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Editor's Note: Yes, I Guess We Linux Fools Are Pretty Weird

Dec 12, 2009, 00:04 (35 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Carla Schroder)

by Carla Schroder
Managing Editor

I'm probably going to die poor because I don't believe in exploiting people, and I value a lot of things more than money. Of course I like making money, the more the better. It's great to be making enough to give me a bit of freedom, and to let me fulfill a lot of my dreams. I've been making my own way since I was a teenager, and I'm proud of being self-sufficient economically. When I was growing up girls were still being told to get married and have a man take care of them, which even as a youngun struck me as a bad deal for both parties.

I believe that all actions need to flow from an ethical foundation. Mine is pretty simple: do unto others as you would be done by. I think that covers all the bases. (I'm not claiming 100% compliance! But I try.) The antithesis of that is "I won't do the right thing unless someone makes me." That seems to be the driving philosophy behind much of modern life.

So that is why I rabble-rouse and do the things I do. I'm one person, but I still have to do whatever I can. "How many millions or billions can I acquire by any means" is a completely boring, meaningless question to me. It's nothing. Sure, it takes a lot of brains and ruthlessness to be a big time robber baron. So what? Robber barons are dull and unimaginative, following the same script in every generation: lie, cheat, steal, exploit, abuse, do whatever it takes to amass a great fortune and power. Then retire and practice pretend philanthropy, and carefully do not notice how other people are cleaning up the messes you made, at a greater cost than all of your contributions to your country or world economy. It's so predictable, and so useless.

The tech boom has created a large number of millionaires and spawned any number of new businesses. It has also resulted in an astonishing number of bad things: wage and hour abuses (perma-temps, no overtime pay, shipping jobs overseas), the world economy hobbled by the costs of spam and malware (tens of billions of dollars per year by conservative estimates), a market dominated by crapware and little technical advancement, and worst of all, attacks on our civil rights and liberties. Progress!

Race to the Bottom

It's not just the big-time robber barons, but all the way down the foodchain. I just know that someone is going to comment "But businesses care only about maximizing profits, otherwise shareholders will sue them and bad stuff like that." Please. Don't bother because it's garbage. It's excusing unethical behavior. Businesses are run by people with plenty of values, though sometimes the wrong ones. It's akin to saying that businesspeople must lie, cheat, and exploit because that is the only path to success. Hey everyone does it.

Rip off the artists, musicians and creators because they're too stupid and weak to protect their own interests. Gouge the freelancers, abuse employees, rip off your own customers, buy yourself favorable legislation. I don't call success that comes at the expense of damaging other people success. That is failure.

The Race to Generosity

I wish more pundits, bloggers, analysts, and tech reporters would comment more on the astonishing generosity that is the basis of Linux and FOSS. They go on about free-of-cost, and take cheap shots at the "religious zealot fanatics." Thanks a lot, you're welcome. We need to take a break from arguing with each other to thank and honor all the thousands of hardworking talented contributors who give away their work. Sure, they receive compensation in the form of code, developer tools, documentation, artwork, polished Linux distributions that wrap it all up in a friendly, useful package, Linux-friendly vendors who put together pre-installs in all form factors. Many contributors get paid. But that doesn't make the act of generosity any less meaningful. It is worth noting, honoring, and celebrating. And hopefully proliferating. So-- thank you!