Subject: Re: A few here may have an opinion on this
From: kragen@pobox.com (Kragen Sitaker)
Date: Thu, 24 Oct 2002 01:14:33 -0400 (EDT)

Chris Maeda writes:
> I never meant to say that govt should not use the lowest cost / most
> appropriate solution for any given problem.  I was merely pointing
> out the fact that govt tilting the playing field in favor of GPL
> could be a way of shooting itself in the foot at tax collection time
> since free software businesses are typically much less profitable
> than proprietary software businesses.

Software produces value.  Proprietary software tends to ensure that a
significant chunk of the value produced accrues to the publishers;
free software tends to let a larger chunk of that value accrue to the
users.  

But that doesn't matter much to tax revenue.

Encouraging the production of free software will increase collective
wealth if free software produces more value overall, and tax revenues
tend to track collective wealth --- or, more exactly, the part of
collective wealth that manifests as corporate profits and personal
income.  (I may think it valuable to have individual freedom, but that
doesn't raise tax revenues unless I find it valuable as part of my
job.)

> Maybe I'm just in a grumpy mood but I think government tilting the
> playing field against GPL is perfectly reasonable. So far, free
> software has been an utter failure at producing large profitable
> businesses that generate tax revenue.  Government legislating in
> favor of GPL will push more of the software business into the
> non-profit sector and make us all poorer.

The government has a purpose higher than maximizing its income, Chris,
but your arguments don't convince me that promoting GPL software would
even reduce that income.

-- 
<kragen@pobox.com>       Kragen Sitaker     <http://www.pobox.com/~kragen/>
Edsger Wybe Dijkstra died in August of 2002.  The world has lost a great
man.  See http://advogato.org/person/raph/diary.html?start=252 and
http://www.kode-fu.com/geek/2002_08_04_archive.shtml for details.