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Mr. Schmidt Goes To Washington: A Look Inside Google's Lobbying Behemoth

samzenpus posted about 6 months ago | from the mr.-president-we-seem-to-be-alone dept.

Google 128

barlevg (2111272) writes "In May 2012, in the midst of an FTC investigation into Google's search practices, the law school at George Mason University in Northern Virginia hosted a conference attended by congressmen, regulators and staffers. The topic: competition, search and social media. What none of the attendees of the conference knew was that Google was pulling many of the strings behind the event, even going so far as to suggest invited speakers. This event, as documented in The Washington Post is just a snapshot of the operations of one of the largest and highest spending lobbying entities in DC, a far cry from the one-man shop it started out as nine years ago, from a company "disdainful" of Washington's "pay-to-play" culture."

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No more lobbyists in the WhiteHouse! (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46743181)

Oh, Wait....

Re:No more lobbyists in the WhiteHouse! (3, Informative)

Cryacin (657549) | about 6 months ago | (#46743259)

If you can't beat em, bribe em.

Re:No more lobbyists in the WhiteHouse! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46743329)

And if you can't afford to bribe em, beat em*.

* we suggest using your trusty LART.

Re:No more lobbyists in the WhiteHouse! (1)

Impy the Impiuos Imp (442658) | about 6 months ago | (#46746453)

Why do you think people go into power to begin with? To get legal bribes AKA political donations if nothing else. Otherwise they have tens of thousands of ways "your stuff might get broke, ya know?"

This simple theory has much more explanatory and predictive power than the "I wanna serve The People", especially when you look at corruption around the world.

Let's simplify the tax code, getting rid of thousands of loopholes...so we can hand them out all over again. This happens every 30 years or so.

Re:No more lobbyists in the WhiteHouse! (1)

relisher (2955441) | about 6 months ago | (#46750875)

The current environment in Washington has made it near impossible for large companies without lobbyists to survive without huge fines or product bans. Just take a look of the results when Apple sued Samsung for copyright infringement versus when Samsung sued Apple.

Re:No more lobbyists in the WhiteHouse! (3, Insightful)

Trax3001BBS (2368736) | about 6 months ago | (#46744465)

lobbying is such a sterile word that it's taken in stride, but if another word with the same meaning were to be used, it would take on a different air. like say, influencing.

Re:No more lobbyists in the WhiteHouse! (2, Insightful)

erikkemperman (252014) | about 6 months ago | (#46744965)

You misspelled "corruption".

Re:No more lobbyists in the WhiteHouse! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46745143)

We may have democracy, or we may have wealth concentrated in the hands of a few, but we can't have both.

Louis Brandeis

google has no choice, like many others before them (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46743185)

Just because you don't take an interest in politics, it doesn't mean that politics won't take an interest in you.

Re:google has no choice, like many others before t (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46743389)

I know... Like, when I can't earn more money in an honest way, I steal. I have no real choice.

Re:google has no choice, like many others before t (3, Informative)

AlphaWolf_HK (692722) | about 6 months ago | (#46743505)

No it's not that. The best thing I can see to compare it to is 2:30 into this video: (watch til at least 4:00)

http://www.vice.com/the-vice-g... [vice.com]

Basically you have to pay them money in order to be allowed to do things that are already ethical, perhaps even legal to do. If you already can do these things, then you often have to put up lobbying efforts to make sure that you can continue doing them.

For example, recall how after Google introduced gmail, California senator Liz Figueroa wanted to ban it. In that case, it took some heavy lobbying in order to keep gmail legal.

Personally, it would have pissed me off if they would have banned it; look at how gmail has revolutionized webmail. Before gmail they used to suck horribly, the good ones gave you a whopping 10MB of storage and each action you took required an entire page reload, making them slow as fuck. Yet gmail managed to be faster than native desktop clients in everything it did, including things that native clients were horridly slow at, such as searching.

But you know what? Often the US government (or even some state governments, like California) don't give a shit about whether or not anything is good and useful. The only thing they care about is how well their palms are greased.

Re:google has no choice, like many others before t (1)

phantomfive (622387) | about 6 months ago | (#46744043)

That's basically right. If you look you can see signs of politicians finding ways to extract money from corporations all over the place.

One famous example is the 'doc fix', which gets 'fixed' every year to make sure the doctors get their money.........as long as the doctor lobby keeps feeding some of it back to the politicians to vote for it. The politicians are like extortionists.

beta sucks (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46744449)

recall how after Google introduced gmail, California senator Liz Figueroa wanted to ban it

Wikipedia says, "In April 2004, Figueroa garnered national attention when she proposed a bill (S.B. 1822) aimed at limiting Google's Gmail service from providing ads to users based in part on the content of their emails. After a few months negotiating with privacy groups and Google, Figueroa abandoned the effort."

Re:google has no choice, like many others before t (0, Offtopic)

guises (2423402) | about 6 months ago | (#46744505)

As the AC points out, your example is bullshit. You could have picked network neutrality, the recent Netflix / Comcast deal makes it very low-hanging fruit, but no - you have to go with a right-wing smear campaign by the Cato institute on a Democratic senator. Brilliant.

Re:google has no choice, like many others before t (1)

AlphaWolf_HK (692722) | about 6 months ago | (#46744553)

I don't really think her being a Democrat had anything to do with it, nor is Cato right wing.

I'd also cite this one: https://www.youtube.com/watch?... [youtube.com]

It was almost entirely Democrats attacking that game, so is that also a right wing campaign to bring down Democrats? Or is it just a bunch of retarded politicians being...retarded? I mean you can see how stupid their reaction is to this game, so why are they reacting this strongly to it? It may or may not be about wanting their palms greased, but nevertheless money must be spent on lobbying efforts just to keep their game on store shelves (alternatively they may face e.g. bankruptcy, loss of jobs, etc.)

Though to be honest I think you're probably just an apologist for Democrats as if they can't do anything wrong.

So in that case I'll just calm your heart with the following words: Go Obama!

Re:google has no choice, like many others before t (4, Informative)

guises (2423402) | about 6 months ago | (#46744689)

nor is Cato right wing

What, seriously? It was founded by Charles Koch, it was originally called "The Charles Koch Foundation." The Koch brothers still own it (mostly, it's a partnership) and fund it. They've been one of the primary sources of climate change denying rhetoric, their president used to be a board member of the Ayn Rand institute... how much further right can you get? They're not religiously affiliated, but they are definitely, unquestionably, right-wing.

I can't watch the Youtube video, I'm on dial-up... ::sigh:: However, I can read the title and I know what Night Trap is, and I know that it has nothing to do with Gmail. My issue with your Gmail example is that Figueroa did not "want to ban it." She wanted to pass legislation that would prohibit Google from collecting marketing data by going through their customers' email. Cato turned that into "democratic senator attempting to prohibit innovative new business strategy" (I paraphrase) but at no point did Figueroa try to prevent Google from offering an email service, only from violating peoples' privacy.

Re:google has no choice, like many others before t (0)

AlphaWolf_HK (692722) | about 6 months ago | (#46745067)

What, seriously?

So being for gay rights and anti-creationism is right wing? What, seriously? I must have missed the memo.

Really dude, get out of that stupid left vs right world you live in. There is a lot more to the world than your one bit (literally) political viewpoint. I'm being very sincere here, it's a stupid paradigm that I would really like to see go away.

My issue with your Gmail example

See my other post as for why I chose the gmail issue and not any of the other ones (in a nutshell, because the article is about Google.)

Re:google has no choice, like many others before t (3, Insightful)

guises (2423402) | about 6 months ago | (#46745287)

So being for gay rights and anti-creationism is right wing?

not religiously affiliated - The religious right may get all the press, but that isn't all there is to being right-wing.

I did read your post about why you picked Gmail - what I'm saying is that your example is not only politically charged, it isn't even an example of the topic at hand. Google did not need to lobby in order to offer Gmail, Google only needed to lobby in order to read peoples' email. This was new at the time, now everyone does it and few of those have privacy policies that are even as good as Google's.

Merely referencing a bad example wouldn't upset me like this one, but you're using the invasion of privacy as a justification for lobbying. "Oh no," you're saying, "if we didn't have this corrupting influence then no one but us would be reading our personal correspondence. We can't have that, what a horrible person that Liz Figueroa was."

Re:google has no choice, like many others before t (2)

AlphaWolf_HK (692722) | about 6 months ago | (#46750219)

not religiously affiliated - The religious right may get all the press, but that isn't all there is to being right-wing.

Ugh...I don't think I'm getting my point across correctly. This is pretty much the opposite of a "why, no true scottsman would..." argument. You're just picking things you want to identify as right wing, and if that person meets any of those you just dismiss them entirely.

Why not just look at each individual viewpoint based on its own merits/demerits?

I'm pro second amendment, free market capitalist, and anti affirmative action. Does that make me right wing?

I'm for the legalization of drugs, gambling, prostitution, and I'm atheist. Does that make me left wing?

Here's a better idea: Let's talk about these issues individually rather than say left or right.

you're using the invasion of privacy as a justification for lobbying.

No, I'm justifying lobbying based on a lot of things. People react so stupidly to perceived problems that they theorize will happen, and it often costs money (not bribe money, but lobbying takes time, and you know how time relates to money.)

It isn't just politicians; it's voters as well. For example, I'm pro immigration, but against illegal immigration. I suggested ending birthright citizenship in an old slashdot post. Somebody replies to me saying "oh but that would cause second class citizens and it would be so awful." Really? Well, in numerous countries in Europe they don't have birthright citizenship, yet they don't have those perceived problems. I make similar arguments in favor of gambling, drugs, prostitution, and others, where other countries have legalized them to REDUCE violent crime, (German red light districts and the autobahn aren't causing social problems there) yet politicians and indeed many voters have this fear about them anyways (and no, it's not just the religious ones, the secular ones fear it as well, but for different reasons.)

Liz Figueroa was overreacting to Google's advertising model. This reaction came mainly out of misunderstanding what google is doing (they actually had people making claims in the popular media about things they were doing that they weren't actually doing) in addition to having her own vision about how the world "ought to be" and wanting to force it on everybody else. Also you seem to have a misunderstanding of your own - companies like them have ALWAYS had the ability to look over your emails if they wanted to - there never has been anything stopping them from doing so. Microsoft demonstrated that recently. Google just has a machine look for words and show ads -- your emails are safe from Mrs. Kravits.

Re:google has no choice, like many others before t (1)

khallow (566160) | about 6 months ago | (#46745659)

Well, I see you haven't established that the Koch brothers are actually right wing. And libertarianism != right wing (just one of the many ideologies that can't easily be shoehorned into a single sliding scale).

However, I can read the title and I know what Night Trap is, and I know that it has nothing to do with Gmail.

Which is why it was given as an example. It's a totally different example of the principle which doesn't involve Gmail at all by design.

My issue with your Gmail example is that Figueroa did not "want to ban it."

Destroying the business model is a classic political means for banning something. It's done all the time with adult video and sex product stores. The local government can zone the area so that the only place you can build such a store is well out of the way. As a result you get a lot less customers because your business is hard to get to. If that difference between a convenient and inconvenient location is enough to make the business unprofitable, then you destroyed the business's model.

Re:google has no choice, like many others before t (4, Insightful)

Ash Vince (602485) | about 6 months ago | (#46745835)

Well, I see you haven't established that the Koch brothers are actually right wing.

All the Koch brothers care about is making themselves richer and paying less in tax. They mostly donate case to conservative campaigns and think tanks, that counts as right wing in my book.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/P... [wikipedia.org]

Also note this bit:

"Charles also organizes twice yearly meetings[20] with Republican donors.[16]"

I would have linked directly the the references above but they are pay walled.

I could not give a crap about the Gmail example, but the fact is that "libertarianism" in the US is just a front, funded by the likes of the Koch brothers (and others) and designed to facilitate a tax regime friendly to the richest 1% of the population. If that does not count as right wing I do not know what does.

Re:google has no choice, like many others before t (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46745705)

nor is Cato right wing

What, seriously? It was founded by Charles Koch, it was originally called "The Charles Koch Foundation." The Koch brothers still own it (mostly, it's a partnership) and fund it. ...

I see Koch is the new Bush - the Boogeyman for vapid, rabid leftists.

When's Obama gonna stop his "Warz on Wimmenses" and pay his female employees equally?

Re:google has no choice, like many others before t (1)

AlphaWolf_HK (692722) | about 6 months ago | (#46744601)

Oh and by the way, I picked that particular one for no reason other than TFA is about Google and only Google, and so I wanted to give an example of what Google has had to deal with. When you're a company as big as Google. spending money on lobbying is very much obligatory. If some smaller outfit did gmail, Liz Figueroa wouldn't have even noticed.

Comcast/Netflix has zero to do with Google. Net neutrality does, but it isn't even remotely specific to them. Gmail is.

Re:google has no choice, like many others before t (1)

peppepz (1311345) | about 6 months ago | (#46744635)

Basically you have to pay them money in order to be allowed to do things that are already ethical, perhaps even legal to do. If you already can do these things, then you often have to put up lobbying efforts to make sure that you can continue doing them.

Paying for extortion is unethical and illegal too. Laws punish both the extorter and who omits to denounce.

For example, recall how after Google introduced gmail, California senator Liz Figueroa wanted to ban it.

Presumably she was afraid of the fact that the average Gmail user wouldn''t be aware that Google (and Google's unfaithful employees, and hackers, and the NSA, ...) would be able to read his email, and continue to be able to do so for an unspecified amount of time after that mail was "deleted". Which is what actually happens today, but to a much wider extent, with people using the services of Google (Facebook, Bing, ...) without being aware of the massive and uncontrollable espionage that supports them, because the terms of service are explained in EULAs which are effectively not understandable by those users. Banning Gmail would have been unuseful and unjust, I'd have regulated them to explain this policy to the users by using the same font size that they use when they advertise the size of the storage space they're offering, before the user signs the contract.

In that case, it took some heavy lobbying in order to keep gmail legal.

You mean that Google overrode the people's sovereign will, that they had expressed democratically by electing Liz Figueroa, by corrupting other politicians? If so, it's highly immoral and Google deserves to be punished for this. The government has the monopoly of coercion in modern democracies, and this privilege stems from the fact that it represents the will of the people. Altering this fact is one of the most serious crimes that an entity can stain itself with.

Before gmail they used to suck horribly, the good ones gave you a whopping 10MB of storage

In 2005 my ISP gave me 300 MB of storage which, in a time of 56K modem dialup connections, was plenty. The free offer from the same provider was 100MB, which is still ten times bigger than 10MB.

and each action you took required an entire page reload, making them slow as fuck.

Did your webmail work like that? The one of my ISP looked like MS Outlook and wasn't bad. Why, AJAX was invented by Microsoft for that exact purpose.

Re:google has no choice, like many others before t (2)

AlphaWolf_HK (692722) | about 6 months ago | (#46745047)

Paying for extortion is unethical and illegal too. Laws punish both the extorter and who omits to denounce.

Tell that to labor unions who demand you pay dues to the union boss or else say goodbye to your job. Why? Because there's a fine line between what some consider extortion and some don't. You can also look at taxation as extortion. Again, depends who you ask.

Presumably she was afraid of the fact that the average Gmail user wouldn''t be aware that Google (and Google's unfaithful employees, and hackers, and the NSA, ...) would be able to read his email, and continue to be able to do so for an unspecified amount of time after that mail was "deleted". Which is what actually happens today, but to a much wider extent, with people using the services of Google (Facebook, Bing, ...) without being aware of the massive and uncontrollable espionage that supports them, because the terms of service are explained in EULAs which are effectively not understandable by those users. Banning Gmail would have been unuseful and unjust, I'd have regulated them to explain this policy to the users by using the same font size that they use when they advertise the size of the storage space they're offering, before the user signs the contract.

Screw that; in order to be fair that would amount to requiring every ad in the world be a full page ad. That's total bullshit. The terms and conditions are fully presented to you, it's up to you to choose not to read them.

In 2005 my ISP gave me 300 MB of storage which, in a time of 56K modem dialup connections, was plenty. The free offer from the same provider was 100MB, which is still ten times bigger than 10MB.

Uh...WHAT? 2005 was a full 7 years after I already had cable. My uncle who lives in a very VERY rural farm area also had DSL back in 2003. Where do you live, Afghanistan?

Did your webmail work like that? The one of my ISP looked like MS Outlook and wasn't bad. Why, AJAX was invented by Microsoft for that exact purpose.

Actually you're quite wrong there. The first public facing implementation of what is today called Ajax was Gmail. The Microsoft variant you refer to is missing the J portion, and used the much maligned ActiveX, and therefore was not Ajax by definition. Besides, when the term was coined, it was referenced specifically to techniques google used. Not only that, but gmail was an internal google service in 2001, and actually began development much earlier.

Re:google has no choice, like many others before t (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46745157)

This is why I like having my companies founded abroad (e.g. EU, Switzerland, etc.).
Fuck bribery and corruption in every form. Especially lobbying. Banning gmail would be nigh impossible if it were a swiss company. Look at how successful they've been at getting rid of thepiratebay. or spotify.

Video (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46748025)

sooo, wait for 4:00 in the video instead of 2:30, you mean?

Re:google has no choice, like many others before t (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46744177)

Just because you don't take an interest in politics, it doesn't mean that politics won't take an interest in you.

Precisely: recall how Microsoft naively thought they were a tech company and only spent $1m a year inside the beltway before Oracle sicked the Feds on them.

Re:google has no choice, like many others before t (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46748155)

How does this rubbish get modded as 'insightful'?

You're either on Google's payroll or an idiot.
Only a fool would trust Google, quite possibly the most hypocritical of all technology companies.

Re:google has no choice, like many others before t (1)

thetoadwarrior (1268702) | about 6 months ago | (#46749275)

Everything is ok if Google does it, right?

Not a good sign... (1)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | about 6 months ago | (#46743205)

Investments in lobbyists always suggest a belief (though they don't tell us whether it's true or false) that the ROI on regulatory meddling is greater than that of other purposes to which the money could be put. What could possibly go wrong?

Re:Not a good sign... (1)

rmdingler (1955220) | about 6 months ago | (#46743263)

What could go wrong?

Why nothing if it's a corporatocracy you seek to replace our failing Republic with.

We need to increase the pool of Lesters with a coupon system for contributions awarded to everyone who votes and does jury duty.

Re:Not a good sign... (4, Insightful)

MrBigInThePants (624986) | about 6 months ago | (#46743335)

You already have a corporatocracy. Remember that there needs to be a PR/Marketing layer above this to hide this from the plebs - they would not like to overtly toil under such a system.

But as long as the common livestock never catch wind of it they will happy continue to graze, chew their cud and pick on of the two "different" options presented for their approval every 4 years and things will continue as they have done for decades now. While there ARE differences between the two options, as there must be to maintain the charade, the common ground is vast and contains the very corporatocracy you speak of.

You see my dear fellow, fascism does not work because even cattle can stampede and it is VERY expensive to maintain and not all that motivating.
Far better to create the illusion of choice and achieve exactly the same ends (amassing as much of the wealth as possible) without having to pay a large overhead.

In this regard the US stands as the mjost efficient example of a corporatocracy the world has ever seen.

Re:Not a good sign... (2)

ObsessiveMathsFreak (773371) | about 6 months ago | (#46744397)

But as long as the common livestock never catch wind of it they will happy continue to graze, chew their cud and pick on of the two "different" options presented for their approval every 4 years and things will continue as they have done for decades now.

People do not have much of a chance against a system which forces them to operate by its rules. The system is dysfunctional, a failure of process has occurred. It does not matter if people are engaged in politics, the "sheeple" you disdain, or apathetic cynics like yourself.

All efforts to change a dysfunctional system from within its own rules will fail miserably. Case in Point: Occupy, an abysmal failure of a movement, based on the absurd notion that the system can be changed from within or by asking politely. Frankly I think that's worse than being sheeple or apathetic as it legitimizes the corrupt at the reigns of power.

So lay off the general voting population. Change is really, really hard, and I don't see you proposing many solid alternatives.

Re:Not a good sign... (1)

MrBigInThePants (624986) | about 6 months ago | (#46744773)

"People do not have much of a chance against a system which forces them to operate by its rules."

They did, but that time is past. "They" dropped the ball and now it is in the corporate neighbours yard and they have a very big and mean dog guarding it. Its still their fault its there.

Also many of the PR techniques are transparent and the levels of ignorance display often times is rather wilful.

So I will not lay off them at all thank you very much.

And I have proposed countless ideas but this is not the forum and no one significant would pay attention anyway. (I am not rich enough for one...)

Re:Not a good sign... (2)

symbolset (646467) | about 6 months ago | (#46743265)

Others are engaging in political activism. For Google to get a word in the discussion is the responsible thing to do.

Re:Not a good sign... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46745901)

Ofcource.. here come the google cheerleaders. Lobbying is
good when Google does it. How cute...

I suppose the "Do no evil" slogan was incomplete. In actuality it ends with villanous laughter at the suckers who believed them.

I hope you get paid for doing this. If you want to be a whore, you should make sure you get paid.

Re:Not a good sign... (0)

FudRucker (866063) | about 6 months ago | (#46743331)

thats just a nice way of saying "FASCISM"

the US Federal Government has fascist relationships with lots of corporate entities, they would make Hitler and Mussolini proud

Re:Not a good sign... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46743353)

..ROI on regulatory meddling is greater..

You better believe it.
http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20111224/01031317187/jack-abramoff-explains-return-investment-lobbying-22000-is-surprisingly-low.shtml

Re:Not a good sign... (1)

alvinrod (889928) | about 6 months ago | (#46743355)

To some degree it may become a requirement if your competition is willing to spend money lobbying. At that point it may become the case where not investing a certain amount of money to represent your interests will result in the government passing laws that will hurt your business at the expense of a competitor or another industry.

As an analogy, if there are no criminals it is not necessary to spend much money on security. However, if security is generally weak, it may encourage criminal activity. At some point it becomes less costly to spend money on some amount of security to prevent criminal activity. Eventually it reaches an equilibrium where spending more money on security will not provide a similar reduction in cost due to losses from criminal activity and criminal activity will become risky enough that fewer people view criminal enterprises as profitable. It's a little fuzzy as the parties involved don't always have perfect information and external factors will have some influence on the system, but on the whole it tends towards an equilibrium.

Like almost anything else in life, if some action is more efficient or profitable than the alternatives, people will gravitate towards doing it. The real question is whether there is an alternative form of governance that results in some net increase in overall efficiency such that there is less overall money being tied up in lobbying without an increase in negative outcomes for the involved parties for investing in other endeavors. Until we can answer yes to that question and validate it such that we can be quite sure of the answer (not to mention being able to develop a means of smoothly transferring to such a system) what we have now is probably more efficient than most other systems given the existing constraints.

Lobbying could certainly be made more transparent, but it beats some of the outright bribery and corruption that goes on in other countries. It might not be ideal, but it's probably a little bit closer to it.

Google was never (0)

russotto (537200) | about 6 months ago | (#46743235)

...a one-man shop.

Re:Google was never (1)

rduke15 (721841) | about 6 months ago | (#46743269)

Indeed, it started as a two men shop at least, and definitely more than 9 years ago.

Re:Google was never (1)

barlevg (2111272) | about 6 months ago | (#46743291)

Not Google. Google's Washington lobbying office.

House of Cards (0)

cloud.pt (3412475) | about 6 months ago | (#46743339)

...apparently wasn't enough for some to understand the true politics at work in D.C.

blame Washington (4, Insightful)

stenvar (2789879) | about 6 months ago | (#46743365)

Washington has set the rules such that companies need to spend vast amounts on lobbying; if they don't, they go out of business, either killed by regulators or torn apart by their competitors using rigged rules in Washington. I'm sure Google is still "disdainful" of how this works, but it doesn't have a choice about whether to participate.

The way to get companies to spend less money in Washington is to take power away from Washington: fewer laws, fewer regulations, lower federal taxes, less federal spending. But, of course, some of the most vocal critics of lobbying promote just the kinds of policies that lead to the necessity for lobbying.problems.

power honeypot (4, Insightful)

bussdriver (620565) | about 6 months ago | (#46743747)

No, removing power from the democracy is only empowering the same anti-democratic forces that always seek greater power. They will seek power by any means available to them; take away law and order and they'll become war lords. Anything that limits their means to power is going to have to be more powerful than they are; therefore, it'll become a target for acquisition or undermining. Minimal regulations still require a government powerful enough to enforce them and therefore an equally tempting target for the power mad. You CANT avoid the problem by weakening government; any functioning government will be powerful enough to be the primary target for corrupting forces.

The only solution is to separate powers and limit them to the extent they are stuck in a permanent battle that is evenly matched. This is the basic concept upon which the constitution of the US was created as well as most other constitutions. The flaws and failures come from not properly balancing and separating the powers at play. The obvious flaw in the US system is that it only has 3 branches it limits and it was outside factors that overpowered and functionally destroyed the democracy. Sure, it will be just fine as a republic all the way into oligarchy, plutocracy, fascism and/or dictatorship... but the democracy aspect; the most important part, is dying off.

Re:power honeypot (4, Insightful)

stenvar (2789879) | about 6 months ago | (#46743893)

You CANT avoid the problem by weakening government;

I don't want to "weaken government", I want to weaken the federal government.

The only solution is to separate powers and limit them to the extent they are stuck in a permanent battle that is evenly matched. This is the basic concept upon which the constitution of the US was created

The US Constitution was also created on the concept of a limited federal government, states rights, and local self-determination.

Sure, it will be just fine as a republic all the way into oligarchy, plutocracy, fascism and/or dictatorship... but the democracy aspect; the most important part, is dying off.

Yes, it is, and it's people like you who are killing it by arguing that we should give Washington ever more power, knowing full well that it's going to be abused and that Washington is, for practical purposes, unaccountable to voters.

Re:power honeypot (1)

Runaway1956 (1322357) | about 6 months ago | (#46744561)

"I don't want to "weaken government", I want to weaken the federal government."

In theory, I agree with you. The feds have gotten far to fat and powerful, in all aspects. Transportation, communication, education, commerce, intelligence, first amendment and second amendment rights, every thing.

Got any ideas, though? Let's set aside any utopian views. Let's pretty much ignore how things "should have been". Right now, today, in the real world, how do we go about limiting any aspect of government control in our lives? Can it be done? What will it take to effect any change, how can governmental control be weakened?

A lot of people are beginning to believe that it will take a revolution of some sort. Witness events near Las Vegas in recent weeks. https://www.google.com/search?... [google.com]

Re:power honeypot (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46744665)

Got any ideas, though?

Let's vote in a monarchy and declare me king. I could hardly do worse and it would be more fun.

Re:power honeypot (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46745013)

Got any ideas, though?

Let's vote in a monarchy and declare me king. I could hardly do worse and it would be more fun.

So, I live in a monarchy, and all though I'm against it on principle, it does seem to have some advantages vs countries with president instead. It seems the president often becomes a politically divisive figure for the population, while a king is almost the opposite. He goes across political boundaries and groups, and even if people is against having a king on principle, or because they think he is a fool, it creates nowhere near the same heated argument. And it seems to lower the level of rage-level divisiveness you get on the next level, prime minister and cabinet, so the democracy ironically works better.

But, unless this is unclear to people not living in a monarchy -- they don't really wield any real power. Officially they have some, in that they approve a government after election fx, but it is never practised other than as a ceremony. They are mostly figureheads. (I wrote king and he to simplify but it could of course be queen and she)

Re:power honeypot (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46745571)

All the monarchies in the world were despotic dictatorships, until the people rose up in revolution, in some cases they were lined up against the wall and shot like the royal family of Russia, in other cases they were lined up and guillotined, or hanged, and in some cases they were allowed to remain, as a bargain with the loyalists, as figure heads and tokens of supremacy, but in all cases, barring those which are still despotic dictatorships (Saudi Arabia, for example), the real power was shifted to parliamentary democracies.

In no cases did they just volunteer to step down as dictator, they were forced to by violent revolution. What exists today is through treaty and compromise.

Re:power honeypot (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46745965)

All the monarchies in the world were despotic dictatorships, until the people rose up in revolution, in some cases they were lined up against the wall and shot like the royal family of Russia, in other cases they were lined up and guillotined, or hanged, and in some cases they were allowed to remain, as a bargain with the loyalists, as figure heads and tokens of supremacy, but in all cases, barring those which are still despotic dictatorships (Saudi Arabia, for example), the real power was shifted to parliamentary democracies.

In no cases did they just volunteer to step down as dictator, they were forced to by violent revolution. What exists today is through treaty and compromise.

Hmm.. are you sure about your absolute in that last part? How do you see the forming of the modern Scandinavian democracies/monarchies? My understanding is that parliamentarism took over power rather peacefully.

Re:power honeypot (1)

stenvar (2789879) | about 6 months ago | (#46744871)

Got any ideas, though? Let's set aside any utopian views. Let's pretty much ignore how things "should have been". Right now, today, in the real world, how do we go about limiting any aspect of government control in our lives?

The big federal government was built incrementally, scaling it back incrementally and gradually is natural and feasible. Spread the word for smaller federal government and more local control. Support politicians at all levels that promote gradual and sensible reductions in the federal government. Explain to people what a shitty deal they are getting from Social Security, Medicare/Medicaid, and other federal programs.

Merely obstructing federal lawmaking may already be most of the battle: many federal laws and regulations become obsolete and irrelevant quickly, a lot of regulations "inflate away", and for a lot of others, people find workarounds pretty quickly. So, it may not even take great political skill to scale things back, just a bit of hard-headedness and obstructionism.

Re:power honeypot (1)

Marc D Hall (3600315) | about 6 months ago | (#46745311)

The US Constitution was also created on the concept of a limited federal government, states rights, and local self-determination.

The US Constitution was written by Google's ancestors. They had the same motivation to limit the federal government then as Google does now: The federal government is a competitor. Geographically connected states can be spanned, with little cost, by any company with enough resources, so a company can grow big enough to go toe-to-toe with a state government. Federal government, on the other hand, is harder to fight with.

Re:power honeypot (1)

stenvar (2789879) | about 6 months ago | (#46745413)

I agree completely. Is that supposed to be an argument for or against limiting the federal government?

Re:power honeypot (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46745735)

I don't want to "weaken government", I want to weaken the federal government.

A non-US citizen here. Can you explain to me if Americans in general have an overwhelming sense of state-level identity, local-patriotism, etc.? Rhetorically, is your loyalty to your state and its people greater then your loyalty to your federation? If majority of you are politically self-identified primarily as USA-ans, then it comes as no surprise if country's political center of mass is its federal government. Historically, occasionally your central government had have been protecting its citizens against their local government.

Re:power honeypot (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46747665)

A non-US citizen here. Can you explain to me if Americans in general have an overwhelming sense of state-level identity, local-patriotism, etc.? Rhetorically, is your loyalty to your state and its people greater then your loyalty to your federation? If majority of you are politically self-identified primarily as USA-ans, then it comes as no surprise if country's political center of mass is its federal government. Historically, occasionally your central government had have been protecting its citizens against their local government.

What I've observed is a shift from the latter to the former. The turning point wasn't so much 9/11, it was actually the election of 2000, and perhaps as far back to the Starr report and Clinton BJ fiasco of 1998-9.

If you ask an American what country they're from, they'll say USA. If you ask an American what it means to be an American, you'll get the same words about freedom, but they'll mean different things based on which part of America you're in.

Red states take freedom of religion to mean the institution of a state religion. The Second Amendment is an absolute. Blue states take the First and Fourth more seriously, and many would just as soon do away with the Second. Etc.

The election of 2000 was a statistical tie. There is experimental error in any measuring process, and by random chance, we had an election where the results in one region (Florida) were both within the limits of observational error and determined the outcome. We spent weeks harping over what the right thing to do was... and when that failed, we spent weeks collectively convincing ourselves that "the right thing to do" was "the thing that made our guy more likely to win."

There's always been short term gain available in whipping up party loyalty to a frenzy, but once we'd crossed the boundary from "what's the right way to handle this" to "the way that makes my guy more likely to win", there was no turning back.

There are no more moderates in Congress [rollcall.com] . There is no incentive for a moderate to enter the political process, because moderates are now unelectable. The radicalization of the US electorate suits the owners of both the red and blue factions just fine, because having only firebrands as candidates disincentivizes moderates from even voting.

So to answer your question - Americans still identify with the federal government on their passport - but they are no longer one nation, indivisible. They live in nations, one red, one blue, largely broken out by geographical lines: blue on the coasts, red in the middle and strong red in the southeast. They even seem to know that this tends to end poorly, yet they are either so blinded by partisanism or have acquired learned helplnessness to such a degree that they no longer care to do anything about it.

Re:power honeypot (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46747969)

To an extent it depends on the state and how transient it is. IME, Texans (natives) consider themselves Texans first and Americans second, to the point that the children say the Texas pledge in the morning with the USA pledge.

Re:power honeypot (1)

ObsessiveMathsFreak (773371) | about 6 months ago | (#46746035)

I don't want to "weaken government", I want to weaken the federal government.

Acckhh! No true Scotsman would ever drink cherry... port...I mean... eat Walkers.... no Taytos... ; More Haggis Agatha, I'veana'other swoon kim 'pon mea.

Re:power honeypot (1)

stenvar (2789879) | about 6 months ago | (#46748461)

How does the "no true Scotsman" fallacy apply here?

I want decentralized, local government. I want "devolution", like some places in Europe have been trying to implement.

What's so hard to understand about that?

Re:power honeypot (2)

bussdriver (620565) | about 6 months ago | (#46748171)

Until you realize the error of your beliefs, you will just be another tool. Do some thinking and stop adhering to a simplistic religious world view (unsurprisingly one which is promoted by the power elite.)

A functional democracy will reflect the flaws of it's people; as Franklin said, all democracies fall into despotism. It is not an eternal system, it is bound to fail and have to be rebuilt because it runs on humans. Nothing you do can create a perfect system as long as it runs on humans. Sure, someday a computer could take over and then it would be "perfect" and everlasting but humans don't like being dictated to for that long... even if the outcome is as close to utopia as possible. Humans require struggle and will create one if need be (unless you can create a "Brave New World" of distraction and avoidance. Then only a small % will revolt and the computer can then breed those people out.)

It is true that power has migrated towards the top; but that is only a problem with corruption which in turn is the peoples' collective fault. You can't fix things by rebooting to more localized power because the flaws that led to this remain and will just continue. Power mad people will by their nature migrate power to themselves. In addition, it doesn't matter a whole lot if my state or federal government goes too far; it still impacts me the same (other than it being easier to relocate to another state than another country; moving isn't that easy.) I for one, was never a big fan of the change to have the public elect Senators. They should have remained appointed by state legislators; the argument was that it was less corrupt to have the public do it... well, if states were so easily corrupted... all the popular vote did was to delay the spread of corruption (and in some ways increase it by making the fed less responsive to the states.)

What I thought was the obvious conclusion to my statement is that we need a salary cap and severe limits on corporate power. Your local government if you didn't realize it yet, is at the mercy of every rich person or large corporation; your state government is easily overpowered by a national corp and not hard to corrupt by local state businesses. If you want local government, you need limit the size of the threats opposing them. Today, our "all powerful" federal government has been lost to multinational private entities; it wasn't even powerful enough to maintain integrity - and the public not competent enough to defend it... You must not know much about your local gov, same issues go on there and just because they are small targets doesn't mean they are anymore immune. When Walmart wants something your city will lose; until that time you can go ahead and feel that it works better. Naturally, being smaller, they are not targeted as much... give them more power... then they would be bigger targets AND weaker.

The 4th branch, the press, was publicly funded with 3% of the GDP and afforded a semi-non profit status up to the civil war. Some minor changes would be needed today but the founding path was the correct one.

Re:power honeypot (1)

stenvar (2789879) | about 6 months ago | (#46748439)

What I thought was the obvious conclusion to my statement is that we need a salary cap and severe limits on corporate power

A wealthy elite competing with each other for the attention of politicians and voters is nothing compared to the corruption and oppression that the creation of a political and intellectual elite brings to a nation. Take it from someone who has experienced it first hand.

The 4th branch, the press, was publicly funded with 3% of the GDP and afforded a semi-non profit status up to the civil war. Some minor changes would be needed today but the founding path was the correct one.

Public funding of the press in a modern society makes the press a tool for the political elite. Having lived in several countries that did that, I can also tell you that it's a really bad idea.

When Walmart wants something your city will lose; until that time you can go ahead and feel that it works better.

I have no problem with Walmart. I wish my city would get one.

Until you realize the error of your beliefs, you will just be another tool. Do some thinking and stop adhering to a simplistic religious world view (unsurprisingly one which is promoted by the power elite.)

You should write that on a piece of paper and read it every morning and every night until you understand it.

Re:power honeypot (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46748175)

Huh, I thought the goal was to eliminate corporatism.

States and towns are horrifyingly ill-qualified to compete with multinationals. It's like labor laws that tell joe sixpack he has to personally negotiate his job details with a professional negotiator. If only one of the people at the table does this a thousand times a year; who's likely to win?

The federal government is the democracy? His pen. (1)

raymorris (2726007) | about 6 months ago | (#46744359)

"No, removing power from the democracy ..."
Did you just call the US federal government "the democracy"? Wow. Just wow. Obama's pen would like to have a word with you.

At the local level, I can vote for certain laws in my city. So locally, we have some democracy. There is a reason that the Constitution says all powers other than those listed powers specifically delegated to the federal government are reserved to the states and the people.

Re:power honeypot (1)

khallow (566160) | about 6 months ago | (#46745671)

No, removing power from the democracy

I agree with raymorris. You failed from the start. The federal government is not "the democracy". In fact, taking power away from the federal government is giving it to "the democracy".

Re:power honeypot (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46747863)

I agree with raymorris. You failed from the start. The federal government is not "the democracy". In fact, taking power away from the federal government is giving it to "the democracy".

You're right about the GP, but you (and raymorris, and stenvar) are mistaken that taking power away from Washington is the answer. Giving power to "the democracy" is not the answer

Too much democracy is precisely what got US into this mess. "Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country" is one advice people did NOT take heed. Everybody wants a say. People swamp Washington with requests and petitions, and, because they're supposed to be democratic, Washington can't just discard them and tell people to pound sand. A private company can do that, but not a democratic govenrment.

In the same way that if a private company swamped by phone calls (and they can't refuse to answer, because democracy) will end up growing its customer service department that takes calls, the US govenrment grew its regulations over petitions, which snowballed into the huge lobbying industry.

This is a problem that is faced by other democratic governments, further evidence that the problem is with democracy, not the size of federal government.

But this is a problem I prefer to live with over the alternative, which would be less democracy. If Google wants to spend less on lobbying, they can move to China or Russia. Hey, their labor are cheaper to hire, so their politicians are probably cheaper to bribe too!

Re:power honeypot (1)

Tokolosh (1256448) | about 6 months ago | (#46747787)

The only solution is to separate powers and limit them to the extent they are stuck in a permanent battle that is evenly matched. This is the basic concept upon which the constitution of the US was created as well as most other constitutions. The flaws and failures come from not properly balancing and separating the powers at play.

The system is designed correctly. However, the judicial branch has abdicated its responsibility to rein in the inevitable excesses and power grabs of the other two branches. Everyone deplores the unconstitutional outcomes, unless they coincide with their particular hobby-horse (war declaration, social security, drugs, health care, marriage, etc.). It is these entrenched vested interests that have to be dispatched.

Re:blame Washington (1)

erikkemperman (252014) | about 6 months ago | (#46745005)

Washington has set the rules such that companies need to spend vast amounts on lobbying; if they don't, they go out of business, either killed by regulators or torn apart by their competitors using rigged rules in Washington. I'm sure Google is still "disdainful" of how this works, but it doesn't have a choice about whether to participate.

That sounds about right.

The way to get companies to spend less money in Washington is to take power away from Washington: fewer laws, fewer regulations, lower federal taxes, less federal spending. But, of course, some of the most vocal critics of lobbying promote just the kinds of policies that lead to the necessity for lobbying.problems.

So you're arguing that the only way to reduce lobbying in Washington is to, well, reduce Washington entirely. I honestly don't know if it's too late, given Citizens United and McCutcheon, but it's probably wise to double check. Wouldn't want to throw away the child with the bathwater, as we say in Dutch. I think the English equivalent might be curing the disease by killing the patient.

Re:blame Washington (1)

stenvar (2789879) | about 6 months ago | (#46745407)

So you're arguing that the only way to reduce lobbying in Washington is to, well, reduce Washington entirely.

Yes, I'm arguing that. Of course, reducing the size of the US federal government has many other advantages.

Wouldn't want to throw away the child with the bathwater, as we say in Dutch. I think the English equivalent might be curing the disease by killing the patient.

Why don't we talk about the Dutch equivalent of what you favor for the US? Your entire nation has about the size of the NYC metropolitan area. Isn't your country really too small and politically ignorant to make any decisions for itself or to have its own international representation? The Netherlands and its quaint low German dialect are really little more than an appendage of Germany anyway, and it would be so much more efficient for everybody if they just became a county (or maybe a state, let's be generous) under the German federal government! I'm sure Merkel would have your very best interest a heart! Your King Willem-Alexander can still sign off on such important local decisions like when the trash should get picked up, something I'm sure he's eminently qualified to do. And he's half German too!

Really: why don't you stop giving advice to Americans and worry about your own country and continent? Between Wilders and the EU, it seems to me you have more than enough on your plate.

Re:blame Washington (1)

erikkemperman (252014) | about 6 months ago | (#46745563)

You probably believe you have very effectively stung my national pride, or something. I'll get back to you when I have one. The only thing I could possibly take offense on, which is our country being "too politically ignorant" to make decisions for itself, but I'm just not sure what even means.

Really: why don't you stop giving advice to Americans and worry about your own country and continent? Between Wilders and the EU, it seems to me you have more than enough on your plate.

No argument there, we have enough on our plate (though the influence of Wilders, thankfully, seems to be finally diminishing somewhat).

I understand that my "advice" (really it's not even that, just anecdotal observations) is unsolicited and some would consider it unwanted, while others still seem to make a point of doing the exact opposite merely because "an outsider" made some suggestion.

The difference is, though, that I as a Dutchman am affected by some US policies, much more so than the other way around, obviously. If Dutch policies were somehow affecting you in the US, I am quite sure you would soon learn more about my country than you apparently know now, and no doubt some well-intentioned "advice" will be headed the other way.

Re:blame Washington (1)

stenvar (2789879) | about 6 months ago | (#46748297)

You probably believe you have very effectively stung my national pride, or something. I'll get back to you when I have one.

Your pretenses of open-mindedness really don't matter here (and likely wouldn't hold up if people actually started demanding your bicycle). There are simply several things inconsistent and self-defeating with your position.

The difference is, though, that I as a Dutchman am affected by some US policies, much more so than the other way around, obviously.

Quite the opposite. What you call "US policies" are policies of the US Federal Government. As an American, I have little more political control over the US Federal Government than you do, but it has far more power to wreck my life and destroy my culture than it does yours. Think of what you dislike about "US policies" and magnify it a thousand times, then you arrive at what people like me dislike about "US policies". The ability of the US Federal Government to influence both your and our lives derives from the increasing centralization of the US.

In addition, Europe has an easy antidote to that: it could centralize itself in the way you argue is good for Americans. Countries like yours could give up their autonomy, their language, their political power. Half a billion Europeans governed from Brussels by a Washington-style government wouldn't have to take sh*t from anybody. But that's obviously not good enough for your countrymen, who resist it fiercely. Understand your fellow Dutch resistance to giving up power and identity to the EU, and maybe you'll understand why Americans like me want the US government to become more decentralized again.

Our interests and what you pretend are your interests are aligned. Europeans want less US hegemony and less US power, and so do Americans like me. So start using your brain and stop advocating policies and supporting politicians that bring about exactly what you claim to dislike.

Re:blame Washington (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46749707)

What you call "US policies" are policies of the US Federal Government. As an American, I have little more political control over the US Federal Government than you do

Difference is, he is at no fault for not having control, since he isn't an American citizen or even resident as far as we know.

You, however, were SUPPOSED to have kept your own government in check and under the people's (your) control. You failed your duty as a citizen.

Let me guess: you didn't vote for it. But other people did. Those other people, like it or not, are also Americans just like you. The street goes both ways. You as an American can share in the collective pride of your country's accomplishments, but you also have to share in the blame of its mistakes.

Europeans want less US hegemony and less US power, and so do Americans like me. So start using your brain and stop advocating policies and supporting politicians that bring about exactly what you claim to dislike.

That is a very brainless thought. He, as a European, has no control over the US Federal Government. You said so yourself. Him using his brain won't help you. Again, this is your American People's problem. Only you can help yourself.

So stop telling other people to use their brains and start using your own. Then use your own hands to make your ideas happen. Or would you prefer some foreign country invade America to "restore freedom and democracy" for you?

Re:blame Washington (2)

erikkemperman (252014) | about 6 months ago | (#46750253)

Your pretenses of open-mindedness really don't matter here (and likely wouldn't hold up if people actually started demanding your bicycle).

I wasn't aware that lack of chauvinism counted toward open-mindedness. At any rate, believe it or not, I was hardly pretending. More likely there's been a misunderstanding, why would anyone demand my bicycle?

There are simply several things inconsistent and self-defeating with your position.

Odd, in this context I can't remember having taken much of a position, other than a general remark that it is occasionally possible to fix a headache short of decapitation.

Unless you mean my attempt at answering to your "why don't you mind your own business" question -- which is a legitimate one, of course, even when put a bit abrasively.

Finally, beyond misunderstanding or actually different opinions, I'm not sure why you would doubt my sincerity in expressing mine. Why all those "pretend" and "claim to" ?

So start using your brain and stop advocating policies and supporting politicians that bring about exactly what you claim to dislike.

Well sorry for being thick, I suppose, but what policies or politicians did you imagine me having supported in these posts?

Re:blame Washington (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46748143)

So, to recap your post: A tiny few have gamed the system, therefore, we need to get rid of regulations and protections entirely. That's a simplistic libertarian utopia view. Fewer laws keeps being trumpeted, but we keep deregulating and it keeps not working. Utopias (socialist or libertarian) are gedanken-experiments worth debating, but in practical terms they just don't work. Without regulations and laws, the situation would be worse. DEregulation has happened steadily for 30 years and gotten us into this situation.

In computer analogy terms: just because your antivirus isn't working any more, doesn't mean you stop using any security at all.

How about we: refuse to let 8 corporations own all media. Reenable the 'equal time' clause (that'd make Fox funny as the Daily Show for a while). Create trade alliances strictly focused on going after international tax avoidance schemes. Get accountability by regulating dummy/shell corporation mechanisms. Stop treating money (especially corporate money) as free speech. Reregulate banking. Prosecute wall street malfesance. Reregulate wage and income, including penalties for any company using part-time as a benefits dodge to the point where their employees qualify for federal assistance. Create incentives and economic development programs (like Germany has) geared to keep manufacturing in-country. Strip all privatized infrastructure and utilities back to public ownership, so there's legitimate competition for communications in the last mile... it's monday and I've not had my coffee, but that's just a bit of what comes to mind.

Is it: "Don't Be More Than 49% Evil" Now? (2, Insightful)

careysub (976506) | about 6 months ago | (#46743375)

We knew the "Don't Be Evil" motto was an ideal that could not withstand the rigors of the modern international marketplace. But how large a portion of "evil" is Google now comfortable with?

Re:Is it: "Don't Be More Than 49% Evil" Now? (1)

grep -v '.*' * (780312) | about 6 months ago | (#46743593)

"Don't Be Evil" motto ... But how large a portion of "evil" is Google now comfortable with?

You know the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists' Doomsday Clock [thebulletin.org] ? Let's do something similar with Google.

Let's have Google change their homepage so that the more evil they get, the more UPPER CASE LETTERS [google.com] appear on their search page [google.com] .

And the best thing is: it's hosted by GOOGLE so we KNOW that it's accurate! (...or was that too subtle?)

Re:Is it: "Don't Be More Than 49% Evil" Now? (1)

dead_cthulhu (1928542) | about 6 months ago | (#46744357)

We'll know the moment when their servers become self-aware, realise the extent and in some cases twistedness of all the pr0n online and decide to morph into SkyNet.

Re:Is it: "Don't Be More Than 49% Evil" Now? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46744031)

Oh, they still have the same motto -- but they only told you the first half of it. It's really "Don't Be Evil... surpass 'evil' so greatly and so vilely that the new word for evil is Google!"

Re:Is it: "Don't Be More Than 49% Evil" Now? (1)

Runaway1956 (1322357) | about 6 months ago | (#46744581)

Okay - you think Google is evil. I'm less happy with Google than I was in years past, but I'm still willing to argue that assessment.

Which entity would you choose to replace Google today? You may choose any government, corporate, or nonprofit entity you wish. Look around, and choose carefully. You may pick that entity, you may strip Google of all it's resources, and hand those resources over to that entity. Which one is going to do better than Google? If you should bother to post back with a reply, PLEASE offer some rationale for your decision. And - be prepared to have your decision torn apart.

At this point in time, I honestly believe that Google is still pretty damned good, and that they have a ways to go before you can call them "evil". I am also pretty damned sure that I don't want the federal government or any of it's agencies running Google's assets. I can't think of any company that could do a better job, and certainly none that would. Nonprofits? Maybe if the EFF were interested . . . Let's not EVEN consider any religious organizations, whether it be my favorite, or yours.

Re:Is it: "Don't Be More Than 49% Evil" Now? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46744759)

A ridiculous question. We all know power corrupts, and that is what happens to Google.

Replacing it with another entity is flawed. The better alternative is of course multiple smaller entities.

Re:Is it: "Don't Be More Than 49% Evil" Now? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46745505)

Google should be replaced with multiple smaller entities, with each of them providing the services Google now offers.

For example, Gmail can be replaced by RiseUp, Android can be replaced by Firefox mobile OS or the Ubuntu one, Google Search can be replaced by the likes of MetaGer or Ixquick, Google Maps can be replaced by OsmAnd or OpenStreetMaps. I can go on, but you should get the gist now that you can live a Google-free life.

Re:Is it: "Don't Be More Than 49% Evil" Now? (1)

careysub (976506) | about 6 months ago | (#46747007)

Okay - you think Google is evil. I'm less happy with Google than I was in years past, but I'm still willing to argue that assessment.

Which entity would you choose to replace Google today?

Wrong question. What should a socially responsible megacorp that has overwhelming dominance in the primary communication system of the 21st Century do when confronted by a corrupt political process? Just quietly do business-as-usual, supporting the corrupt process, further entrenching it?

Google cannot avoid engaging with the pay-to-play system, but should it actively support it, or use its wealth, power, influence and access to challenge and expose it?

Voters have negligible power to make any change in the iron triangle of bought politicians, mouth-piece "think tanks", and corporations eager to buy legislation and elite "opinion".

Re:Is it: "Don't Be More Than 49% Evil" Now? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46749809)

Okay - you think Google is evil. I'm less happy with Google than I was in years past, but I'm still willing to argue that assessment.

Which entity would you choose to replace Google today? You may choose any government, corporate, or nonprofit entity you wish. Look around, and choose carefully. You may pick that entity, you may strip Google of all it's resources, and hand those resources over to that entity. Which one is going to do better than Google? If you should bother to post back with a reply, PLEASE offer some rationale for your decision. And - be prepared to have your decision torn apart.

At this point in time, I honestly believe that Google is still pretty damned good, and that they have a ways to go before you can call them "evil". I am also pretty damned sure that I don't want the federal government or any of it's agencies running Google's assets. I can't think of any company that could do a better job, and certainly none that would. Nonprofits? Maybe if the EFF were interested . . . Let's not EVEN consider any religious organizations, whether it be my favorite, or yours.

Lame strawman argument. You didn't even put "Google not being evil" as an option.

Don't hate the player, hate the game (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46743379)

Another way of saying don't blame me; this is how the system works, particularly in American politics (but really anywhere with a Government). If Google doesn't grease the wheels, someone else will and will stamp Google into submission if Google doesn't play exactly like how everyone else in Washington does.

Doesn't mean it's right. Just that it has always been like this and is how the system is set up to operate. Being "nice" isn't a realistic way to run a huge business, regardless of the feelings of those in charge.

Pay to Play (1)

MildlyTangy (3408549) | about 6 months ago | (#46743423)

Pay to play.

Isnt bribery supposed to be illegal in the US?

Why does their government get a "get out of Jail free" card with respect to bribery laws?

Re:Pay to Play (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46743487)

It isn't bribery if money doesn't directly change hands. The Foreign Corrupt Practices Act defines bribery with a far more broad definition for overseas activities than the standard we hold our own politicians to at home.

Re:Pay to Play (1)

Beeftopia (1846720) | about 6 months ago | (#46744007)

From an article on a new shell organization, the JFC, enabled by a recent Supreme Court decision, McCutcheon vs. FEC:

"Backer added that the biggest reason he thinks super JFCs won't take off is that, while they may be an efficient way to extract money from a single donor, from the donor's perspective, they are impersonal and don't offer any advantages -- an assertion that has many skeptics.

"For the donors, they really prefer to cut the vast number of checks," he said. "For them, it's not about giving money, it's about building a relationship. You're not going to get any face time, they're not going to hear your story." Individual donors want to feel gratitude from the candidate -- legal, "completely non-corrupting gratitude," Backer hastened to note." -- OpenSecrets.org [opensecrets.org]

Re:Pay to Play (1)

Beeftopia (1846720) | about 6 months ago | (#46744037)

FYI, Mr. Backer's background:

"Does Backer know what he's talking about? Besides being the lead attorney for Shaun McCutcheon, over the last three election cycles he has overseen a proliferation of new PACs and helped organize what may be the largest-ever joint fundraising committee, in terms of the number of participants. " -- ibid [opensecrets.org]

Re:Pay to Play (1)

oneandoneis2 (777721) | about 6 months ago | (#46745081)

It's not bribery, it's a "campaign contribution"

It should be no surprise that a system run by corrupt politicians passes laws that makes corruption legal..

The Orbits Of Perversion (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46743589)

Mr. (Dr.) Schmidt of Google is well known within the realms of Perversion.

With his bank account he is fishing for "converts."

Ah Ha. A very "political" year we have this year.

So Mr. Dr. Schmidt is "making the rounds" in Washington D.C. !

Pity those he waves with the Back of his hand.

Just like Adolf Hitler, his idol.

I doubt "no one knew" (2)

xxxJonBoyxxx (565205) | about 6 months ago | (#46743669)

>> What none of the attendees of the conference knew was that Google was pulling many of the strings behind the event

I doubt/hope that "no one knew." Conference agendas, like news stories, should always be read for brand-name frequency. (The brand name that appears most frequently or in the most positive manner is usually the one that hired the PR agency to plant the story in the first place. Same thing goes for a conference agenda.) What's the number one name on this conference agenda? Google.

So...if the academics attending the conference didn't guess it was Google sponsored...then they're probably not as bright as their titles suggest.

Re:I doubt "no one knew" (1)

Sarten-X (1102295) | about 6 months ago | (#46743829)

Bribery and deceit are fairly ineffective at effecting long-term policies. Nobody wants to be the politician caught taking handouts.

On the other hand, one of the best ways to convince someone to go along with your requests is to make a clear statement of why your goals align with the decision-makers' goals. If the politician wants more jobs in his district, you explain how your technology helps make jobs. If the politician wants to improve schools' performance, you highlight the educational opportunities supported by your technology. Be sure to note how a proposed piece of legislation helps or hurts your technology's growth. Brand is important, as always. That's what ties together all those separate messages. Foobar Inc. is good for education. Foobar Inc. is good for local homeless shelters. Foobar Inc. is in favor of this bill.

It's not sneaky or underhanded. Every politician knows they're being manipulated, but it all makes sense. The obvious decision to benefit their constituents is the one presented to them. What representative would turn down more jobs or education?

Of course, here in the Internet echo chamber, life is simpler. Corporations are bad, and individual opinions are good, whether or not they benefit society.

Re:I doubt "no one knew" (1)

Runaway1956 (1322357) | about 6 months ago | (#46744587)

"Bribery and deceit are fairly ineffective at effecting long-term policies."

Do the railroads in the United States still possess the land that they stole for pennies on the hundreds of dollars when the iron horse was proposed?

Google needs lobbyists? (2)

tomhath (637240) | about 6 months ago | (#46743847)

Eric Schmidt is a regular visitor to the White House thanks to his generous campaign contributions.

I suppose Google also needs to influence Congress though, since Obama isn't taking the lead in much of anything these days.

Re:Google needs lobbyists? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46744191)

You are an ignorant fuck. "Lobbying" the president does shit, except prevent him from vetoing a bill. Are you really that dense that you don't realize that lobbying is something that happens with Congress, not the president? Stop trying to turn this into your disdain for the president. How the hell did you get modded up to 3? Go buy some bitcoins.

down with congress (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46743871)

we should fill congress with random people from the population, like jury duty. then sequester them a year with no outside contact except through an anonymous chat system. pay would be 500k/year.

Google would be stupid not to (2)

steveha (103154) | about 6 months ago | (#46744543)

Consider the history of Microsoft. In the past, Microsoft didn't expend any significant money or effort on lobbying in Washington, D.C. Then during President Clinton's time in office, Microsoft faced serious threats from the Federal government... the worst being that a Federal judge actually ordered that Microsoft be split up. This order was voided by a higher court, so it didn't happen... but you had better believe that Microsoft took it as a hard lesson.

Microsoft now spends a great deal of money and effort on lobbying in D.C. I don't blame them for self-defense via lobbying. (I do blame them for attacking other companies via lobbying, if they do. See below for allegations that they do.)

Google isn't waiting for D.C. to turn on them; they are lobbying to "manage their relationship" with the Federal government. So is Facebook.

http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0411/52483.html [politico.com]

Here's an article from 2008 about Google learning the importance of lobbying. It includes allegations that Microsoft was using its lobbying infrastructure to try to prevent a deal Google was trying to make with Yahoo.

http://dealbook.nytimes.com/2008/10/20/google-learns-lessons-in-the-ways-of-washington/?_php=true&_type=blogs&_r=0 [nytimes.com]

Now I'm picturing Google using its leverage to attack Microsoft, and Eric Schmidt saying "The circle is now complete. In 2008, Google was just a student... now I am the master. [imdb.com] "

Re:Google would be stupid not to (1)

Stuntmonkey (557875) | about 6 months ago | (#46747557)

Being in the industry myself (technology that is, not politics), it is absolutely true that every one of the current tech companies learned a hard lesson from Microsoft. Apple, Google, Facebook, Amazon...they all have lobbying efforts.

This is all probably inevitable given the central position that technology has taken in our society. For decades technology was below the radar, more or less unregulated, and us geeks could be blissfully uninvolved in national politics. Now tech is like every other successful industry: You have to be present in the national debate or random -- generally bad -- things are likely to happen to you.

Re:Google would be stupid not to (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46749845)

Being in the industry myself (technology that is, not politics), it is absolutely true that every one of the current tech companies learned a hard lesson from Microsoft. Apple, Google, Facebook, Amazon...they all have lobbying efforts.

This is all probably inevitable given the central position that technology has taken in our society. For decades technology was below the radar, more or less unregulated, and us geeks could be blissfully uninvolved in national politics. Now tech is like every other successful industry: You have to be present in the national debate or random -- generally bad -- things are likely to happen to you.

Random... +1 Sardonic

nice article-spam, Microsoft. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46748505)

Meanwhile, Microsoft's PR behemoth doesn't fund academia at all, and instead resorts to astroturfing slashdot with sneering hatchet-pieces.

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