Wednesday, February 27, 2008

EU Fines Microsoft $1.3 Billion for "Unreasonable Prices"

In a sickening case of socialist authoritarian market intervention, the European Union fined Microsoft $1.3 billion dollars for charging "unreasonable prices" to competitors looking for software information:

BRUSSELS, Belgium (AP) -- The European Union fined Microsoft Corp. a record $1.3 billion Wednesday for the amount it charges rivals for software information.

EU regulators said the company charged "unreasonable prices" until last October to software developers who wanted to make products compatible with the Windows desktop operating system.

[...]

The fine comes less that a week after Microsoft said it would share more information about its products and technology in an effort to make it work better with rivals' software and meet the demands of antitrust regulators in Europe.

But that's not good enough for the EU Competition Commissioner, who was far too eager to make a stand against the software powerhouse:
"Talk is cheap," Kroes said. "Flouting the rules is expensive."

[...]

"We could have gone as high as 1.5 billion euros ($2.23 billion)," she said. "The maximum amount is higher than what we did at the end of the day.
Oh, well thank you Almighty European Union for saving Microsoft from having to pay $2.23 billion.
Microsoft had initially set a royalty rate of 3.87 percent of a licensee's product revenues for patents and demanded that companies looking for communication information - which it said was highly secret - pay 2.98 percent of their products' revenues.

The EU complained last March that the rates were unfair. Under threat of fines, Microsoft two months later reduced the patent rate to 0.7 percent and the information license to 0.5 percent - but only in Europe, leaving the worldwide rates unchanged.

Apparently the EU has jurisdiction outside of Europe? Is a rate drop of almost 550% for patents, and almost 600% for information licenses not good enough? And most importantly, why does the EU get to decide what prices Microsoft should charge?

Why not just nationalize them? Is it not Microsoft's right to determine when and if to share their information, and how much they will charge? Is it not THEIR information, implying ownership? Also, to say that their prices are too high and that they must be lowered, one implies that in some way, others have a claim to Microsoft's property. But in that case, it's not property is it?

Should I ask you to sell me a car, and you ask price X. Would it be ethical for a third party to force you down to price .5X because they think your prices are too high? You would be outraged. If I was willing to pay the price in the first place, I obviously made an economic choice where I believed that the car was worth more to me than the sum of price X. What is wrong with that?

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Naomi Wolf

On her book, "The End of America:"
She makes a decent point, although I think we are far from the kind of authoritarian state she talks about. At the same time, she is trying to talk about post-9/11 America, an America that is 7 years old and has had only one president. Her speculation, therefore, seems to be devoid of any really compelling evidence for her argument. In any case, it's important to be able to recognize and prevent the existence of such a state, so it would do well to listen.

Wholesale Inflation Rises at Highest Rate in 26 Years

And I can almost guarantee it's only the beginning:

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Inflation at the wholesale level soared in January, pushed higher by rising costs for food, energy and medicine.

The Labor Department said Tuesday that wholesale prices rose 1 percent last month, more than double the 0.4 percent increase that economists had been expecting.

The January surge left wholesale prices rising by 7.5 percent over the past 12 months, the fastest pace in more than 26 years, since prices had risen at a 7.5 percent pace in the 12 months ending in October 1981.


And the Fed's rate cuts still haven't kicked in. Is it safe now to say I told you so? Maybe not, the real indication will come sometime by late summer, when liquidity will have had it's chance to move around the market, hopefully spawning some kind of economic growth before stagflation (as I predict) will begin in full force. I'm no economist, so only time will tell I suppose.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Pride Foundation of Seattle gives $65 Million to the LGBTQISA Community and HIV/AIDS Groups

SEATTLE (AP) -- The estate of Ric Weiland, a high school classmate of Microsoft Corp. founders Bill Gates and Paul Allen and one of the first five people to work at the software giant, has left $65 million to gay rights and HIV/AIDS organizations.

[...]

The bequests were announced Sunday by the Pride Foundation of Seattle, where Weiland was a board member for several years. The foundation called it the largest single bequest ever given to gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender causes.


Wow, that's a lot of money.

Huckabee Makes an Ass of Himself on SNL

Nader to Run Again/Fail Again

The former Green Party candidate for President makes an headache-inducing return, officially throwing his hat in the ring:

The anti-establishment consumer advocate made the announcement in a televised interview on Sunday.

Mr Nader was accused by many Democrats of handing the presidency to George W Bush in the November 2000 elections. He ran again unsuccessfully in 2004.

I would like to address that for a second. First of all, it is no lie that Nader took votes away in 2000 and 2004. Nader could very well be a partial cause to the Bush legacy, and could very well injure the Democratic nominee enough in November to hand the White House to McCain, effectively perpetuating the Bush legacy. Some speculate that he does this on purpose, though I highly doubt that; to me it seems more feasible that he is just plain CRAZY.

Mr Nader denied he was seeking to be a spoiler candidate - and accused the main parties of "political bigotry".

Referring to the three main contenders in the race so far, he questioned: "Do they have the moral courage, do they have the fortitude to stand up to corporate powers and get things done for the American people?"

Mr. Nader forgets that government itself is inherently an oligarchy, and that the free market gives "The Many" more power over their own decisions, and ultimately allows the individual to choose what is best for them. How is taking power and rights from companies (which in turn hurts individuals) via the state (thus centralizing more economic control in an fractionally equivalent body) not oligarchical? How is it ethical? What Nader means by "get things done for the American people," is, "take away from the American people their right to choose what gets done and how."