Letters to the editor

Was the ruling too hard on Microsoft? Plus: Is David Duke right about immigration? Housekeepers need jobs, not middle-class guilt.

Published April 7, 2000 4:00PM (EDT)

Citizen Gates

Bill Gates didn't finish college. Perhaps if he had had a more rounded and in-depth education he would have realized the ultimate consequences of his policies on Microsoft. John D. Rockefeller and Andrew Carnegie fought this battle nearly a 100 years ago in the era of Teddy Roosevelt and lost. Those who don't know history are doomed to repeat it.

-- Ray C. Haselby

Not once, never, have I ever considered the browser and Windows operating system to be a single, integrated product. I prefer Internet Explorer as a browser, but would be able to use Netscape Navigator if I so wished.

I, for one, appreciate the functional integration that Microsoft brings to the market. I am an ardent admirer of trust busting and judicial "reining in" of anti-competitive practices, but in this instance the Department of Justice has simply failed to prove its case.

-- Randy Smith

In case you didn't notice, Bill Gates just gave the Clinton administration a spanking. The announcement of the antitrust verdict triggered a massive sell-off of Microsoft stock which caused the entire tech sector to slide. The message: What's good for Microsoft is good for the economy, and what's bad for Microsoft is bad for the economy. At lunchtime on April 3 they were looking at a new stock market crash and the end of the Clinton administration. Somewhere a deal was struck. Perhaps the headline "Microsoft appeal on fast track" has something to do with it. Someone right at about 12:50 Pacific Time, (look at the graph for Microsoft stock price for April 3) began a massive buyback, which then pushed the tech sector and so the market up again.

Gates may have lost a few billion in the deal, and millions of people are hurting right now, but the point was made. If Gates is going down, he can take Clinton with him.

-- Paul C. Cowan

Break up? Make up? Appeal?

Impressive, you've shown your bias well. The only pro-Microsoft viewpoint you had is from Steve Ballmer. I'm disappointed that the negative consequences of a Microsoft breakup are never aired. If Microsoft is split up, it will be much harder to get software that runs well with other software. Your computer will crash more since it will be harder to integrate products, and development costs will skyrocket as developers have to create software for multiple platforms. One big reason there is so much choice today is because there's really only one operating system.

Lotus, Borland, Oracle and Netscape aren't dying because they were crushed, it's because they once offered superior software and refused to improve it once passed by Microsoft. They refuse to improve their products, so is it any wonder Microsoft beat them? By all means, punish the company for success. I'm planning on suing Oracle for having newer technology than an abacus; if I get the same judge, I think I'll win.

-- Stefan Krzywicki

When all is said and done, the outcome of the Microsoft antitrust trial may mean little to users. They don't necessarily care about who makes the software that runs their personal computers. They are more concerned about how easy or how hard it is to do things using their computers. Unfortunately, that's where we've served consumers badly.

We don't ask people to learn engineering to drive a car. Why is it, then, that we ask users to become "computer literate" if they want to use a personal computer?

-- David P. Graf

When David Duke goes marching in

When is David Duke going to get a job? It's been -- what? -- 20 years of hate-mongering for this individual. What good has he contributed to society? How much in taxes has he paid? It is he who should go back to where his ancestors came from, for all he contributes to our economy is a long list of unemployed white men eager to follow his lead simply because it allows them to avoid work. These immigrants, like Duke's ancestors, work their heart off for this country. Ask Duke and his morons if they'll staff that poultry enterprise in North Carolina once the immigrants are deported.

-- Patrick Alcatraz
Fort Worth, Texas

I live in a small town in South Hillsborough County, Fla., just south of Tampa. We are no strangers here to the problems faced by an increasing Hispanic population. Two small, mostly Hispanic towns flank our town, which is largely white. We have chosen another path than that taken in Siler City, N.C. Hundreds of our citizens, most of whom are retired, volunteer their time and skills to help the citizens of our neighboring towns. They build houses and run after-school programs. They collect used clothing and donate food and make it available for those who need it. They tutor adults as well as children to help with math and reading skills, and they sponsor many college scholarships. Siler City needs a wake-up call. Thank you, Paul Cuadros!

-- C.S. Wilson

Your article sweeps aside the problems immigration is causing. It mentions higher house prices as a positive, but ignores that it means lowered housing affordability for the average person. You mention that the low wages make it harder to attract American workers, ignoring the fact that the employers would provide higher wages if it were not for these immigrants. At least you did mention the strain on the education facilities. There are millions of poor Mexicans. There are hundreds of millions of poor people around the globe. If you don't want Americans to join their ranks, immigration must be halted.

-- Richard Solomon

Life as a fate worse than death

Beth Broeker's heart-rending tale of Baby Thomas' struggle to hold onto a meager existence would certainly lead one to think that the do-not-resuscitate order is the most sensible and compassionate act. It may well be, but given that I don't have all the facts of the case at my disposal, I'll pass on rendering that judgment.

Broeker clearly projects her own philosophies onto the child: "A baby is dying, and the question we're fighting over is when and how. I can only hope that when he is ready to go, he is able to go, and that this happens on his terms. I hope that for this one final act of his short life, he is in control." Such a view leads us perilously close to acts of mercy killing, all in the name of compassion and control. She has absolutely no idea whether or not this child would choose to live or die, and she ought to be more circumspect in deciding for others their own fate in matters of life and death. Deeds that begin as compassionate can subtly slip into garish acts of brutality.

-- Peter Doyle

Because Beth Broeker has already made up her mind about the guilt of the parents in Thomas' case, she willfully neglects to consider an alternate motive for their refusing to accede to a DNR: hope.

-- Michael Wardlow

Generations of servitude

The answer to Toutant's dilemma is simple: She should take a job cleaning houses for a while so she can get over her misplaced middle-class guilt. There is no shame in honest work. It seems to me far more shameful to so loathe the idea of domestic service that she cannot bring herself to think anyone with a brain would ever be a housekeeper. Am I the only one who saw the humor in the image of the author in her tortured ruminations, as backdropped by a laughing Maria, who was smart enough to cash in on them? Where's the victim here?

I grew up on the low end of lower-middle class, taking every kind of job imaginable to improve my situation and put myself through school. Now I enjoy a very successful career and have a degree of financial security I never thought possible. And here's the best part: My experiences in the world of blue-collar workers are precisely why I have a housekeeper that I compensate fairly and treat with respect. It's what any self-respecting person would want from his or her employer, isn't it?

Toutant should find her daughter a job. Quickly.

-- Leigh Hellner

Why is it that when a man achieves a certain level of financial success, he is entitled to contract out all the husband-y chores: cleaning the gutters, cutting the grass, etc. If a woman, God forbid, hires another woman to do work that has historically been woman's work, the end of American life as we know it is at hand.

-- Frances Molefsky

I can certainly relate to Toutant's mixed emotions of what "hired help" means politically. I recently hired a twice-a-month woman from Latvia. Her daughter is still there, while she and husband try to make a go of it in America.

I grew up in the black middle class, but my mother and grandmother had many friends who cleaned "lazy, selfish white folks'" homes. I remember listening to these women recount stories with a serpent's tongue, every negative detail of their employers' lives laid out and ridiculed.

It was the '60s, and the black middle class had a lot fewer members and more interaction with the "working class." The black housekeepers I knew worked in protest and because they were legion, their wages were determined by a market swelling with lots of black and Latina women needing work.

Laura is an excellent housekeeper, no complaints. She advertised and accepted my offer of employment. I overpay her, out of guilt and gratefulness. I have finally given in to the fact that I cannot do "a second shift." As my finances bloom, will I hire someone full time? There may be the need physically and the money may be there, but I still hear the voices of the friends of my mother and grandmother. I guess I haven't overcome just yet.

-- Alice Huebr

Men II Boyz

The teen schlock market is nothing new -- it can be traced from Frankie Avalon through Sean Cassidy to Tiffany to New Kids On The Block to "'N Stynk." What is interesting about this perennial phenomenon is that it tends to succeed in times of conspicuous consumption, as a reaction to a more dangerous trend on the wane (Little Richard and Jerry Lee Lewis in the '50s, Nirvana and the Heroin club of the '90s). The Hegelian Dialectic does apply to pop music, and these disposable teen bands will always emerge in times of relative comfort. Exciting mainstream music is more likely in times of social strife.

-- Matt Hutton

Joyce Millman writes, "Why would a grown man -- assuming that you can consider 19- and 21-year-olds 'grown men' in these days of elongated adolescence -- want to be in a boy band anyway?"

Are you kidding?

I'm a grown 48-year-old man and I'd join the Backstreet Boys or 'N Sync or maybe the Backstreet Geezers or help form a new "boy band" in a country micro-second ... mostly because I still want to be the drummer in the Beach Boys.

-- Thom Prentice

By Salon Staff

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