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Re: Sharing the Savings from P2
Thanks both to Terry Foeke and to Tim Greiner for their candid responses. I also interpreted some of Terry's response to a previous question from Burt Hamner as being relevant to my own query---specifically, the point that P2 is more of a thought process than an actual "thing" in its own right. And this gets to why, whenever I speak or write to those outside of the "P2 Community," I talk about "preventive approaches to solving environmental problems" (or, alternatively, to environmental management).
Of course, adapting the language one uses is the easy part. Making the business case for prevention sufficiently compelling that a businessperson will perceive that the benefits outweigh the costs (including the economic, or "opportunity costs," from not doing something else that would either generate additional revenue or reduce financial costs) is the hard part. And I think it is precisely here that we find ourselves after these many years of banging away at the issue. None of this is to say that there is not a "business case for prevention." To be sure, one can cite outstanding examples; yet the real test would seem to be: can someone build a viable business around it?
Perhaps for now (or for the foreseeable future, anyway) P2 tech assistance remains one of those "inherently governmental functions," meaning that some element of subsidy is required. Is this necessarily bad? The emerging conventional wisdom is that Linux will become more robust than the various Windows OSs, precisely because it's free (the ultimate subsidy!), so that software developers can make incremental and continuous improvements to it at relatively little cost. One could easily imagine what would have happened if Torvalds had decided not to turn Linux into a public good. So maybe our lot in life is similarly to package P2 approaches and turn them into public goods, all the while realizing that fundamental changes in industrial processes and practices are slow to change.