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  • Nadav Har'El
    Hi lads (and lassies), As some of you already know, sometimes I get a juk into my brain, and I decide to do something weird, and go about doing it in full
    Message 1 of 9 , May 24, 2001
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      Hi lads (and lassies),

      As some of you already know, sometimes I get a "juk" into my brain, and
      I decide to do something weird, and go about doing it in full steam (until
      I run out of steam ;)). No, I'm not talking about supporting Palestenian
      (059 area code) cellphones on my sendsms script (those who subscribe to
      linux-il will understand the joke) :)

      This week I decided to write my own Free Software manifesto. It's an
      essay about what I think are the benefits of free software to our society.
      I am hoping that it will provide some fresh insights about issues that have
      not been discussed enough in my opinion (besides the usual jive of "free means
      freedom, not 'not costing money'"). I'm planning to put it on my homepage,
      and if enough people like it maybe I'll send a note to linux-il (and here)
      about it.

      Anyway, now I'm doing the final editing on it, and I want what I write to be
      based on facts (and with hyperlinks to these facts), not pure theory. But I
      still having a few points I'm not satisfied on the level of "proof" I have
      for, and I would like to find some more hard facts (rather than FUD) about
      these issues. So I was wondering if anyone here knew anything about the
      following questions. Thanks!
      I am looking for facts only (preferably in the form of pointers to web-sites),
      not opinions or musings. I already have enough of the latters in my essay :)

      1) I am looking for case-studies of community centers (or public libraries,
      schools, or other community non-profit establishments) using free software
      to lower their costs and provide better service to a relatively-poor
      community. Case-studies anywhere in the world will be great.

      2) I am looking for statistics (hard facts, not guesses) on how much a typical
      shareware author makes (or made) from registration payments. I'm not
      talking about the 5 most popular products of the decade (pkzip, winzip,
      etc.) but about more typical examples. ASP (the Association of Shareware
      Professional) just has guesses - and with all due respect my guesses are
      just as good as theirs.

      3) I am looking for hard facts comparing tax rates between various countries
      in the world (e.g., what percentage of an upper-middle-class family's income
      goes to the total of income tax, VAT, customs, local taxes, and other
      taxes, in various countries). In particular, I want to confirm a hunch I
      have that taxes in the US are one of the lowest in the western world
      (I'm not talking about OPEC countries, in which there are no taxes!).

      4) How much money goes from a typical computer owner (who is NOT a pirate)
      to commercial software (counting also the prices hidden in the price
      of the computer that comes with Windows)? How much does Windows cost for
      different people (private person? educational institution? etc.)? How
      much does MS-Word typically cost? Does anybody knows a site with such
      price quotes or statistics?

      Thanks, and may the source be with you!

      P.S. A draft of the essay is ready, so if anyone wants a sneak preview of
      it (and if they promise to give me comments about it), please email me
      privately.



      --
      Nadav Har'El | Thursday, May 24 2001, 3 Sivan 5761
      nyh@... |-----------------------------------------
      Phone: +972-53-245868, ICQ 13349191 |(On the back of a VW Beetle) Don't honk,
      http://nadav.harel.org.il |I'm peddling as fast as I can.
    • Oleg Goldshmidt
      ... Did you try any advocacy sites? Type Linux advocacy into Google, or just start with http://www.linuxadvocacy.org. Any of that stuff is likely to be just
      Message 2 of 9 , May 26, 2001
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        "Nadav Har'El" <nyh@...> writes:

        > 1) I am looking for case-studies of community centers (or public libraries,
        > schools, or other community non-profit establishments) using free software
        > to lower their costs and provide better service to a relatively-poor
        > community. Case-studies anywhere in the world will be great.

        Did you try any advocacy sites? Type "Linux advocacy" into Google, or
        just start with http://www.linuxadvocacy.org Any of that stuff is
        likely to be just as biased as the recent Microsoft documents about
        the cost of Linux, of course.

        > 3) I am looking for hard facts comparing tax rates between various countries
        > in the world (e.g., what percentage of an upper-middle-class family's income
        > goes to the total of income tax, VAT, customs, local taxes, and other
        > taxes, in various countries). In particular, I want to confirm a hunch I
        > have that taxes in the US are one of the lowest in the western world
        > (I'm not talking about OPEC countries, in which there are no
        > taxes!).

        One should be careful about such statistics. I don't know obviously
        what your intention is, but it is very difficult to compare such
        things for a score of different reasons. Different governments provide
        different services for the taxes they collect. You might look at some
        statistics and see that income tax in country A is lower than income
        tax in country B, but in fact local taxes are not taken into account.
        Whoever publishes such statistics, be it governments (in fact, maybe
        one way to go about it is to visit the web pages of the "interesting"
        finance ministries and try to gather your own data, but that's a *big*
        project) or researchers, usually have their own agendas, and the data
        (let alone the statistics) are likely to be biased. E.g. I did a quick
        Google search, and one of the top links was the Japanese MOF page,

        http://www.mof.go.jp/english/zei/report2/zc001c02.htm.

        - the data are for '97, and heaven knows what it means, besides making
        Japan tax reform look nice. Again, it's not what you want, I think -
        it's probably income tax, not including local taxes, sales taxes, VAT,
        capital gains, specific item taxes (fuel comes to mind, which is a
        much bigger deal in the US than elsewhere, by the way), corporate
        taxes (passed right on to the consumers, of course) that are difficult
        to track transparently, customs, etc. Another diagram is

        http://www.mof.go.jp/english/zei/report2/zc001c07.htm

        - with "tax burden" not defined precisely. US looks better than UK or
        Germany, but worse than France or Japan.

        You will need to compare the actual distributions rather than
        the average or median) tax rates. You will have to do a lot of work
        just figuring it out, even if someone dumps the data on you.

        Maybe our own MOF will be of help, e.g.

        http://www.mof.gov.il/hachnasot/state1/98217_16.htm

        - but the data are a few years old ('95-'97).

        I checked the Penn World Tables quickly, but didn't find any obvious
        tax comparisons. Also,

        http://www.estv.admin.ch/data/sd/e/inter/inhalt.htm

        looks promising, but I haven't checked the docs.

        Try to search for "international comparison of tax burden" or
        something of the kind. And be skeptical.

        > 4) How much money goes from a typical computer owner (who is NOT a pirate)
        > to commercial software (counting also the prices hidden in the price
        > of the computer that comes with Windows)? How much does Windows cost for
        > different people (private person? educational institution? etc.)? How
        > much does MS-Word typically cost? Does anybody knows a site with such
        > price quotes or statistics?

        AFAIK, MS prices are very different in the US and elsewhere in the
        world, so be careful using US or other quotes.


        > Thanks, and may the source be with you!

        And the data!

        --
        Oleg Goldshmidt | ogoldshmidt@...
        If it ain't broken, it hasn't got enough features yet.
      • Adi Stav
        On Sat, May 26, 2001 at 10:28:10AM +0300, Oleg Goldshmidt wrote: ... ...snip... What about the CIA factbook? I haven t looked at it for tax information
        Message 3 of 9 , May 26, 2001
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          On Sat, May 26, 2001 at 10:28:10AM +0300, Oleg Goldshmidt wrote:
          ...snip...
          > "Nadav Har'El" <nyh@...> writes:
          > > 3) I am looking for hard facts comparing tax rates between various countries
          > > in the world (e.g., what percentage of an upper-middle-class family's income
          > > goes to the total of income tax, VAT, customs, local taxes, and other
          > > taxes, in various countries). In particular, I want to confirm a hunch I
          > > have that taxes in the US are one of the lowest in the western world
          > > (I'm not talking about OPEC countries, in which there are no
          > > taxes!).
          >
          > One should be careful about such statistics. I don't know obviously
          > what your intention is, but it is very difficult to compare such
          > things for a score of different reasons. Different governments provide
          > different services for the taxes they collect. You might look at some
          > statistics and see that income tax in country A is lower than income
          > tax in country B, but in fact local taxes are not taken into account.
          > Whoever publishes such statistics, be it governments (in fact, maybe
          > one way to go about it is to visit the web pages of the "interesting"
          > finance ministries and try to gather your own data, but that's a *big*
          > project) or researchers, usually have their own agendas, and the data
          > (let alone the statistics) are likely to be biased. E.g. I did a quick
          > Google search, and one of the top links was the Japanese MOF page,
          >
          > http://www.mof.go.jp/english/zei/report2/zc001c02.htm.
          >
          > - the data are for '97, and heaven knows what it means, besides making
          > Japan tax reform look nice. Again, it's not what you want, I think -
          > it's probably income tax, not including local taxes, sales taxes, VAT,
          > capital gains, specific item taxes (fuel comes to mind, which is a
          > much bigger deal in the US than elsewhere, by the way), corporate
          > taxes (passed right on to the consumers, of course) that are difficult
          > to track transparently, customs, etc. Another diagram is
          >
          > http://www.mof.go.jp/english/zei/report2/zc001c07.htm
          >
          > - with "tax burden" not defined precisely. US looks better than UK or
          > Germany, but worse than France or Japan.
          >
          > You will need to compare the actual distributions rather than
          > the average or median) tax rates. You will have to do a lot of work
          > just figuring it out, even if someone dumps the data on you.
          >
          > Maybe our own MOF will be of help, e.g.
          >
          > http://www.mof.gov.il/hachnasot/state1/98217_16.htm
          >
          > - but the data are a few years old ('95-'97).
          >
          > I checked the Penn World Tables quickly, but didn't find any obvious
          > tax comparisons. Also,
          >
          > http://www.estv.admin.ch/data/sd/e/inter/inhalt.htm
          >
          > looks promising, but I haven't checked the docs.
          >
          > Try to search for "international comparison of tax burden" or
          > something of the kind. And be skeptical.
          ...snip...

          What about the CIA factbook? I haven't looked at it for tax information
          specifically, but it's been of use to me in the past.
        • Oleg Goldshmidt
          Nadav, maybe this story http://slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=01/05/29/0217253&mode=thread will be useful for your essay? -- Oleg Goldshmidt |
          Message 4 of 9 , May 30, 2001
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            Nadav, maybe this story

            http://slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=01/05/29/0217253&mode=thread

            will be useful for your essay?

            --
            Oleg Goldshmidt | ogoldshmidt@...
            If it ain't broken, it hasn't got enough features yet.
          • Nadav Har'El
            ... Thanks. It s a good point, and people also gave me other pointers to other deficiencies of non-free software (usually, Microsoft). However, it doesn t
            Message 5 of 9 , May 30, 2001
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              On Wed, May 30, 2001, Oleg Goldshmidt wrote about "Re: [hackers-il] essay":
              >
              > Nadav, maybe this story
              >
              > http://slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=01/05/29/0217253&mode=thread
              >
              > will be useful for your essay?

              Thanks. It's a good point, and people also gave me other pointers to other
              deficiencies of non-free software (usually, Microsoft). However, it doesn't
              exactly fit the framework of my current essay, because I'm trying to
              concentrate on problems that non-free software *must* have, by virtue of
              it being non-free. Non-free software does not *need* to be buggy (I'm sure
              you can find examples of non-free software that is not buggy, as well as
              free software that is), and does not *need* to use unethical marketing methods
              like changing your format every year (like MS-Word and forces you to upgrade
              all the time - nobody I know actually upgrades for the new features!): for
              example, you don't need to get a new version of photoshop just because they
              change the JPG format all the time ;). But perhaps a future essay will deal
              with those issues ;)

              By the way, I hope I'll be able to release the essay (at least suitable
              for local viewing (linux-il, hackers-il)) in a day or two.

              In the meantime, I recommend people with free time to listen to RMS's speech
              from yesterday at NYU: http://lrw.net/impacts/session9/session.html. It's
              60 minutes + 20 minutes of questions, and the (relatively low quality, but ok)
              RealAudio is only 4MB long, so it's easy to download. [but note that RealAudio
              is not actually free software, so using it to hear stallman's lecture is
              sacrilege - but an Ogg version of the lecture or a transcript are not yet
              available]

              --
              Nadav Har'El | Wednesday, May 30 2001, 8 Sivan 5761
              nyh@... |-----------------------------------------
              Phone: +972-53-245868, ICQ 13349191 |It is better to be thought a fool, then
              http://nadav.harel.org.il |to open your mouth and remove all doubt.
            • Nadav Har'El
              ... I got buried in all those statistics, and I still don t know if I can safely say that the US taxes are relatively low.
              Message 6 of 9 , May 31, 2001
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                On Sat, May 26, 2001, Oleg Goldshmidt wrote about "Re: [hackers-il] essay":
                > "Nadav Har'El" <nyh@...> writes:
                > > 3) I am looking for hard facts comparing tax rates between various countries
                > > in the world (e.g., what percentage of an upper-middle-class family's income
                > > goes to the total of income tax, VAT, customs, local taxes, and other
                > > taxes, in various countries). In particular, I want to confirm a hunch I
                > > have that taxes in the US are one of the lowest in the western world
                > > (I'm not talking about OPEC countries, in which there are no
                > > taxes!).
                >
                > One should be careful about such statistics. I don't know obviously
                > what your intention is, but it is very difficult to compare such
                > things for a score of different reasons. Different governments provide
                > different services for the taxes they collect. You might look at some
                >...

                I got buried in all those statistics, and I still don't know if I can safely
                say that the US taxes are relatively low.
                http://www.mof.gov.il/hachnasot/state1/98217_16c.htm
                Seems to suggest so in terms of tax (I presume total tax) relative to GDP:
                U.S. has 28%, while, for example, Israel has 40%, UK has 34%, Sweden 51%,
                France 44%, germany 40%, etc.

                I give up. I will use the following sentence in my essay, hoping that I'm
                not to wrong: "...in the USA, where tax rates are among the lowest in the
                western world". I will release the essay later tonight, so that you can
                see the entire context.

                Thanks for the data!
                Nadav.

                --
                Nadav Har'El | Friday, Jun 1 2001, 10 Sivan 5761
                nyh@... |-----------------------------------------
                Phone: +972-53-245868, ICQ 13349191 |Life is what happens to you while you're
                http://nadav.harel.org.il |busy making other plans. - John Lennon
              • Oleg Goldshmidt
                ... This presumably means that the US has a proportionately smaller government, and more things are delegated to private enterprise (health care - by far the
                Message 7 of 9 , Jun 3, 2001
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                  "Nadav Har'El" <nyh@...> writes:

                  > I got buried in all those statistics, and I still don't know if I can safely
                  > say that the US taxes are relatively low.
                  > http://www.mof.gov.il/hachnasot/state1/98217_16c.htm
                  > Seems to suggest so in terms of tax (I presume total tax)
                  > relative to GDP:
                  > U.S. has 28%, while, for example, Israel has 40%, UK has 34%, Sweden 51%,
                  > France 44%, germany 40%, etc.

                  This presumably means that the US has a proportionately smaller
                  government, and more things are delegated to private enterprise
                  (health care - by far the biggest money sink in Western countries,
                  comes to mind). It does not necessarily mean anything else.

                  > I give up. I will use the following sentence in my essay, hoping that I'm
                  > not to wrong: "...in the USA, where tax rates are among the lowest in the
                  > western world".

                  Intuitively, this is fair.

                  > I will release the essay later tonight, so that you can
                  > see the entire context.

                  Looking forward to it...

                  --
                  Oleg Goldshmidt | ogoldshmidt@...
                  If it ain't broken, it hasn't got enough features yet.
                • Nadav Har'El
                  ... Yes - that s exactly the angle I was aiming at: that people in the US (or at least their politicians) prefer to have lower tax rates and pay for some of
                  Message 8 of 9 , Jun 3, 2001
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                    On Sun, Jun 03, 2001, Oleg Goldshmidt wrote about "Re: [hackers-il] essay":
                    > This presumably means that the US has a proportionately smaller
                    > government, and more things are delegated to private enterprise
                    > (health care - by far the biggest money sink in Western countries,
                    > comes to mind). It does not necessarily mean anything else.

                    Yes - that's exactly the angle I was aiming at: that people in the US (or
                    at least their politicians) prefer to have lower tax rates and pay for some
                    of the things privately. I wasn't trying to imply if it's bad or good - just
                    that increasing tax rate in order to provide more services for the poor is
                    a red flag (pun intended) for some people in the U.S.

                    > > I will release the essay later tonight, so that you can
                    > > see the entire context.
                    >
                    > Looking forward to it...

                    It's on http://nadav.harel.org.il/essays/lfe.html. Have a look :)

                    --
                    Nadav Har'El | Sunday, Jun 3 2001, 12 Sivan 5761
                    nyh@... |-----------------------------------------
                    Phone: +972-53-245868, ICQ 13349191 |If I am not for myself, who will be for
                    http://nadav.harel.org.il |me? If I am only for myself, who am I?
                  • Oleg Goldshmidt
                    ... Yeah. I kill duplicate mails and news items, so I first saw - and replied to - to your posting to hackers-il, and then saw the announcement on linux-il...
                    Message 9 of 9 , Jun 3, 2001
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                      "Nadav Har'El" <nyh@...> writes:

                      > It's on http://nadav.harel.org.il/essays/lfe.html. Have a look :)

                      Yeah. I kill duplicate mails and news items, so I first saw - and
                      replied to - to your posting to hackers-il, and then saw the
                      announcement on linux-il... ;-)

                      I'll have a look later today, I hope.

                      --
                      Oleg Goldshmidt | ogoldshmidt@...
                      If it ain't broken, it hasn't got enough features yet.
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