Subject: Re: FW: Why would I pay for Ximian software?
From: "Joshua C. Lerner" <jlerner@panix.com>
Date: Thu, 3 Jan 2002 13:29:53 -0500 (EST)

On Thu, 3 Jan 2002, David Fetter wrote:

> On Thu, Jan 03, 2002 at 12:21:34PM -0500, Joshua C. Lerner wrote:
> > On Thu, 3 Jan 2002, Harald Koch wrote:
> >
> > > "Joshua C. Lerner" wrote:

(trim)

> > > This is one of the disconnects between pure free-market capitalism
> > > and reality; money is not the only measure of progress or
> > > perfection.
> >
> > For individuals, sure. I have goals in life besides making money. I
> > think for most people, making money is not the #1 priority. But it's
> > up there.
>
> I think staying healthy, keeping up with your family, having friends,
> feeling like a part of a community are *way* ahead of making money for
> most people, and the only counter-examples I've met are sorry
> specimens indeed.

Good points. Let me clarify -- what I meant was maximizing income was one
of the most important factors (#2 or #3) in one's choice of career.

Keep in mind the obvious -- that money can help one stay healthy and visit
with family (who live far away). Also, you can do a lot of good for the
communities you value with charitable donations. Also, if you have money,
you can spend more time NOT making money, and spend more time on the
"things that matter".

Money won't buy you worthwhile friends tho. ;-)

> > > Unfortunately, businesses and indivuduals seldom act in their own
> > > best self-interest; that's *hard*.
> >
> > If businesses "seldom" act in their own self-interest (which is to
> > maximize profit),
>
> Let's look at that a little more closely.  "Maximizing profit" in the
> short term could mean doing things like screwing over your employees,
> playing funny accounting games, cutting corners on safety and
> security, etc. which eventually cause the company to go under.
>
> "Maximizing profit" in the long term could mean investing in R&D,
> keeping your employees happy, etc. and could (gasp) mean actually
> *losing* money for a quarter or six.

It could. Who gets to make those decisions (short-term vs. long-term)? In
a privately-held firm, just those few owners. In a publicly-held firm,
you're subject to the whims of your investors. Again keep in mind the
obvious -- no one forces a company to go public.

> > then how do they survive at all? Do you envision some kind of race
> > to the bottom? Is it all just based on chance?
>
> A gigantic part of it is just that, as any honest person who's started
> companies--they almost always have to start more than one--will tell
> you.

I can speak from firsthand experience that it's not just luck.

> > How do you account for which companies thrive and which fail?
>
> I don't have the arrogance to believe I know a deterministic answer to
> that, and considering the plethora of books, etc. that are supposed to
> guarantee success in business vs. actual successes in business, I
> submit that nobody else really knows either.

You can rarely trust any source of information that guarantees anything.

> > > For corporations, there are numerous pressures to do the opposite;
> > > quarterly earnings expectations are one obvious one.
> >
> > How is meeting quarterly earnings estimates NOT in a public
> > company's best interest?
>
> See above.

Yeah, but in this case, "best interest" is the same as "maximizing
shareholder value" -- which is determined by the shareholders, the owners
of the company.

> > > Individuals rarely even known what their own best self-interest
> > > is.
>
> > That's a rather dangerous opinion.
>
> Why?  Because it's not libertarically correct according to you?

"Libertarian"? Personally, I like to make decisions and judgments for
myself. You may feel differently.

> > The point is, who is most qualified to make that judgment for
> > himself or herself. You? The State? Or the individual?
>
> That depends very much on the individual and the situation.  A
> 3-year-old is not in the least bit qualified to make such a judgment,
> nor should she be allowed to.  Jeff Dahmer wasn't qualified to make
> such judgments either.  Rebellious suburban 15-year-olds are not
> qualified to decide they're going to do [random parent-aggravating
> act], and thank goodness, most are prevented from doing so.

It's a given that children and the criminally insane are not competent to
run their own lives.

> Drunks ought not to get behind the wheel of a car.

Agreed -- that's why it's against the law and there are rather stiff
penalties for doing so.

> > Do you think you typically try to act in your own best
> > self-interest?
>
> Not all the time.  Often my judgment is clouded and/or I am
> under-informed and/or I am misinformed.

Sure, we all make mistakes. Often the same mistake, over and over. But are
you actually saying that you don't even TRY to act in your best
self-interest? Do you think someone else should be deciding for you?

> > If "yes", don't you think most people would say the same thing about
> > themselves?
>
> If they think so, that doesn't necessarily mean they're right.

This assumes some universal definition of "right", where often one
doesn't exist.

Joshua