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CCAGW Misreads Mass. Policy, Open Standards Generally 534

mhrivnak writes "The Council for Citizens Against Government Waste made this press release blasting the Massachusetts policy decision to move to Open Source. They explain why Linux is a 'monopoly,' how this policy is 'socialist' and why 'The old Soviet Union could not have done this any better.' The CCAGW has been previously informed about the benefits of open source software in government. Tell them what you think!" The CCAGW is at least not completely one-dimensional; the group is also opposed to mandatory embedded snoopware. Maybe they don't realize that conventional closed-source software has big costs worth avoiding.
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CCAGW Misreads Mass. Policy, Open Standards Generally

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  • by i_want_you_to_throw_ ( 559379 ) * on Wednesday October 01, 2003 @09:13PM (#7109793) Journal
    If CAGW was paid off like the Alexis de Tocqueville Institution [] or if they are just a bunch of idiots generally speaking.

    Since CAGW is allegedly concerned about federal dollars they'd probably REALLY shit to see my federal agency now switching over to open source (via Zope). And it's not just us, here's a whole list of federal agencies switching to CMSs powered by Open Source []. CAGW better get ready with their FUD machine.
    • by Col. Klink (retired) ( 11632 ) on Wednesday October 01, 2003 @09:35PM (#7109946)
      If CAGW was paid off like the Alexis de Tocqueville Institution...

      Bingo. See the comments from LWN [] (the comment titled "Money trail from Media Transparency").

      CAGW gets money from the same folks ("John M. Olin Foundation" and "The Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation, Inc.".

      • The initial reference was to money from Microsoft, not foundations.

        Look, this is a conservative, libertarianish, anti-government group. Like the de Tocqueville Institution, it gets money from the big foundations that support such groups. You think the EFF and ACLU get all their money from membership fees? These funding sources exist on the right and left -- it's useful to know about them but they're not evidence of some horrible conspiracy.

        Seriously, if people have lucid, convincing cases to make about why

        • by nmos ( 25822 ) on Thursday October 02, 2003 @12:06AM (#7110850)
          Seriously, if people have lucid, convincing cases to make about why a mandatory switch to open-source applications will save taxpayer money, go win them over!

          Saving money is not the only measure of a good solution. Mass., like many states has found its self in a position where it is so locked into propriatary software and formats that even while suing MS for antitrust violations they continue (at least in the short run) purchasing products and services from that same company. If that isn't a sign that being locked into a single vendor is dangerous then I don't know what is. What if next time there MS license is up for renewal MS puts in a clause that stipulates that Mass. will drop it's Antitrust suit or MS will pull their licenses for everything? Remember these antitrust cases are civil matters so they COULD do it without breaking any criminal laws. Could Mass really do anything but give in if this were to happen today?
          • by morgajel ( 568462 ) <slashreader AT morgajel DOT com> on Thursday October 02, 2003 @09:06AM (#7112667) Homepage
            A bit misleading- John actually wrote the core engine, I wrote the gui wrapper for it. and yes virginia, I'm a whore(karma or otherwise):)

            This message is in direct response to this article:
   7215.shtml ?tid=103&tid=126&tid=163&tid=98&tid=99

            Linux is the absolute opposite of waste in government. As I type this,
            I sit at a Linux workstation, sending mail through a Linux mailserver.
            I have an email client, a web browser, instant messenger and an office
            suite. Not only that, but about $600 worth of educational software I
            plan to share with my kids when I have have some.
            Cost of this software: $0. Not because of piracy- because the creators
            of the software choose to give it away for free. I should know- I am
            also an open source developer.

            Each Massachusetts computer using linux is $200+ that is not shipped out
            of state to a large corporate sinkhole. This money can be spent on
            important things like rebuilding roads and schools. If however you feel
            that the schools are over fiananced, I'm afraid there is little I can do
            to convice you otherwise.

            Shame on you for speaking on a subject you know little of. Perhaps you
            should check Count the positive number of Linux
            articles in comparison to negative articles on other operating systems.
            Keep a tally over the course of a month.

            As I mentioned before, I am an open source developer. I, along with my
            friend john, wrote the program GatGui.
   D=6&MenuI D=7
            GatGui is a cancer research tool. It helps identify which genes are
            most likely to be involved with certain forms of cancer. John and I
            give this program away for free. Why? Because damnit, PEOPLE NEED IT.
            It's not about the money, it's about helping people. Before you deride
            my effort, I should mention that GAT (previous version of GatGui) is
            being used by the Van Andel Institute for cancer research.

            I suppose my program is evil and wasteful now, as well, huh?

            My point is that you shouldn't complain about a product BEFORE you know
            what it is about. Do not let corporate sponsors, or those that are
            sponsored by them, make your decisions. If someone is Microsoft
            Certified, chances are they will support the decision to stay with
            Microsoft. Don't let ignorance blind you.

            I apologize for typos- I was up late trying to find the cure for cancer.
            -Jesse Morgan
      • by willpost ( 449227 ) on Wednesday October 01, 2003 @10:59PM (#7110450) n531230.shtml []
        Dec. 3, 2002: West Virginia will join Massachusetts as the only states to continue the courtroom antitrust battle against Microsoft Corp., pressing a U.S. appeals court to reconsider tougher sanctions against the world's largest software company.

        A pro-Microsoft group, the Washington-based Citizens Against Government Waste, quickly attacked West Virginia's decision as improper given that state's economic conditions. The group said the state faces a $200 million deficit and teachers have been warned they may not receive raises next year.

        "The taxpayers of West Virginia have every right to question the attorney general's priorities," said the group's president, Tom Schatz. "What is Darrell McGraw thinking by using scarce tax dollars to pursue costly litigation? This appeal is unrealistic, imprudent and irrational." n531230.shtml []
        June 28, 2001: an appellate court's decision to overturn the order to split Microsoft in two

        Citizens Against Government Waste, though, took a position much closer to Microsoft. "This decision marks a return to rational antitrust jurisprudence and is a victory for taxpayers, investors, and the entire information economy," CAGW President Tom Schatz said in a statement. []

        Conservative organizations will always choose industry self regulation over government regulation, even if it's a monopoly.
        • Funny thing is a quote from CAGW is being served by none other then themselves []. Odd situation here.. they are against wasting tax payer money so they stand with MS's fight against using open source in the government.

          One of their press releases [] released last year looks very similar to the recent MA complaints. The president of CAGW seems to have somewhat good intentions as a whole, but does not seem to have enough knowledge of the commercial software industry to justify his postion on this
    • CAGW is a Right-Wing partisan GOP mouthpiece. Screaming about Communists is right up their alley. Why is /. parroting the BS propaganda of professional spinsters?

      • Goverment should not be mandating closed or open source software, but the rules should be set up so both types can be considered equally valid. I know open source was often at a disadvantage as there used to be no big vendor to handle support, make the bid, etc... I would hope having RedHat and IBM pursuing contracts would even the field.

        • Nonsense. (Score:4, Insightful)

          by jotaeleemeese ( 303437 ) on Thursday October 02, 2003 @06:55AM (#7112121) Homepage Journal
          How do you , as a citizen, ensure transparency and accountability for software of which you don't have the source code. Voting software for example? Do you trust the goverment for that? Nope, I would not, I would like anybody to be able an audit the software used.

          To be frank, goverments got away for far too long using closed source software. That kind of software has its place on society, but not in goverment where every single thing that is done shuld be fully accountable to anybody that wishes to see that things are done the right way.

          Or at least I believe it should in democratic countries.
    • Microsoft's overpriced software is a true government waste of money, just as their lobbying efforts are a waste of the time of elected officials. I'd like to see a federal anti-bribery law such that anyone in appointed or elected public found to accept monetary donations would be eligible for a fine in the amount of double the amount in question and/or a 1-year jail sentence. This makes it the smallest felony possible by the jail sentence. That would eliminate most government waste overnight, but it will
    • by Brad Mace ( 624801 ) on Wednesday October 01, 2003 @10:51PM (#7110391) Homepage
      A quick search of their site [] paints them as extremely sympathetic to Microsoft. They advocated stopping litigation against Microsoft in the anti-trust hearings; the only concern they mention is that the legal battles costs the government money.

      It turns out that the government actually spent several million dollars on this major case taking on one of the wealtiest corporations in the US! Who would've imagined such a thing!

      CAGW also seems to believe that the entire notion of a microsoft monopoly is some sort of hoax []

      See also:


    • by Foofoobar ( 318279 ) on Wednesday October 01, 2003 @11:23PM (#7110599)
      The truly hilarious thing is that they are running Apache for a web server. |Makes me think they have no idea what open source really is.
  • I agree.. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by grub ( 11606 ) <> on Wednesday October 01, 2003 @09:13PM (#7109799) Homepage Journal

    "The state's taxpayers deserve nothing less." -CAGW President Tom Schatz

    Dear Mr. Schatz,
    I agree 100%, but not in the way you may think :)

    The site is running Apache/1.3.12 (Unix) mod_ssl/2.6.5 OpenSSL/0.9.6e ApacheJServ/1.1.2 []
    mod_fastcgi/2.2.10 on FreeBSD.
    • "Governor Mitt Romney must put a stop to this boondoggle,"

      What the heck is a boondoogler?

      "People mistakenly refer to Linux as 'free' software because it can be freely altered and distributed. Not necessarily freely altered or distributed. In fact if SCO has anything to do with it people will be paying one million... <smirks> one billion smackerooonis

      Yet while the software itself is free, the cost to maintain and upgrade it can become very expensive. Hrmm Expensive? I think not.

      Windows reboots p

    • That fact CAGW uses OSS itself is as good an indicator as any that they're not biased against open source. As the article states, they don't want legislation restricting choice. They have nothing against Linux, in particular.
  • by Xformer ( 595973 ) < minus bsd> on Wednesday October 01, 2003 @09:16PM (#7109817)
    Socialism is just a red herring. ...or maybe that's Communism.

    Oh crap, now I'm confusing Clue quotes... heh :-)
  • by mopslik ( 688435 ) on Wednesday October 01, 2003 @09:16PM (#7109818)

    The actual quote is:

    "It is ironic that Massachusetts, as the only state remaining in the lawsuit accusing Microsoft of antitrust violations, is creating its own state-imposed monopoly on software."

    So, while misguided, the CCAGW isn't exactly calling Linux a monopoly, but rather the government of Massachussets.

    • by Edmund Blackadder ( 559735 ) on Wednesday October 01, 2003 @09:30PM (#7109912)
      The description in slashdot may be misleading, but the way it was used by CCAGW is even more wrong. I mean wrong in the plain semantic sence.

      Monopoly on software means that only a single person/organization may produce software and has nothing to do with who buys what.

      The state of massachusets is not creating a monopoly on software because they are not decreeing that only a single person/organization may produce software.

      I think in this case the CCAGW is much more misleading, than the slashdot story.

  • Rule of Thumb (Score:2, Offtopic)

    by Nate B. ( 2907 )
    "Intelligence is a constant. The population is increasing."

  • Misread? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by stratjakt ( 596332 ) on Wednesday October 01, 2003 @09:20PM (#7109843) Journal
    Who misread what?

    You do realize that people can disagree with your pro-linux attitudes, and many do, and for good reason.

    From the release.

    "Governor Mitt Romney must put a stop to this boondoggle," CAGW President Tom Schatz said. "People mistakenly refer to Linux as 'free' software because it can be freely altered and distributed. Yet while the software itself is free, the cost to maintain and upgrade it can become very expensive. Like all procurement decisions, the best policy on the use of software is to place all products on equal footing. It is critical that taxpayers receive the best quality programs at the least cost."

    I agree. Government policies that close doors to competition are bad. Linux might work in some situations, but not in others. There are plenty of good software packages out there to use, and plenty of specific packages for government, that wont exist in OSS until someone is paid (gobs of cash) to write them.

    • Re:Misread? (Score:2, Insightful)

      Yes, some of those packages would have to paid for ONCE to be written. Why is tax money being wasted by buying software multiple times when new releases of the same old crap come out, at high costs, when nothing is added except for a few features (that usually aren't needed), new security holes, bigger harware requirements, and lost productivity as users have to readjust to where options have been moved to?
      • Re:Misread? (Score:2, Interesting)

        by stratjakt ( 596332 )
        Most government IT work has shit all to do with desktop OSS's. If an agency needs a bunch of machines for word processing, fine, go with a linux vendor. If they need some custom work that only exists for Windows, go that route.

        The key is placing all potential vendors on equal ground, and not preferring one over the other because of ideology.

        I want to see linux adopted in government. I write software for government agencies (public safety, police and fire specifically), and I've been pushing the bosses
    • Re:Misread? (Score:3, Insightful)

      by cblood ( 323189 )
      "I agree. Government policies that close doors to competition are bad. Linux might work in some situations, but not in others. There are plenty of good software packages out there to use, and plenty of specific packages for government, that wont exist in OSS until someone is paid (gobs of cash) to write them."

      But Open source is the the only software that can be independenty audited, and should be required for government work. Any thing else is a black box that could be filled with back doors or other nasty
      • Re:Misread? (Score:2, Insightful)

        by stratjakt ( 596332 )
        No, you can audit closed source. The auditors would just sign an agreement not to disclose the source.

        If some one fails to deliver, another vendor can pick up whrer they left off with minimum disruption.

        And maximum cost. This is about taxpayers dollars. If corporations want to do such things with private cash, be my guest.
        • "If some one fails to deliver, another vendor can pick up whrer they left off with minimum disruption.

          And maximum cost. This is about taxpayers dollars. If corporations want to do such things with private cash, be my guest."

          In terms of project surviving vendor failure, the two cases are the same -- no sane buyer would pay for the development of a software system without the source code and the right to continue development independently of the initial vendor.

          The argument for open sourcing is that since w
        • Audit = benchmark (Score:3, Insightful)

          by narratorDan ( 137402 )
          By the very nature of software any auditing would have to fall under benchmarking or testing of the software for flaws or performance failures. Since many NDA's prevent releasing poor performance results while also preventing the release of source code, the auditors will not agree to the NDA.
          What is to prevent a proprietary software company from including "features" which allow ease of access to classified government information to any hacker but not to the people who are being governed? Government shoul
    • Re:Misread? (Score:5, Informative)

      by orkysoft ( 93727 ) <orkysoft&myrealbox,com> on Wednesday October 01, 2003 @09:35PM (#7109949) Journal
      I think the state wants to only consider software that uses open data formats, whether the software is open source or closed source. The data formats must be open.

      This means that no-one is excluded from competing for the software contracts, as long as their software uses open data formats.

      It's not unfair, and it is indeed the least that the people deserve. Proprietary data formats will become very expensive in the future. The Slashdot-post example of this is the proverbial Word 95 document that is hard to import into a newer version of MS Word without loss of something. (Note: I haven't checked that myself, I just see it posted here over and over again.)
    • Yeah, at a minimum this doesn't appear to be some industry front group, but sincere anti-spending activists. If you're convinced they're wrong and can back it up, do it politely and carefully and you may well wind up getting them on your side. Certainly, a deluge of hate mail from shrieking Lunix fanatics isn't going to help anything.

      Besides, I've been a Linux user and contributor far longer than almost all of the shriekers and it's not obvious to me that they're wrong.

    • Re:Misread? (Score:2, Insightful)

      listen buddy, the CAGW is a Pro-Capitalist right wing front group. Its the "whatever is good for GM (MS in this case) is good for America(TM)" party line, these jokers are as transparent as they come. They are not interested in saving taxpayer's money, they are interested in seeing rich-people pay less taxes by turning rank-and-file Americans AGAINST the very concept... "Look Marge, the CAGW says their a-wastin' our taxes, all the gummint does is tax and waste.. hiccup".

      Give me a break, in this day and
      • Re:Misread? (Score:2, Insightful)

        by bnenning ( 58349 )
        They are not interested in saving taxpayer's money, they are interested in seeing rich-people pay less taxes

        Of course. Only liberals have pure motives, anyone who questions whether government could spend less is a right-wing extremist who wants to throw old people out in the streets. Come on.

        They could do without the silly "socialist" comments, but their main point-that government should not discriminate against or in favor of free software-is entirely reasonable.

    • Re:Misread? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by wfrp01 ( 82831 ) on Wednesday October 01, 2003 @10:24PM (#7110235) Journal
      Competition is good. Please explain how buyers can evaluate different products on their merits when only one product is able to work with existing proprietary data. Clearly, only one product will work best. Now how do you propose we extricate ourselves from this anti-competitive situation?

      You say there are "plenty of specific packages for government, that wont [sic] exist in OSS until someone is paid (gobs of cash) to write them." Could you be a little more specific? Have you been paying any attention to what's been happening in the F/OSS world at all? Over and over again, people say "Well, that's all well and good, but no one will ever write F/OSS software to do X, Y, Z." And then someone does. A free operating system kernel? Preposterous. Free commercial grade databases? Out of the question. Viable free software on the desktop? It'll never happen. And on and on. Forget whatever screwed up theory you have in your head; just look at the real world around you! It's happening. I don't know what line of work you're in, but if your in the computer industry, and value your career, it's time to open your eyes.

    • I agree. Government policies that close doors to competition are bad. Linux might work in some situations, but not in others. There are plenty of good software packages out there to use, and plenty of specific packages for government, that wont exist in OSS until someone is paid (gobs of cash) to write them.

      But what exactly is the (proposed?) law? Does it say "all funding must be spent on Linux"? I've yet to see anything substantial. Instead we have to scrape around hearsay. So let's start diggin

    • exactly, let's hire some programmers to write open source software for things we need. The state wins because they get software that both their paid programmers as well as other open source advocates work on. PLUS your taxes are going to produce software, not waste it on another microsoft certified goober.
  • Monopoly (Score:3, Funny)

    by ctour ( 645366 ) on Wednesday October 01, 2003 @09:21PM (#7109850)
    I didn't know you could have a state-imposed monopoly on free stuff. I wonder who funds this group...
  • by jotaeleemeese ( 303437 ) on Wednesday October 01, 2003 @09:23PM (#7109863) Homepage Journal
    How many companies can provide the Windows set of "solutions": 1.

    How many companies can provide OSS solutions: many. And new entrants have very low barriers of entry to try to do so if they feel so inclined.

    Talk about misunderstanding (in purpose?) the meaning of the word monopoly.

    Honestly, what are those people smoking? WHo are they supporters? Who advises them in IT matters? And in anticompetitive legal matters?

    Can somebody send them one or two of the many fully documented cases (Amazon, Munich) in which Linux based offerings were cheaper than closed source based ones?

    Please, can somebody educate them in case the barbarities they are saying come out of ignorance and not of knowing misrepresentation?
    • You realize that 99% of government has nothing whatsoever to do with some office worker typing letters in word or open office.

      There's metric shitloads of custom code for specific tasks written for Windows. Theres shitloads of it for unix. There's shitloads of it for other mainframe OS's.

      Ideally, they'd choose the best platform and tools for the task at hand, and not bog the process down by ideology at the taxpayers expense - which is the concern, and the basis for the comparison to socialist russia.
    • Perhaps you should read the article and then think through what they are actually saying. They are not arguing against OSS, they are arguing against the new, inflexible, policy that allows only OSS.

      They argue that the costs may increase because of the change in skillset required to manage an entirely OSS based solution. They want the procurement policy to choose the best job for the task based on all factors, not just OSS versus proprietary. In addition they criticise the methods of their local governmen
  • by Snoopy77 ( 229731 ) on Wednesday October 01, 2003 @09:26PM (#7109887) Homepage
    Do we have to have the Soviet Russia jokes in the articles as well now?
  • I find it funny, or at least scary, that right in the US, some people are equating something "free" with "communism". Someone should explain this one to the founding fathers of the US. Also, can someone please explain to me what boondoggle is?
  • "Yet while the software itself is free, the cost to maintain and upgrade it can become very expensive"

    Yeah - good thing they didn't have to FIRST pay for the software, and THEN have to pay to upgrade and maintain it. Sheesh. Microsoft would never make you do that...

  • Maybe they could read this [] and suggest improvements [] to the case being made.
  • Now I'm Wondering (Score:3, Interesting)

    by FractusMan ( 711004 ) * on Wednesday October 01, 2003 @09:31PM (#7109926)
    I'm just curious; I'm not very political in the head. But it makes me wonder, honestly, about politics when I read things such as this. Who, exactly, informs people in power of technical details? Is there a department that specializes in informing people in power of the What's-What of computers? Do they just listen to anyone who wants to yammer at them and assume they're telling the truth? The big question I'm getting at is: Who tells the Governor about the difference between Windows/Linux/Mac/Solaris/etc, in terms of price/impact/uses/etc?
  • The position taken by Citizens Against Government Waste makes sense. They simply believe that it's wrong to mandate one particular system. As much as I dislike MS and its products, I agree with that. In MANY cases, it makes sense to use something other than Linux or other free software. The total cost of ownership and use are what should matter to taxpayers, NOT the religious issues which are so important to many in the free-software movement.
    • Slashbotters dont realize there's more in the IT world than just linux and windows. This law shuts out macs, commercial unixes, various mainframe OS's, embedded softwares, etc, etc...

      This law may as well say all public employees must wear birkenstocks and all cops drive electric golf carts to help save the whales. Use the most appropriate tools for the job.
  • PACs (Score:5, Insightful)

    by mabu ( 178417 ) * on Wednesday October 01, 2003 @09:33PM (#7109934)
    I don't know about anybody else, but whenever I come across some "organization" with a pretentiously-honorable-sounding yet ambiguous name, my bullshit detector starts ringing. Organizations like Council Against Government Waste, Freedom Foundation, American Heritage Institute, Alliance for Good Government, etc., are usually fueled and funded by some polarized corporate interest.
    • If you'd check out the history of this organization, you'd find out that that's not the case. Please get the facts before making charges like that. The fact that you only imply suggest that it might be true means you're too lazy to get the facts, but you're willing to smear a decent organization without having a clue what you're talking about.

      CAGW was founded in 1984 by Peter Grace and Jack Anderson. Grace was a business exec who headed the Grace Commission, which was charged with finding ways of reducing
      • Re:PACs (Score:3, Insightful)

        by mabu ( 178417 ) *
        If you'd check your reading comprehension, you'd note that I made no specific acusations against the CAGW. I just think it is a safe policy to be skeptical of any ambiguously-sounding organization that espouses to lecture to people about what is and isn't acceptable for all.

        The bottom line is that EVERYONE has an agenda, no matter how neutral or benevolent their cause might be. If anything, my statement was meant to encourage people to look further into these organizations and not simply assume that ANY
    • YOu forgot one: United States Congress.
  • Romney and the State (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Cpl Laque ( 512294 ) on Wednesday October 01, 2003 @09:34PM (#7109939) Journal
    If you are not from Mass. let me tell you a little about it. 75% is registered democrat yet we always elect republican governors. Why ? Who know or state house is 90% Dem as well.

    The major problem we have here is patronage and not just at the state house level. Its not uncommon to see 3 or 4 generation all working at the same state job(for example the T(commuter rail)).

    My guess is someones brother must be an MCSE and too dumb to learn anything new. There is a huge "right to work" sentiment here esp. if its paid for by tax dollars. Some times we go so far left here I have to lean right. We have a huge tax problem similar to California. I think its a little worse sometimes. (Excise tax anyone?)

    But I would really like to see Free Software and Linux flourish here in Mass.(Birthplace of GNU).
  • RTFA (Score:2, Insightful)

    by PCM2 ( 4486 )
    If you read the article, they aren't saying "Linux is a monopoly." They're saying that the state of Massachusetts would be in effect responsible for creating a monopoly, insofar as it would be restricted to a single "vendor."

    This view is a little simplistic, of course -- obviously, lots and lots of people make free/open source software. But I do think it has some merit.

    Suppose the gov't mandated open source software, then discovered that none of the open source database software available to them could me
    • I think the support issue is not relevent. Each mandated upgrade to windows+N costs about as much in training as moving to a recent, friendly distro. The long term costs of vendor lock-in are enormous. When you hear them touting a subscription, and claiming that customers were clamoring to pay more, and more often, you have to realize it's time to go cold turkey. Maybe MS SQL is better than any other MS product, (and I find IIS, Windows, and Exchange to be abominations) but what are the licensing restri
  • ...Council for Wasted Citizens Against Government? I'll have what they're smoking.
  • by stewart.hector ( 87816 ) on Wednesday October 01, 2003 @09:39PM (#7109982) Homepage
    Why do americans *seem* to fear a socialist government?

    They probably don't know what it means anyway. clueless.

    They seem to think socialism == communism.

    Which is wrong.

    • The reason so many Americans equate socialism to communism is because of the former Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) which as everyone knows was a communist nation. And since the end of WWII all American children have been told that the USSR was an evil, god hating, commie nation bent on destroying the American Way of Life(TM)

      Right now it hurts to say it but, I'm an American. Many people have fought (some died, many didn't) so that I could change the government without needing to start a revol
    • Why do americans *seem* to fear a socialist government?

      My feeling is that it's largely because the US is such a large country with many diverse ethnic groups and geographic areas. With this situation, you almost guarantee that some people are going to feel shafted if they see their tax money being spent on some other group that they don't relate to. They start complaining very loudly about freeloaders grabbing their cash. In this kind of environment where most people aren't bought in, socialism doesn't re

  • I just used their online form to email my reps to stop mandated DRM.

    Theres the link Write your representatives []
  • crack pipe as Darl.

    How about let's do a little investigation here.
    Who pads their coffers?? Could there be a few M$ bucks in the CCAGW kitty??
  • "Linux" is not a monopoly, and the press release does not claim it to be. The CCAGW press release says that every state IT purchase for the next two years, with no exceptions, must be Linux/OSS; this is what they claim is the monopoly (I'm not sure I agree with their view, but it's certainly a point of contention). There's worlds of difference here... instead of being nutcases like the writeup suggests with its slant, the CCAGW may actually have a valid issue with Mass. state government policy.
    It took me
  • They got one thing right:

    It is critical that taxpayers receive the best quality programs at the least cost.

    Their other point is correct as well:

    Under the state's proposed "Freeware Initiative," there would be no exceptions to the rule permitting only open source/Linux software.

    While it's good to ALLOW or to PROMOTE open-source, I do not belive in the adoption of open-source by force. It's when we force people to do things that we run in to trouble. I believe in free-enterprise, the system that our n

  • It's time for Governor Romney to bring Massachusetts into the twenty-first century by dropping the lawsuit and opening up the procurement process. The state's taxpayers deserve nothing less.

    Good grief, what have the poor taxpayers done to deserve that?!

    I can't say I know all that much about this Massachussetts "Freeware Initiative," but what I did find leads me to believe that it mandates the use of freeware if possible. Now, Linux may be freeware, but freeware is not necessarily Linux. It could be Darwi
  • The best argument for governments to require use of open source appears to be that open source software can (in theory) be obtained and used by any citizen, without requiring any citizen to pay for a commercial product.

    This argument is like requiring that all government offices be in walking distance of all citizens - since otherwise poverty stricken citizens would have to buy a car to get to the office in question. People can use a PC in a library, use a friend's PC, rent a PC by the hour in some stores,
  • by louabill ( 652114 ) on Wednesday October 01, 2003 @10:07PM (#7110146)

    Y'all ought to check out how CAWG seems to applaud the death of any and all MS Antitrust work. In fact, it appears to be a group founded by the Reagan administration.

  • Does anybody have any information about the "Freeware Initiative" that the press release talks about? I really don't see the point in debating the press release and how right or wrong it may be until you know what it refers to.

    Seriously, the only reference I can find on Google is another rant against it.

    I'm inclined to believe that the press release is misrepresenting the facts. In fact, the other press release that I found here [] [] says that it will be "an effor requiring that al

  • No where did I see MA saying anything about anybody being excluded from anything. I saw writing to the effect that they wanted to support systems based on open standards and open file formats and such. MS, Borland or any other BSA member can choose to play or not to play. Now of course their business models do not support this but who's problem is that?

    The data belongs to the people of MA not a vendor.

  • OSS is also a great way for Massachusetts to keep taxes dollars spent in state, since linux software is cheap/free and you can pay locals to support it. Just a reminder that the same Market forces that make OSS appeal to foreign governments work on local governments too :).
  • I don't really care what software Massachusetts buys, but you have to wonder about the credibility of people who rant about the evils of the Microsoft monopoly and then turn around and cheer when a state decides to tie itself down with another monopoly.

    I thought "choice" was the cornerstone of open source. Guess some folks have been taking hypocrisy lessons.
  • > The "Freeware Initiative" will require that all IT expenditures in 2004 and 2005 be made on an open-source/Linux format. Proprietary vendors will be effectively barred from competing for state contracts, limiting competition and raising costs.

    This supposed "lack of competition" could double the cost of freeware! The horrors! That would effective raise the cost of freeware to free! Don't take it from em! Show em whose boss! Tell em you'll only pay half of free!

    Really. Proprietary vendors will

  • ... all I ever seem to see them ask for is equality in procurement, Government and it's agencies should be able to choose software on merit not on dictated policy.

    I don't see any policy that says all trucks bought by a particular government should be Ford, all I see is Government issuing a tender looking for best value in Truck supply.

    The same should apply to software, preference legislation is a bad thing, markets will change, product availability will change... if we let Governments write this into law
  • These guys aren't nutcases, and they aren't stupid.

    However, it is clear to me that they're more interested in supporting their own unpublished agenda versus fighting government waste.

    Their little rant doesn't merit a quiet, personal reply - their statement was a public, well-crafted, and baseless commentary which they can leverage to gain additional support from some of their corporate sponsors.

    Their statement merits a quick and complete public reply, exposing their failure to support the principles that
  • by magores ( 208594 ) on Wednesday October 01, 2003 @11:34PM (#7110680) Journal
    As a former Contracts Administrator for a computer manufacturer that specialized in the government and educational sectors, I can state from experience that Open Bidding in the (US) government is a joke.

    Often, the specs will be written in such a way that only one company can fill them. The specs are written by the reps for the company and then given to the IT guys at the Bureau of Whatever. ("Hey Joe. This will fit your needs perfectly. Just insist on these specs in your RFP.")

    Multiple Award Schedule contracts like GSA contracts are just as big a joke. If you sell commodity products, like washers, nails, or computers, then there are 500 other companies that have a GSA contract to sell the exact same thing. Who do the buyers buy from? In the computer hardware scene- The usual suspects: Dell, IBM, HP (Or, its bought from the company that has the rep that actually wrote the RFP. Depends on particular product)

    Low cost doesn't matter. They go with what they see in the Gvt Buyer trade rags. Government buyers LIVE by the axiom "Never ever got fired for buying ..."

    Another point:

    These people that are in charge of buying 5000 desktop computers for the Dept of Whatever are also the same people that are in charge of buying 500000 rolls of TP every 6 months.

    I guarantee they are more concerned about their own ass, than they are about the computer that the peon on the frontline is using.

    Okay. Personal plug time.

    Now that I've said my piece, and probably killed any chance for a career in my preferred field... let me back up and say that Contracts Admin was a GREAT job. I liked doing it. And, I would like to do it again. I can fix your problems, whether you are business-to-government or government-to-business.

    Hire me.

    (Go to my journal and say something. I'll see it)

  • hmmm... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Sj0 ( 472011 ) on Wednesday October 01, 2003 @11:44PM (#7110730) Journal
    While their efforts are a bit misguided, they do have a point. Leaving out any exception allowing commercial software to be used is downright silly, and it could not only hurt developers of custom solutions, but the users in government of said solutions, who would have to take dramatic steps to ensure they could do their jobs!

    I do take issue at the silliness of their TCO arguement though -- any software will require retraining, even, in some instances, updates between versions (For instance, the last place I worked has spent good sums of money on training for techs trying to upgrade their aging Windows NT 4.0 servers to a Windows 2000 ActiveDirectory platform, and the entire staff was retrained to some degree when we upgraded from NT4 to Windows 2000), and the fact that software does, even in their worst-case theoretical model, constitute 5-10% of the total cost, make it a loss leader even before you factor in the lowered costs due to reduced virus proliferation.
  • Here's my letter (Score:4, Insightful)

    by fucksl4shd0t ( 630000 ) on Thursday October 02, 2003 @03:55AM (#7111690) Homepage Journal
    Here's the email I just wrote and sent:

    To whom it may concern:

    I recently read this article ( _NewsRelease_09302003b) describing the Council for Citizens Against Government Waste and its position with regard to Free Software. I am concerned because it doesn't appear that this position has been adopted with much research into the subject.

    For example,
    The costs of maintaining an IT infrastructure include:
    1. Procurement
    2. Deployment
    3. Continuing Support
    4. Data protection (security)
    5. Keeping software up-to-date and patched
    6. Data recovery costs (especially in the case of virus infestations)

    There are myriad costs associated with having and using an IT infrastructure. The most common non-Free operating system (Microsoft Windows) stands above most others in costs associated as follows:

    1. Procurement (although you can get it heavily discounted, for a state government the costs are still very high)
    2. Deployment (Deploying Windows XP requires a phone call to Microsoft for each and every machine installed. While the call may be toll-free, it costs a great deal of administration time to do it for every machine)
    3. Upgrade costs (no upgrade is ever free with Microsoft)
    4. Data protection (Windows of all flavors has the current worst track record for data protection. New exploits are literally being found every week)
    5. Data recovery costs (due to frequent exploits, it becomes necessary to frequently rebuild machines and recover data)
    6. Upgrade cycle (having to keep upgrading your software to become compatible with file formats that intentionally don't work with older versions of the software)
    7. Personnel Costs (the ratio of administrators to users for Windows-based networks is about 20/1. Conversely, with GNU/Linux-based networks the ratio is much higher, more like 150/1. I know administrators that have even higher ratios than that, and are comfortable with it)

    Furthermore, I saw that CAGW is opposed to Microsoft's DRM initiative, as told by this url: =get_i nv_Advocacy_Govt_Mandate_on_Tech_IssuePage
    Of course, this begs the question, if you don't have access to the source code, how can you be sure there are no such measures built into your software? Microsoft has been convicted of using illegal anti-competitive measures to maintain their monopoly, measures which have frequently resulted in end-users' rights being taken away for the purpose of maintaining revenue streams. Do you really think that supporting such a company is going to reduce government waste?

    A South American Congressman outlined all of the benefits of using Free Software over proprietary software in government in a very clear and concise fashion. I urge you to read this letter, posted on the internet as an open letter. I host a copy of it on my own website, and you can read it here: eS oftwareInPeru

    In this letter, he will address all of your concerns about what was described in your press release as the "socialistic nature" of Free Software.

    I do not live in Massachussetts. Quite the contrary, I live in Bellevue, WA, approximately 10 miles away from One Redmond Way. In the Seattle Metropolitan Area, many schools have migrated to GNU/Linux-based networks when they found themselves being audited by Microsoft. Have you considered the costs of dealing with such software audits? That is money spent that cannot be recovered. There is no Return on Investment associated with software audits. There's just a big black hole that wastes the government's money and human resources just to satisfy the paranoia of a convicted monopolist.

    Many competitive support vendors and software providers exist for Free Software, including RedHat Linux, Mandrake Linux, IBM, Sun, Hewlett-Packard, and Dell. With all of these com
  • Dear Tom (copy FYI) (Score:3, Interesting)

    by leonbrooks ( 8043 ) <SentByMSBlast-No ...> on Thursday October 02, 2003 @04:11AM (#7111742) Homepage

    From: Leon Brooks
    Organization: CyberKnights - modern tools, traditional dedication
    To: Tom Schatz
    Subject: What a waste!
    Date: Wed, 1 Oct 2003 17:39:44 +0800
    User-Agent: KMail/1.5.3
    Cc: CAGW Media, Peter Quinn, ESR, RMS

    I speak for myself, not for the excellent organisations of which I am a member, and quote from this article:

    People mistakenly refer to Linux as 'free' software because it can be freely altered and distributed. Yet while the software itself is free, the cost to maintain and upgrade it can become very expensive.

    Tom, you've got that last bit completely bass-ackwards. Linux is not always free to purchase, but it is very rare for the ROI to be other than a big improvement on MS-Windows - which to cut through a lot of bulldust is what it would be replacing in Massachusetts.

    I charge half as much again as a typical MS-Windows technician for my Linux work, and I'm so busy I have to turn people away because the Linux-based results are so much better than any proprietary ones they've ever seen.

    The ROI results for, the office suite that MA will be replacing MS-Office with, are even more astounding. Fetch a copy of 1.1 yourself and try it out. Proper crash recovery, no viruses, scads of extra features including PDF and Flash output, and getting even better while you wait.

    Both of these products are examples of one of the strongest forms of Open Source, the GPL or "Free (as in speech) Software".

    It is ironic that Massachusetts, as the only state remaining in the lawsuit accusing Microsoft of antitrust violations, is creating its own state-imposed monopoly on software./

    If it's a monopoly, you should be able to name the company or political force which is in control of it. Can you?

    Not a hope! Open Source is not a brand, it is not a production line, it has no office, no secretariat, no board of directors, no legal department, no shares.

    Open Source is people. Lots and lots of people. People combining their efforts and building on each other's work instead of hiding and WASTING it, or working to destroy each other as proprietary software makers so often do.

    Massachusetts' actions will not form a monopoly, they will BREAK an existing, entrenched, CONVICTED monopoly. Microsoft and their lackeys claim to only want a level playing field, but on any modern playing field they are the 800lb gorilla and everyone else is a capuchin underfoot. Is that fair?

    Should we stand back, as we have been doing, and let all of the corporate capuchins be crushed in the name of "free market"?

    most studies conclude that acquisition costs represent only 5 to 10 percent of total cost of ownership. Maintenance, training and support are far more expensive with open source than proprietary software.

    Go and have a look at who FUNDS those studies (and if not directly, then have a look at the organisation's biggest customer), and then have a little think about who the government WASTES most IT funding on.

    Then go and read some real studies. Perhaps some which include the costs of fighting viruses and worms, perhaps some which count the cost of regular crashes, lost data and lost privacy. Not even the esoterica of trying to count the WASTE in re-invented wheels, a WASTE which CAGW seem particularly hostile to.

    You've been duped, Tom Schatz, and the quicker you wake up to having been suckered, the less damage will be done - to you, and to those you oppose.

    If you do not recant swiftly, you will be written off and backwatered as

  • How I responded (Score:3, Interesting)

    by David Leppik ( 158017 ) on Thursday October 02, 2003 @02:47PM (#7116064) Homepage
    Here's what I just emailed to them, cc'ing the IT directors of Mass. and Minnesota:

    Subject: Linux is not a 'boondoggle'

    Dear sirs,

    I would like to respond to your press release 'Mass. Taxpayers Hurt by Proposed Software Monopoly'. In that press release, you claim that by requiring open source techonolgies, such as Linux, costs to taxpayers will increase. I strongly disagree with that assessment, and I wish that my own state, Minnesota, would take similarly bold cost-saving measures.

    Linux and open source are not monopolies-- there are many companies that compete to sell Linux products and support-- and they are by no means boondoggles. Linux and open source software are used prominantly by such high-tech companies as Yahoo, Amazon, Google, and Apple Computer. Even Microsoft has been known to use open source software (including BSD Unix, a Windows and Linux competitor) in its operations.

    I work for a five-person high-tech service-oriented company as the guy who writes our support software. We're a start up with very little money, so every employee constantly looks at ways to cut costs and reduce waste. All of our furniture, plus our printer and copier, was purchased used, at eBay, garage sales, or local auctions. If government can cut waste by emulating the private sector, they should follow our lead!

    We have one desktop or laptop computer for each employee: the CEO has his personal Apple Powerbook, two employees have low-end Windows laptops, and the two techies (myself and the system administrator) have the cheapest desktops we could find, with Windows ripped out and replaced with Linux.

    Our server room houses five computers, three of which run Linux. We plan to get rid of one of our non-Linux machines and put its functionality on one of the Linux machines. We also own two iMacs we use for trade shows. (These were chosen because they are eye-catching; the price of both computers was less than the cost of running a booth at one trade show.)

    For us, Linux has been a big win in keeping costs down. In the server room, we can do more on cheaper harware. On desktops, nearly all of our support problems have been related to viruses, worms, spyware, and trojan horses on our two Windows computers. We can keep most of it out with anti-virus software, but not all. We've considered switching the Windows laptops over to a commercial version of Linux (ApplixWare), but we're holding off for now because the change would be as disruptive as upgrading to a new version of Windows.

    Granted, we're not a typical organization. Three-fifths of the company is tech savvy enough to diagnose their own desktop problems, and support costs are built into salaries we can't avoid. However, we know exactly how much time we're spending on desktop support, and we know exactly how much money we're spending on software. Linux and open source software has three major advantages: up-front cost, ease of support, and predictability of upgrade costs. It's a big win on all three.

    I've studied the issues and have come to the conclusion that open source software is no more expensive to support, and often far cheaper. An entry-level Linux administrator often demands a higher wage than an entry-level Windows administrator, but employers demand more from the Linux administrator. Linux desktops can be administered remotely more effectively than Windows, so a Linux administrator can take care of an entire company's computers without leaving his/her office. Thus, far more machines can be serviced per administrator. Also, Linux machines can be locked down far more effectively, so damage from employees customizing their computers (either deliberately or due to email viruses, if they were to exist on Linux) can be minimized.

    As you're aware, governments sometimes make really dumb decisions. To minimize this, they often make policy decisions to limit decision-making. These aren't always perfect. For example, when times are tough they might implement a hiring free

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