Tuesday, December 07, 2004

WSJ.com - Political Capital

WSJ.com - Political Capital: "Think of it as Washington's version of a fairy tale.
Ed Black, the head of a struggling computer trade group, spent a decade on a quixotic quest to slay mighty Microsoft for its antitrust abuses. 'A rapacious monopoly,' he called it. The company's behavior is 'consistently, constantly illegal.' It 'steamrollers companies' and 'crushes the few who will not bend to their will.' When the government settled its antitrust case against Microsoft in 2001, Mr. Black said it was 'selling out consumers, competition, and all those who want a vibrant, innovative high-tech industry contributing strength to our economy.'
Well ... never mind. Microsoft is still every bit the monopolist it was a decade ago. But Mr. Black is a changed man. He will personally pocket millions of dollars as part of a nearly $25 million settlement he negotiated between Microsoft and his trade group, the Computer and Communications Industry Association. In return, he will abandon his antitrust efforts against the company.
It's as if Ralph Nader had been bought off by General Motors. And everybody ends up happy.
So silence is settling over a technology-age battlefield. Once upon a time, companies' complaints offered assurance Microsoft still faced competition. Today's calm suggests the opposite: Competitors have given up the fight. That means now may be the time to start worrying whether consumers stand to suffer from less competition and less innovation."

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