Later this afternoon, lawyers from the federal government and 19 states are expected to file their proposed remedies in the Microsoft antitrust case. Throughout the case, Judge Penfield Jackson has sided with the government lawyers and against innovation, so it is likely that their proposal will form the basis of Judge Jackson’s remedies in the coming months. Unfortunately, these lawyers falsely believe that splitting Microsoft apart would aid competition and benefit consumers. In reality, the likely outcome of government interference would be expensive and, according to the Department of Justice (DOJ), would take years of legal wrangling.
This case already has had a negative impact on the stock markets and the entire economy. However, Assistant Attorney General Joel Klein promises that the worst is yet to come, stating that this court case “sets the ground rules for enforcement in the information age.” This vision will undoubtedly slow innovation, raise costs for consumers and threaten America’s lead position in the world’s technology marketplace.
Radical government proposals represent a shift of the center of economic development from innovation to litigation. No longer will dynamic ideas come from places like Silicon Valley, Austin, the Research Triangle Park, and Nashua. Instead, innovative and unfounded legal theories will emanate from the courts and bleed our new economy dry. Government lawyers are taking over America’s most dynamic economic sector, and they have opened the door for greedy trial lawyers to cash in on the civil justice jackpot and line their own pockets. Consumers risk losing the benefits of this engine of economic growth unless these two forces are stopped.
Rather than onerous burdens and complicated unenforceable regulations, the government should keep its hands off of the high-tech economy. The threat of government intervention and frivolous lawsuits will drive entrepreneurs and investment from the technology sector and limit the unprecedented pace of innovation.