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Comment: Re: US is... (Score 1) 535

by silentcoder (#47888891) Attached to: Cuba Calculates Cost of 54yr US Embargo At $1.1 Trillion

It's a publicly available document - if you seriously want to know, go read it.
There is quite a lot of restrictions on accessing this - generally it's limited to people who genuinely could never do so for themselves, and I've yet to encounter any South African (even libertarians) who have an issue with the housing program (though the libertarians complain that the recipients should get full ownership with title).

The much more important aspect is not that, it's rules like making evictions require a court order - so that power imbalances between rich and poor can be somewhat mitigated by judicial oversight into processes like that.

Comment: Re: US is... (Score 1) 535

by silentcoder (#47884783) Attached to: Cuba Calculates Cost of 54yr US Embargo At $1.1 Trillion

Well that's a different issue but officially here churches are considered non profit organisations though this is not automatic. They have to apply like any charity and comply with relevant regulations - including that they have to actually spend at least a certain percentage of their income on endeavors with no return.

Comment: (Score 1) 535

by silentcoder (#47882777) Attached to: Cuba Calculates Cost of 54yr US Embargo At $1.1 Trillion

The point about systems like anarcho-syndicalism is to avoid the scaling problem by... NOT scaling.

Why do we need to scale ? What's the purpose ? What value does it have ? Why do we need countries ?What does having a COUNTRY offer you that having a town doesn't ?

In an Anarchism where everybody votes on every law and you get more votes the more you are personally affected by the law (to prevent tyranny of the majority) - the ideal scenario is that the area covered by the law be only your immediate environment.
Not even a whole city. There is absolutely no logical reason to assume that good laws for Brooklyn will ALSO be good laws for Manhattan or Queens. As long as they can agree on some common principles for trading between them - why can't people in Brooklyn vote to allow something that people in Queens oppose ?

In this system the way you enforce a true sharing of resources without hardship or leaving people out is not by force OR incentive, it's simply by giving everybody a truly equal voice in their own governance. That will regulate the market, it will set a decent minimum wage (because the minimum wage earners outnumber the businesses) - so that wallmart can't pay people so badly that all their employees still get foodstamps (which just means they've shifted their labour bill onto the taxpayers - that is not a good thing and makes all the supposed "savings" they offer completely nullified - you're paying the same price just through the very inefficient middleman of the government). It will make laws against dumping toxins in the drinking water because the people who drink that water are making the laws and if you BREAK that law owning a business will sure as hell NOT keep you out of prison because the people who decide the punishment for the law are the SAME people whom you poisoned.

Communism has had a split between anarchists and statists right from the start. Hell Marx himself got into fistfights with anarchists at the 1st International. Right from the start a lot of the most important thinkers believed that communism requires the ABSENCE of government rather than it's maximization.
Unfortunately - the statists won out in the early days (and the anarchists never joined them - through the years the anarcho communists would frequently be simultaneous at war with invaders BOTH capitalist AND communist wanting to destroy them).

The most successful of those was Andalusia, which created an anarcho-socialist system in their city in the early 20th century, and managed to run it with a fairly high degree of success (it wasn't problem free and their implementation had some flaws - which people since have learned from but it was pretty good). Orwell himself described it as the happiest and most free society he ever got to visit - and praised how truly egalitarian they were - a city with no poverty or hunger or suffering at all).
They were still economically strong when they fell - despite having been at war the entire 20 years of their existence (state-communists from the South and capitalists from the north both wanted to destroy them) until World War 2 - the scale up of military power finally forced them to surrender.

The thing is - hardly anybody in academia or among (at least the educated part of) the left actually pushes for state-communism anymore, we saw what happened in the Soviet Union as well. The anarchists may have lost the original political battle for communism's soul but they were the winners in the long run because, today, they are the only ones left.

Comment: Re:US is... (Score 1) 535

by silentcoder (#47882613) Attached to: Cuba Calculates Cost of 54yr US Embargo At $1.1 Trillion

>You're confusing government-run entitlement programs, paid for with taxes taken from one person and given to another, with "rights." They are not the same thing.

That's a very American philosophical position - it's not a fact. Here - these things are constitutionally guaranteed rights.

I also did NOT make the mistake you made, our system is actually not that different from yours - but ON TOP of what we restrict the government from doing we
1) Give them a lot more they are REQUIRED to do
2) Have OTHER things they are NOT allowed to do.

For example - we got gay marriage legalized years ago - because the constitution prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation. The constitutional court found that government not allowing it was discrimination and with a single court case the matter was settled for good.

Having a constitutional right NOT to be discriminated against on any of a long list of grounds is one of our best features. You add ammendments one by one for different types of discrimination you encounter - we gave everybody the right not to be discriminated against as a core factor of our constitution right from the start.

And seriously - America is not the greatest country on earth - in many ways it's the worst. In some others it's excellent - but the ONLY people who think it's better than any others are Americans who swallowed the kool aid. Nobody else will EVER be convinced because when your politics fuck up it hurts you a little and everybody else a LOT.

Comment: Re:US is... (Score 4, Interesting) 535

by silentcoder (#47879535) Attached to: Cuba Calculates Cost of 54yr US Embargo At $1.1 Trillion

Well our constitution was written much later - with a lot of inspiration from the US - which is why our bill of rights and the US one is very similar.
However there is also one or two items from more recent sources (for starters the entire International Convention on Human Rights).

There is also a few liberties we've taken from things like the German constitution - which deal with the realities of countries that had experienced gross human rights abuses - such as a right to dignity.

The right to dignity for example has several clauses - such as a positive obligation placed on the government to ensure there is quality housing for all citizens and a requirement that evictions can only be done with a court order. Another impact is that it informs the right not to be discriminated against - here a business cannot deny service to anybody on discriminatory grounds. Recently a wedding venue wanted to refuse a gay couple the right to marry there on religious grounds and lost their case - the constitutional right not to be discriminated against on sexual orientation means that if you operate a business you MUST serve ALL sexual orientations. There's no obligation to approve of gay marriage, but you cannot as a business discriminate against it (a church could refuse to host a service, but a church is not a business).

Not everybody thinks these are freedoms, some people would say the above example reduces the business owner's freedom for example - and it's true that this is a trade-off but the right not to be discriminated against protects freedoms (such as freedom of association and movement) for many, many people - if a small minority has a very slight decrease in freedom (while making money out of the people they aren't allowed to mistreat) then this is a worthwhile trade-off in my mind.

In some regards the fact that our constitution is only 20 years old has been advantageous - it means that we have all the rights the US has - most of which were not in their original constitution (Everything with "amendment" in it) right in the basic document, and we still have the option of future amendments if we need them.

Comment: Re:US is... (Score 2) 535

by silentcoder (#47879023) Attached to: Cuba Calculates Cost of 54yr US Embargo At $1.1 Trillion

>Happy September 11th. If I wished to say those things about the United States I'd even be able to do so as a citizen. If you're an American then congratulations, you're in one of the only countries that you can do that. If you're not American I don't intend to stifle your freedom of speech, I just dare you to say that about you're own country.

My country has a government filled with extreme levels of corruption, the police is so corrupt as to be almost entirely ineffective - but when they do actually do anything it generally ends in unarmed poor (usually black) people being shot for daring to complain about it. the military is really only useful as an excuse for corrupt arms-deal contracts (mostly to buy equipment nobody is ever trained to actually be able to use), the president couldn't remove his head from his arse without major surgery, the opposition parties are no less corrupt and completely ineffective which has turned our once lofty intellectual political discourse into a farce of clowns throwing manure at each other.

Basically - we're exactly like America, only with a lot more poor people. Oh - and I have MORE civil liberties than YOU do.

Comment: (Score 5, Insightful) 535

by silentcoder (#47878867) Attached to: Cuba Calculates Cost of 54yr US Embargo At $1.1 Trillion

>Communists in power don't force people to drink vodka & eat borscht you sniveling coward, they confiscate all your belongings, outaw dissent & condemn people to hard prison or insane asylums without fair trials.

No... that's what TYRANTS in power do. Just because we've had a lot of communist tyrants does not mean communism REQUIRES Tyrants (it doesn't) or that Tyrants are always communist (they aren't - in fact three of the worst tyrants of the 20th century were not - two were fascists [a form of capitalism] and one was a free market fundamentalist: Pinochet !)

There are variations of communist philosophy that are forms of anarchism - such as Anton Pannekoek's "Council Communism", Robert Hahnel's Parecon, Noam Chomsky's brand of Anarcho-syndicalism or the kind of libertarian socialism practised in Andalusia (Southern Spain) during the first 20 years of the last century - and would probably still be there if the scale of the world wars hadn''t overwhelmed them and gotten all of Spain under a different tyrant (Franco) with yet another economic philosophy that was fairly unique (close enough to capitalism for Spain not to be targeted during the cold war, close enough to communism for the Russians not to target them either - somewhat like facism but not enough for either side to care).

Comment: Re:Shortest version (Score 1) 326

by silentcoder (#47851721) Attached to: Stallman Does Slides -- and Brevity -- For TEDx

>However, free open source software is not the only way to do that.

Please provide a way to do that without some ability to audit the source ?

> The assumption that non-free software is bad and harmful and by extension free software is good and beneficial

Being non-free is, by itself, already bad - freedom is worth far more than money. It's generally stupid to sacrifice your life to prevent losing money as it precludes the ability to make more (which always exists), but those who sacrifice their lives to prevent the loss of liberty are widely considered heroes.
Liberty is fundamentally more valuable than almost all other considerations.
This is why the FSF distinguishes between proprietory and commercial software. The one is harmful and the other is not in terms of liberty.
Now there may or may not be other harms - there could be malware in a free software project hoping nobody looks, a non-free program could offer you a way to guarantee you'll win the lottery this week - nevertheless the free software would STILL be superior in terms of liberty.

>Stallman has a very narrow view of what software development should look like
He had never proposed any view on this topic whatsoever. He has DONE software development in a certain style (which, by the way, was no the open source methodology but the traditional bazaar style he knew) but he never declared it a better way of developing software.
He has limited his position purely to the ethical and philosophical issues of freedom, which is a higher consideration than quality or commercial success.
After all - would you agree to a law that said you couldn't tell your friends what you saw on the news last night in order to help Fox make more money by forcing more people to watch the show themselves ?
Surely you would consider that an unacceptable constraint on your personal freedom of speech.
What Stallman's arguments prove, VERY convincingly is that the four freedoms he cares about are all - JUST as important.

People who wish to paint a strawman (which you did) tend to accuse him (falsely) of not recognizing some free software as such - which is actually not true at all. Stallman has NEVER denied that any BSD system is free, nor has he denied that of any GNU/Linux distribution (except for a few very specific cases like the Tivo which really weren't).
He does however refuse to endorse a product that does not share his values. So he won't endorse openBSD or redhat, but that is not denying that those products are free, it's just not endorsing something which (in turn) endorses other things he is opposed to. That's a perfectly reasonable position to take.
If you're opposed to something, would you endorse somebody who, while not themselves engaged in that thing, do however endorse it publicly in the very same sphere where they asked for your endorsement ?

Comment: Re:Shortest version (Score 1) 326

by silentcoder (#47850973) Attached to: Stallman Does Slides -- and Brevity -- For TEDx

Quite a lot of smaller projects, notably ones that target individuals, have voluntary donation based business models - and make enough to keep the developers' bills paid so they can write the software. Because a dollar here or a dollar there is not prohibitively expensive, and it adds up quite a lot if you have a few thousand people who do so every month which for a reasonably successful end-user project these days would only require about a 25% donation rate.

This is the exact same business model that humble bundle uses.

For quite a few years I maintained a project that was the market-leader in it's class for free software. I never made money out of end-users but I ran a successful business based on selling features to other business. My software was a management tool used for running a type of small business - a lot of indy such businesses used it, some NGO's distributed it for variations on the theme - but there were also quite a few big companies who were franchising business built around it. They wanted customized management software that would protect their franchised brand and offer functionality that the indy guys didn't care about (like integration between franchises) - and they paid me very handsomely to develop those for them.
Of course they COULD go to anybody to do it - but they didn't because I knew the code better than anybody and could do it cheaper.
For doing it, I would charge them an hourly rate. I would also make them a choice. I could either include the features they wanted back in the main branch for others to use (including competitors) or I could keep it in it's own branch - never publicly distributed to anybody else (hence without violation of the GPL) - and if any other customer wanted the same feature I would have to pay somebody else to clean-room it. But if they wanted feature exclusivity - the rate-per-hour was doubled.
I made very good money that way - drove a nice car, had a nice home. Eventually the technology changed and the market for that kind of business dissapeared almost entirely (actually - mobile replaced it) and so I moved on to other things (no point writing code nobody needs anymore).

Basically - you have no idea how many people successfully do the very things you just claimed nobody does.

Comment: Re:Shortest version (Score 1) 326

by silentcoder (#47850961) Attached to: Stallman Does Slides -- and Brevity -- For TEDx

Nothing in Stallman's philosophy precludes profit-driven development - on the contrary, he actively encourages it !
He precludes a certain METHOD of profit generation, not the idea of profit.

Your response is like saying "We can't have pollution standards because saying you can't make profit by dumping strychnine in my drinking water is the same saying you can't make profit at all".

There is absolutely no free software problem with profit. There is a freedom problem with software that are sold in one PARTICULAR bad way because the harms that it causes to the public far outweigh the profit earned by the seller.

The only thing Stallman has ever done is point out the age-old lesson that if you don't force the medicine seller to tell you what's in his medicine most of it ends up being snake-oil.

Comment: Re:Where to draw the line (Score 1) 326

by silentcoder (#47850907) Attached to: Stallman Does Slides -- and Brevity -- For TEDx

Stallman has only ever allowed for "use a proprietory application" in one sole exception case:
Where there is no viable free alternative.
However, if you believe in freedom - and use it under that condition, you need to also be contributing (in whatever way your particular skills and talents allow) to projects aiming to make a free alternative viable.

The devil finds work for idle circuits to do.