Subject: Re: FW: Why would I pay for Ximian software?
From: "Joshua C. Lerner" <jlerner@panix.com>
Date: Thu, 3 Jan 2002 00:41:29 -0500 (EST)

On 2 Jan 2002, Kevin A. Burton wrote:

> "Joshua C. Lerner" <jlerner@panix.com> writes:
> <snip/>
>
> > >  Agreed. It's alot easier for someone to make a living of selling drugs,
> > >  or prostituting themseleves, than it is for someone to make a living
> > >  of doing good for the community.
> >
> > Come now. There are many ways to do "good for the community". Not all involve
> > working for non-profits, which I assume is what you mean.
>
> No.  There is a LARGE section of the OSS community that really helps
> change the world but there isn't a dime to be made working in it.

True, open source has changed the world for the better.  And few have made
significant money directly from open source. However, that doesn't mean
that working in a for-profit capacity doesn't also "do good for the
community".

> Privacy enabled systems.  Unless you can really sell it there is no
> money to be made here.
>
> It is a shame society shoots itself in the foot here.
>
> This is why I really think we need a micropayment system here.  I have
> been thinking about this a lot lately.  I am going to post my thoughts
> here when they settle down.

Supposing a viable system for micropayments, what would that accomplish? A
way to make money from your open source contributions? So long as these
payments, micro or otherwise, are voluntary, it will be exceedingly
difficult to make a living this way.

> > >  That's one of the things I hate about
> > >  Capitalism. It's designed around the dollar, not around progress, or
> > >  freedom.
> >
> > Yes, capitalism is oriented around corporations trying to maximize profit.
> > Individuals too are generally interested in maximizing income.
>
> We are?  Perhaps unenlightened individuals.  I don't give a damn about
> money. I just want enough so that I can take my girlfriend out to
> dinner :)

Are you independently wealthy? Do you wish to own a home one day, or have
a family? Send your kids to college? All these things are expensive. ;-)

> I just want to work on cool technology that helps people.
>
> Unfortunately the people don't seem to show their appreciation :)

You've hit the nail on the head with that comment. People (selfishly)
don't show their appreciation with money because it's in limited supply,
and your product is available at no cost.

> > However, the capitalism economic system does depend on the freedom of
> > businesses and individuals to act as they see fit, within the confines of the
> > law.
>
> Really?  What about when the companies change the law?  DMCA is one
> good example.

The law is flexible for a reason. Society changes slowly over time, as
does the economy. The law is in large part a reflection of that. Every
change may not be for the better, but if you look at the big picture, over
time, it's not as bleak as you might think.

> Also, what about when the law doesn't do anything about companies that
> break it? AKA Microsoft :)

Yes the Microsoft settlement is a joke. I'm not so sure the free market
won't take care of Microsoft better than the government can anyway.
(Just look how much better Linux on the desktop is getting, compared
with Windows. We just have to figure out a way not to turn Linux into the
first Betamax of the early 21st century.)

> > The paradox of capitalism, IMHO, is that the needs of society as a whole are
> > best met when businesses and individuals act in their own best
> > self-interest. Others have explained why better than I ever could.
>
> This is one scenario.  It is far from 100% though. Companies screw
> over society all the time though.  We need a balanced system...

What do you mean "balanced"? What changes do you suggest? Capitalism --
backed by a free and open democratic society -- may not be a perfect
system for all people at all times (think "Argentina"). However, that
doesn't mean it's not the best system we've come up with so far.

Joshua