Yeah, but who pays?

Martin Weller, The Ed Techie, Nov 24, 2011
Commentary by Stephen Downes

The question of "who pays?" is always at the top of everyone's list. And I agree that the $5000 cost for an open access publication is too high. But these questions should be reframed. Let's look at XKCD's amazing 'Money' diagram. There's a lot to learn from it, but I've illustrated the big lesson (for me) below: in the United States, the richest 1 percent has wealth of $19.6 trillion, the richest half $57 trillion, and the poorest half $1.4 trillion. But even all this pales to insignificance against the derivatives market, which was worth $439 trillion (in 2009). The financial elite has absorbed most of the money in society and is currently using it for high stakes gambling. If they chose instead to invest in science, they could fund almost 100 billion open access publications (alternatively: a 1 percent tax on the richest one percent in the U.S. would fund four million open access publications). When someone says "the costs under this model are high" we need to view this in the light of the enormous concentrations of wealth that are available, but being used elsewhere.
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