acone asks: "Have any national governments taken measures to subsidize open source projects? I'm aware that many have endorsed Linux in particular, and free software in general, but I was wondering about actual funding. I ask because the notion of a good built and maintained by the community almost inevitably suggests that such be treated as a public good. Many of the public goods we now take for granted--such as police, public libraries, and public fire departments--were historically provided either by private enterprises or by loosely-organized volunteers, neither of which have proven nearly as effectively for the common goods as their current government-run equivalents. An excellent example is the organization of the police force, libraries and fire department in colonial Philadelphia, in which these services became established in a very grassroots manner, then gradually gained acceptance as something that the state should provide. This pattern looks temptingly applicable to free software. In addition to the current, community-based mechanisms in which free software is developed, wouldn't it be beneficial to have dedicated groups of professional free software developers, paid by national governments to serve the overall interests of society? Seems to me like such would be a Good Thing."
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