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In the United States, we have a rich culture of art stretching back dozens of years to 1965, when the National Endowment for the Arts was founded. The NEA gives money to artists in the form of grants to create art which might not otherwise be created, especially when the art isn't necessarily commercially viable. The idea is that some art is a commentary on society which no one would be willing to pay for, but its creation benefits society as a whole.

Because of this program there's probably a museum somewhere with positively oodles of fine art that I've never seen or heard of, but which is making some museum-goer very happy right this instant.

You may think I'm being sarcastic but I'm not. I think the idea is a fantastic one. In fact, the program has been so successful that I'd like to expand it to include a National Endowment for the Warez.

Hear me out.

Recently, there have been a rash of US court rulings (particularly in encryption cases) that indicate software source code is protected by the First Amendment to the United States Constitution. Since source code is a valid form of expression in the eyes of the law, why should it be dictated solely by corporations who can afford to hire software developers?

Shouldn't we, as a country, help incubate perfect lines of code, even if they are not commercially viable?

Here's my proposal:

  1. The program will be funded by a national lottery system developed by out of work programmers.
  2. Proceeds from the lottery will go to set up drive-through kiosks in major technical hotbeds throughout the country, such as Silicon Valley, Seattle and Houston, Texas.
  3. Rather than have a lengthy proposal-and-grant process, a programmer can pull up in his or her Lexus and type up a few good lines of source code at the Internet kiosk.
  4. The source code will be added as a node in E2 and will appear in ENN.
  5. E2 noders (level 2 and above) can vote the code up or down in real time.
  6. The programmer drives around to the first window, and if his or her node's rep is positive, they receive a check for the rep times 100 (a rep of +4 would equal a check for $400).
  7. If the resulting rep is negative or zero, the programmer drives to the second window, where they get a free latté as a consolation.

There are two major advantages to this system. First, since the expression through source code is meant to benefit society as a whole, every member of society can get on E2 and enjoy said benefits. Since a line of code is pretty much the same no matter where it is, the expression is equally accessible to everyone. Second, society as a whole can easily control the amount it spends on this form of expression simply by logging in and voting. Viola!

Good thing George W. got elected, isn't it? :)

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