Sunday, October 7, 2007

Redefining our Corporate Economy

The concept of Free and Open Source Software (FOSS) didn't sell too well in the 90's, mostly because it wasn't for sale. The modern businessman carrying the manta that "you get what you pay for" didn't see much value in a product that didn't cost a dime. In response to these concerns, advocates dropped Free Software from the title, and Open Source was born. As the image of shoddy software developed by hobbiests faded, the reality of Linux and other Open Source projects revealed an affordable alternative.

At the same time, the Cold War had effectively put an end to all things Socialist, making the concepts of Free and Open particularly dangerous to an economy that had steadily been progressing towards privatization. In order to survive, the Corporate Economy had to reflect upon itself in this same light. The image of rich and powerful board members wielding the power of nations was described by enthusiasts as highly responsive Free Markets which promised higher qualities at lower prices.

The consequences of a Corporate Economy are apparent to most Americans. While the media describes the actions of Enron and Exxon Valdez as a few bad apples, few can deny the effects that McDonald's and Wal-Marts have had in transforming our communities into freeway exits and temporary strip malls. If left unchecked, the Free Market would stop at nothing to charge for every inch of life that can produce a profit, without any respect to the communities that depend on them.

The unabashed greed of many Corporations has escalated to the point of corrupting our government. But instead of rising against the Kings which have invaded our Democracy, most interpret this as a failure our government. This apathy has given support to a "Strict Constitutionalist" as a Presidential Candidate, who seeks to devolve the development of Democracy to its origins, and remove control over the Economy from the hands of the people and place it instead under private jurisdiction.

While the Free Market is an admirable spin to the truth behind Private Ownership, the answer (as always) can be found in the Open Source model. Even though the Marketing Department has found a majority willing to buy burgers with questionable content, the people must be free to choose if they wish to be subjugated to miles of cheap plastic crap, or instead to produce better walls around New Orleans, or reduce the number of troops in the Weapons and Arms Race.

In other words, the Free Market should not be free to do as it decides -- anymore than anyone of us should be able to do as we will, regardless of the consequences to our people our our environment. We should be held by the same regulations held by those in the highest seats of Corporate power. Their freedom is our freedom, and our freedom is Open Source. If that three second sound byte isn't enough to convince you, consider the following choice:

A Nation Powered by Microsoft vs. a Nation Empowered by Linux.

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