05 May 2008

Why Libertarians Should Love GNU/Linux


When software is produced by a commercial company and sold in the marketplace, it’s relatively easy for the state to tax and regulate it. Commercial companies tend to be reflexively law-abiding, and they can afford the lawyers necessary to collect taxes or comply with complex regulatory schemes.

In contrast, free software will prove strongly resistant to state interference. Because virtually everyone associated with a free software project is a volunteer, the state cannot easily compel them to participate in tax and regulatory schemes. Such projects are likely to react to any attempt to tax or regulate them is likely to be met with passive resistance: people will stop contributing entirely rather than waste time dealing with the government.

Hence, free software thus has the salutary effect of depriving the state of tax revenue. But even better, free software is likely to prove extremely resistant to state efforts to build privacy-violating features into software systems.


chrylis said...

The last is one of the primary reasons I use open-source software: It's more stable and secure. Just last night, I was helping a friend who couldn't figure out why her computer would let her copy CDs to her iPod but not DVDs (she has a video iPod and travels extensively).

After a little discussion, she now understands why I go to the trouble not to use AAC or WMA--and why relying on closed-source (and especially DRMed) software invites fiascoes like the MSN Music outrage.

Glyn Moody said...

Indeed. I think it's very kind of companies like Microsoft to provide such handy propaganda against both DRM and themselves.