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Businessweek Archives

Linux Not Just For Cultists

Readers Report

Linux--Not Just for Cultists

There are several inconsistencies that appear in "It might not break Windows, but..." (News: Analysis & Commentary, Feb. 1):

First, think about the phrase "polished by programmers in their spare time." This "time," if accounted for at the professional rates these "hobbyists" bill, would create a staggering development figure.

Second, these "nerds" are available for technical support and development simply by posting issues on the Internet; this support is provided only because of the love of the "hobby"--try getting better, faster, free tech support from any major corporation. By comparison, the going rate is about $150 per troubleshooting incident for a technician who may or may not solve your problem.

Third, the assertion that only "a small group of Linux aficionados" think Linux is viable contradicts a later fact in the same article: 17% of servers bought in 1998 run Linux. Furthermore, the implication that "Internet access providers, Web sites, and universities" are not valid organizations compared with, say, airlines, insults every corporation currently working to create the new economy for the next century.

Companies for which Linux is not "even on [the] radar" or that think Linux is "a cult thing" are missing an opportunity for increased reliability and productivity, and, as your article pointed out, dramatically reduced implementation, upgrade, and maintenance costs.

Jim Pearson

Chief Operating Officer

Network By Design

Oakland, Calif.Return to top

Social Security: Bye-Bye, American Pie

The desperate search for a painless way to save Social Security has sunk to a new low--pure gimmickry ("Social Security: Here we go again," Editorials, FEb. 1). To be sure, investing some of the budget surplus in the stock market, rather than using it to pay off government debt, would put Social Security on sounder financial footing. But it would do so only by reducing the expected returns for private investors, who would wind up holding fewer equities and more Treasury bonds.

This reshuffling of paper assets between the government and private parties obviously isn't going to increase the savings, productivity, or output of the nation as a whole. The pie isn't going to be any bigger, so the nation's ability to support retirees in the next Century won't be any greater. The unfortunate reality is that there is no costless way of funding Social Security. If benefits are to be maintained, someone is going to have to pay.

Joshua N. Feinman

John R. Williams

Bankers Trust Co.

New YorkReturn to top

Robbing Social Security to Pay the General Fund?

The Clinton Administration continues to parrot the mantra "Save Social Security now," yet the President wants more of the very same government programs that in the past have raided money from the Social Security Trust Fund ("Advantage, Clinton," News: Analysis & Commentary, Feb. 1). For many decades, the U.S. government has indulged in the habit of taking money out of Social Security funds to bolster its other programs. This off-budget spending of Social Security funds is possibly the biggest threat to elderly Americans' retirement plans.

Why has Clinton not demanded legislation to end this intra-fund "borrowing"? If Bill Clinton is not willing to cut off the politician's spigot to off-budget spending, then we simply cannot trust anything else he has to say regarding Social Security, including his plans to "invest" in the stock market.

Richard Fry

Austin, Tex.

President Clinton proposes shifting $2.7 trillion in general revenues to the Social Security Trust Fund over the next 15 years. Your article does not explain the impact of this process. Since the Social Security Trust Fund exists only in the form of IOUs from the General Fund, the only reason a surplus in the General Fund can be declared is because the money borrowed from the Social Security Trust Fund is entered without recognizing its source. So money borrowed from the Trust Fund, which is declared surplus, is to be paid back to the Trust Fund, where it will be borrowed again for use in the General Fund, since that is the only place it can legally be invested. Why does this "save" Social Security?

Just a year ago, it was predicted that it would take several years before this phony surplus could be generated. This has been typical of the government's ability to project budget estimates. The phony surplus is the result of a hot economy driven by technology, low interest rates, and low inflation.

Ralph Strong

Glen Burnie, Md.Return to top

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