Hacker News new | comments | show | ask | jobs | submit login

"I faced the same question at the beginning of the GNU Project. I decided that I would rather do something good with no monetary reward than profit by mistreating people."

Bang! Nailed it. This I think is the source of all problems in the friction between open source philosophies and the general populace. At his heart, RMS is an economic theorist, not a social or technological one. This is because software takes time to make, and time = money. Yet he continuously fails to understand this because he's never personally had to feed himself with the fruit of his daily labors. In RMS's mind, making money from your effort = mistreating people.

The analogies between RMS and various communist thinkers all derive from the simple fact that none of them ever had to feed themselves in that way and simply don't understand how basic economics work and all come up with various economic ideals that simply aren't modeled on how the world works.

By his model, all people have to do is write software, give away all their labor for free to be "ethical" and then feed themselves off of reward payouts and speaking engagement fees (or some other mysterious source of money RMS has left unspecified because he simply doesn't know how people actually make money in the real world). This is clearly a model that doesn't scale beyond maybe a few dozen people on the planet. The rest of us need to eat, arguing that we are bad people because we demand our supper after a day of work is what makes RMS's arguments ultimately unethical. He would rather people starve to death than charge for software -- this is ultimately what his equation balances out to.

If I ignore this type of prattling nonsense, I have to say that RMS has been on the balance a force for good in the world. But he's fantastically out of touch and seems perfectly oblivious to it.

Now, if he changed his message and said "it's a good and useful thing, it's 'nice' for people to release free software, and we all can benefit from sharing and pooling our labor together" I don't think anybody would have a problem with him. But like many here have said, RMS represents the extremist goal posts of the idea, and on the balance, that is a good thing, just so long as everybody is aware that a world at the end of the field is not one conducive to people eating.

Guidelines | FAQ | Support | API | Security | Lists | Bookmarklet | DMCA | Apply to YC | Contact