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Date: Wed, 16 Dec 1998 15:40:47 -0500
From: "Eric S. Raymond" <>
To: Chris Oakes <>
Subject: Re: is tax break proposal a good idea for promoting open source?
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Chris Oakes <>
> Hi Eric - A brief item here on one man's call for an open source tax break.
> If you have a moment to comment on whether this is a good idea, please zap
> me a note. Thanks - Chris

I'm opposed to this proposal, for these reasons:

  1. Taxation is theft. Fundamentally I want to see it abolished, not reformed.

  2. Even if one believes taxation is necessary, this kind of well-intentioned tinkering is precisely what has made the tax code into a nightmare inviting selective enforcement and political abuse. If we must have income tax at all, it should be a (low) flat rate with no witholding, no exemptions, and *no* deductions.

  3. Supposing the proposal were accepted as desirable, there are huge practical problems with it. Like: what would constitute evidence of use? And what would constitute a defensible assessment of one's development costs? One can instantly foresee a dense thicket of regulations and lawsuits springing up here, with no winners but the lawyers and bureaucrats,


[The disarming of citizens] has a double effect, it palsies the hand and brutalizes the mind: a habitual disuse of physical forces totally destroys the moral [force]; and men lose at once the power of protecting themselves, and of discerning the cause of their oppression.
-- Joel Barlow, "Advice to the Privileged Orders", 1792-93