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02.17.10

Nobody is Born a Microsoft Employee

Posted in GNU/Linux, Microsoft, Mono, Novell, Ubuntu, Windows at 7:47 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Baby

Summary: Response to a poor defense of Microsoft’s immoral and sometimes illegal behaviour

IT is extremely important to tell apart voluntary and involuntary. Some things are not genetic. It is a “choice versus condition” situation. One can quit company that he or she once joined. Case of point: Mr. Reifman.

Reifman used to work for Microsoft, but having left the convicted monopolist, he is currently blasting Microsoft’s management for its tax evasion [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9]. He really puts a lot of effort into it and we applaud him for it. He is doing a real service to citizens of his state. “Former Microsoft manager engineers tax break,” says The Inquirer’s headline, which was probably made possible thanks to the investigation by Reifman.

IT SEEMS THAT old loyalties carry a lot of weight for a former Microsoft manager who entered politics.

Facing a $2.8 billion deficit and pending insolvency, Washington State’s House of Representatives has pending Bill 3176, which mysteriously proposes changes to the state B&O royalty tax that would give Microsoft an estimated $100 million tax cut annually and possible amnesty for more than a billion dollars in alleged past tax evasion.

[...]

While the shy and retiring Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer claims that the Vole honours its local communities by providing transparency in its business practices he doesn’t say much about the company’s Nevada tax dodge.

This is a development that we mentioned yesterday and here is an interesting new comment which says: “The subsidies cost Washington taxpayers approximately $10,000 per student per year. The bill’s high income beneficiaries earn an average $92,000 per year, double the state’s per capita income. (Source: USDOL ETA 2008)…

Microsoft is in some sense stealing money from the public (yes, money can be stolen, unlike ideas) and it becomes abundantly clear that Microsoft is still a sociopath unworthy of defense. As our reader Wayne Borean puts it, Microsoft is “Tax Evader Par Excelence”.

Microsoft plays a good game, trying to market their company as a responsible corporate citizen. Using the rules to avoid paying taxes by having an office in another state to collect one type of revenue may be legal (I’m not familiar with the local rules). It may not be legal. But avoiding taxes when your home state as a horrible budget deficit is not the act of a responsible corporate citizen.

Who would possibly defend such a company? Well, usually it’s those who work inside the company or those whom authorities called “useful idiots” in the Soviet era. Here is a video that covers it (direct link). In it, Yuri Bezmenov speaks about propaganda (mirroring today’s experiences too).

Now, sticking to the original point, Microsoft relies a great deal on spin and those who are falling prey to this spin or hoping to receive a reward for playing along with it. In a new post titled “Shuttleworth on Microsoft”, The Source explains why Mark Shuttleworth’s defense is a poor one (although given the context and circumstances, it is understandable that he had to say something).

It seems to me that Microsoft vigourously opposes this “core philosophical ideal” of Ubuntu. I fail to see how you can have a “common cause” with an entity that is diametrically opposed with your core philosophical principles.

This is why I am always disappointed when people attempt to frame opposition to Microsoft as “hate” – because that falsely implies the difference is irrational and emotional instead of the philosophical difference it is. I appreciate my freedom and want to increase my freedom. Microsoft appreciates controlling me and wants to increase its control. There’s not much room for “common cause” there, and its not because I hate Microsoft or Microsoft hates me – it’s a fundamental difference of philosophy and goals.

We prefer not to repeat erroneous information from other Web sites, but either way, here is part of what Shuttleworth said. It is being framed and addressed:

I’m also quite disappointed to see Mr. Shuttleworth break out this:

I think it is as wrong to demonise the people who work at a company as it is to demonise people of a particular colour, nationality or other demographic

Excepting the very top-level executives – people who are personally responsible for Microsoft’s actions – I question the premise that anyone is demonising people who simply work at Microsoft. Criticism of Microsoft as an entity is most certainly not demonising its workers.

I draw special attention to this point because it is a 2-for-1 fallacy: not only is the premise incorrect, but if it were true the converse would be true – yet the converse is never acknowledged.

Okay. Now it’s our turn. This is a very bad analogy because working for Microsoft is not something you are born with and can neither choose nor change. One can do something ethical for an ethical company and even criticise unethical elements. But then again, we know that those who speak out against corruption are usually subjected to personal abuse (at times directly from the criticised entity). Sometimes it makes life easier to just accept the criminals and say nothing negative about anyone. Maybe it’s good for business, but it’s not necessarily healthy for society.

“It’s like saying that the policeman is full of “hate” for the criminal he chases down the street…”The premise about tolerance as it’s posed above is very fallacious. It’s like saying that the policeman is full of “hate” for the criminal he chases down the street and the poor analogy from Shuttleworth can actually mislead some readers who are trying to relate to co-existence (which Microsoft never wanted). People can choose who to work for, whereas they do cannot or can very rarely choose something like the examples he mentioned (“colour, nationality or other demographic”). So, it’s a straw man argument relying on improper (unmappable) parables.

Nobody must work for a serial convicted villain and the most important point is that some people are actually choosing to become members of the Microsoft One Way/Club, which is widely known as unethical and even illegal. “But I want to make a lot of money” is a very poor defense that lacks any sense of morality. Shuttleworth hired at least one person from Microsoft, so maybe there is another dimension to this debate/conflict. Maybe it’s to do with hypocrisy. Novell has the same type of trouble because its employees brag about spreading Mono (the Microsoft API conundrum, being brought up in relation to the latest update from Pinta [1, 2, 3, 4, 5]).

“The last thing this company needs is another fucking [computer] language.”

Nathan Myhrvold, Microsoft

To address some other claims from Shuttleworth, there is no hate here. The reaction doesn’t mean “hating” and “demonising” Microsoft, because rejecting and avoiding Microsoft isn’t a matter of hatred or daemonisation – it’s simply the most effective and rational action to take based on a factual and historical review of Microsoft’s actions.

Alan Lord complains about Sam Varghese misrepresenting his views:

Sam, your article paints me with a brush 22which I do not believe to be fair or accurate.

Adam Williamson (from Red Hat/Fedora and formerly from Mandriva) adds in the comments: “There is an error in your title – it contains an entirely superfluous question mark.

“ If you have anything to complain about them you’re a Microsoft hater and as such your points are not valid anymore, no matter how relevant or accurate they may be in themselves.”
      –Daniel
“(‘Sam Varghese Got It Wrong’ is up there with ‘Dog Bites Man’ in the realm of the non-story. There’s an unofficial club of those who have been magnificently inaccurately attacked by Sam, in fact. We’re thinking of getting t-shirts printed…)”

Daniel correctly says: “Standard Microsoft way of dealing with any and all criticism really. If you have anything to complain about them you’re a Microsoft hater and as such your points are not valid anymore, no matter how relevant or accurate they may be in themselves.”

This whole “Hater” label is one that we addressed before [1, 2, 3, 4]. There are variants of this label, but the ideas and intentions remain the same. Critics of Microsoft’s actions (that deserve criticism if not severe punishment) are invalidated in the usual way using labels and PR. Critics of the Gates Foundation are usually being labeled “just jealous”. Critics of foreign relations in some countries get assigned labels like “unpatriotic” or “anti-Soviet”.

I have personally met important people who privately admit disliking or hating Microsoft for its crimes, but they also say that they cannot talk about it in public as that would discredit them. This means that Microsoft’s daemonisation tactics (of its critics) have worked in the sense that they created a state of self-censorship or peer censorship (one person telling off a colleague for example).

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