[Top][All Lists]

[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index][Thread Index]

Re: FSF : lackeys of their corporate masters

From: Stefaan A Eeckels
Subject: Re: FSF : lackeys of their corporate masters
Date: Thu, 6 May 2004 11:29:44 +0200

On Thu, 6 May 2004 06:54:45 +0000 (UTC)
"Bernd Jendrissek" <> wrote:

> In article <> Russ Allbery
> <> wrote:
> >Snuffelluffogus <> writes:
> >>> So people don't have a right to choose what to do with their work,
> >but>> they do have a right to a "fair living"?  Fair to whom? 
> >
> >> Setting the price of their labor at zero is unethical.
> >
> >I set the price of much of my labor at zero.  It would be a direct
> >assault on my freedom to prevent me from doing so.  That would be akin
> >to outlawing charity, an action that I believe is self-evidently evil.
> What action, charity or outlawing it?
> BTW I don't particularly like charitable giving (when done by myself):
> all it really accomplishes, in many cases, is to provide a public good
> at my personal expense.  I take it as axiomatic that I'm a good person
> (who doesn't?), so by charitable giving I'd be harming a good person
> (fewer resources to allocate to making a better world), and therefore
> acting unethically.

Flawed reasoning. Why would you harm yourself by charitable giving? 
Why would there be fewer resources? (hint: by your not asking for 
monetary compensation, the recipient remains in the posession of
those resources if he had them. If you give money instead of time,
the recipient acquires resources he previously lacked, and hence 
can afford to improve his situation, something those resources
might not have been capable of achieving for you).

> Twisted, I know, and not very well thought through, but I hope it makes
> the point that it's not as simple as "charitable giving" == "good".

> In that sense, Snuffelluffogus's claim
> >> Setting the price of their labor at zero is unethical.
> needs argument to dismiss - we can't just appeal to obviousness.

When someone has accumulated sufficient resources to ensure their
continued survival, they should -obviously- be free to do what
they want to do without being forced to accept monetary compensation.
One could argue that by performing a needed task for free, they
deprive those who could perform the task but require compensation
due to their lack of resources, from the possibility to perform it
(and hence to earn a living).
The fallacy here is that there is no external, limitless supply
of resources that could be used to "pay" the person in need of
resources. A grandmother who minds her daughter's children does
not deprive a creche from its income, when the daughter doesn't
have the money to pay for daycare anyway. 

> Maybe the resolution is that the marginal cost of some labour *is* zero,

What do you mean by "marginal cost of labour"?

> or closer to it than the currently prevailing non-market price?  I say
> non-market because the price is set as much by monopolies (set up by
> copyright, patents and trademarks) as it is by competition (multiple
> providers of the same service).

The idea behind copyrights and patents (protected trademarks are
something different) is to make it worthwhile to produce "goods"
that can be reproduced at low cost. If you cannot get a reasonable
compensation for producing a book, an opera, or a computer
program because of unbridled copying, then you will probably
decide you need a day job to support you (like sitting at the
till in a Pick'n Pay :-). It is fairly obvious that today, the
system is out of kilter, but it's equally obvious that the 
availability of cheap reproduction makes it impossible to
produce certain (maybe desirable) reproducible goods.

> That's why I think, in the long run, it's not enough to accept a status
> quo of free software coexisting with proprietary software: proprietary
> software exercises greater moral/ethical latitude, and will always be a
> better vehicle for making profit.  We need to change the *rules* of the
> game, not just the score.

It is not a given that closed source software is a better 
vehicle for maximising profit. It's a better vehicle for
maximising the profit Microsoft makes out of Windows or
Office, but it reduces the economic value of computer 
professionals. If people/organisations in need of computing
services would send less money to Microsoft, they would
be able to spend more money on programmers. And they might
find that their needs are better served by customizing
Free Software than by forcing employees to customize themselves
to the limitations of "proprietary" software "products".

> >>> News flash:  In a free society, people are allowed to do things that
> >>> other people consider unethical.
> >
> >> News flash; The USA is not a free society. It is ruled by
> >corporations,> which are the only "citizens" that matter.  That is why
> >we have DCMA, a> patent office gone wild, and scores of other ugly
> >problems including> your friend Bush.
> You have a very valid point here, Snuffelluffogus, in that in the US,
> corporations really *are* citizens.  The only thing they can't do is
> vote.  That whole corporate personhood thing is a corruption of what
> your "founding fathers" wanted for the country they founded.

Make no mistake, most (if not all) "Western" democracies use
the concept. 

One of the only ways in which corporations can be held 
accountable for "their" actions is to give them the same
legal status as a natural person engaging in a business
The problem with many of these arrangements is that they
were invented to redress obvious problems in the society
and epoch of the inventors, but that they have been transmogrified
by human adaptability. For example, the influence of Wall
Street analysts on the boardroom decisions of large corporates
is an undesirable perversion of the original ideas that gave
rise to the "stock exchange".

> >Corporate  constitutional  rights  effectively  invert  the
> >relationship  between  the  government  and the corporations.
> >Recognized as persons, corporations lose much of their status as
> >subjects of the government. Although artificial creations of  their
> >owners  and  the  governments,  as legal persons they have a degree of
> >immunity to government supervision. U.S.  corporations are endowed with
> >the court-recognized right to influence both elections and the
> >law-making process.
> The big problem with giving corporations too many rights is that it's
> difficult to impose responsibilities on them.  After all, you can't
> exactly put a corporation in jail, can you?  <images of a jailhouse full
> of golden arches>

You cannot demand responsibilities without giving rights. 
And it is because a legal person cannot be put in jail, 
that the law holds the board member, directors and higher
management of companies personally responsible for certain
illegal acts, whilst absolving employees and shareholders.
As to the problems of corporations influencing public
policy, removing that right would not change much because
those who own or control the corporations could still act
in their personal capacity (the only difference might be
higher revenue from income tax). Replacing corporate/private
funding of politicians and political parties by state
funding just replaces one set of problems by another.

> >So you advocate making it worse by removing even more freedoms?  Hasn't
> >that been tried before?
> Should people be free to sell themselves as slaves?

One cannot be a slave if one has the right to decide to end
a work relationship. 

> >Evidence is mounting for "confused Marxist," I think.
> Yes.  And 14 years of age. It has a very black-and-white view of things,
> makes no allowance for the vast complexity of the real world.
> Everything can be crystallized into "good workers" and "evil
> corporations".

Humans love to see the world in black and white.

"What is stated clearly conceives easily."  -- Inspired sales droid

reply via email to

[Prev in Thread] Current Thread [Next in Thread]