September 20, 2003

Sitars and Cell Phones

JAIPUR, India -- Here where the sounds of sitars blend with the sounds of cell phone rings, the world looks very different. And yet, in the global village, it is now all closely connected. It's become a cliche, but it is still astonishing when you are in a place where the ancient ways of life endure along side of the newest technological realities.

I read in the Times of India that Japan, South Korea and China are negotiating a joint venture to create a new operating system based on Linux that will be an alternative to Microsoft. This is good news for almost everyone but those whose income is based on Microsoft. The company has stifled innovation with its monopoly on the operating system and the world's businesses are now forced to endure each of the international system failures of Microsoft whether they like it or not. Microsoft's iron grip on the tech market is about to come unraveled. This will be good because competition really is healthy for economies and for innovation. Microsoft is one of many examples of massive corporations that have become so good at manipulating politics and markets with their economic advantage that they have forgotten how to compete fairly by creating good products for their customers. Four of the company's seven divisions are now unprofitable, and without Microsoft's monopoly on the operating system, it is hard to tell where it would be now.

When Netscape brought out its browser in the early '90s, Bill Gates was writing off the Internet and Microsoft wasn't even exploring the possibilities. Then when he realized his mistake, Gates played catchup by copying Netscape and then using the Windows monopoly to destroy Netscape. It will be much better for technological progress when the market is opened again.

The end of Microsoft's iron grip is parallel with the end of the international hegemony of corporate America. And George Bush is corporate America, no more and no less.

As Jim Hightower said, "Bush is a corporate wet dream." He is the epitome of corporate power and how it operates, based on short-term profits and greed. It is not a viable system for world government. In its attempt to become the ruler of the world, it is in fact undermining its own power. Bush is unraveling American power so effectively he might as well be an agent of al Qaeda.

Two other statements besides Hightower's come to mind as describing aptly the disarray that the administration has now brought itself to. Paul Krugman of the New York Times said that the Bush administration doesn't create policies to solve problems. It uses problems to justify what it already wants to do. What it wants to do it to maximize the profits of its corporate backers, which then fill of its coffers generously. Just good old-time political bribery, nothing very mysterious.

The third statement comes from a book written in the '30s or '40s on fascism, I don't have it with me now but it said, "There is no ideology back of fascism. Fascism is just a spoils system."

The Bush-Rove machine has exerted power masterfully, at least it has appeared that way at times. But now we are seeing the results of an administration driven purely by public relations and political image. As John Deliulio, who was appointed by Bush to head his faith-based initiatives, wrote in a letter to Esquire reporter Ron Suskind, "There is no precedent in any modern White House for what is going on in this one: a complete lack of policy apparatus."

Now we just have to see how low they can drag us all before they finally flicker out.

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