US Economy

David Smith DavidSmith at
Thu Apr 7 17:24:09 MDT 2005

<quote who="Grant Shipley">
> On Apr 7, 2005 2:40 PM, Michael Halcrow <mike at> wrote:
>> I do not expect this to be a very popular position to present to this
>> audience, since most everyone here finds himself in Bill's shoes, to
>> some degree or other.  Of course, Bill could always pick up
>> landscaping -- after all, there's enough extra cash floating around
>> now to furnish the demand.
> When I went to see RMS speak he stated this same thing as well.  That
> software developers can/should make money other ways (painting,
> landscaping, etc).  This is when I began to evaluate my position on
> how I felt about him and his positions.

I'm going to cite Mr. Halcrow's well-though-out argument and apply it to
contend that F/OSS does not affect the US or world economy.

Let's look at another concrete example. Alice makes tha national average
salary, around $30,000. Alice buys a new computer and software every two
years. Its OS is Windows, which costs roughly $200 (liberally ignoring OEM
agreements). She spends another $500 on other software (anti-virus, office
productivity, etc). That amounts to $700 each two years, or $350 per year
spent on proprietary software. That's 1.1% of her income, and that's being
very very liberal. How many "normal" people do you know who buy a new
computer and all new software every two years?

Here are some other numbers to which we can compare the $350:

a. The average American in 2001 had over $7,500 in credit card debt[1].

b. In 2004, the average home purchase price was $264,540 (approx $18,000
per year in mortgage cost).[2]

I could go on. The fact is that commodity software purchase prices pale in
comparison to almost any other item.

Commodity software is just one of hundreds of industries and markets.

As an asside, it is important to note that the kind of proprietary
software that RMS opposes represents only about 2% of all software
produced (per ESR's writings). The other 98%, ESR argues, is custom code,
paid for by the hour, and never shrink-wrapped on a shelf.

F/OSS does not affect the US or world economy.

There, I got it off my chest. :) Flame on.


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