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Another Indian State Moving To FOSS 119

james.infidel writes "The Hindu, a leading national newspaper, reports that the Communist government of Kerala (the state with the highest literacy rate in India) has announced its all-out support for FOSS in the draft IT policy announced yesterday. The draft also calls for preferential treatment for companies coming forward to work in the FOSS domain.
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Another Indian State Moving To FOSS

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  • commies? (Score:2, Funny)

    by liquidpele ( 663430 )
    Commies supporting FOSS? I can just see the CNN headline...
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      It is obviously a Microsoft conspiracy to perpetuate their monopoly and keep Linux down.
    • Re:commies? (Score:5, Informative)

      by namityadav ( 989838 ) on Thursday January 18, 2007 @02:24PM (#17666982)
      Just to make it clear, India is a democracy. In fact, India is world's largest democracy. The government in Kerala is also chosen democratically.

      When people say "Communist government of Kerala", they actually mean a democratically chosen government which is influenced by some Marxist concepts.
      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        by hal9035 ( 827327 )
        Now, wait a minute. It is, or it isn't. With US, or against US. The Free Democratic Society or commie terrorists...... Which is it? Let's ask President Bush........
      • Re:commies? (Score:4, Informative)

        by cHALiTO ( 101461 ) <elchalo.gmail@com> on Thursday January 18, 2007 @02:51PM (#17667532) Homepage
        So it IS a communist government.

        Democracy and communism aren't mutually exclusive, you know.
        • Re:commies? (Score:5, Informative)

          by namityadav ( 989838 ) on Thursday January 18, 2007 @03:08PM (#17667892)
          I didn't agree or disagree with calling the Kerala government communist. Anyway, according to wikipedia, a communist state is a term used by many political scientists to describe a form of government in which the state operates under a one-party system and declares allegiance to Marxism-Leninism or a derivative thereof. Communist states may have several legal political parties, but the Communist Party is constitutionally guaranteed a dominant role in government. Consequently, the institutions of the state and of the Communist Party become intimately entwined.

          The government in Kerala is elected by the public. Even a government dominated by communists cannot impose a truly communist state. Private enterprise exists in Kerala, which could not in a communist system. And the state government does not control the economy the way it would in a communist system. People can democratically remove the government in elections and choose a non-communist government. Because of all these reasons, I thought it was important to make this distinction clear.
      • I personally feel that such a move by a communist govt. may actually spoil the chances for FOSS. Communists are known to fight for supposedly pro-poor causes (fuel price cuts, subsidy hikes, PSU disinvestment opposition etc) which are largely populist in nature. Going by that, Communist support for Open Source may be deemed as adoption of software for the poor, technology for have-nots and so on. It can thus run at a risk of being branded something as "not so good as proprietary software but still FREE" whi
  • Troll? (Score:1, Insightful)

    by derEikopf ( 624124 )
    Am I missing something? What does the literacy rate have to do with the story?
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by posterlogo ( 943853 )
      Agreed -- that's totally just bait for some. I doubt that communism or literacy rate have anything to do with it. All it does is draw attention to the concept that some Indian states have different forms of government, and that many of the poor there are illiterate. As the story itself points out, other Indian states have already embraced FOSS.
    • Kerala has long been known outside India as an unusual spot in terms of social development, even though it is very poor. From a CSM article on Kerala;

      The roots of Kerala's literacy culture can be traced back at least to the Hindu rulers of the 19th century. The Queen of Trivandrum issued a royal decree in 1817 that said, "The state should defray the entire cost of the education of its people in order that there might be no backwardness in the spread of enlightenment."

      So I read "Kerala (the state with th

  • by cOdEgUru ( 181536 ) on Thursday January 18, 2007 @01:49PM (#17666316) Homepage Journal
    Even though the color of the flag is red and they adopt the name Communists, they are far from it. And atleast a little bit of why this measure suddenly took off has to do with the Communist Party wanting to align itself to the more conservative communist ideals than what West Bengal (another Communist state) has done, which is to embrace more private investment.

    But I am glad to find my state laying out the red carpet for FOSS.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      So if you're in that state, can you answer the question the obvious troll raises? What sort of communists (or even Socialists) are against free public education systems as a government service? Or is the troll a fake and you don't really have an illiteracy problem there?
      • by cOdEgUru ( 181536 ) on Thursday January 18, 2007 @02:09PM (#17666670) Homepage Journal
        I dont think anyone has claimed that the Communist Party is against education in Kerala. Public Education is dirt cheap (I am not sure if its mandatory) and society as such played a big role in making sure kids were in school during the day.

        The Communist Govt put forth night schools for Seniors so as to increase literacy across the state, as a result of which we hit 100% literacy rate.

      • Well wikipedia, citing the United Nations Development Programme 2001, states that Kerala has a literacy rate of 91%.
        • Ok, then I'd call the troll either misinformed or downright wrong. 9% is not a high illiteracy rate.
        • by GnuAge ( 528559 )
          Kerala has been ruled on and off by the Left Democratic Front led by the Communist Party of India (Marxist) since its inception as a state in 1956. Despite considerable resistance from the central government Kerala has passed land reform, abolished tenant farming, and pushed education and public health (there are 2,700 state run medical institutions in Kerala). This strong emphasis on social welfare has led Kerala to be ranked #1 in India on the Human Development Index. Some indices cut and pasted from
      • Are you confusing literacy with illiteracy, or is there something I'm missing?
        • When the article synopsis first came out (I think it's been edited since then) it claimed the illiteracy rate was the highest in India for this Hindu state. That seemed rather at odds with the claim that this was also a communist (or socialist) government. It was apparently a completely wrong claim, which has now been edited.
          • I saw you made that comment (or similar) a few times, and no one else called you on it - by the time I saw the summary it said highest literacy rate - so I suspected it might have been a case of fixing the summary.
          • Indeed, that's because they are both Socialists and a Hindu majority. Their personal religion does not generally affect their politics.

            Incidentally, Kerala and their neighbors in Tamil Nadu have some of the most breathtaking Hindu temples in India, some dating back to Medeival Chola-Dynasty construction in 9th century.
      • you don't really have an illiteracy problem there?

        I think you misread the summary. He said highest literacy rate, not highest illiteracy rate. Kerala is essentially 100% literate.
    • Okay, you're from Kerela - hasn't it been making pro-OSS moves for years now? Who started this move in the states of India?

      By the way, as a lay observer, I really admire Kerela and the way their communist party interpreted Marx in a non-Leninist, non-Maoist way. It really is a different animal from what most people think of as communism, but I think it's a lot closer to what Marx intended.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      Heh. Don't you know anything? Most of us stupid Yanks don't know the difference between socialism and communism and many believe that they are the same thing, all the while not realizing that we've had socialism in the U.S. (albeit watered down) for more than 60 years. Anyway, FOSS isn't really a socialist or communist idea anyway. If anything, the ideals of Free Software are aligned more closely with American Libertarianism than anything else.
  • by quixoticsycophant ( 729112 ) on Thursday January 18, 2007 @01:52PM (#17666362)
    While some may be concerned about the mass exodus of an entire Indian state to Foss [wikipedia.org], on behalf of the people of Oklahoma I say welcome!
  • by Harmonious Botch ( 921977 ) on Thursday January 18, 2007 @01:54PM (#17666396) Homepage Journal
    1.1Developments in Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) are transforming the society in dramatic ways. These developments are creating hitherto unimaginable opportunities and possibilities, even as they pose new challenges for a society like ours
    Computers make a difference.

    1.2 In the production processes of today's world, information and knowledge mean a great deal more than material resources and physical inputs.
    Knowing how to use them is good

    1.3 ICT has opened up the possibility of radically different information exchange patterns by facilitating faster and more efficient dissemination of information. It can play a vital role in sustaining the democratic ethos of the Indian society and ensuring a high level of transparency in governance
    Nobody controls the net

    1.4 Having achieved high physical quality of life index and social infrastructure development, Kerala is ideally positioned to use ICT as a catalyst for the all-round economic prosperity and social uplift of its people
    We haven't completely exhausted the budget

    1.5 ICT and Information Technology Enabled Services (ITES) have by now turned into major sectors of economic activity in the country. Over the past one-and-a-half decades, these sectors have shown remarkable growth in the country, both in terms of export revenue and employment generation
    This is a good source of tax revenue

    1.6 In almost every sector of socio-economic activity ranging from industrial production to education and public healthcare, ICT now plays an important role in optimizing the processes, thereby improving the quality and efficiency of human endeavors
    The net is cool

    1.7 Growing importance of ICT in the present-day world leads to the emergence of a divide, which can be called the "digital-divide," between those who have access to sophisticated ICT infrastructure and those who do not. This is a matter of concern to civil society at large; and a challenge that has to be overcome through conscious intervention, both from the Government and the sections on the privileged side of the "digital divide
    Web junkies don't riot

    1.8 The Government has a comprehensive view of ICT as a vehicle for transforming Kerala into a knowledge-based, economically vibrant, democratic and inclusive society. By the term "inclusive," the Government means that the benefits of the socio-economic transformation possible through ICT should reach every single citizen of the State. This policy document defines the Government's vision, mission and strategy for achieving the same.
    We're gonna spend lots of money

    • We're gonna spend lots of money
      I researched moving to India a while back since they were and still are the hotspot for Linux/Java solutions. Like any geek, my biggest concern was "Can I get DSL?" The answer is "Yes." You also don't have to fight an uphill battle against Microsoft brainwashing, so you've got fresh minds to educate. For those who are willing to travel, India looks like a lucrative change in scenery.
  • Old news (Score:3, Informative)

    by rumith ( 983060 ) on Thursday January 18, 2007 @01:58PM (#17666466)
  • NOT COMMUNIST (Score:3, Interesting)

    by posterlogo ( 943853 ) on Thursday January 18, 2007 @02:11PM (#17666736)
    Do a little homework. It's an Indian state. ALL of India is a democracy, politically. Where economy is concerned, Kerala operates under welfare based democratic socialism. They have a parliamentary system of representative democracy, just like most of the democratic world. A quick google/wiki search might help james.infidel avoid sounding like an ignorant in the future.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Knuckles ( 8964 )
      In contrast to what US brainwashing tells you, communism and democracy are not opposites.
      • To be frank, you're flat out wrong. It's not a matter of opinion, or some kind of "west vs east" brainwashing. It's a simple matter of definition. Cuba and China, two of the most prototypical communist nations, are most certainly democratic. I would willingly admit that the communism, as defined by those who derived from the theories of Karl Marx, is not the opposite of democracy. In practice, it certainly is. As it relates to this article, that is an important point. Kerala is not communist in any me
        • correction -- should read Cuba and China -- NOT democratic.
        • by 808140 ( 808140 )
          I believe the reason Kerala is considered communist is because the Communist Party of India [wikipedia.org] has majority control in that state, see for example a list of the current members of the Kerala Legislative Assembly [wikipedia.org]. In fact, when the state of Kerala was formed in 1956, the rather famous E.M.S. Namboodiripad [wikipedia.org], a lifelong Marxist, headed the government.

          The fact that the USSR, Cuba, and China are/were not democratic doesn't mean that democracy and communism are incompatible, anymore than the large number of capital
        • Re:NOT COMMUNIST (Score:5, Informative)

          by 99BottlesOfBeerInMyF ( 813746 ) on Thursday January 18, 2007 @03:53PM (#17668884)

          To be frank, you're flat out wrong. It's not a matter of opinion, or some kind of "west vs east" brainwashing. It's a simple matter of definition.

          You're mistaking "communism" with "marxism." Marxism is a political system based upon extreme socialism, but which usually misleadingly refers to "communism" instead. Marxism, in fact, advocated democracy as part of the theory, but later political figures who paid lip service to the concept paid that same lip service to democracy.

          Communism, is an economic method that is very easily explained. Quite simply communism is the concept that a smaller group (commune or communist cell) within a larger economy can share some or all resources and the decision making regarding those resources. Theoretically this shared resource allocation and decision making results in greater efficiency. In practice this works very well for small cell sizes and very poorly for large cell sizes. This is because as cell sizes increase to the point where decision making is affecting strangers, people stop caring about them and act disinterestedly or selfishly. As a result correct decision making is not motivated and further the consolidation of so much power into so few hands lends itself easily to that power being seized by a totalitarian regime.

          I would willingly admit that the communism, as defined by those who derived from the theories of Karl Marx, is not the opposite of democracy. In practice, it certainly is.

          This is not the case. You are trying to define "communism" as only extreme applications of communism with very large cell sizes or in fact socialism, where everyone is in one cell. This is completely wrong. All states subscribe to a blend of capitalism, socialism, and communism and the communist component is applied almost everywhere in ways that are not Marxism. The atomic family within the US completely fits the definition of a communist cell. A family shares a home, utilities, food, etc. and the decision making is made collectively, although not necessarily equitably. Aside from that, within the US, co-ops, communes, and monasteries are all communist cells. For example, I know a lot of people in a server colocation co-op. They all donate time or old servers or money to maintain a number of co-located servers which they share for Web hosting, e-mail, IRC, and a number of other services. Together they get better rates, to the point of being absurdly cheap. That also fits the definition of a communist cell, even though they only share one given resource. In many places around the world villages act as officially recognized communist cells, most of which are democratically operated. To claim that all applications of communism are anti-democratic is simply uninformed.

          Moreover, automatically assuming someone is brainwashed because you didn't bother to consider what communism really implies kind of detracts from whatever point you thought you were making.

          The US was subjected to a planned and directed campaign of propaganda designed to confuse and misinform the public about what communism is, ironically, in a cold war against socialists. Claiming that people are brainwashed is not so far fetched. Economists recognize that every economy is to some degree socialist and to some degree communist or it is unlikely to be stable for any length of time. China and Cuba both practice more socialism than is the norm. The US is about average, but applies it in uncommon ways. China and Cuba are also both capitalist to a large extent and both are moving more and more in that direction.

          If you're looking for extremely communist countries (as opposed to socialist), look to countries with very large communist cell sizes. Madagascar, for example, theoretically has three layers of government: communes, states, and national. Realistically, the states basically do not exist. Most of the country lives in small villages and each village, acts as a communist cell sharing a large number of resources. Whether that extreme cell size is benefici

          • Well, I'm not sure where you get your definition of communism, but it seems like you've done a bit of study on it. Most of us would probably consider the Communist Manifesto http://www.gutenberg.org/files/61/61.txt [gutenberg.org] to be a reasonable source of information. One of the statements in the introductory section is: "It is high time that Communists should openly, in the face of the whole world, publish their views, their aims, their tendencies, and meet this nursery tale of the Spectre of Communism with a Manifest
            • by Knuckles ( 8964 )
              Sorry but many currently existing democracies came into being by overthrowing an oppressive regime. The model for all modern civil states needed the violent French Revolution [wikipedia.org] to bring the new system to light.
              • Yes, I'm not refering to the legitimacy or otherwise of Communism, democracy or violent revolution. What I'm trying to say is that the Communist Manifesto mandates violent revolution. Therefore, a government that does not use this method is not communist in the sense of following the Communist Manifesto. A movement that shares goals with communism but doesn't seek violent revolution would probably be better with another name.

                As I said, the parent seemed to have done some study, but history does tend to g
                • by Knuckles ( 8964 )
                  Ok, I see your point now, but I still disagree :) It's been a long time since I read the Manifesto, but I skimmed it right now (thanks for the link) and I cannot find language that mandates a violent overthrow to reach "communicsm". The Manifesto is just very realistic in acknowledging that the bourgeoisie will not give up power without violence, thus forcing the revolutionary class to use force.

                  Also note that the Manifesto uses the word revolution a lot, and in very different contexts, because the word had
                  • Nevertheless, most people think of communism that way. I think you create unecessary opposition for yourself by calling your ideal communism if you don't want violent revolution, because people will think that's what you want, even if you dont
                    • by Knuckles ( 8964 )
                      I wouldn't say that it's my ideal -- unfortunately my belief in humanity is not that great :) Still, as I said, I find it pretty realistic to not assume that the ruling power would give up voluntarily.
            • Most of us would probably consider the Communist Manifesto to be a reasonable source of information

              Communist manifesto is a politically motivated document. It does not define communism, but defines the goals of a particular group that call themselves communists. It is like saying that democracy is defined by the charter and bylaws of the american democratic party. Is a belief in the christian god prerequisite to democracy? Is a formation of committees with at least 1/3 women prerequisite to democracy?


        • Re:NOT COMMUNIST (Score:4, Interesting)

          by vidarh ( 309115 ) <vidar@hokstad.com> on Thursday January 18, 2007 @03:58PM (#17668990) Homepage Journal
          two of the most prototypical communist nations,

          "Communist nation" is an oxymoron.

          Just because western media has chosen to call these states communist does not make it so. They don't even call themselves communist, but socialist, just as the Soviet Union also never claimed to be communist, since making that claim would shake the very ideological foundation that the Soviet leaders used to excuse their massive abuses of power and lack of democracy. Their excuse was that the sacrifices of the people was needed to build a society that could once in the future become communist - Soviet leaders presented this future as anything from a couple of generations to a thousand years into the future, all the while they moved their country ever further away from the ideological principles they claimed to believe in.

          You certainly appear to not have "considered what communism really implies".

          For one, communism implies the withering away of the state. The state in Marxist theory has as it's primary purpose the oppression of one class by another, and so in a classless society the state would cease to exist in any meaningful form. Or did you miss that part of Marxist theory? It's the central thesis of Lenin's "State and Revolution"

          Presumably you also missed the whole "classless" part. A society where the state retains power over the populace simply can't be communist as that power need to be exercised by someone, and those "someone" would have privileges that make them a separate class from the populace at large. And unless you truly are brainwashed it should be blatantly obvious that countries like Cuba and China are as divided by class as countries like the US.

          • What is with the brainwashing baloney? It's like you're trying to flame bait. Your points are exactly along the lines of what I am saying -- that defining a communist government such as those in China and Cuba should immediately draw the distinction between those countries and the state of Kerala. My main point is that, de facto, using the term communism implies much of what Kerala is NOT. It was the intention of the original poster to use communism and literacy rate in an irrelevant and incorrect manner,
            • by Knuckles ( 8964 )
              What is with the brainwashing baloney? ... My main point is that, de facto, using the term communism implies much of what Kerala is NOT.

              You have been brainwashed* into believing that communism == Leninism and Maoism and therefore Kerala cannot be communist. In fact however the Leninist and Maoist systems as they have developed historically are misguided aberrations and not at all the only possible communist systems. Many European countries have had communist parties for a long time, and their political pro
              • by Knuckles ( 8964 )
                few would deny that overthrowing the Batista regime was wrong.

                Sorry, it's early. Few would deny that overthrowing the Batista regime was legitimate.
      • Yes. And as far as I understand, comparing communism with democracy is like comparing oranged with potatoes [1]. Communism means that the state handles the production and distribution of goods, the private sector is small (barbers, bakers, etc). Democracy means that the people can elect their government. A democratic society can also be a communist society, the people elect the government that will handle the production and distribution of goods.

        Now, the problem is that when people hear the word "communism"
        • by Knuckles ( 8964 )
          Communism means that the state handles the production and distribution of goods, the private sector is small

          While I am not in wild disagreement with the other things you write this is simply not true. In fact, communism means the dying off of the state, see the great other posts in the current subthread or read up on marxist theory. Or, heck, even Wikipedia [wikipedia.org]:

          Communism is an ideology that seeks to establish a classless, stateless social organization, based upon common ownership of the means of production.


          • First, I did say "as far as I understand". Even if there is no state in Communism, the point remains that in the free market is not let up to decide what is been produced, how much, and where it will be distributed.
            • by Knuckles ( 8964 )
              Hard to say since it was never tried :) But as long as the means of production are in common ownership, I don't think free markets would have to be necessarily ruled out.
    • The problem with people like posterlogo is that they rely only on google and wiki, and lack any information from the real world. Kerala is very much democratic, but it is currently being ruled by the Left Democratic Front (LDF). LDF is a coalition of several like minded political parties, but it is headed by the CPIM (Communist Party of India-Marxist). For this reason, the government is referred to as the 'Communist government' for all practical purposes. It is a pity that people like posterlogo are ignoran
  • I will probably get a zero or minus for this. I don't understand how Slashdot can publish this in this way. Is the 'james.infidel' that published the story someone from Microsoft? What has "communist government" to do with this? It's nothing in the referred articles that says anything about 'communist government'! I think Slashdot has been taken over by an organized campaign - guess where from? We use to call it FUD! The articles referred to are interesting but NOT the Slashdot ingress!
    • by lzmbr ( 906441 )
      What FUD?

      ...the Communist government of Kerala (the state with the highest literacy rate in India) has announced its all-out support for FOSS...
      It sounds more like a Pro-Communist propaganda than FUD against FOSS.
    • To be frank i didn't know that it was a crime to use the term 'Communist Govt.'. A crash course in kerala politics should make things clear. I'll do it in 3 sentences. Kerala is a state ruled by two different fronts. The Left Democratic Front (LDF) headed by the Communist Party of India Marxist (CPIM), and the United Democratic Front (UDF) headed by the Indian National Congress. (INC). The UDF can easily be 'bought' by big companies like microsoft, and they can cement their presence in Kerala. Contarary to
  • Governments rarely choose anything that makes economic sense. I don't want FOSS to be compared to the $600 toilet seat or the "Big Dig." I'm more impressed when FOSS software is chosen because it actually makes sense and not as some part of political agenda.
  • I'm really interested as a whole state means quite a population. I wonder if India might become the first major country to move beyond rhetoric and really take on FOSS. It would be quite a driver if this actually happens.

    Surely the fact that Kerala has a communist majority in its democratically elected government is pretty irrelevant beyond making a headline to get USians excited?
  • Quid Pro Quo (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Enrique1218 ( 603187 ) on Thursday January 18, 2007 @02:53PM (#17667580) Journal
    India is profiting from outsourcing of American jobs. But, what are they suppose to buy from us. Software seems to be one of the last industries to actually employed Americans. If India is going to FOSS, then software industry would suffer from the lost customers. Call me stupid, but isn't trade done best when the door swings both ways. I don't see how we are to sustain our economy with growing trade deficits with Asian countries. I don't see the silver lining in India going FOSS.
    • I thought doors that swing both ways were mostly designed as props for physical comedy routines.

      On a more serious note, you assume North Americans can never compete with Indians when FOSS is part of the mix. That is a bit of a sad statement and I hope that will not be the case. Obviously it changes the landscape but I sure hope that we will find that companies with North American developers will find ways to compete in that environment.

      If you believe in a free market economy you will have to apply that
    • This might cheer you up:

      ``India is profiting from outsourcing of American jobs.''

      And the USA is profiting from cheaper labor.

      ``Software seems to be one of the last industries to actually employed Americans. If India is going to FOSS, then software industry would suffer from the lost customers.''

      Perhaps, but I think there always will be demand for work done on-site or with at least a realistic possibility of getting people on-site. This includes software development.

      ``Call me stupid, but isn't trade done bes
      • by petrus4 ( 213815 )
        And the USA is profiting from cheaper labor.

        Corporate management would be profiting from cheaper labour. Everyone else (at least in formerly in IT) would be having to deal with working three jobs a week flipping burgers at Burger King or McDonald's. (Or the unskilled equivalent)

        Anyone who thinks that the open (and out) sourcing of India is based on anything morally enlightened is a naive fool. It's about money, plain and simple. Of course they're going to try and make it out to be about morality...the s
    • What makes you think they pay for software? From what I've heard, Asia's full of pirated Windows and such.
    • International trade is not circumscribed to software and a few outsourced jobs.

  • by Anonymous Coward
    ...with $24 worth of beads. Ballmer threw a chair when he found out they were the wrong kind of Indians.
  • Incidently, Kerala happens to be most literate state of India. Though ppl have been electing communist govt mostly and the state is notoriously known for "too many unions - too less work". I would really doubt if any vendor would be willing to step in even if the govt there bans the FOSS.
  • When an old article on Slashdot is posted, everyone gets on top of it like white on rice. But when an old article about Linux [financialexpress.com] is posted, it seems to be coined as "another victory..."

    This began in August 2006.

  • *21st Century* FOSS [demon.co.uk]?
  • They think it is "OUT Source" Software
  • Although I don't live there, with this being a Communist state, I see two different possibilities here:-

    (a) The literacy claim is propoganda, or
    (b) The literacy claim is true, but for reasons entirely unrelated to Communism, and that the Communist state government is causing a large number of other social and economic problems.

    I realise that this isn't a popular attitude around here, but contrary to what is popular, Communism is *not* a viable answer to all the world's ills, any more than Steve Ballmer's

1 Angstrom: measure of computer anxiety = 1000 nail-bytes