And Bill Gates Shrugged

Ray Thomas raythomas101 at HOTMAIL.COM
Wed Nov 24 10:11:30 MST 1999


AND BILL GATES SHRUGGED

>From the Forced Altruism List 11/24/1999
Reposting permitted in complete form with the contact information at the end
intact.

This Came in the (e)mail. I think it is so appropriate to today's events
that I am reposting it (by permission) here for your information and
enjoyment.

RAY THOMA$

------

Dear Federalist Society Student Chapter Representative, I am a member of the
University of San Diego Law School Chapter of the Federalist Society, and I
was its 1997-1998 president. I have written the enclosed article, which I
believe may be of interest to you and your members.

I am a retired naval officer, a third year law student at the University of
San Diego, California, and a life-long student of Ayn Rand and Objectivism.
Feel free to publish this article in your chapter's newsletter or school
newspaper, and to pass it on to other related sites and publications. I
would appreciate feedback if it is published.

Mike Giorgino, (619) 437-8217; mgiorgino at aol.com ; 1634 Pomona Ave.,
Coronado, CA  92118-2932.


BILL GATES SHRUGGED*
*(with apologies to Ayn Rand)

By Michael Giorgino

Microsoft's general counsel waited impatiently. He was not accustomed to
being kept waiting by the 'boy genius' inside. He glanced at the clock over
the silent, older woman who guarded the entrance to his office. He could not
understand why her quiet, purposeful efficiency annoyed him so much at this
moment.

"Who is he in there with?" he snapped. "The gentleman did not give his name,
but Mr. Gates knew he was coming," she calmly replied.

"This is one helluva time to be chatting with old friends."

"Oh, they've never met.  They introduced themselves when he went in."

"He must be fishing for something. Ever since Bill created that charitable
trust, money grubbers have been coming out of the woodwork."

"No," she replied, "He's not one of those . . . it's strange."

"What?"

"He was the most self-confident, self-assured man I have ever seen. He
looked like he was here to collect a debt. He had the strangest eyes-bright
blue and penetrating.  He had the serene look of a saint--or an
executioner."

The lawyer breathed an expletive. "If he's going to execute someone, I wish
he'd get it over with. I still need to discuss the judge's findings of fact
with him, and I've been cooling my heels out here for three bloody hours."

Suddenly, the door opened. Gates walked out, took his legal strategist's
hand, and said with a distant smile, "Go home. Call a special meeting of the
shareholders for Thursday at Noon."

"Just a damn minute, we have to discuss this case. There are some hopeful
signs in the ruling. Fairness dictates that the government should cut us a
decent break, given your commitment to the overriding social purposes . . ."

Gates held up his hand, and the lawyer stopped.  He saw a look of
uncompromising determination on the Microsoft chairman's face that he had
seen previously only when scientific or technical matters were at
stake--never in a social context.

"What did he say to you?"

Gates just smiled, this time brightly.

On Thursday, all of Redmond was talking about the case, and how the company
would respond to the antitrust ruling. 2,500 shareholders and the entire
board and management were assembled. The international press hovered in the
rear, barred by strict orders of the chairman from the front tier, which was
reserved for the company's most loyal workers and longest-term stockholders.

Bill Gates walked in precisely at Noon, and strode purposefully to the
podium. It was suddenly apparent to everyone just how young this industrial
giant was. They sensed a magnificent innocence, an untroubled purity in his
manner -- a pride that is serene, not aggressive. More than anything else,
his face was utterly devoid of guilt.

"Good afternoon.  I have called you here today to tell you that I am
resigning as Chairman of Microsoft, Inc., effective immediately."

A gasp was heard in the audience, and shouts of  "No, no!" The general
counsel rose from his seat to approach the microphone, but Gates continued.
"I do not want this action to be misunderstood. I will state it publicly,
for the record. I work for nothing but my own profit, which I make by
selling a product that they need to those who are willing and able to buy
it. I developed Windows and Microsoft's other products as an expression of
my own creative ability. I did not produce them for the benefit of society,
nor at their expense. Consumers of these products, the free men and women
who stood in line to order Windows '98 while I was being grilled on Capitol
Hill, dealt with me as equals -- by mutual consent for mutual advantage.

"I am rich. I made my first billion dollars in my 30's. I am proud of every
penny I own, because I have earned it. I have made my money through the
voluntary consent of every man I dealt within my life -- the first man who
hired me when I was starting out, those who joined me in my first commercial
enterprise, those who freely work for me now, and those who buy my products.

"All my life I accepted the moral code that it is good to live for the sake
of others. In church, schools, and from our government, I heard that the
goal of one's life is self-sacrifice.  'Ask not what your country can do for
you; ask what you can do for your country.' I didn't question that code. I
worked hard and offered my best effort to others, expecting the same in
return. When these government troubles began, my wife and I were advised to
show the public that we had their best interests in mind. I thought I had
done that with our products, unleashing unlimited human potential in
information systems and mass communications.

However, with all the wealth we had amassed, I thought it also would be
beneficial to support worthy charities. Who would not like to have the
economic power to cure disease and provide educational opportunity to the
deserving poor? I have been told that our charitable donations have been the
largest in history. I was shocked by the public reaction. The silence hurt.
The sneering and 'Its about time' attitude from so many quarters raised the
first question mark in my mind about >the morality of a code that preaches
self-sacrifice.

"I want to assure our long-term workers that their pension plans are sound,
and all contractual obligations will be honored. Those who have worked with
us for less time will be given generous severance bonuses, based upon
seniority. To our loyal shareholders, my associates and I will be announcing
a tender offer later today, to minimize the impact of this action on your
investments. However, I cannot and will not continue to work under a system
of arbitrary and unjust laws.

"Microsoft will close its doors. Its patents and copyrights will be guarded
against use. We will leave the market open for the 'underdogs' and the
government to fight over what remains. The government says I have hurt
consumers by giving them the best  product at the lowest price?  I am
removing the source of that 'harm,'--my mind-from their reach.

"The heart of the altruistic code is the idea that we do not have a right to
live for our own sakes. I am here to tell you today that I do, and that I
will not deal with men on any other basis. Do you hear me, Washington? I
refuse to accept as guilt the fact of my own existence and the fact that I
must work in order to support it. I refuse to accept as guilt that I am a
businessman; that I make money; that I create wealth. I refuse to accept as
guilt the fact that I am better able to accomplish these things than my
neighbors, and that they are willing to pay me accordingly. I refuse to
apologize for my success -- my ability -- or my money.

"I see now that the public good was never the purpose of my work.  It was
always to offer my kind of man my best effort in return for his. It is not a
particular state policy I challenge today; it is their moral premise. If it
is now the belief of my fellow men, who call themselves the federal
government, that they demand sacrificial victims, then I say: The public be
damned! I will have no part of it. Suddenly, his wife was at his side. They
looked into each others eyes, and knew it was time to leave.

The general counsel blocked his exit.  "What did that sonofabitch tell you?"
he snarled.

Gates laughed in recognition. "He asked me if I saw Atlas, the giant holding
the world on his shoulders, blood running down his chest, knees buckling,
struggling to hold up the world with the last of his strength, what would I
tell him to do? I asked, 'What could he do . . . what would you tell him.?'
He replied, simply, 'To shrug.'"

That evening the plane landed on a remote airstrip in Colorado. A small band
of tall figures waited to greet Gates and his family. At its head was the
intense, confident stranger that had visited his office. His blue eyes
gleamed with pride as he claimed his greatest conquest. He stood beneath a
12 foot golden monument -- the sign of the dollar. John Galt said simply,
"Welcome home."

*       *       *

I woke with a start.  Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged was on my nightstand where I
left it. Across my chest was my bound copy her Objectivist Newsletter, with
the following words from 1962 highlighted: Antitrust is "the penalizing of
ability for being ability, the penalizing of success for being success, and
the sacrifice of productive genius to the demands of envious mediocrity."


I realized that it was merely a dream -- Bill Gates had not quit. He
continues to adhere to the code of self-sacrifice that has condemned him and
every other businessman in America to second class status. He has given 17
billion dollars to such causes as finding a cure for AIDS and educating
minority children, yet there have been no Gay Pride parades in his defense;
professional civil rights activists have not organized prayer vigils in
Redmond for their benefactor.

The cover of a national magazine portrays Bill Gates as a silly, prideful
balloon, which little hands are eager to prick. No, altruism is a rapacious
creditor -- it demands everything one owns, and still is not satisfied. The
businessman's original sin is ability. Productive genius involves rising
above one's fellows, making them feel envious, lazy, and small. No amount of
charity and goodwill can erase  that -- indeed, such gestures make it worse.
Every dollar contributed by Bill Gates which he earned through his
productive genius is a silent accusation against those unable or unwilling
to do so.

No man may rise too high in the Age of Envy that is our modern welfare
state. The time has come for American government to recognize the difference
between political and economic power. The former is force, coercion, and the
power of the gun. The latter is goods and services, consent, and freedom.
To the extent that America's economy is still free, Americans are still
free. Man's unfettered mind is the fountainhead of human progress. The
American system of free enterprise has unleashed man's potential, allowing
unprecedented material progress over the past 200 years. Few people ever
make a speech, write a book, or launch a religious heresy. However, every
one of us must earn a living and buy our daily bread.

Economic freedom is our most precious liberty because it is so interwoven
with the fabric of our lives. It is the liberty most easily threatened
through taxes and  regulation. A leash is nothing but a rope with a noose at
both ends. Place the collar around Bill Gates' neck and we feel it tighten
around our own throats. Involuntary servitude, even for some vague "public
good," is slavery!

Antitrust laws are de facto retroactive, and should be repealed. It is
impossible for a businessman to know in advance what will be considered to
be "restraint of trade," or "intent to monopolize." Its criminal penalties
should certainly be unconstitutional as ex post facto laws. Even with
judicial proceedings, its civil penalties violate the heart of substantive
due process, as no one can predict in advance what a district court judge
will consider "unreasonable" restraint, or even what the "relevant market"
is.

As Rand pointed out, "free competition enforced by law is a grotesque
contradiction in terms." At bottom, the latest antitrust "findings of fact"
against Microsoft are more concerned with a socialistic view of competitive
markets (helping the less competitive 'underdogs,') than with consumer
protection. Microsoft cannot force a customer to do anything -- all it can
do is offer consumers an opportunity to buy its products. That is the nature
of economic power -- value for value.

The government's saber-rattling against Microsoft threatens us all. It is
the end of the road of the morality of self-sacrifice -- the ritual
dismemberment of sacrificial victims. Individual rights, including property
rights, are basic conditions of man's nature, required for his rational
happiness on Earth. The naked display of arbitrary police power against
Microsoft proclaims more eloquently than words that we no longer have the
right to pursue happiness in America. It is now a mere privilege, subject to
judicial balancing against someone else's vision of the 'common good.'

If the 'public good' demands making victims of the best and ablest among us,
then I, like my imaginary Bill Gates, say "The public be damned!"
------

To which I add: "Amen." RAY THOMA$

-------------------------------------------------------
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------

Journalism and Truth

John Swinton, the former chief of staff of the "New York Times," called by
his peers, "the dean of his profession", was asked in 1953 to give a toast
before the New York Press Club. He responded with the following statement:

"There is no such thing, at this date of the world's history, in America, as
an independent press. You know it and I know it. There is not one of you who
dares to write your honest opinions, and if you did, you know beforehand
that it would never appear in print.

"I am paid weekly for keeping my honest opinions out of the paper I am
connected with. Others of you are paid similar salaries for similar things,
and any of you who would be so foolish as to write honest opinions would be
out on the streets looking for another job. If I allowed my honest opinions
to appear in one issue of my paper, before twenty-four hours my occupation
would be gone.

"The business of the Journalist is to destroy truth; To lie outright; To
pervert; To vilify; To fawn at the feet of mammon, and to sell his country
and his race for his daily bread. You know it and I know it and what folly
is this toasting an independent press? We are the tools and vassals for rich
men behind the scenes. We are the jumping jacks, they pull the strings and
we dance. Our talents, our possibilities and or lives are all the property
of other men.  We are intellectual prostitutes."

------

Government: P. J. O'Rourke

"Our government gets more than thugs in a protection racket demand, more
even than discarded first wives of famous rich men receive in divorce court.
Then this government, swollen and arrogant with pelf, goes butting into our
business. It checks the amount of tropical oils in our snack foods, tells us
what kind of gasoline we can buy for our cars and how fast we can drive
them, bosses us around about retirement, education and what's on TV; counts
our noses and asks fresh questions about who's still living at home and how
many bathrooms we have [and how big our toilet tanks can be -RT]; decides
whether the door to our office or shop should have steps or a wheelchair
ramp; decrees the gender and complexion of the people to be hired there;
lectures us on safe sex; dictates what we can sniff, smoke and swallow; and
waylays young men, ships them to distant places and tells them to shoot
people they don't even know."

------


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