Microsoft: It's Even Worse than You Think
by Tom Paine
If I told you that there was a web site that advocates the cloning of
human beings, calls the 10 commandments "1st century rules is a
21st century world," and portrays Adolph Hitler as a loveable
cartoon character, you probably wouldn't be surprised. After all, the
Web is an equal opportunity medium and even the twisted are
allowed their opportunity for free expression.
But would you believe you can find all this on the Microsoft-
owned, Michael Kinsley-edited Slate? If they haven't wised up and
removed this monstrosity -- written by no less a personage than
Nathan Myhrvold, Microsoft's Chief Technology Officer -- you can
see for yourself.
This wasn't an obscure article either. It was featured right on Slate's
home page for a full week. And in case Microsoft didn't make its
point clear, the article that took its place the following week was
entitled: "In Praise of Cheap Labor -- Bad jobs at bad wages are
better than no jobs at all" by Paul Krugman, a professor at MIT.
Krugman's thesis is that low wages and unsafe working conditions
for third world people are OK and we shouldn't trouble ourselves
about their plight. After all, if it weren't for the sweatshop jobs,
they'd just be picking through garbage heaps anyway. "Arbeit
Macht Frei" and all that.
Conveniently, the esteemed professor leaves out a few facts. For
example, the countries that provide us with labor at below slave
rates (you have to feed and house slaves) are usually run by
dictatorships. Labor organizers and people who advocate fair
distribution of land for peasants are usually rewarded with a bullet
in the head. In places like Guatemala and Indonesia, simply living
in the wrong place at the wrong time can earn you an instant death
So what is Microsoft telling us by featuring opinions like this in
their most high profile public organ? Could it be they are preparing
us for the road ahead? Let's look at the US in the last 20 years:
lower real wages, the dismantling of whole industries, massive cuts
in social spending, control of the media concentrated in the hands
of a few corporations, the gap between the wealthiest and the
poorest members of our society widening.
Believe it or not, there are wealthy, powerful people who like it this
way and there are no small number of them. These are the same
kind of people who brought us the Viet Nam War and who backed
Hitler right up until the war -- and I'm talking about Henry Ford,
inventor of mass production, and Henry Luce, founder of Time
Magazine, not some obscure kooks. Then, of course, there are the
"journalists" like Michael Kinsley who will promote any point of
view as long as there is a payday involved.
There's never been a shortage of "captains of industry" who believe
their right to make money and wield power is more important than
economic justice and a healthy society. Through these articles in
Slate, Bill Gates and the whole sick crew in Redmond are letting us
know where they stand. It's not enough that they're wreaking havoc
in the computer industry, stiffling innovation and sabotaging
progress, they also apparently intend to use their not inconsiderable
media clout to promote ideas that diminish humanity as well.
Inferior products and unfair trade practices are just the tip of the
iceberg of reasons why you should boycott Microsoft products.
Opposing Microsoft and what it stands for is not an eccentric
hobby. It's the ultimate act of patriotism in the digital age.
"Tom Paine" is the pen name for the owner of a small computer
company who prefers to remain anonymous.
The opinions expressed in this editorial are those of the author, and
not necessarily those of the editor of Boycott Microsoft.
c 1996-7 Moral Highground Productions
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