October 18, 1999

Letters Editor
The Washington Post
1150 15th Street, N.W.
Washington, DC 20071-0070

To the Editor:

The Washington Post’s October 15 report, “Microsoft Targets Funding for Antitrust Office,” suggests it is a shocking revelation that Microsoft is lobbying against a 16% increase in funding for antitrust prosecution.

But why shouldn’t they? Microsoft’s current court battle is a perfect showcase of the evils of antitrust. It is a case begun on behalf, not of “the public,” but of jealous competitors. It is based on the claim that Microsoft can “force” everyone else out of competition—at the same time that competition with Microsoft in reality is reaching new heights (e.g., the Netscape-AOL merger and the growth of Linux). And the trustbusters want to punish Microsoft for such sins as giving away free products and adding new features to its operating system. In short, the antitrust division’s motives are questionable, its claims are demonstrably false, and the effect, if its lawyers win, will be to punish a successful company for the crime of offering a better product.

Given the nature of this prosecution, it is no surprise that Microsoft should oppose rewarding the Justice Department with a fat budget increase.

What’s shocking here is not that a victim of antitrust is trying to fight back—but the fact that, even with the smaller budget increase approved by the House, the trustbusters will still have $105 million left to use against new victims.

/s/

Robert W. Tracinski