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Does Open Source Software Cost Jobs? 530

jfruhlinger writes "John Spencer, a British blogger and tech educator, is convinced that free and open source software, which he's promoted for years, is costing IT jobs, as UK schools cut support staff no longer needed. But does the argument really hold up? It turns out that the services he's focused on are actually cloud services that are reducing the need for schools to provide their own tech infrastructure. Of couse, it's also true that many of those cloud services are themselves based on open source tech."
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Does Open Source Software Cost Jobs?

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  • Translation: (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday November 28, 2011 @05:31PM (#38194970)
    Efficiency is evil.
    • Re:Translation: (Score:5, Insightful)

      by ThosLives ( 686517 ) on Monday November 28, 2011 @05:33PM (#38195010) Journal

      I can't remember the exact source (and because I'm really a secret Luddite I won't search for it) but this reminds me of the saying about the public works project where one overseer says that in order to increase employment they should take away the workers' shovels and give them spoons, and the other one says "why give them spoons?"

      • by XanC ( 644172 ) on Monday November 28, 2011 @05:38PM (#38195084)

        http://quoteinvestigator.com/2011/10/10/spoons-shovels/ [quoteinvestigator.com]

        At one of our dinners, Milton recalled traveling to an Asian country in the 1960s and visiting a worksite where a new canal was being built. He was shocked to see that, instead of modern tractors and earth movers, the workers had shovels. He asked why there were so few machines. The government bureaucrat explained: "You don’t understand. This is a jobs program." To which Milton replied: "Oh, I thought you were trying to build a canal. If it’s jobs you want, then you should give these workers spoons, not shovels."

        • by Nexus7 ( 2919 ) on Monday November 28, 2011 @05:52PM (#38195262)

          Considering this ideological simplified nonsense is fashionable on /., it is worth pointing out that a socialistic-communistic-pinko-liberal jobs program, the WPA, is responsible for most of the standing infrastructure that the US, the world's biggest economy relies upon every day.

          • by Lehk228 ( 705449 ) on Monday November 28, 2011 @06:00PM (#38195340) Journal
            that won't be true for long, catastrophically low infrastructure spending is allowing all of that WPA era infrastructure to crumble to dust
          • by Jeremiah Cornelius ( 137 ) on Monday November 28, 2011 @06:07PM (#38195408) Homepage Journal

            There are two San Francisco bridges - among the most used and photographed in the world - built within 6 years, during the 1930's.

            The Golden Gate was a WPA project - approved and built in 4 years. The Bay Bridge, not formally WPA, benefited immensely from the large-scale mobilization of labour and planning that WPA enabled.

          • by khipu ( 2511498 ) on Monday November 28, 2011 @06:42PM (#38195768)

            Possibly, but just because some infrastructure spending by the government is good doesn't mean all of it is. In fact, only a tiny fraction of the Federal budget these days goes to those kinds of projects. Most of it goes to entitlements and the military, neither of which contributes to our economy (and the military is mostly doing things for our so-called "friends and allies"). And may I also point out that the kinds of infrastructure projects the WPA undertook wouldn't be possible today because of environmental concerns and extensive lawsuits? So, the "socialistic-communistic-pinko-liberal" politics with creating this infrastructure back then is the very same kind of "socialistic-communistic-pinko-liberal" politics that is preventing it today.

            So, let's slash military and entitlement spending and focus on infrastructure again. Of course, that proposal attacks both parties' holy cows.

          • It's not that public jobs programs are bad, but they should aim to be efficient and to produce things that are needed. To my mind, the anecdote above is an example of waste, not because there was a jobs program, but because they made the jobs program inefficient. If they could have made the canal with half the men by using better machinery, they should have done that. If they wanted to employ the other half of the men, then they should have devised another useful project to employ them too.

            There's alway

          • by cartman ( 18204 )

            Considering this ideological simplified nonsense

            You just totally misunderstood what you read. You should read the quotation again and ponder it.

            the WPA, is responsible for most of the standing infrastructure that the US, the world's biggest economy relies upon every day.

            That is not at all relevant to the point from the parent's quotation.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by AvitarX ( 172628 )

      Agreed, if TCO is lower, then jobs are cost, end of story.

      Maybe we can flip around the next MS based TCO study and be all, MS hates jobs.

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by Anonymous Coward
        Fuck you, what is TCO?
        • by Anonymous Coward on Monday November 28, 2011 @05:58PM (#38195320)

          > Fuck you, what is TCO?

          Fuck you, TCO is total cost of ownership.

    • Re:Translation: (Score:5, Interesting)

      by syousef ( 465911 ) on Monday November 28, 2011 @05:58PM (#38195316) Journal

      Efficiency is evil.

      It's more insidious than that. If you do a job that can be automated, you are already redundant. Automation will only increase. On the flip side we have ever cheaper labour due to globalisation. The idea of earning your living doing an honest day's work is coming under severe pressure. Artificially retricting the automation is a band aid at best. Imagine what would happen if we were to suddenly have robots with human like abilities but not wants and desires - if that sci fi dream is ever realised the idea of having a job is going to become rather antiquated.

      So if we don't destroy ourselves we will eventually need a change to our economic systems and our ideas on earning - that will be a huge and devasting change to make - unlike any other in history. Earning a living is an idea deeply ingrained into most societies. Our entire economy will need to be reworked if the vast majority are not to starve. What's more it must be done sustainably with the finite resources we have. The change isn't going to be pretty..

      • Re:Translation: (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Baloroth ( 2370816 ) on Monday November 28, 2011 @06:35PM (#38195694)

        With apologies to Star Trek:

        Four-hundred years ago, on the planet Earth, workers who felt their livelihood threatened by automation, flung their wooden shoes, called sabo, into the machines to stop them . . . hence the word: sabotage.

        It is funny how pretty much your EXACT argument was made some 100+ years ago. Today, in the industrialized world, we have a higher standard of living, on average, than the richest kings did 500, or even 200, years ago.

        I'm not saying your points are an exact correlation to the late 19th century complaints, but you really should keep it in mind. And people have already tried to change the economic systems to account for industrialization and automation. Communism was precisely such an attempt (indeed, you language sounds extremely like Marx, especially your closing comment. I'm not criticizing: just commenting. Wrong as he may have been, Marx did have a few valid points.) I'm not saying we won't need to change: that is practically inevitable at some point. What I am saying is we should be very, very careful about how and when we do it.

      • Re:Translation: (Score:5, Insightful)

        by SoupGuru ( 723634 ) on Monday November 28, 2011 @06:46PM (#38195804)
        During our scientific and economic boom of the 50s, people were gleefully anticipating the rise of robots and machines that would do our work for us, freeing us spend time with our families and grilling in our back yards. The assumption was, of course, that we would ALL benefit from the increased productivity of machines. Oops.
        • We ALL benefit from increased productivity, even those that don't have the latest greatest gadgets. How many have Microwaves and Refrigerators? How many have cars that can travel thousands of miles without breaking down once?

          The problem with your hypothesis is that increased productivity hasn't helped everyone, when clearly it has. Your problem is that that it hasn't helped everyone "equally". Your view of fairness has simply ignored the facts.

        • Re:Translation: (Score:4, Insightful)

          by Kjella ( 173770 ) on Monday November 28, 2011 @09:36PM (#38197460) Homepage

          And aren't we? I don't do the dishes (my dishwasher does), I don't do the laundry (my washing machine does and my dryer too), my stove turns on at the flip of a button unless I use the microwave and I live in a 500 square feet apartment all by myself. Take a reality check on what kind of housing people lived in during the 1950s, how many they shared it with and how much of their income went to just put food on the table. Try asking your parents or grandparents how often they took vacation, how long and what exotic destinations they went to. And whether they'd get equally expensive toys like game consoles or such, inflation adjusted of course. Ask them how often they'd go to a cafe or restaurant, how many pair of shoes your average teenage girl had then compared to now and so on.

          Unless they were of the very privileged sort, I bet they'd tell you it was lots and lots of work and chores with much less leisure time and luxuries than today. Oh, I'm so sorry some college schmuck has to work his way through college and don't feel he got enough time to party and chase college tail. My dad started working full time at 15 and went to evening school just to get an education, before that he was used to being an errand boy and farm hand besides school. Handed down clothes was common and any presents he got was either home made or practical in nature, I recall him talking about being very happy to get a pair of new shoes, his old were falling apart. Most of the people I see claiming they're poor still lead lives that are much, much better than the 1950s. Of course it sucks to not afford what "normal" people do, but if you make any kind of absolute standard of living I think you'd find that yes, they can afford everything a 1950s family could afford and then some.

  • Cotton Spinners (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Stargoat ( 658863 ) * <stargoat@gmail.com> on Monday November 28, 2011 @05:31PM (#38194982) Journal

    There isn't much need for cotton spinners or candlemakers any more either. Are we to mourn those jobs as well?

  • by skovnymfe ( 1671822 ) on Monday November 28, 2011 @05:32PM (#38194998)
    There are jobs in the cloud too. They're just smarter jobs, not I-run-a-server-in-my-spare-time-so-I'm-qualified jobs. And who says you don't need support staff for open source software anyway? Hell if anything you probably need more when people can't find that button that does that thing in Word but isn't there in open office.
    • by mevets ( 322601 ) on Monday November 28, 2011 @05:36PM (#38195056)

      Once the clouds burst, there will be even more jobs than before. Looping is endemic in this industry.

    • by MightyMartian ( 840721 ) on Monday November 28, 2011 @05:49PM (#38195232) Journal

      You still need somebody to deal with physical architecture, routers, and the like. The cloud takes at least some high-level services off your hands, but it sure doesn't do you much good when your router decides today is the day it's going to die.

      As to open source costing jobs, it's a strange claim, as I get paid the same whether I install MS-Office or LibreOffice, or whether I'm using a Samba server or a Windows server for file sharing.

      At the end of the day, while I'm ambivalent with this 21st century version of a client-server model (after all, that's all the "cloud" really is), I can see situations, particularly with schools, where administrators may not want large parts of their budgets going to server maintenance, licensing costs and the like looking to online solutions.

      • by khasim ( 1285 ) <brandioch.conner@gmail.com> on Monday November 28, 2011 @07:00PM (#38195944)

        He's blaming Open Source for automation.

        But it doesn't matter if the "cloud" vendor is running Apache or IIS or whatever. Services will be consolidated and automated. It's about the economies of scale.

        He talks about being "an Open Source apologist". Fuck that. That's all you need to read to know that that article is going to be worthless.

        He's confusing:
        #1. Open Source (Free) Software.

        #2. Consolidation / Automation.

        #3. The recession / depression / economic restructuring / whatever.

        #4. Hardware / software / services (his example of Apple).

        And then he complains about the loss of "fat profits". But he doesn't understand that someone has to PAY those "fat profits".

    • by Sir_Sri ( 199544 )

      I'm not sure 'smarter' is the right word. Right now a lot of servers are run by the least incompetent tech person in the office. It doesn't really matter if they're actually trained or really paid to do that job, but those young people know a lot about computers.

      Putting services into the 'cloud' puts it into the hands of specialists in IT, and leaves non IT people for non IT jobs, which is what they should be doing anyway.

      Also, any 'open source' project that runs anything worth real money is going to be b

  • by blair1q ( 305137 ) on Monday November 28, 2011 @05:32PM (#38195000) Journal

    Software that isn't designed to require constant hands-on maintenance costs jobs.

    OSS is not always in that category, sadly.

    • by jedidiah ( 1196 ) on Monday November 28, 2011 @05:36PM (#38195044) Homepage

      Neither is the most expensive payware stuff.

      At least with the Libre stuff, I don't have to needlessly waste money and I can be as much in control of things as I want to be.

      • by blair1q ( 305137 ) on Monday November 28, 2011 @05:53PM (#38195276) Journal

        Well, no, the expensive payware stuff is often expressly designed to employ consultants from the company that designed it.

        But what I've noticed is that Linux itself is a much bigger management hassle than Windows is. Untrained people manage their own Windows installations fairly easily (i.e., it runs with less intervention, and can update 99% of its installed software without any intervention). Even trained people (even I) have trouble just getting the average Linux distro to a basic, usable state, then updating it with typical software on occasion.

        Even the distros that are specifically designed for minimal h4xx0r talent are only truly canned for a small subset of hardware configurations.

        The ultimate answer here is that anyone who does a trade study on which software to use and doesn't make a realistic assessment of the total-cost-to-own has failed to do a trade study properly. Just saying "is it open source?" is a guarantee of random results.

        • by mellon ( 7048 )

          Well, no, the expensive payware stuff is often expressly designed to employ consultants from the company that designed it.

          Nope. You're probably thinking of Oracle or something like that. You make better margins on software that requires minimal hands-on support. If your software requires a ton of hands on support, you might as well charge for the hands-on support, but your margins on that are never as good as your margins on straight software sales, because the marginal cost of each copy of software i

          • by Lumpy ( 12016 ) on Monday November 28, 2011 @06:41PM (#38195754) Homepage

            " If your software requires a ton of hands on support, you might as well charge for the hands-on support"

            That's called a support contract, and a LOT of crapware vertical market companies do that.

            $13,500 for that billing system and another $10,000 a year for "updates" and "support"

            without the support contract the system is a useless turd that breaks within weeks as you discover old bugs in their crappy VB6 code.

          • by blair1q ( 305137 )

            You're mistaking margin for profit.

            Why sell one unit of something for $100,000 that costs me $1.50 to make a copy of, and then walk away, when I can then send out a body that I can charge $190K/year for who cost me $20k to train and who I pay $93k/year, and they'll stay there for 3 years until the next upgrade?

            In your scenario, I make $33k/year over the 3-year upgrade cycle. In mine, I make $33k + $90K = $123k/year.

            And then because the user has acquired no personal skill with the tool, I can sell the upgra

        • , it runs with less intervention, and can update 99% of its installed software without any intervention)

          99% -- maybe by file or component count, but importance? Every non-Microsoft package has its own auto-updater, some require manual intervention. I'm looking at you: Java. What program has had a stream of vulnerabilities? Java.

          I have said it before and I will say it again: the Windows ecosystem would be far more secure if Microsoft provided a means for 3rd party software companies to utilize the Windo

        • by jedidiah ( 1196 )

          > Untrained people manage their own Windows installations fairly easily

          That's really funny.

          In reality, untrained people can't fend for themselves a all. This is despite of all of the propaganda about Windows being "easy" or "manageable". Meanwhile, they get their machines infected and are generally burdensome for those of us that have to play the roll of unpaid tech support.

    • by Hatta ( 162192 ) on Monday November 28, 2011 @06:13PM (#38195462) Journal

      This isn't a problem with the software, it's a problem with the economic system. Humans don't exist merely to fill jobs. On the contrary, jobs exist to fulfill humans.

      If we've invented a technology that lets 1 person do the job of 2 people, then we've freed one person from the need to work. We've literally saved his life, or at least 40 hours a week of it. This is a good thing. The fact that this guy has to go supplicate himself to yet another capitalist in order to eat is simply indicative of the perverse incentives inherent in capitalism.

  • The way I see it (Score:5, Interesting)

    by 3arwax ( 808691 ) on Monday November 28, 2011 @05:33PM (#38195008)
    The way I see it, technology helps us get machines to do the mundane so we can spend our time exploring and creating.
  • by EricX2 ( 670266 ) on Monday November 28, 2011 @05:33PM (#38195018) Homepage Journal

    Sounds like public transportation cuts jobs. If everybody rode in buses or trains, the number of auto mechanics would go down drastically.

  • by Hentes ( 2461350 ) on Monday November 28, 2011 @05:34PM (#38195020)

    Being open source doesn't eliminate the need for support.

  • by nine-times ( 778537 ) <nine.times@gmail.com> on Monday November 28, 2011 @05:34PM (#38195022) Homepage

    You know what costs jobs? Efficiency. Economic efficiency always costs jobs. Often, it's creating other jobs elsewhere, but maybe not. Maybe it just means that job doesn't need to be done anymore.

    You can create jobs by paying people to dig ditches and then fill them back in. Or you can create jobs by hiring support people you don't need, building infrastructure that can be handled more efficiently elsewhere, or paying people to write software that you don't need because an open source alternative is already available. It's the same as digging useless ditches.

    Do you really want to create jobs? Great. Hire people to do something useful that can't be handled more efficiently by open source software. Or hire them to improve open source software-- god knows there's work to be done.

    • by shutdown -p now ( 807394 ) on Monday November 28, 2011 @05:42PM (#38195134) Journal

      Indeed. TFA is just a thinly veiled broken window fallacy.

    • by Toonol ( 1057698 ) on Monday November 28, 2011 @05:43PM (#38195154)
      The percentage of Americans actively working on growing food has shrunk from approximately 90% to around 5%, and that 5% is producing far more food. That's an increase of efficiency of at least 18 times, probably more like 30 or 40 times.

      And yet, we don't have an 85% unemployment rate. The efficiency didn't reduce jobs, it created jobs. It freed people up to work on other things. Better software tech will do the same thing. The worst effect is a temporary period of unrest while employees adapt to new circumstances.
      • by PeterM from Berkeley ( 15510 ) <petermardahl@@@yahoo...com> on Monday November 28, 2011 @07:27PM (#38196210) Journal

        Yes, but what you need to realize, is that's 85% of people working on NONESSENTIAL things. If people stop having the means or will to buy NONESSENTIAL things (read, the middle class is eliminated by eliminatng their jobs, so they can't afford gadgets or entertainment or health care), then 85% of people will be out of work and will starve or revert to subsistence farming (if they can get land!), because while there's food for everyone, well, we can't force that productive 5% to feed everyone who has no means to pay them, now can we?

        People don't seem to realize how dangerous this cycle of concentrating more and more wealth in the hands of the rich is. The rich don't generate enough demand to drive an economy. Why should a rich guy, whose factory is at 75% capacity, invest in more factory capacity? THIS is the current situation--too much wealth with the rich, not enough with the poor and middle class, who generate demand. And this is the fallacy of "supply side" economics right now. We have capital, there's just no reason to invest the capital in increased capacity because there's no demand. Tax cuts for the rich are horribly misguided right now. If we had factories at 95% capacity or more and no capital to invest, then yes, tax cuts for the rich so they can invest in capacity.


    • by dkleinsc ( 563838 ) on Monday November 28, 2011 @05:50PM (#38195238) Homepage

      An interesting piece of this story: If it's allowing companies or governments to lay people off, how can OSS have a higher cost of ownership due to labor costs, as Microsoft has been claiming for much of the last decade?

  • WTF (Score:4, Interesting)

    by TheSpoom ( 715771 ) <slashdot AT uberm00 DOT net> on Monday November 28, 2011 @05:35PM (#38195038) Homepage Journal

    Since when have jobs become the be-all and end-all of everything? Sometimes, technology means less human intervention is necessary. Deal with it.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Hatta ( 162192 )

      Since when have jobs become the be-all and end-all of everything?

      Since capitalism became the be-all and end-all of everything.

  • by geekpowa ( 916089 ) on Monday November 28, 2011 @05:35PM (#38195042)

    Yeah and so what?

    One person not doing a redundant/unnecessary job is an opportunity for that one person to find another way to productively contribute to the community.

    Bemoaning job loses in areas of progress and innovation? Lets bemoan the how computers superseded the profession of clerk.

  • by mcgrew ( 92797 ) * on Monday November 28, 2011 @05:36PM (#38195050) Homepage Journal

    Electric lamps cost jobs when they were new, all those candlemakers in the street! The horrors! And the car companies put the buggy makers out of work, the whip manufacturers kaput, the ferriers all bankrupt.

    Look at all that open source water that falls from the sky, depriving honest water sellers from making a living. Damn it, this is terrible! Nothing should be free, right?

    Someone is complaining because Joe will do for free what Jim has been paid for? *sigh*. What a load of bull-oney.

  • by Skinkie ( 815924 ) on Monday November 28, 2011 @05:36PM (#38195054) Homepage
    Obviously if less IT staff is required, the school can get more certified teachers. If you studied C.S. you might apply for a job as math teacher.
  • Egg Analogy (Score:5, Interesting)

    by CanHasDIY ( 1672858 ) on Monday November 28, 2011 @05:42PM (#38195138) Homepage Journal

    Putting all your eggs in one basket is never a good idea.

    Putting all your eggs in someone else's basket, one that is hosted God knows where, is an even worse idea.

    Something tells me this cloud fad is just that; a passing trend. Oh, sure, non-technical management might love the idea of being able to cut staff and equipment costs by putting all their eggs in the cloud basket, but the first time said non-technical management is unable to access their remotely-stored eggs, for whatever reason, the shiny luster will fade and they'll come to the realization that the sysadmins they let go were far more valuable than previously thought.

    Remote backups are always a good idea, but remote everything is not a winning strategy, IMO.

  • by AcidPenguin9873 ( 911493 ) on Monday November 28, 2011 @06:01PM (#38195348)

    A rising tide lifts all boats, but only if there are enough boats. What happens when automation removes all the jobs?

    We know technology and efficiency remove the need for some jobs, and some people are out of work and have to do something else, but it's improving the standard of living, it's a good thing for society, Luddite fallacy, etc. all that. The thing is, history has shown than up till now, automation and technology may have eliminated some jobs but have created a roughly equal number of other jobs, such that people can still make enough money to support themselves and their families and enjoy this higher standard of living. What happens if automation removes jobs faster than it creates them? Or removes too many jobs all at once? I've read some stuff on post-labor economics, but it basically requires socializing or communizing (what a dirty word nowadays!!!) the ownership of the automation/technology for everyone to benefit, and I don't see that happening without a revolution of some sort.

  • As western civilization has grown through the industrial revolution we have found that as technology replaces skill sets and workers it typically frees them up for more profitable work. A specific set of jobs is replaced, but those workers are then put to work on something that is ultimately more productive. In a command economy this would be a problem, in a capitalist economy those workers will be employed in the next role until that one is replaced as well.

  • by RichMan ( 8097 ) on Monday November 28, 2011 @06:14PM (#38195480)

    so we should all go back to manual looms and employ millions.

  • by G3ckoG33k ( 647276 ) on Monday November 28, 2011 @06:19PM (#38195524)

    The Law of Large Number (of People).

    If something happens once in a million it is often considered a rare event. But that is wrong. If something happens once in a million for a million people, then it has happened to more than 300 Americans. If it happens once a year for each person it has happened 6000 times in the last twenty years. That is for the Americans alone. If we expand to a larger area, Europe + South America + Asia, those rare events aren't so rare. (If something happens once in a million years, well that is another story...)

    Good ideas are rare. How many times can one come up with a really, really good idea in your life-time? Well, let us say that 1% of the population can come up with one good idea during their life-time. With 100,000,000 people coming up with good ideas then there are many. Good ideas get stuck. And software doesn't change their ideas as often as hardware (due to API, ABIs, spaghetti-complexities, NP-hard solutions, etc), there will be a increased difficulty in finding new ideas. On top of that we have patents... Patents suck. With more than a million competent developers around? The Law of Large Numbers makes its voice heard, prima facie.

    That doesn't mean that innovation is gone, only that it takes _new_ efforts to find what is relevant, in an ever increasing cyberspace. The diversity of the platforms change, too! Thefore there contact surfaces for new developers are expanding. Expanding developer universe? But the contact surfaces are there. Just harder to find. Still, they are there! Yes. Use them.

  • by elhedran ( 768858 ) on Monday November 28, 2011 @06:32PM (#38195670)

    ... is to cost IT jobs.

    The whole point is so that you don't need to re-invent the wheel as much, because you can extend what you have been given instead. That any value any programmer gives to open source is available to all, not just the one company who paid the programmer. Less work to do is going to mean less jobs to do it.

    Is this a bad thing? Hell No. Every time a job has been taken to benefit efficiency its gone hand in hand with higher quality of life across the board. Its bad for the individuals who don't or can't re-skill, but of benefit to society as a whole.

    Quite frankly I feel that some of the software stack, from the core OS to the most common work programs, should be funded as open-source by governments. Its no different really than public roads. The government doesn't fund trucks, but it does fund the common infrastructure the trucks use. I don't think governments should fund games or media centers, but it would make sense to fund the OS and Office Suite.

  • by MindPrison ( 864299 ) on Monday November 28, 2011 @06:55PM (#38195898) Journal

    If it wasn't for Open Source, I'd be bust by now. I'm a graphics artist, and thanks to Open Source I managed to work my way up from poverty to success.

    I could offer cheaper labor and in-house services to small rising companies that needed ad-work due to lower software costs, and that made me very popular. As well as getting much faster help from idealistic programmers that took pride in correcting bugs rather than trying to protect a corporate image (and thus deny every bug report ever given to them).

    3 times HURRAH for Open Source! It's the new way of life.

  • by scamper_22 ( 1073470 ) on Monday November 28, 2011 @07:13PM (#38196074)

    Let us remember that the money comes from somewhere.

    Let us remember that most of the open source movement comes from a time where software was subsidized by other selling points.

    A lot of software was developed by the old BELLs. They ran huge research facilities knowing they had constant cash flow. The government broke up the monopoly, spawned off the R&D labs... the rest is history.

    Other kinds of open source eco-systems can from companies selling hugely expensive hardware.

    You have to look at how your industry is funded.

    Professionals like Doctors and lawyers protect their field via regulation and ensure their jobs and quality. Heck, you can't even write a prescription. Now, you can write a thousands pages on why this is done for quality... but it always seem to work out financially for them as well :P

    Governments around the world basically gave a big 'screw you' to engineers. The exception being the military industry in the US.

    The result is... what funds your industry? Proprietary software, licenses, strong arm business tactics of the evil corporation. There's a reason MS employes nearly 100K engineers, and has world class research facilities.

    While people mock their suing of Android phone, I embrace it. Why on Earth do we, as an industry want less money coming into our industry? Free software... less money coming into our field... less jobs...

    I don't pretend for one second to think corporations can about people. But a rich corporation which good stable cashflow keeps its employees well off.

    And for anyone who talks about efficiency... let me just say... I don't care at this point. The world is not all about efficiency. Making a good living seems like a better idea. Doctors, lawyers, accountants, teachers, nurses, insurance people, bankers, trades people... all protect their field as much as possible. I'm not going to be the martyr in this world.

    Broken window fallacy? Screw it. If everyone else is breaking windows to fund their field... I want to break windows as well to fund my field.

    Under the current system... you are darn right... open source kills jobs.

  • by History's Coming To ( 1059484 ) on Monday November 28, 2011 @07:41PM (#38196338) Journal
    Linux, PHP, Apache, MySQL, Drupal, Wordpress...I get paid quite well for using that lot, thank you very much, and I still hand code 95% of the new stuff I do, they just make my life easier. The very question sounds like somebody who's trying to sell old software rather than write new stuff.
  • "Bunch of Commies" (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Cajun Hell ( 725246 ) on Monday November 28, 2011 @08:50PM (#38197040) Homepage Journal
    Of course it costs jobs. That's what computers are for. If you don't free someone to be able to do something else, then your automation has failed. Where he goes wrong is with stuff like this:

    Trouble is we did not create a single long term job during this crusade.

    You saved money. How is that "trouble?" If you were "creating jobs" and all else were equal, that would have wasted money.

    May be the US Government was right when it once famously saw the Free Open Source movement as nothing more than a 'bunch of Commies'

    Whoever said that didn't understand anything about economics.

    Free Markets vs Central Planning: Free Software is about extremified free markets. You hire anyone you want to get your maintenance, instead of a single source. This is basically opposition to commie ideals, IMHO (though I realize there are other ways to look at Communism; they just happen to be ways that I disagree with). On the commie centralization scale of color, GPLed software is blue as the zenith sky, proprietary is crimson as blood, and stuff like BSD is an intense purple blur as it bounces between the two on a case-by-case basis like a Republican talking about federal spending.

    Control of the Means of Production: Free Software is about code reuse and code reuse is neutral toward this, but in a way that subverts the whole question with its explosive torrent of wealth. It's like millions of factories falling out of the sky, right during an argument between a Communist and Capitalist about who should own the previously-limited number of factories. Without the need for expensive capital, nobody cares who controls it. Both the management and workers look on helplessly, as whoever used to buy the old factories' output says they don't need either one of 'em anymore.

    If paychecks for programming are your main source of income, then code reuse may be a Capitalist Running Dog Murder of Brotherhood. If software company dividends (as opposed to consulting fees) are your main source of income, then code reuse may be a Ruthless Communist Plot to Impurify your Precious Bodily Fluids. If you do something else but use software, then you're shrugging and saying "whatever" to those so last-century luddites.

    • Of course it costs jobs. That's what computers are for. If you don't free someone to be able to do something else, then your automation has failed.

      Technology costs jobs. Any advancement in technology in fact. Remember the threshing machine riots? Technology makes increases efficiency and kills inefficient jobs.

      PS: Free Markets and Central Planning do not imply capitalism or communism; More precisely, they imply communism or capitalism as much as capitalism implies democracy or communism/socialism implies dictatorship. In fact, the most successful elements of the Soviet industries relied heavily on competition - a trait associated with free markets

The wages of sin are high but you get your money's worth.