Subject: Re: Here's a-what I'm a-gonna do.
From: gumby@cygnus.com (D.V. Henkel-Wallace)
Date: Thu, 13 Jun 1996 07:27:03 +0900

At 18:26 06/11/96, Chris Maeda wrote:
>At 01:52 AM 6/11/96 PDT, John Gilmore wrote:
>>It sometimes takes an essential goodness-of-spirit to work on free
>>software; a belief that the world is at root a good place and that if
>>we all cooperate it will get even better.  When you see an apparent
>>conflict between that and survival fears, my recommendation is to
>>stretch your understanding of the nature of the world, and the nature
>>of survival, if you can, rather than to become meaner (stingier) in
>>spirit.  I just nursed another friend through an attack of
>>mean-spiritedness, and we found a much better path than by chucking
>>the free software nature of their product.
>
>That's beautiful, John.  But it's hardly a rational economic argument.

No Chris, it is.  In a different context and differently phrased it would
be unremarkable.  For instance:

  "Sure you can build a polluting factory and in the short term get a
higher return.  But if you remember how important a clean environment is
for your wellbeing, for that of your customers, and for its moral value you
will look for a better alternative.  And in the long run your customer base
will appreciate this and grow.  In fact you may expand your business by
selling your solution for clean widget-making"

This is a bread-and butter kind of argument for those who feel that market
forces (rather than regulation) can remedy the commons problem.

Now this doesn't mean that you can always win this way.  Some competetor
may out-pollute you and clean up once you're dead (a different kind of
"dumping" or predatory pricing!).  It's also harder in the free software
space since more people will have sympathy for baby seals than for free
software.  But the principle's the same.