US Economy

Josh Coates jcoates at archive.org
Fri Apr 8 13:11:24 MDT 2005


>It's not latin, but here it is: ``strawman,''

>> Lots of people who enjoy writing software in their free time / a
>> corporate sponsor who paid a one-time fee to a developer / a
>> government agency / whatever:
>>  - Traded their time and effort to write a word processor (this is
>>    where the micro model gets a little hairy, but dang it, it's
>>    working this way already today)

>Not exactly ex-nihilo.  And I did admit that it's hairy.

hey pot, you're black. ;-)

see, i didn't say it was *exactly* ex nihilo.

i said it was *effectively* ex nihilo since it was an 'unfair' introduction
of 'effectively' free goods in your OSS model, whereas the non-OSS model did
not have the benefit of having 'effectively' free goods (for example, in the
form of FLF doing the landscaping for 'free'.)

you can say the FLF doesn't exist and OSS does, but that is incidental to
the economic model.

and so the zero-sum game flaw remains.  you have just swicthed who loses the
job, depending on the model - nothing more had been gained.  if you cite OSS
making the word processor, one can cite FLF doing the landscaping.  zero-sum
game, unless you 'cheat' by giving the OSS a freebie (aka effective ex
nihilo.)

so either you are a cheater, or the model is flawed. :-p

[queue ominous noir theme music]

but enough of that!  let's talk about how the unique economic property of
zero-cost reproduction of software.  mike is right - this is the real focus.

will someone volunteer to build a micro model based on this?  or we could
skip it and merge this thread with the BYU economics 110 thread... ;-)

Josh Coates
www.jcoates.org


-----Original Message-----
From: plug-bounces at plug.org [mailto:plug-bounces at plug.org]On Behalf Of
Michael Halcrow
Sent: Friday, April 08, 2005 11:52 AM
To: Provo Linux Users Group Mailing List
Subject: Re: US Economy


On Fri, Apr 08, 2005 at 11:39:00AM -0600, Josh Coates wrote:
> >Let's start with a micro model.
>
> i was waiting to see if anyone noticed that michaels well thought
> out micro model has two fundamental flaws.
>
> flaw #1: "ex nihilo"
> in the first model, the word processor was created with time and
> effort.  in the second, OSS model the word processor was effectively
> created "out of nothing".

It's not latin, but here it is: ``strawman,'' or misrepresenting the
opponent's argument in order to make it appear weaker, and then
attacking the watered-down version of the argument.  I call attention
to this portion of my original argument:

> Lots of people who enjoy writing software in their free time / a
> corporate sponsor who paid a one-time fee to a developer / a
> government agency / whatever:
>  - Traded their time and effort to write a word processor (this is
>    where the micro model gets a little hairy, but dang it, it's
>    working this way already today)

Not exactly ex-nihilo.  And I did admit that it's hairy.  But I also
point out that it is working out this way already.  In this case,
there can be a zero-sum exchange between the corporate sponsor and the
coder to initially produce the code.  The coder could, of course, be
Bill.  The corporation will, based on rational behavior, decide to pay
the up-front costs of the software development, as soon as those costs
are less than the costs to the corporation to do its business
*without* the software.  What then happens with the software after
that point does not change the fact that the corporation saved money
by paying the up-front costs for the software development.  Which
leads to your observation regarding low-cost reproducibility; that's
where things really start getting interesting, and that's where this
whole discussion with regard to the impact of Free Software on the
economy should focus.

Furthermore, if a software product is the by-product of entertainment
(there are some sick people in the world who think this way), then it
is the best form of entertainment, since it results in value to the
economy.  And marginal additional landscaping jobs do equate with
marginal expended time and effort, while marginal additional software
copies do not, so I'm sticking with my point that the world with Free
Software really is wealthier than the world without.

Mike





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