John Gilmore interview, Efficient spending

Over at GrepLaw, check out an interview with EFF co-founder John Gilmore about terrorism, drugs, spam, secret laws, and selling free software.

I think the prevalence of net-savvy libertarians is something to be optimistic about. Not only does this amazing communications medium give our ideas a wide exposure, but we've just gone through a decade where net skillz earned mad cash. And as the efforts of the EFF demonstrate, with money comes (some) power to fight for freedom.

One of the things I like about the EFF is that they try to be very efficient with their money and their lawyers. They can only help a limited number of defendants, but they're very careful about choosing cases which will have the most impact on the country as a whole. Nelson Pavlosky, who interned there this summer, said that a common phrase around the office is "good cases make good law". They pick the case which most clearly demonstrates the bad effects of a law, and use it to get the law struck down so there is no more need to defend all the people violating it.

Its interesting how charities can often do a significantly better job than governments at spending money efficiently. While neither have to earn a profit, a well-structured charity can be more accountable to its donors than the government is to voters. Another example is the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, which carefully spends its money on the diseases which kill the most people worldwide. Contrast this the NIH, which allocates its budget using political criteria.

Every dollar spent in a libertarian society on public goods will accomplish far more than a dollar spent by the welfare state. So even if a free society spends less money, it is far from clear that it will perform less charity.

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Contrast EFF's approach to

Contrast EFF's approach to that of the ACLU (or the patently awful Foundation for Individual Rights in Education), which treats every minor transgression as the equivalent of a war crime.

Skip, that could just be a

Skip, that could just be a function of ACLU and FIRE having much more funding than EFF. On the other hand, I am aware of numerous people who had legal complaints which would have fit in nicely with the ACLU's and FIRE's respective agenda's, but were turned down because they didn't have a strong enough/important enough case.

Samizdata quote of the

Samizdata quote of the day
Every dollar spent in a libertarian society on public goods will accomplish far more than a dollar spent by the welfare state. So even if a free society spends less money, it is far from clear that it will perform less charity. - Patri Friedman, Catall...

[...] the day |

[...] the day | Samizdata.net Every dollar spent in a libertarian society on public goods will accomplish far more than a dollar spent by the welfare [...]

You have a good point,

You have a good point, Micha, but at least in the case of FIRE, my own sources inform me that the group often manipulates facts (and invokes contradictory legal principles) in support of fairly unimportant matters.