A savvy woman quickly learns the signs of the dangerous male. Don't trust a man who owns more necklaces than you. Men with silk socks and tasseled Italian loafers are risky. Bill Clinton wore such a combo for his Tonight Show appearance following his agonizingly long speech at the painful Dukakis Democratic convention. Said appearance occurred in 1988 before the Bush and Dole campaigns when Clinton switched to wing tips and Rockports to disguise his true intern character, lure Republicans and bond sartorially with NOW members.
And Bill Gates is trouble. It's not his whiney voice or Kermit the Frog likeness. It's not that he had a friend spring a prenuptial agreement on his wife-to-be, Melinda, hiding like a weasel behind the corporate rationalization that Microsoft couldn't risk having 23 per-cent of its stock tied up in divorce court. It was when he sang on national television because Barbara Walters asked that I knew he was trouble. The richest man in the world should have told Babs to find another sap. The free world's click and point man should not sing on demand. We have Kathie Lee Gifford for that.Since the Justice Department began its antitrust pursuit of Microsoft, the hue and cry has been that Gates is a wealthy guy who didn't pay homage to the political powers and is now under their thumbs.
While I am eternally and personally grateful to Gates for removing the "C:cd" part of computering, he does not have his software on 90 percent of the world's computers through superior skill, foresight and industry. I speak as someone who: has had a personal computer since the days of the highly portable 50-pound Kay Pro; averages six hours per day at three different computers; and has learned every word processing and spread sheet program made.
Microsoft's programs are inferior. Corel's WordPerfect is sleek and nearly flawless in its operation. Gates' Word program is bulky and temperamental. PowerPoint, the Microsoft presentation software, takes my blood pressure to 2000 over 380. Sometimes PowerPoint works, and other times it frightens hackers. The updated versions are not compatible. You can't transfer written word into PowerPoint - retyping is a synonym for PowerPoint. Netscape is a better Internet browser than Microsoft's Explorer, but manufacturers either installed Explorer or lost their Microsoft licenses.
Gates ties his programs together with a license revocation threat so competitors can't enter the market via Microsoft's automatic mode. Your computer comes with Gates software only. If you want quality, you pay and self-install.
Most folks muddle by with inferior programs because they don't realize how good life can be sans Microsoft. Therein lies the problem and the antitrust heat. There's no hope for a better mousetrap to make its way into users' hearts. We remaining mavericks are forced into Microsoft programs because, for example, Word won't pick up WordPerfect footnotes. Downloading most documents from the Internet requires Word.
No one can accuse me of being soft on government regulators. So much havoc can they wreak that I have advanced the idea of paying them to stay home and not regulate. But Gates and Microsoft are not entrepreneurs who are innocent victims of government regulators. Nor do I abandon the libertarian economics theory that competition could hand Gates his comeuppance. Competition's pow-er is nearly spiritual. But the missing assumption in the pro-Gates/anti-regulator/competition arguments is that market entry is possible. If competitors can't enter the market to compete, the monopoly continues, regardless of an inferior product.
For a view of what no competition looks like, visit the Grand Canyon. There the government controls all operations. You pay $20 per car for entrance to an area where the lodging is antiquated, the food is rotten and over-priced, and the staff funky and surly. Gates already has rotten products. Call the Microsoft hotline for a Word question and you'll find the surly and funky Seattle staff in place. Try a PowerPoint presentation once and you'll antiquate back to overheads and Kodak.
Gates can reach earnings levels that make every employee in his company a millionaire with my undying support if they get there because of quality and innovation. Some argue that Gates rules because he brought uniformity to computer usage and programs. This is the tired and invalid argument once advanced for retaining phone and electric utility monopolies. If kilowatts and long distance can thrive under government orders, so can search engines for the Internet.
Microsoft doesn't play fair. Even during the Reagan years, the Justice Department recognized that market entry barriers create a Grand Canyon situation. A miracle got you started, one of the Seven Wonders of the world, but what have you done since? Gates was once a miracle worker in computer software, but what has he done for me lately? Just yesterday PowerPoint malfunctioned again. Gates probably has silk socks and tiny-tasseled shoes too. Can't trust a monopolist.