During history the ways of making wealth and the economical models have changed dramatically along technology's evolution. What was/is the best way, nobody is able to say for sure but one thing that has been proved as a terrible mistake despite the era that happened is the accumulation of riches in the hands of few. Despite the technology and education our period offers, we weren't able to stop that and the thing I find as the funniest of all is that the wealthiest man overall belongs to the room of software. Well, everybody knows who this dude is...
So, what do we have with our current model? Very few companies that were smarter or even luckier at the begining of all these are able today to control almost the whole market. They sue and close smaller companies, hire or fire indivinduals in the way they want, have a tremendous power of advertising that transforms tomatoes to potatoes, fight to establish software patent laws in every country and in general control a big part of the global economy.
On the other hand we have the free software movement and the model they promote. I remember few years ago an interview with one of RedHat's key guys. Along with other words he had said
"who says GPL is bad for enterprises? Look us, in a matter of time we doubled our stock and now we are in a position we could not imagine. Without GPL we would have been struggled at the very begining from some colossal company and disappeared from the earth".
Indeed RedHat today has almost 3000 employees. Well, they are not Microsoft, but why should be? I look from myself as well. I have a small company with 2 other guys that build websites, graphics, advertisements etc. We do well but we didn't have to pay for software since the very begining and thus, we gave extra money for better hardware. Believe me it helped.
The power of free software is that it helps smaller companies to be established and can be very profitable, though I doubt they will ever make a tremendous income. But that's the positive of the case. For example look again at MS and RedHat. MS produces operating systems, office applications, search engine, video games, game consoles etc etc. RedHat will never be able to produce so many and that means more smaller companies around, each one with speciality in one or two things and this also means more bosses with less money each one, more employees in the jobs and greater need for cooperation. Some will argue that the companies won't have enough money for research and thus the evolution will be slower, but if everything is both opensource and there are more employees around, the manpower which will have access to the products will achieve tremendous numbers. This can only lead to even faster evolution than now (the absence of software patents will help to this as well) and the most important, in a clearer way than now.
The benefit will touch and other facts as well. I will say a small example I know well. In my country there was an agreement with MS to install MS products in the school. That means the goverment will give more money for education than they used to do. While this sounds terrific, the cash that will go for needs like books, better schools etc will be even less than before if we remove the part the software needs. Someone will say "and the software does not count?" Ofcourse it does, but we could have it for free and pay for the support that is really needed in cases like that, while the idea of opensource is better for educational use. So while we really offer more money for education the benefit is less than the previous years.
Anyway, to finish I'll say that the amount of money is about standard, the matter is to move it around and nothing more. The current model doesn't help at all to that.
Well, I believe is realistic every national school in the universe to use OSSLove it or hate it, it is the world we live in.