House Majority Leader Armey Attacks Microsoft Verdict

By Cheryl Chumley | July 7, 2008 | 8:26 PM EDT

( - US District Court Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson's final ruling in the Microsoft case drew immediate criticism Wednesday from the US House Majority Leader.

The decision to divide Microsoft into two separate companies - one to create and market its Windows programs and one to develop its Office and related software - marked another major defeat for the richest man in the world, Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates.

"I'm shocked that one judge would presume to know exactly how the high-tech economy should evolve," House Majority Leader Dick Armey said. "Who could witness the explosion of new high-tech products created in recent years and still think that any one man could possibly predict how that market will or should develop from here?"

Armey said Jackson's ruling was based on a "zoom-lens snapshot of one moment in time." He also predicted innovative companies would now be hindered in the development of "better products."

"Worse, it will send the message to innovators around the world that in America, we punish success," he said.

Representatives for the Ayn Rand Institute, a California-based organization, maintained Wednesday that the entire premise of antitrust regulations violated the basic tenets of capitalism.

"Our point of view is that any antitrust laws are immoral," said Chris Wolski, media relations manager for the Institute. "Monopolies cannot happen in a free economy. The only time a monopoly can exist is when the government gets involved, because they're the ones who have a monopoly on force, on control."

The Institute believes, Wolski said, that antitrust laws are based on fear of the "good" or "biggest guy." Government, as a rule, targets only those corporations for prosecution that are the highest producers, according to Wolski. Gates, was "threatening" to the government and was therefore charged with antitrust violations, he said.

"There's a couple of other corporations that do basically the same thing," he said, "but why would you go after somebody lesser known, mediocre, when you can go after the biggest guy?"

In a true capitalistic system, Wolski said, no monopoly can exist because competition - rather than government oversight - would drive the market, rendering antitrust regulations unnecessary and useless.

Microsoft intends to appeal Jackson's decision; the judge ruled the corporation could remain intact until the appeals process was exhausted.