made for Linux being a superior OS. I personally believe this is rarely the case, simply due to the lack of compatibility with most things. I need to be able to plug and play without worrying about half a page of code. I want to be able to connect to networks seamlessly, install my phone's software, use a printer immediately, download a PDF merging app, etc. - yes solutions exist for Linux but they are cumbersome and take precious time away from me. There's Ubuntu installed on one of the computers and I'm watching its development with interest, as it is fast closing the gap (connecting to a network, for example, is now very easy). But I still need Excel and Word for work, especially Excel and VBA, and neither OpenOffice nor Google Spreadsheets reach its reliability and usability.

With proper software (e.g. CCleaner) and good registry management, it is possible to run Windows very fast. I have used a $300 netbook for the past year and a half to run anything from music editing to watching movies on a 24" widescreen, and speed has never been a problem.

And before you consider a switch to that other Rearden of Silicon Valley, Steve Jobs, remember he disgustingly backed green tax legislation with Coke to give himself a tax edge over his competition. I can't find the article, but it's been posted in the Forum before.

Microsoft may well die eventually, since they are not resorting to thinking to deal with a paradigm shift. The market is a much fairer judge than these CEOs imply. It is also a swift one. We saw with Vista's release that Microsoft has a lot less freedom to release inferior products these days.

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Thanks, Arnold.

I'm toying with the idea of wiping Windows off my computers as well and loading Linux instead. Kind of like refusing to see any Jane Fonda movies. <hoot>

With Regards,

Bradley

timeforeverymantostir@yahoo.com

Agreed with rtg24's response to this. I wish I had the luxury of having multiple competitive choices of excellent software available that I could choose from based on my moral assessment of the company. As it stands, and I am not referring specifically to operating systems, but software in general, I am usual lucky if there is a single excellent choice available that fits my needs and doesn't frustrate me. Truly good software is still the exception.

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Merriam-Webster defines a “monopoly” as “(1) exclusive ownership”; and “(2) a commodity controlled by one party”—but it is precisely this kind of control that capitalism forbids, by opening the field of competition to any and all who choose to enter.

That definition is a package deal. Ownership, which is exclusive by nature, is not the same kind of thing as temporarily or permanently controlling a market commodity. Your "exclusive" ownership of your home is not a "monopoly" and capitalism does not forbid control under "exclusive ownership". By their natures, government enforcement of private property is proper and necessary and enforcement of monopolies is improper. You can't oppose coercive monopolies or defend temporary near-monopolies on market commodities without enforcement of property rights, which principle is undermined by use of the above invalid definition and the claim that capitalism forbids such packaged kinds of "control". usoft has a right to exclusive ownership of its proprietary OS, but no right to use the government to protect a monopoly on all OSs or to interfere with Google's ownership of its search engine technology and use. You see this package deal used all the time to attack patents and copyrights as well as other private property such as land, and it should not be encouraged.

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Merriam-Webster defines a “monopoly” as “(1) exclusive ownership”; and “(2) a commodity controlled by one party”—but it is precisely this kind of control that capitalism forbids, by opening the field of competition to any and all who choose to enter.

That definition is a package deal. Ownership, which is exclusive by nature, is not the same kind of thing as temporarily or permanently controlling a market commodity. Your "exclusive" ownership of your home is not a "monopoly" and capitalism does not forbid control under "exclusive ownership". By their natures, government enforcement of private property is proper and necessary and enforcement of monopolies is improper. You can't oppose coercive monopolies or defend temporary near-monopolies on market commodities without enforcement of property rights, which principle is undermined by use of the above invalid definition and the claim that capitalism forbids such packaged kinds of "control". usoft has a right to exclusive ownership of its proprietary OS, but no right to use the government to protect a monopoly on all OSs or to interfere with Google's ownership of its search engine technology and use. You see this package deal used all the time to attack patents and copyrights as well as other private property such as land, and it should not be encouraged.

Is it not the very idea of "control" here which has to be divorced from buyer and seller relationships? For example, I may own the one and only mine of a certain kind of metal (if such a thing were possible), which I use in the making of a unique product, but do I control the selling price of this product? If I'm asking $1,000 for each unit, and no one buys, who and what do I control? I could lower the price down and down and down, say to $5, and if no one buys where is control? On the other hand, if someone decides to buy it at $5 I can change my mind and not sell it at all. I have not been "controlled" by the buyers who wanted to pay as little as possible, nor have I "controlled" them to pay my original high prices. There has been no "control", on one side or the other, of any kind. The free choices of both parties have decided, not only the final selling/buying price, but if any transaction at all takes place.

Capitalism has no controls (except restraint of government) because there is no one who needs to be controlled. Which is why statists hate capitalism. There is no place for free-will-controllers and mind-haters in capitalism.

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MORE "MONOPOLY" MADNESS

Nicely done, Brad. I can relate to this article, having followed events in the tech world more closely than those in politics at the state-level such as you've written about.

I have been critical of Microsoft for some time now because first, for a company of its experience and resources the quality of its products is inexcusable, and second, Microsoft values marketing much more than product quality. Not once, until recently, did I think that the company would stoop as low as your article indicates, but any favourable sentiment I bore originated during the days when Bill Gates was at the helm. Suffice it to say that in light of recent events I do not like at all the direction in which Steve Ballmer is proceeding.

I'm toying with the idea of wiping Windows off my computers as well and loading Linux instead. Kind of like refusing to see any Jane Fonda movies.

Where alternatives to Windows are concerned, Linux is a fun system to play with although the vast majority of users do not take it seriously enough to replace Windows with it, and for good reason: it does not support all of the applications or hardware they need, things they are accustomed to running under Windows. My recommendation is to try before you buy or in the case of Linux try before you wipe off Windows. Several distributions exist as live discs, and some can be run live off a USB stick provided your BIOS supports booting from USB. "Running live" off a disc enables you to try Linux entirely in memory leaving your Windows files untouched.

Also, if anyone wants a fun look at the history of Apple and Microsoft, I recommend the movie Pirates of Silicon Valley starring Noah Wyle.

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[...]

For example, I may own the one and only mine of a certain kind of metal (if such a thing were possible), which I use in the making of a unique product, but do I control the selling price of this product?

[...]

Certainly. You can sell for half price. The point is you do have control over the asking price, whereas both you and the buyer must negotiate to decide the market price, which is the price of the last sale. If your cost of production is $4, would you rather have one customer buying at $10 or 10 customers who can afford to buy at $5?

Control in human relationships can be implemented only through coercion. Eliminate coercion and you will have taken the single most important step towards the establishment of a free, "let-do" social system (laissez-faire).

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Most great businessmen are horrible at politics / ethics, and philosophy generally speaking.

Microsoft and Google are finding themselves exactly where the other stood a year or so ago.

And since Google is so strongly associated with Democrats, and Microsoft with Republicans...

Huh?

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"A pack of gutless cowards, every last one of them."

That is telling them the way it should be told. Pull the "moral" rug out from under them. Well done.

Thanks, Arnold.

I'm toying with the idea of wiping Windows off my computers as well and loading Linux instead. Kind of like refusing to see any Jane Fonda movies. <hoot>

With Regards,

Bradley

timeforeverymantostir@yahoo.com

That's like moving to China because things are messed up in the US.

Though i'm very disappointed to read about Microsoft's practices here, surely Ballmer must seem like a saint compared to some of the raving lunatics of the OSS world. Just take Richard Stallman as an example, the man who thinks proprietary software is like feeding crack to your children. Though he doesn't represent the whole community he certainly represents alot of the ideology behind open-source software. To put it frankly, alot of the developers are a bunch of left-wing pinko's who think all software should be "free", i.e. free from patents, copyrights and corporate interests.

So the GNU/Linux "camp" is not a better place to be. Even if you're not giving them your money, more users on their platform(s) will help fuel their cause.

As for the software itself there's alot to be said. Mostly negative from my part, but what it really boils down to is what you're going to use your computer for and what aspects you value most.

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Although it is tempting to act based on supposed "moral" grounds, the only moral thing to do is to use the superior solution in terms of your set of values for the problem you have to solve. Morally, the only consideration that a man should have when picking a solution is which is the best, not where it comes from. This allows the market to operate freely and weed out the bad companies.

I agree.

It reminds me of someone who once asked if it was "sanction" to purchase the baklava at his neighborhood Greek Orthodox Church's bake sale. I said it definitely was sanction, but he wasn't sanctioning the church. He was sanctioning the baklava.

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Most great businessmen are horrible at politics / ethics, and philosophy generally speaking.

Considering the intellectual division of labor, I don't hold that against them nearly as much as I do against the professional intellectuals. If philosophers did their jobs half as well as Microsoft and Apple do theirs, our culture would be great.

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Although it is tempting to act based on supposed "moral" grounds, the only moral thing to do is to use the superior solution in terms of your set of values for the problem you have to solve. Morally, the only consideration that a man should have when picking a solution is which is the best, not where it comes from. This allows the market to operate freely and weed out the bad companies.

I agree.

It reminds me of someone who once asked if it was "sanction" to purchase the baklava at his neighborhood Greek Orthodox Church's bake sale. I said it definitely was sanction, but he wasn't sanctioning the church. He was sanctioning the baklava.

This area is a very important one to get right, because we are surrounded by these considerations every day. At what point does trading with the enemy pass from self interest to the alternative? rtg24 makes an excellent point for most circumstances, but I would be interested to know where the limits lie, or rather, how well we can judge those limits. We all buy Chinese goods out of self interest at the moment, knowing that potentially, we may be giving money to make the bullets that could be used against us.

These are difficult choices that I would like to see made easier if anyone has ideas in that regard.

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It reminds me of someone who once asked if it was "sanction" to purchase the baklava at his neighborhood Greek Orthodox Church's bake sale. I said it definitely was sanction, but he wasn't sanctioning the church. He was sanctioning the baklava.

I disagree that it's even sanctioning the baklava. For example, I sometimes choose to use software I despise--maybe even want to see completely fail in the marketplace--out of necessity. (Not necessarily despise the company, but despise the specific product.) (Two instances of this: Too many websites are still completely unusable without Adobe Flash installed for me to go without it. I still need to keep a virtual machine with Internet Explorer 6 to test web pages I develop because so many web users refuse to use any other browser.)

Is it sanction to buy a book by one's enemy so that one can read it to address its arguments? I don't think it necessarily is, even though some minor benefit goes to the creator.

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Merriam-Webster defines a “monopoly” as “(1) exclusive ownership”; and “(2) a commodity controlled by one party”—but it is precisely this kind of control that capitalism forbids, by opening the field of competition to any and all who choose to enter.

That definition is a package deal. Ownership, which is exclusive by nature, is not the same kind of thing as temporarily or permanently controlling a market commodity. Your "exclusive" ownership of your home is not a "monopoly" and capitalism does not forbid control under "exclusive ownership". By their natures, government enforcement of private property is proper and necessary and enforcement of monopolies is improper. You can't oppose coercive monopolies or defend temporary near-monopolies on market commodities without enforcement of property rights, which principle is undermined by use of the above invalid definition and the claim that capitalism forbids such packaged kinds of "control". usoft has a right to exclusive ownership of its proprietary OS, but no right to use the government to protect a monopoly on all OSs or to interfere with Google's ownership of its search engine technology and use. You see this package deal used all the time to attack patents and copyrights as well as other private property such as land, and it should not be encouraged.

Good point, ewv--and one that I missed, thinking in the reality tunnel of "exclusive ownership" as applying only to a granted "right" to a certain commodity or area of the economy (i.e., granted by legislation). But you are correct, when applied to the wider area of property rights and the right to one's own life, the definition collapses because of its wider applications.

Got an idea of a better definition, just out of curiosity?

With Regards,

Bradley

timeforeverymantostir@yahoo.com

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Although it is tempting to act based on supposed "moral" grounds, the only moral thing to do is to use the superior solution in terms of your set of values for the problem you have to solve. Morally, the only consideration that a man should have when picking a solution is which is the best, not where it comes from. This allows the market to operate freely and weed out the bad companies.

I agree.

It reminds me of someone who once asked if it was "sanction" to purchase the baklava at his neighborhood Greek Orthodox Church's bake sale. I said it definitely was sanction, but he wasn't sanctioning the church. He was sanctioning the baklava.

@ both Betsy and rtg24: But doesn't that only go just so far? Let's say, for instance, that the provider of an excellent product on the marketplace--one which is the best solution for my needs--is using their profits to funnel money to terrorist organizations whose aim is the destruction of other human beings. Morally, if the "only consideration" is the quality of the product, then I should just completely ignore this.

Or, what if the person profiting from my purchase is a known child molester? (Something that I happen to find extremely personally repugnant.) Does my "only consideration" of how the product promotes my interest, or my "sanction" merely of the product itself instead of how its sales figure into the designs of the current owner, mean that this reality simply doesn't matter?

Granted, these are extreme examples--but it is out of such extremes, which are often useful for isolating the essence of a situation, that principles can sometimes be derived.

I would agree with both of you that, under normal circumstances, my time is better spent by determining the quality of the product and how it relates to my needs, than by attempting to analyze the final ends of every dollar I spend in the marketplace. I do use Google, for instance, because it is the superior search engine, despite the owner's leftist inclinations, and I still by Levis jeans despite that firm's greenie approach.

Still, at some point, and I am not exactly sure where that point is, the final disposition of my dollars do matter to me. Would I spend hours of a day trying to determine it? No. But what should my response be if such knowledge becomes available to me through little effort, thanks to the investigations of others?

And, even in the realm of the Google/leftist issue, what might be permissible for me, might not be permissible to someone else who has had different experiences with Democrats. Hell, what about the guy (another extreme example, but I think you'll see the point) whose mother was raped by a Democrat? I would not expect HIM to be as forgiving of Google's owners' Democratic affiliations as someone like myself, who has had no tramatic personal experiences (above and beyond getting "raped" by the Democrats on April 15th, that is).

So I'm not quite so sure that this issue is quite as cut-and-dried as some of us seem to think. Thoughts?

With Regards,

Bradley

timeforeverymantostir@yahoo.com

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"A pack of gutless cowards, every last one of them."

That is telling them the way it should be told. Pull the "moral" rug out from under them. Well done.

Thanks, Arnold.

I'm toying with the idea of wiping Windows off my computers as well and loading Linux instead. Kind of like refusing to see any Jane Fonda movies. <hoot>

With Regards,

Bradley

timeforeverymantostir@yahoo.com

That's like moving to China because things are messed up in the US.

Though i'm very disappointed to read about Microsoft's practices here, surely Ballmer must seem like a saint compared to some of the raving lunatics of the OSS world. Just take Richard Stallman as an example, the man who thinks proprietary software is like feeding crack to your children. Though he doesn't represent the whole community he certainly represents alot of the ideology behind open-source software. To put it frankly, alot of the developers are a bunch of left-wing pinko's who think all software should be "free", i.e. free from patents, copyrights and corporate interests.

So the GNU/Linux "camp" is not a better place to be. Even if you're not giving them your money, more users on their platform(s) will help fuel their cause.

Touche, Red. While my original remark was made half in jest, your points on the "free" front are valid indeed. And I really just don't have the time to write my own OS.

Sometimes, when I am in a more foul mood, I think the answer is to just go hide out in a cave and tell everybody to piss off.

With Regards,

Bradley

timeforeverymantostir@yahoo.com

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MORE "MONOPOLY" MADNESS

By the way, for anyone who wants the link to this piece on the Bulletin's website, here it is:

http://www.thebulletin.us/articles/2010/03...09492941185.txt

The head they picked is not a good summary of the point of the piece in my opinion, but they didn't call me and ask me for my approval. <huge grin> Guess I should be grateful they run my stuff at all!

With Regards,

Bradley

timeforeverymantostir@yahoo.com

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It reminds me of someone who once asked if it was "sanction" to purchase the baklava at his neighborhood Greek Orthodox Church's bake sale. I said it definitely was sanction, but he wasn't sanctioning the church. He was sanctioning the baklava.

I disagree that it's even sanctioning the baklava. For example, I sometimes choose to use software I despise--maybe even want to see completely fail in the marketplace--out of necessity. (Not necessarily despise the company, but despise the specific product.) (Two instances of this: Too many websites are still completely unusable without Adobe Flash installed for me to go without it. I still need to keep a virtual machine with Internet Explorer 6 to test web pages I develop because so many web users refuse to use any other browser.)

Is it sanction to buy a book by one's enemy so that one can read it to address its arguments? I don't think it necessarily is, even though some minor benefit goes to the creator.

This is how I evaluate issues of sanction: It is sanction if you are giving moral approval or endorsement to a person or idea. Mere contact or even doing something that may benefit something or someone that is wrong is in the area of the optional. I can certainly understand and approve of having nothing to do with someone or something that, for whatever reason, you find repulsive, but that is an issue of not sacrificing a higher (personal) value to a lower one rather than an issue of sanction.

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It reminds me of someone who once asked if it was "sanction" to purchase the baklava at his neighborhood Greek Orthodox Church's bake sale. I said it definitely was sanction, but he wasn't sanctioning the church. He was sanctioning the baklava.

I disagree that it's even sanctioning the baklava. For example, I sometimes choose to use software I despise--maybe even want to see completely fail in the marketplace--out of necessity. (Not necessarily despise the company, but despise the specific product.) (Two instances of this: Too many websites are still completely unusable without Adobe Flash installed for me to go without it. I still need to keep a virtual machine with Internet Explorer 6 to test web pages I develop because so many web users refuse to use any other browser.)

Is it sanction to buy a book by one's enemy so that one can read it to address its arguments? I don't think it necessarily is, even though some minor benefit goes to the creator.

This is how I evaluate issues of sanction: It is sanction if you are giving moral approval or endorsement to a person or idea. Mere contact or even doing something that may benefit something or someone that is wrong is in the area of the optional. I can certainly understand and approve of having nothing to do with someone or something that, for whatever reason, you find repulsive, but that is an issue of not sacrificing a higher (personal) value to a lower one rather than an issue of sanction.

Then it seems like in the baklava example, making the purchase of the baklava is not necessarily a sanction of the baklava, as the example didn't specify any approval or other action beyond a purchase. (In case approval of the baklava was implied, then the purpose of my examples was to show situations where purchases, or a clear choice to use if the product is free, definitely did not accompany approval.)

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@ both Betsy and rtg24: But doesn't that only go just so far? Let's say, for instance, that the provider of an excellent product on the marketplace--one which is the best solution for my needs--is using their profits to funnel money to terrorist organizations whose aim is the destruction of other human beings. Morally, if the "only consideration" is the quality of the product, then I should just completely ignore this.

Or, what if the person profiting from my purchase is a known child molester? (Something that I happen to find extremely personally repugnant.) Does my "only consideration" of how the product promotes my interest, or my "sanction" merely of the product itself instead of how its sales figure into the designs of the current owner, mean that this reality simply doesn't matter?

Granted, these are extreme examples--but it is out of such extremes, which are often useful for isolating the essence of a situation, that principles can sometimes be derived.

No, in both cases the wrongdoing is separate from the product. If a man is funding terrorists, or if he molests children, his place is in jail, not as a trader. If you happen to know enough to be sure that he is guilty of both crimes, then shouldn't you bring this evidence in court?

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@ both Betsy and rtg24: But doesn't that only go just so far? Let's say, for instance, that the provider of an excellent product on the marketplace--one which is the best solution for my needs--is using their profits to funnel money to terrorist organizations whose aim is the destruction of other human beings. Morally, if the "only consideration" is the quality of the product, then I should just completely ignore this.

Or, what if the person profiting from my purchase is a known child molester? (Something that I happen to find extremely personally repugnant.) Does my "only consideration" of how the product promotes my interest, or my "sanction" merely of the product itself instead of how its sales figure into the designs of the current owner, mean that this reality simply doesn't matter?

Granted, these are extreme examples--but it is out of such extremes, which are often useful for isolating the essence of a situation, that principles can sometimes be derived.

No, in both cases the wrongdoing is separate from the product. If a man is funding terrorists, or if he molests children, his place is in jail, not as a trader. If you happen to know enough to be sure that he is guilty of both crimes, then shouldn't you bring this evidence in court?

Hi rtg24:

Yes, the wrongdoing is separate from the product, in the sense of being two different events/transactions. One can still fund the other, however, so there is a connection. And my point is precisely that in certain cases with certain individuals in regard to certain transactions, that connection should not be ignored with a "one size fits all" blanket statement that the quality of a product should be the "only consideration" in its purchase. That, indeed, would depend on many other contextual factors such as: how bad do I need the product? Is there another product that will serve? What is my beef, exactly, with the provider of the product, and is the beef of great enough magnitude to warrant my not purchasing it? And so on.

In regard to Jane Fonda, for instance, someone earlier made the point that it was no great loss to not see her movies because they are generally devoid of any esthetic content anyways. True enough--but my issue with her treasonous actions during the Vietnam War is great enough that I wouldn't go see one of her movies if the esthetic content was the best and she was the only movie playing in every theater in the flippin' country. I quite simply and emphatically flat-out REFUSE to swell her wealth by one lousy dollar.

And if there's really no connection between the purchase of a product and what the maker does with their earnings from its sales, what is the point of a boycott?

Finally, not all evidence is admissible in a court of law; I can think of plenty of situations where a person can have certain knowledge of events yet have no legal recourse available to bring those facts to court.

With Regards,

Bradley

timeforeverymantostir@yahoo.com

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This is how I evaluate issues of sanction: It is sanction if you are giving moral approval or endorsement to a person or idea. Mere contact or even doing something that may benefit something or someone that is wrong is in the area of the optional. I can certainly understand and approve of having nothing to do with someone or something that, for whatever reason, you find repulsive, but that is an issue of not sacrificing a higher (personal) value to a lower one rather than an issue of sanction.

It's also important how much aid you're really giving to the person or group, and what you're getting in return. It reminds me of one of Dr. Peikoff's podcasts, in which he talks about purchasing a piece of music which was only available from the Russian government (I think under Soviet control at the time). He suffered over this decision*, but eventually decided that the inspiration the music would give him as an ideological opponent of totalitarianism far outweighed the negligible economic benefit his few dollars would give that government. Obviously if the music was a lesser value to him, or if it was available some other way, this would have changed his decision.

* Actually I don't remember whether Dr. Peikoff said he purchased the record, or if he was relating a choice Ayn Rand made.

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