October 16, 1997
SAINT RALPH AND THE EVIL GIANT!
Consumer advocates are those angels of protection that save you from the ravages of rapacious capitalists. The latter, as everyone well knows, are constantly using their clever, but twisted, minds in thinking up new ways of duping gullible consumers into paying outrageously high prices for defective products.
The archangel of consumer advocates is of course Saint Ralph, who was anointed either by God or Harvard Law School to protect us all. Saint Ralph and his brethren expose shoddy manufacturers who sell us dangerous goods at inflated prices.
Consumer advocates, of course, abhor the idea of profit. (Somehow Ralph and his trusty band seem to clothe and feed themselves, but only for the good of others.)
Sometimes one would think that Nader and his fellow advocates wanted businesses to give away their products!
Lo and behold! Nader and his allies have actually stumbled upon a medium where producers do give away their products! It’s called the Internet, and it is rife with thousands of products, like The Outrage, available for free.
In addition to gobs of free content, one can even get many of the tools, such as Microsoft’s Internet Explorer browser, for free. A consumer advocate’s promised land!
But Heaven is not what it seems. It’s so easy for gullible journalists and consumers to confuse Heaven and Hell.
Saint Ralph has decided that the price for Microsoft’s browser is outrageous. His group, the Consumer Project On Technology, is petitioning the government to force Microsoft to charge consumers to use their browser. James Love, the director of the project, says “We’re asking the government to require that Microsoft raise the cost of the browser.”
This may be a little confusing for the uninitiated, so we’ll recap. Consumer groups spend most of their time trying to convince the government that producers are making unconscionable profits and ripping-off consumers. These groups often lobby the government to force prices down. Now Rader’s group is petitioning the government to force Microsoft to raise the price of their browser.
What’s up? Nader’s group, and many other foes of the evil giant, can see what you and I can’t. Microsoft plans to run all of its competitors out of business, and then Lord Bill will rule the world!
How did the Consumer Project on Technology come to this conclusion? First of all, you need to understand that as the Green Party presidential candidate in 1996 Nader demonstrated that industrialization has ruined the planet. So Nader clearly understands technology.
The man that has openly expressed his admiration for Chairman Mao and the Cultural Revolution also has a keen grasp of the way markets work. Nader understands that it’s impossible that consumers are the true beneficiary of the browser wars between the evil giant and their competitor Netscape.
Nader also knows that the evil giant has never made a mistake, and will never end up losing money on the whole strategy behind the browser give-away. Saint Ralph understands that capitalist overlords like Bill Gates, though evil, are omnipotent and omniscient.
Who are the damsels-in-distress whom Nader seeks to rescue from the clutches of master oppressor Gates? The company is called Netscape Communications, and has 1,200 employees. What is the strategy that established Netscape’s browser as the leader in the market? Why, they gave away millions of their browsers until they had a dominant market share!
The owners of Netscape are clearly a group in need of government protection. The Outrage estimates that Netscape chairman James Clark share of the company is currently worth $579 million. President James Barksdale’s slice is now worth about $187 million.
What is a “fair” price for the Internet Explorer? Not too little and not too much? Only Saint Ralph knows.
Quote of the Day!
Many middle-class reformers will find to their surprise, that the populace is going to be quick to bite the hand that aims to feed it. The populace doesn’t want to be fed; it wants more freedom to graze on its own.
— Irving Kristol, “Esquire,” May 23, 1978
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