Subject: Re: Thought crimes
From: "Stephen J. Turnbull" <turnbull@sk.tsukuba.ac.jp>
Date: Thu, 4 Jan 2001 12:52:31 +0900

>>>>> "Crispin" == Crispin Cowan <crispin@wirex.com> writes:

    Crispin> "Stephen J. Turnbull" wrote:

    >> I agree with the first part, and I'll even stipulate that
    >> "empowerment" has resulted in a bigger gap between elites and
    >> the average person.

    Crispin> Actually, I'll disagree with that.  It seems that the
    Crispin> last 200 years or so have substantially shrunk the gap
    Crispin> between the elite and the masses.  Before, the rich were
    Crispin> stinking rich and the poor were hungry.  Now, the rich
    Crispin> are still stinking rich, and the poor have a surplus to
    Crispin> blow on Old E and Tommy Hillfager.

You're thinking in purely economic terms.  Economic empowerment is
important, but it's not all there is.  Also, many people would contest
your scale of measurement.  Stinking rich has gotten a lot more smelly
in 200 years.  :-)

    >> A labor union functions by taking the power to decide whether
    >> to supply effort or not, and on what terms, from the individual
    >> and giving it to a collective.

    Crispin> It most certainly does not.  Labor unions take the
    Crispin> decision away from one group of elites (entrepreneurs)
    Crispin> and give it to another (union bosses & the mob).  The
    Crispin> union bosses tell the union what to think, and call it
    Crispin> democracy.

This is the _equilibrium_ effect, it is true.  However, for labor
unions to be effective, they must be given the support of law (either
by exempting them from anti-trust action, and preferably -- from the
union boss's standpoint -- by making closed shops legal or even
mandatory.  This is the transfer of power I'm talking about, which is
at the level of the rules of the game.

    Crispin> FSB (emphasis on the B) is not so clean.  Here it's back
    Crispin> to business as usual, where wealth (as distinct from
    Crispin> recognition) flows to those who are best at running a
    Crispin> buisness, which is mostly about how to hustle.

I have never paid for sex or Linux.  Red Hat has done nothing for my
love life, but they certainly have improved my Linux environment.
This is a necessary side effect of a free software business, which
doesn't apply to the old "private goods" environment.  Red Hat has, in
a sense important to me, made me wealthier.  (And I've repaid them by
complaining about their hegemony.  That's life.  :^)


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