First Thing, We Kill All The Virus Writers…

from the who-else-can-we-kill? dept

Over at Slate, Steven Landsburg has come up with something of a “modest proposal” that doesn’t actually seem all that tongue in cheek where he tries to make an economic argument that we should just kill all virus writers – arguing that this makes more economic sense than killing murderers. He even admits that his numbers are rough estimates, and unfortunately, it looks like he’s using some of the hyped up virus damage estimates that have no basis in reality. There are ton of other incorrect assumptions in the piece (including how evenly distributed both the costs and the benefits of getting rid of viruses would be) that make it kind of silly all around. However, Ernest Miller makes the best point when he wonders why Landsburg doesn’t advocate killing some of those scamming company executives that have become so popular these days, who, you could argue did a lot more damage. And, that, in general is the problem with this argument. You could find plenty of actions that appear to have “cost” the industry billions of dollars and then suggest we execute those responsible – but it’s a narrow view of what factors are actually impacting the “economy” involved. For example, Landsburg leaves out the fact that if we got rid of all the virus writers, it would kill the anti-virus/security industry, which seems to contribute plenty of money to the economy as well. Where Landsburg is right is the importance of trying to quantify the costs and benefits to various actions. However, where he sets a dreadful example is in focusing so narrowly that he doesn’t admit that there are other consequences to his proposal that play into those costs and benefits.

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Comments on “First Thing, We Kill All The Virus Writers…”

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Michael Ward (profile) says:

appropriate punishment

If I ever find the scammers who forge as the return address on their spam, physical remonstrances will occur.

on a related issue:

SF writer Larry Niven pointed out many years ago that the value of human body organs far transcends the monetary value of most criminals’ nefarious enterprises. Thus: most crimes become punishable by organ removal. This would be particularly appropriate with virus writers, thought to be mostly 16 to 26 and with still-healthy organs ripe for transplantation. Most of the business scammers (Enron, Worldcom, etc.) are too old to have organs worth transplanting.

Brad Balint says:

Kill Virus Writers

I would like to line up everyone and every big company they work for EVERY ONE OF THEM and shoot them all. I know company’s are paying ASSHOLES to write viruses for them and put them out there and they all Kneed to to be dead!!! I want to start an organization’s to hunt and Kill all of them . Who Will join me in my quest to rid the world and the world wide web of virus writing ASSHOLES> contact me.

Duncan says:

Virus writers need to suffer

I used to spend time fixing peoples computers because they were broken but now it seems I’m mostly fixing them because of virus infections. I’m tired of this s41t! If I ever meet a virus writer I’m just going to put him in hospital and I will make it hurt * forever *. This is the sort of promise you CAN rely upon.

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