Paul Graham writes quite a few essays. Some are ok, some are really good. This is one of the latter.
With a slight rewording, I can replace placing “checks” on “programmers” to introducing “barriers” to “HPC consumers”. Seriously, his statement on costs is quite consistent with a dictum I often mutter … er … say: Every decision has a cost.
A decision to use a certain prescribed subset of vendors guarantees you will not get the benefits of an open collection set of vendors. A decision to use only one vendor for a part, or only one supplier for a particular system, does not in fact lower your costs.
Barriers raise costs. A check as Graham describes it is a barrier.
Well worth the read.