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Re: FSF : lackeys of their corporate masters

From: Russ Allbery
Subject: Re: FSF : lackeys of their corporate masters
Date: Thu, 06 May 2004 15:22:20 -0700
User-agent: Gnus/5.1006 (Gnus v5.10.6) XEmacs/21.4 (Security Through Obscurity, linux)

Snuffelluffogus <> writes:

> No, I advocate doing what the Founding Fathers knew was the right
> choice: greatly limiting the freedoms of corporations, not allowing them
> to be called "citizens", not allowing them to own one another or real
> estate, in short putting beasts back in a cage.

I don't disagree with any of that, but I don't think that any of those
measures require destroying my right to write software and give it away
for free if I so choose.

> That is what people do in a civil society : limit the freedoms of the
> criminally inclined.

I think that's a very bad way of summarizing that position.

A better way may be to say that corporations provide a huge amount of
liability shield and financial defense for the owners of the corporations,
out of proportion with the shields available to other businesses, and
those powerful legal shields should only be given to organizations that
act in the clear public good.  This was the original purpose of corporate
law, and is the reason why corporations have charters.  Unfortunately, no
one reviews or revokes corporate charters any more.

The problem we have right now is one of accountability.  Corporations are
given the freedoms of people, thus shielding all of the actual people
involved in the corporation from responsibility for most of their actions,
and yet corporations are *not* people in that they do not have a
conscience, external interests, or an invested interest in their country
or society apart from making money.  Corporations are, as people, pure
sociopaths; the only thing they care about is making money.  The only
thing they *can* care about, given shareholder responsibility and the
standards by which they're judged, is making money.  And on top of that,
corporations by their very nature can muster resources that dwarf those of
any individual, even the most elite of the rich.

If we, as part of the larger society, believe that our laws and governance
should weigh issues other than pure profit, it's inherently necessary to
put breaks on immensely powerful constructs who care about nothing but

Russ Allbery (             <>

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