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Blackberry Businesses Government Software The Internet

Blackberry CEO: Net Neutrality Means Mandating Cross-Platform Apps 307

DW100 writes In a bizarre public blog post the CEO of BlackBerry, John Chen, has claimed that net neutrality laws should include forcing app developers to make their services available on all operating systems. Chen even goes as far as citing Apple's iMessage tool as a service that should be made available for BlackBerry, because at present the lack of an iMessage BlackBerry app is holding the firm back. Some excerpts from Chen's plea: Netflix, which has forcefully advocated carrier neutrality, has discriminated against BlackBerry customers by refusing to make its streaming movie service available to them. Many other applications providers similarly offer service only to iPhone and Android users. ... Neutrality must be mandated at the application and content layer if we truly want a free, open and non-discriminatory internet. All wireless broadband customers must have the ability to access any lawful applications and content they choose, and applications/content providers must be prohibited from discriminating based on the customer’s mobile operating system. Since "content providers" are writing code they think makes sense for one reason or another (expected returns financial or psychic), a mandate to write more code seems like a good way to re-learn why contract law frowns on specific performance.
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Blackberry CEO: Net Neutrality Means Mandating Cross-Platform Apps

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  • by creimer ( 824291 ) on Thursday January 22, 2015 @10:50AM (#48875527) Homepage
    I very much doubt that iMessage will save Blackberry from landing in the bit bucket.
    • by monkeyzoo ( 3985097 ) on Thursday January 22, 2015 @10:56AM (#48875607)

      The lack of Minesweeper for Mac was what always kept me on Windows all these years. ;-)

    • If they really wanted to, they could always invent their own messaging service. Oh, wait, they did, and it didn't prevent them from their latest near-death experience.
      • by jbolden ( 176878 ) on Thursday January 22, 2015 @11:22AM (#48875923) Homepage

        It is even worse than that in terms of this post. Their messaging service for many years was far and away the leader. It was so good in fact that the carriers were offering to give them institutional support by making BBM into SMS 2.0 providing they would go cross platform (i.e. a percentage of all SMS fees for many years). RIM/ BlackBerry turned them down.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by unrtst ( 777550 )

          That's part of what I can here to say/read.
          They're citing lack of a blackberry version of iMessage as an example, and yet where are the iPhone, Android, Symbian, etc versions of BBM!?!?!

          Regardless, their argument is retarded.
          "...if we truly want a free, open and non-discriminatory internet", then we actually have to allow any and all apps to use it in any way they want, rather than forcing them to make their thing available everywhere (and how far does "everywhere" even go!?!? My PC? Mac, Windows, Linux, BS

          • by Whatanut ( 203397 ) on Thursday January 22, 2015 @12:37PM (#48876735)

            Just to nitpick... BBM for Android and iPhone do exist.

          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by Solandri ( 704621 )

            Regardless, their argument is retarded.

            200+ replies and nobody seems to understand net neutrality well enough to pin down why his argument is wrong, besides some nebulous arm-waving about it being impractical. What he's saying is actually not that illogical. If the government is going to mandate that network traffic must not be discriminated against based on source, why not mandate that app development not discriminate based on platform?

            Where the argument falls apart is in market interference. The IS

  • by MachineShedFred ( 621896 ) on Thursday January 22, 2015 @10:51AM (#48875539) Journal

    Really?

    Net Neutrality means mandating that developers and services must create something that works on your dying platform? Does that mean that NetFlix will have to make sure it works with Symbian too? How about PocketPC 2003?

    What an idiot.

    • With leadership like this, stockholders must be disappointed that the rumor that Samsung was going to buy them turned out to be false. Looks to me he doesn't have a clue as to what net neutrality is about.
    • He is not an idiot, he is a politician trying to twist the meaning of the word "Net" and make it mean "Application".

      • by zieroh ( 307208 ) on Thursday January 22, 2015 @11:14AM (#48875823)

        He is not an idiot, he is a politician trying to twist the meaning of the word "Net" and make it mean "Application".

        That makes him an idiot.

        • He is not an idiot, he is a politician trying to twist the meaning of the word "Net" and make it mean "Application".

          That makes him an idiot.

          No, it makes him another participant in rent-seeking, which is what net neutrality is about, at its core..

        • by Austerity Empowers ( 669817 ) on Thursday January 22, 2015 @12:02PM (#48876295)

          That makes him an idiot.

          That is the pejoritive term for CEO.

        • by gnupun ( 752725 )

          That makes him an idiot.

          Let's take an example: Developer D develops app A that only works on ios. Since there's not much market share for blackberry, he decides not to port it other platforms since his profit increase will be negligible.

          Both Blackberry OS and iOS provide the same basic functionality to developers. However, the API exposed by them is very different, so a developer must make significant changes to his app to port it another platform.

          Famous and useful apps like A, B, C, D are the reason people

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by gstoddart ( 321705 )

        No, he's a CEO of a failing company who is acting like a whiny moron who thinks the rest of the world should be responsible for keeping his company in business.

        It amounts to "hey, we made our crap software that nobody wants available for your platform, so now you have to support our platform".

        He's an idiot.

      • I agree, he's not an idiot ... but he sure as hell thinks the rest of us are idiots enough to buy his spin.
    • "Net Neutrality means mandating that developers and services must create something that works on your dying platform? Does that mean that NetFlix will have to make sure it works with Symbian too? How about PocketPC 2003?"

      I am not sure that's what he is saying.

      Partly because he uses phrases like "downloading the service".

    • > Net Neutrality means mandating that developers and services must create something that works on your dying platform

      Correct. Prepare for the iPhone Settings app on BB. Because not having that would be "unfair".

    • by bondsbw ( 888959 ) on Thursday January 22, 2015 @11:11AM (#48875779)

      What is a platform?

      Is HTML/JS/CSS a platform? Does an application's availability via HTTP/HTML constitute bringing the service to every platform?

      What if Blackberry refuses to provide a compatible HTML browser? Is it they who are in breach, or should developers still have to provide an app for their alternative native platform?

      Suppose I port the application, but leave out some feature. Does that count? What if the feature I leave out is something like the "Investor Relations" link at the bottom? What if the feature I leave out is video? What constitutes an acceptably feature-complete version of Netflix?

    • In defense of Netflix, they support playing videos over HTML5 (with DRM extenstions of course). So if Blackberry would update their browser to support HTML5 with DRM, then blackberry users could watch Netflix on their devices.

      By supporting HTML5 video, it's completely up to the device maker to allow people to use Netflix on the device, even if there isn't an official app from Netflix. In the same way, I think that it would be nice if Apple had an open API for accessing iMessage, so that other apps cou
      • by Kjella ( 173770 ) on Thursday January 22, 2015 @12:54PM (#48876925) Homepage

        In defense of Netflix, they support playing videos over HTML5 (with DRM extenstions of course). So if Blackberry would update their browser to support HTML5 with DRM, then blackberry users could watch Netflix on their devices.

        You talk like Firefox could implement it, which they can't. They need keys, those keys need to stay secret and the content needs to stay protected until you can hand it over to the OS/graphics driver and probably all sorts of other nasty liabilities and penalties if you don't. The music industry had to abandon DRM, but the movie industry is still going full steam with HDCP 2.2 for 4K and when they finally make 4K BluRay [blu-ray.com] this year it'll be choking full of AACS 2.0, BD+ 2.0, Cinavia 2.0 and whatever else they can throw at it.

        I think they know this is their really last chance, BluRay looks pretty damn good (1080p, uncompressed sound) and 4K BluRay adds all the last bells and whistles like resolution on par with DCI 4K, high frame rate, 10 bit color, extremely wide color space Rec.2020, bigger dynamic range ,>HDTV 3D even if you only get half per eye, HEVC encoding... if you can rip one of those discs the source is likely to be better than anything you can play it with, so far there's not even a reference monitor at any price that can deliver 100% Rec.2020 coverage.

        • Oh. I completely agree. There's no reason to have DRM on Netflix now that the DRM has been broken on BluRay. If pirates wanted to copy the movies they would just use the BluRay as it's much more convenient. It would be great if there was no DRM required for Netflix, but at the end of the day Netflix can't make that decision on their own. They can only distribute the movies that they are given access to by the movie companies under the agreed upon terms. I'm just saying that Netflix is doing the best they
          • Oh. I completely agree. There's no reason to have DRM on Netflix now that the DRM has been broken on BluRay.

            netflix HAS to include DRM. it's contractually bound to do so in it's content licenses.

            the point of DRM is not to make it absolutely impossible to copy. the point is to make it non-obvious for the average user (something more than File->Save as ...). DRM will always be broken and everyone with 1/2 a brain knows this.

            • Actually, the point of DRM is to be the equivalent of a tiger-repelling rock. It makes people who don't know what they're doing more comfortable with releasing digital content.

              • i think it's naive to assume that the people developing and deploying DRM actually think it can't be broken. they probably know a hell of a lot more about the various technologies than we do.

    • -Dusts off my Palm Pilot-

      Old friend, you will have new found life!

    • by gl4ss ( 559668 )

      yeah especially funny coming from someone who is in charge of a company that had a product that was only available on their own platform and only on carriers who had contracts with them...

      is there Line for bb(X??) ?

      (line is really, really popular in some asian countries, it's basically like whatsapp)

    • Net Neutrality means mandating that developers and services must create something that works on your dying platform?

      Well, I mean, he never said that. (I know the article said he said that, but if you want to read what he wrote... It says that application and content delivery being platform neutral is an important principle to maintain a competitive ecosystem, and then echos a lot of the arguments for net neutrality.

      And to some degree, he's right. Why does Windows Phone have such an uphill battle? No ap

      • Now, there are a ton more technical challenges to ensuring all apps are automatically cross-platform compared to net neutrality. But, if it were easy and free, I would totally want that.

        Sure, and ponies and unicorns are awesome, and so is staying up late on a school night, and never having to eat your vegetables ... but this has nothing at all to do with reality.

        The notion that BBs competitors should prop up the dying BB platform in some notional sense of fairness is stupid.

        As is the notion that if I, or an

        • "The notion that BBs competitors should prop up the dying BB platform in some notional sense of fairness is stupid." - are Netflix et al really BB competitors, i would have thought that was Apple, Samsung etc? Anyway he's just saying similar to what others have said about wanting MS Office being able to run natively on other platforms but he is just spouting from another perspective.
      • You aren't guaranteed an app ecosystem just because you release a product running RANDOM_OS. If I were to release a line of laptop computers that didn't run Windows or Linux, but ran some in-house developed, incompatible-with-everything-else operating system, I can't demand that Adobe release a version of Photoshop and Microsoft release a version of Office for my platform. I shouldn't run to every software vendor (open source or closed source) and order them to compile and support a version of their produ

    • He's not an idiot and it is pretty consistent with everyone's talk of rights as we normally do in out political discussions.

      He is choosing to view net-neutrality as a positive right. You know, like how people view education and healthcare and housing. These things require other people to actively do things for you (time, resources, money).

      The other net-neutrality is just a negative right, preventing the ISP from blocking, discriminating between content...Like freedom of speech, freedom of contract...

      It's an

    • by Z00L00K ( 682162 )

      Net Neutrality - it's not about the applications, it's about the interfaces and channels. No application shall get a worse service than another.

      The Net Neutrality is about the roads and junctions we use, not the fuel we fill in the cars. With the Blackberry opinion it would mean that every car on the road would have to be able to accept any fuel provided.

    • It's just Blackberry kicking and screaming one last time before they finally whimper and die.
      • At this point, Blackberry is an actor who was told his character has to die, but who is overacting and prolonging his death scene to get more spotlight on him in the vain hope that the director will declare "Why that guy's got serious acting talent! I've changed my mind! His character lives!" Meanwhile, the director is groaning and wondering where those stage hands with the oversized hook are.

    • And not just mobile platforms but desktop OSs and browsers also. I demand that Netflix be able to stream videos to my Lynx browser running in DOS!

  • Seems to me if this meant anything it would more mean the various platforms should be compatible with each other, at least the commercial ones. Even that seems like a massive stretch.
  • Open protocols (Score:5, Insightful)

    by kthreadd ( 1558445 ) on Thursday January 22, 2015 @10:53AM (#48875557)

    The solution is not that Apple should take iMessage to every platform out there, but that we start using open protocols instead like XMPP.

    • Agreed. I prefer Apple to keep iMessage to themselves. It will make sure its adoption never become widespread. We don't need proprietary messaging protocols.
    • The solution is not that Apple should take iMessage to every platform out there, but that we start using open protocols instead like XMPP.

      I totally agree, but that's something blackberry would have to start with inside the house

    • by njnnja ( 2833511 )

      This is a great idea and wonderful in it's simplicity. I actually assumed that this was the BB CEO's proposal, and that the summary and the article was just misunderstanding.

      But no, he really is saying that we should continue to have closed protocols, just that their sponsors should be forced by the government to put them on Blackberries. Interestingly, he only mentions that they should be forced to run on iPhones, Android, and Blackberry, and doesn't mention Windows phones - "iMessage for me and not for

    • Re:Open protocols (Score:4, Insightful)

      by nine-times ( 778537 ) <nine.times@gmail.com> on Thursday January 22, 2015 @12:03PM (#48876305) Homepage

      Yeah, I don't think his particular argument quite works. I don't think this is about "net neutrality" as I've heard the idea be defined. I don't think Apple should be forced to develop apps for other platforms.

      However, I do think that communication protocols, file formats, and related standards should be open and free (both gratis and libre). That is, should be as in "ought to be". I'm not necessarily opposed to legal requirements for making these things free, but I think it would have to be carefully crafted to make sure it didn't include loopholes or unintended consequences. In doing so, you'd probably need to limit the requirements to certain kinds of things.

      In abstract, if there were a law that said, in effect, "Built-in messaging applications on mobile phones must use protocols that are available to developers, royalty free, such that a 3rd party developer can create a client on another platform capable of communicating with those messaging applications with the same capabilities as the native client," I think I would probably support something like that. On the other hand, it would be silly to make a law that says, "All application developers and service providers must support all platforms."

  • Hmm... (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 22, 2015 @10:53AM (#48875559)

    I would comment about that but, to abide by his thinking, I would have to respond in every language on the planet so that I don't discriminate against non-english speakers...

    • I'm going to get in trouble for only commenting on one post rather than commenting on all of them.

  • Free and Open (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 22, 2015 @10:53AM (#48875561)

    Blackberry's operating system is proprietary and closed. Why would they be demanding support for their platform and throwing words like 'free' and 'open' around? Ridiculous.

  • by Greyfox ( 87712 )
    I reckon that might go a ways toward explaining why the company's doing so badly.
  • by monkeyzoo ( 3985097 ) on Thursday January 22, 2015 @10:54AM (#48875579)

    Absolutely. Companies should be forced to write their software for any single person that might want it on their hardware. Not only Blackberry, but also Nokia, and since I have an original Palm device, Apple should be forced to write all their apps for me too. And support them. And make sure they are bug free. They must expend the resources to build teams for this, and of course, it should be free to me. Oh, and I also have a a Radio Shack pocket computer from the '80s, and so everyone should have to write apps for that too. Otherwise, I am being oppressed.

  • by Neil_Brown ( 1568845 ) on Thursday January 22, 2015 @10:56AM (#48875599) Homepage

    From BlackBerry's BBM page [bbm.com]:

    BBM Video is currently only available for BlackBerry 10 smartphones. Version 1 of BBM for Windows Phone does not support BBM Voice, BBM Channels, Stickers, or location sharing powered by Glympse.

  • by hilather ( 1079603 ) on Thursday January 22, 2015 @10:58AM (#48875623)

    “Unlike BlackBerry, which allows iPhone users to download and use our BBM service, Apple does not allow BlackBerry or Android users to download Apple’s iMessage messaging service,” he wrote.

    Sure it does now. Had BBM been on other devices 5+ years ago, I don't think Blackberry would be in the shape it is now. Around that time BBM was all the rage, unfortunately it was Blackberry only. Now no one uses BBM....

  • by bogaboga ( 793279 ) on Thursday January 22, 2015 @10:58AM (#48875627)

    Chen even goes as far as citing Apple's iMessage tool as a service that should be made available for BlackBerry, because at present the lack of an iMessage BlackBerry app is holding the firm back.

    I say that because I remember time when Blackberry's BBM was a "Blackberry only" affair. Can someone please remind this CEO about those early BBM days?

    How about other Blackberry services that are only available on Blackberry now?

    Or should other companies' strategies include making rival companies relevant?

  • by OrangeTide ( 124937 ) on Thursday January 22, 2015 @10:58AM (#48875631) Homepage Journal

    Android is free, Blackberry is free to switch over to it. But they chose not to do so.

    • by Luthair ( 847766 )
      About 5-years ago I was telling my friends that Blackberry needed to port their stack to Android and be the "enterprise" version. Instead "tablets are cool"!
  • by Anonymous Brave Guy ( 457657 ) on Thursday January 22, 2015 @10:59AM (#48875635)

    This just seems bizarre.

    Net neutrality is about forcing inaction: an ISP is already providing service to a customer, but is not allowed to actively discriminate by not providing the same level of service under various conditions.

    What Chen seems to be proposing here is a requirement for action on the part of every app developer in the world, requiring them by law to spend their resources producing additional software regardless of any desire or commercial viability.

    I think we can safely predict how this one ends. It's amazing his PR people didn't stop him before it started, though, because IMHO it just reinforces the perception that BlackBerry is desperate and struggling to stay in business by any means it can find.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      Net Neutrality isn't just inaction anymore. The term has now been expanded to include things like, if the Netflix-Comcast interchange is getting saturated, Comcast has a positive duty build out more capacity to handle the full flow.

      The Blackberry guy is now expanding it again. People who work in development and realize what this would mean for small developers are rightly horrified, but the thing is, that's how government regulation works. If net neutrality becomes law, it will end up getting used to cov

      • I agree with you about the difficulties of scope creep when the scope is determined by people who aren't technical experts.

        I'm genuinely surprised about the Netflix-Comcast situation you described. That doesn't sound like my idea of net neutrality at all. Is that actually what some law in the US (or elsewhere) now requires, or is it just what Netflix would like a future law to require for obvious reasons?

  • by danbob999 ( 2490674 ) on Thursday January 22, 2015 @11:00AM (#48875651)
    When will Blackberry stops discriminating against non-Blackberry users by releasing their mobile OS to other manufacturers?
    • When will Blackberry stops discriminating against non-Blackberry users by releasing their mobile OS to other manufacturers?

      There's no indication that manufacturers using Android want it, and Apple certainly doesn't. Any manufacturer (eg: Ford) who wants it just has to wait until Blackberry starts circling the bowl in earnest and just buying the whole business.

  • Chen even goes as far as citing Apple's iMessage tool as a service that should be made available for BlackBerry, because at present the lack of an iMessage BlackBerry app is holding the firm back

    So, the biggest challenge facing Blackberry is that their competitors won't port their products to the BlackBerry platform?

    This is idiocy beyond belief.

    This has nothing to do with "openness and neutrality", and has everything to do with the fact that your platform is dying, and you're now expecting everyone else to

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Does that include fart apps? Or should developers just be required to port the "super" ones?

    http://tech.slashdot.org/story/10/09/29/1842252/rim-doesnt-want-200-fart-apps

    Rot in hell you has-beens :) You had your chance and you fucked up. This is what you get for inflicting the shit-pile that was BES on admins, then having the gall to charge out the ass for it on top of premium phone plans.

    Not going to lie. When got rid of the of the last BB phone we officespaced the /fuck/ out of that remaining BES server.

  • by blueshift_1 ( 3692407 ) on Thursday January 22, 2015 @11:11AM (#48875781)
    Meh, make it so the code I write for iOS/Android works on the BB OS.
  • There is no limiting principle in the arguments for net neutrality generally that prevent this argument. If the argument is that I as a consumer have a right to not have my ISP discriminate against my choice of content providers, then where in that argument is the limiting principle that prevents me from forcing the content providers to provide the content on a device of my choosing rather than theirs? No appeals to "common sense." Where in the standard network neutrality "principles" do you find a concrete

  • You could come up with a lot of these daft sayings:,

    Net Neutrality means
    ... Having to write your web page in every language
    ... Having to have it accessible on any output device
    ... Having to make it understandable to anyone of any educational level.


    Perhaps fortunately it doesn't mean any of these things
  • Firstly, what a load of crap. Secondly, I think John Chen should take a break from his failing company and actually go read a definition of neutrality, and then go ahead and read even a short blog post about NET-neutrality. This isn't above forcing your competition to allow you to piggy back on their success (hint I hate apple, don't go there) it's about ensuring a level playing field on the NETWORK. It has nothing to do with apps. It has everything to do with traffic shaping, packet manipulation, and a
  • It's just the inane ramblings of a desperate man clinging to the helm of a sinking ship. I hope everyone recognizes this nonsense for what it is.
  • But I understand why the poor guy is making it. Unless BlackBerry adopts the Android OS or Samsung changes their minds about a buyout, BlackBerry is screwed. As in, short your positions and make a mint in 2015, screwed.
  • by AdamStarks ( 2634757 ) on Thursday January 22, 2015 @11:40AM (#48876113)

    become the CEO of Blackberry?

  • by g0bshiTe ( 596213 ) on Thursday January 22, 2015 @11:42AM (#48876127)
    If an app developer chooses to devote their resources into certain platforms I can understand which would include not devoting resources into platforms that won't pay off.

    Imagine if his same logic is applied to software. Should Outlook be ported for both Apple, Linux, and any other OS out there simply because it's fair?

    Here's a tip, if developers aren't adopting your platform it may be due to something besides neutrality. Could your business model suck? Could they perceive your platform as not having as large a user base?

    Instead of crying that things should be made even look at your business model and business strategy.

    Here's a novel thought, contact those developers on other platforms and ask them what your company could do to encourage them and possibly other developers to also develop on your platform.

    If you ask me the "Crackberry" fad has entered winter.
  • by Dimwit ( 36756 ) on Thursday January 22, 2015 @11:46AM (#48876161)

    I would argue that there should be some sort of regulation that ensures that phones are interoperable with one another for "phone stuff". That is, if you sell a phone in this country, by law it should be able to make a phone call to every other phone sold in the country. The problem is, what qualifies as "phone stuff" is rapidly expanding.

    iMessage is a good example. Apple is trying to leverage its dominant market position to make text messaging something that's iPhone only. Remember the whole debacle with people who had an iPhone and then didn't suddenly not being able to receive text messages from other people who still had iPhones. Apple's solution was broken and only partially effective - and I think at least somewhat intentionally so. Same with FaceTime. You want to talk to your friends with an iPhone? Well, you need an iPhone too!

    So yeah, we as a society need to decide what we define as "phone stuff". Having the ability to communicate with every other phone for "phone stuff" is critical from an economic perspective, and eventually will also be so from a safety perspective. Requiring inter-phone communications to be standardized isn't too far-fetched of an idea.

    (Requiring the same non-phone-stuff apps to work on different platforms though is stupid.)

  • I am a big fan of Cross Platform Application Development.
    However these are for applications that do not really take the advantage of the platform.
    Having made web apps for Blackberry then for iPhone and Android... things such as different screen dimensions, different input methods, additional features also come into play.

    Even the fact that each System has a different sets of interface standards, that can come in to make your app look good or crappy

  • Development for platforms should be set as ease for porting. Microsoft went full-force with this by unifying the OS (Win10) across any device. What is BB doing to make it easier?
  • Reminds me of how NAMBLA used to try to slip into gay pride parades.

  • No, net neutrality shouldn't mean that app developers are forced to go cross-platform. Everyone's writing software for Android and iOS because that's where the people are. People ditched Blackberry because they did nothing but sit on their initial success, letting Google, Apple, and even Microsoft completely overtake what they had. And now BB is crying foul because their competitors don't want to play nice with them? There's nothing that says or mandates interoperability between competitors in the marketpl
  • by spacepimp ( 664856 ) on Thursday January 22, 2015 @12:54PM (#48876915) Homepage

    BBM was made for Blackberry only and served precisely to keep people locked into the platform by not allowing other platforms to access the service. It wasn't until they had lost their user base that they cared about such things. It was as wrong when they did it, as when Apple does it now.

  • by Required Snark ( 1702878 ) on Thursday January 22, 2015 @07:34PM (#48881077)
    When you are the king of the hill, like Blackberry was, you have a walled garden and you want the government to "protect your rights".

    When you're in deep trouble, you decide that it's the government's absolute duty to use the law keep you in business.

    All that "free market" talk is for the suckers. What capitalists want is government guaranteed profit; i.e. they want the same free ride that Wall Street gets.

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