lbo-talk-digest V1 #3279

Barry Rene DeCicco bdecicco at
Thu Aug 24 09:44:39 PDT 2000

On Thu, 24 Aug 2000, lbo-talk-digest wrote:

> Date: Thu, 24 Aug 2000 00:58:43 -0400 (EDT)
> From: Matt Cramer <cramer at>
> Subject: Re: Valley Girl Sez: Libertarianism Sux!
> On Wed, 23 Aug 2000, Barry Rene DeCicco wrote:

<re: the government's role in creating the internet>

> > Note that these scientists and students were working with government
> > support. The internet is a product of lavish government funding for
> > science and education from WWII - the 1990's. Doing what government does
> > best for this - writing checks to fund basic research, with enough money
> > sloshing around that unscheduled stuff can get done.
> I'm with you so far....
> > And created an
> > well-funded open-source environment (i.e., the education/research
> > establishment).
> ...up until here. The .gov "created" the education and research
> establishment? Sure some of the buildings, and some of the people, but
> the manner in which these resources are applied? That I don't buy. The
> notions of peer-review, open collaboration, and exploration out-date any
> .gov.

No, the government didn't create the education and research establishment. It created the 'well-funded' part of it. The establishment that you and I are familiar with, the large research universities, where large numbers of people could have careers playing around with expensive stuff like computers.

> > Such a large, protected environment that people could
> > live within it and lose sight of the boundaries between it and the real
> > world.
> I'm always looking for definitions of what makes up "the real world", but
> I digress.

Well, things like that you've got to account for your time and expenses more, and where interesting things that you create on company time are company property. Or even things that you create on the evenings and weekends, if they are similar to what you work on during the workday. Where 'proprietary' has good connotations and 'open' has bad connotations (up until very recently). Where intellectual property is to be defended, not given away.

> > Remove that government money, and what would have happened?
> The party line Libertarian (capital L) answer is that the good citizens
> would freely give to research .orgs since they wouldn't be getting taxed
> from here to infinity. Less "radical" libertarians have no problem being
> taxed for projects like this, we just wish we had more say in how our tax
> dollars get spent. Remove the players, like say Jon Postel, and what
> would have happened?

Yes, that's the party line libertarian answer. So, is the cutting-edge research done here, or in tax havens?

As to removing the players, I honestly don't know what would happen. The economic determinist answer would probably be that similiar things would have happened, with minor changes in who, what, and where.

> > Would IBM have created the internet?
> Maybe, maybe not. Similarly, would the internet exist without Bell Labs,
> and UNIX?

My point was that IBM was a large company funding massive basic research, with the freedom to pursue long-term projects, didn't. They went with more proprietary stuff. AT&T didn't create it, either. UNIX had to be given away due to government intervention. Absent that, UNIX would have remained AT&T property.

<from another post by Matt>

> Yeah, until M$'s monopoly is broken this will certainly be the case for
> desktop software.

Sorry, what monopoly was this? In libertarian terms, that is. MS doesn't force anybody to buy their products. It controls only it's own intellectual property (note: speaking as one who is looking forward to both a government break-up of MS, and the open-source threat to it, to make it competetive).



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