Led by Assistant Attorney General Joel Klein, today officials from the Department of Justice will brief members of the White House staff on the latest version of the government attack on Microsoft. Klein summarized the Clinton-Gore administration’s view when he said that this case “sets the ground rules for enforcement in the information age.”
Innovation and competition are out.
Litigation and regulation are in.
What does Klein mean? Over the weekend the word got out that federal antitrust regulators – in league with attorneys general from 19 states – will recommend a breakup of Microsoft.
The event that most people noticed was the continued – if even accelerated – volatility of the stock market on Monday. The much larger, and more dangerous to consumers, effect is a geographic shift for the high-tech economy. Innovation and competition are out and litigation and regulation are in.
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 in Washington, DC, Sacramento, and Raleigh to bleed the high-tech economy dry.
The new ground rules are clear. It is no longer necessary to prove that a firm has harmed consumers in order to start the antitrust regulatory machine. Government lawyers will determine the introduction of new products and their prices. Clinton-Gore invented the new regulatory ground zero assault on consumers.