I just noticed that the <package>.desc file isn't distributed with the
package itself, but with the Debian base packages. This, and the fact
that each package check for the packages that are dependent on it,
and not the more logical reverse (see my last message), leads me to believe
that the Debian package philosophy is that of a fully integrated system
released in complete versions.
This is an admirable goal, but I believe the Debian package system can
better serve the needs of people distributing external packages -- as
well as those creating the Debian release itself -- by letting each
package have a bit more control over its own destiny.