Vote For Openness

Friday, 2008-February-08 at 23:33 3 comments

I am not naming a candidate.  Even if I wanted to do so, I do not yet know whom I will vote for in November.  Still, Dana Blankenhorn poses an interesting question: Does a candidate's view on open source help you decide who to vote for?

Openness As An Issue

I have to admit that I do indeed consider a candidate's view and practice on openness—open standards, open source, open government, open access to the Internet—when I am deciding who will get my vote.  Four years ago, I voted for Ralph Nader because he was the only candidate who stood for people rather than organizations.  I should mention that this is really not "liberal" versus "conservative" versus "libertarian" versus "socialist".  I think those labels are stale, and only useful for keeping people from thinking for themselves.

I do not vote "party lines" because I feel that good ideas come from all parts of the spectrum of political, social, economic, and religious thought.  In fact, I think that part of the severe political constipation we have had in our country is caused by the fact that we have only two parties within which candidates can have any realistic chances of winning an election.  If we had five or six major parties, each with roughly the same number of elected legislators, genuine compromise and negotiation would be necessary for anything at all to pass.

Instead, I tend to vote based on the values I hold dear.  I support openness because the alternative is an insane kind of closedness where it is acceptable for African babies to starve while there are warehouses of full of food that is just sitting there rotting.  Closedness is built around artificial scarcity—IP restrictions that lock up software and prevent it from being improved by any skilled and interested person, secret sauce formats and protocols that lock buyers into using only one company's products at the risk of losing access to their own data if they choose to switch, secret government agencies and opaque processes that are not answerable to the country's citizens and which carry with them the danger of dictatorship, and Internet gatekeepers who are free to misuse their pipe-ownership to block out competition to their own inadequate and overpriced services.  We are not speaking of natural scarcity here, but of artificial scarcities, manipulated for the benefit of corporate America, to the harm of the individuals that make up this great nation.

So, Mr. Blankenhorn, yes I consider open source, open standards, open access to the government, and net neutrality, among other things, when I am deciding who gets my vote.  I think about the future, not just mine, but what the world will be like after I am gone.  Taking a longer-term look makes it all the more important that our elected leaders do what is good for the whole country, rather than any specific group within the country.

Health Care

Dave Winer points out that health care is a crapshoot right now, and says we can do better.  I agree wholeheartedly, even as I admit that there are still some questions about how to improve access to health care.  And while I personally believe that private insurers have a financial incentive to refuse legitimate and needed care, and to use various means to keep the sickest Americans uninsured, I am willing to listen to someone who thinks they have an answer.  Know this: no candidate who supports the status quo will get my vote.


You know, it is kind of scary when everyone supports the tax rebate plan as though it will solve the problems of the business cycle, systemic budget deficits, lax oversight of financial enterprises, fraud and malfeasance, and other economic issues.

“You can’t blame the victims for this,” Marks says. “This was an orchestrated scheme (by lenders and investment banks). This was not about homeownership. This was about temporary occupancy. They were using the house as bait to fleece and steal money out of hardworking people.”

He adds, “I’m not one to say everyone should be a homeowner. The fact is, the people are in the homes, they had their assets stolen from them, the loans were set up to fail.”
quote in SF Chronicle

War In Iraq

It just seems like such a waste when it was all unnecessary.  Even when we believed that Iraq had WMDs, they were not a threat to us.  The best thing would have been to leave the two no-fly zones and other restrictions in place and let Mr. Hussein keep the nation together.  Do we have too many 20 year-olds or something?  Let's bring them home and put them to work rebuilding this country.

Disclaimer: As always, nothing I write has any bearing on the policies of my employer or anyone else.

Entry filed under: Open Source, Open Standards, Politics.

iWork Not ODF-Capable Yet Just For Future Reference …


  • 1. Peter Quinn  |  Friday, 2008-February-08 at 23:59

    I found your site on technorati and read a few of your other posts. Keep up the good work. I just added your RSS feed to my Google News Reader. Looking forward to reading more from you.

    Peter Quinn

  • 2. Darius Damalakas  |  Monday, 2008-February-11 at 00:04

    Yup, true – interesting articles

  • 3. Dean Calvert  |  Tuesday, 2008-February-12 at 18:36

    I enjoy reading your article. I’ll be checking your site for newest updates.

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