Thursday, September 22, 2005

CAGW - Corporations Amplifying Government Waste

Thanks to Leon Brooks via Alec Couros.

So in 2001, when CAGW (Citizens Against Government Waste) campaigned in support of Microsoft during a famous antitrust lawsuit, did they do it out of concern for the citizenry? After writing up identical "support" letters with different signatures, letters somehow originating from dead people, and letters from nonexistent places such as "Tuscon, Utah", did CAGW feel this deception was justified "for the people"? That is, was their action based solely on the intent of protecting the people or was their action rooted in the fact that an undisclosed amount of funding is received from Microsoft?

Hey, I'm all in favor of citizenry gathering together to point out inefficiency and waste in government policy. But we now have CAGW publicly stating that the Massachusetts 2007 switch to the OpenDocument standard will be a mistake. It doesn't take long to see that Tom Schatz - CAGW president - is either a flack or completely uninformed when he states -
"It is bad procurement policy for any state to unilaterally lock itself into one set of technologies"
But you see Tom, that's what a proprietary format is. Due to the network effect, that is the current state of things. A lock-in is not something Massachusetts is moving toward. It is something Massachusetts is moving away from. The OpenDocument standard is an open standard - usable by any software maker - that allows competition by providing end-users an opportunity to choose whatever office suite they like. That is, they can choose an office suite based upon its ability to do the needed job - not based upon its monopolistic stranglehold created by a proprietary and closed file format scheme.

But Mr. Schatz, you might object - "Microsoft Office doesn't have support for OpenDocument - so how can you, Peter Rock, say we are free to choose whatever office suite we like?" Well yes, that's somewhat a twisted truth. But the reason why Microsoft Office doesn't support OpenDocument is because Microsoft chooses not to in order to protect their monopoly. So if this is an issue for you, take it up with the corporation that currently funds your "citizen action" organization - not with those creating a level playing field for all office suite software makers. Microsoft is more than welcome to use OpenDocument. They may even keep their proprietary formats alongside OpenDocument if they wish.

And one last question Tom - it's well known that they do, but just how much money is Microsoft giving CAGW? Must be enough to prompt a statement clearly in contradiction with your organization's mission.


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