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'The Laws Are Written By Lobbyists,' Says Google's Schmidt 484

Posted by Soulskill
from the bought-and-paid-for dept.
An anonymous reader sends this excerpt from The Atlantic: "'The average American doesn't realize how much of the laws are written by lobbyists' to protect incumbent interests, Google CEO Eric Schmidt told Atlantic editor James Bennet at the Washington Ideas Forum. 'It's shocking how the system actually works.' In a wide-ranging interview that spanned human nature, the future of machines, and how Google could have helped the stimulus, Schmidt said technology could 'completely change the way government works.' 'Washington is an incumbent protection machine,' Schmidt said. 'Technology is fundamentally disruptive.' Mobile phones and personal technology, for example, could be used to record the bills that members of Congress actually read and then determine what stimulus funds were successfully spent." We discussed a specific example of this from the cable industry back in August.
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'The Laws Are Written By Lobbyists,' Says Google's Schmidt

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  • Not news (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday October 02, 2010 @05:04PM (#33772244)

    This isn't news. Anybody who hasn't been asleep the past 20 or more years already knows that organizations have stolen the government.

    Real news would be if somebody actually found a way to counteract their deeds.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday October 02, 2010 @05:06PM (#33772256)

    How is this still not common knowledge? Oh yea, there's no free money in knowing or fixing the system.

    For better or worse, Google is considered authoritative now, so someone might listen. I predict nothing changes.

  • Yes, and? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by kurokame (1764228) on Saturday October 02, 2010 @05:11PM (#33772278)
    Yeah, we know this already. There just isn't much to do about it short of:
    • Emigrating to another nation which likely has similar or worse problems.
    • Overthrowing the government, causing much misery and chaos, only to see it replaced with a similar or worse system.
    • Becoming a lobbyist.
    • Playing a very long game and hoping to change civilization for the better by altering the public's consensus worldview.
  • by openfrog (897716) on Saturday October 02, 2010 @05:17PM (#33772312)

    Despite comments to the effect that this is not news, these comments are quite interesting. Google has a capitalization comparable to the lobbyists of the kind of ATT and others, but here as well, they play differently, and more transparently. Mr. Schmidt's comments here reflect this difference.

    This is why this company still has the sympathy of slashdotters. Google's effort to advance Net neutrality and other issues pertaining to civil liberties and the Internet are to be appreciated, not derided cynically like I am reading here.

  • by commodore64_love (1445365) on Saturday October 02, 2010 @05:20PM (#33772330) Journal

    And this ("laws written by lobbyists") is why I don't think corporations should have free speech rights. They can have revocable *privileges* to run ads but should never have the right to hire, for example, a Microsoft lobbyists or RIAA lobbyists to block-out the voice of the people in the halls of Congress. Or to run ads to support their favorite puppet for Congress. The corporations have no more rights than a building.

    If Bill Gates or the RIAA CEO wants to lobby, let them hire the lobbyist from his personal salary, rather than using the corporation's billon-dollar treasury.

  • Re:I agree (Score:5, Insightful)

    by click2005 (921437) * on Saturday October 02, 2010 @05:34PM (#33772400)

    The public will never spend as much as frequently on buying politicians as companies do.

  • Re:Yes, and? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by catbutt (469582) on Saturday October 02, 2010 @05:35PM (#33772404)
    And point 4 is exactly what Schmidt is doing.

    Which would probably work, except for one thing standing in the way: people with attitudes just like yours.

    Instead of saying "yes we already know this", we should be saying "yes this is true, and we should be talking about it every day." Because it isn't going to be fixed unless people talk about it, and care about it....rather than just saying that we are effectively helpless to do anything about it.
  • by stimpleton (732392) on Saturday October 02, 2010 @05:36PM (#33772412)
    From the first line he refers to "average Americans" who do not realize the process.

    This applies to most societies, and is a euphemism for uneducated people(without a tertiary qualification).

    Or to quote a line from Blazing Saddles "...the common man. You know....Morons."

    "You know....Morons" will find the clip on You Tube I believe.
  • by fluffy99 (870997) on Saturday October 02, 2010 @05:38PM (#33772416)

    China operates like the Orwellian nightmare of a business, uprooting people and destroying history and nature in its relentless march forward, hoping to get where its going before something irrevocably breaks.

    If you're referring to China relocating entire villages for the 3 Gorges Dam project, I admire them for that decision. They had the balls to make a decision, that relocating 0.3% of their population was a good trade off for the major improvement in their ability to generate clean energy and not rely on foreign imported oil.

    I wish our country had those balls again, instead being slave to a few twats who insist that a few species of fish _might_ be helped by tearing down existing hydro dams. Being on the foreign oil teat is why the US is dicking around and pouring trillions into the Middle East conflicts.

  • Re:I agree (Score:5, Insightful)

    by postbigbang (761081) on Saturday October 02, 2010 @05:39PM (#33772424)

    When an individual does it, it's called bribery.

    When a lobbyist does it, it's great legislation.

    Flame or reality? Pick one.

  • by hsmith (818216) on Saturday October 02, 2010 @05:40PM (#33772430)
    If Gates had been lobbying before the IE lawsuits the way he is now, he wouldn't have had the problems he had. If he had been buying off congress like a good corporation does, he would have been just fine. They lobby because it is protection.
  • Re:Not news (Score:5, Insightful)

    by PapayaSF (721268) on Saturday October 02, 2010 @05:55PM (#33772518) Journal

    Real news would be if somebody actually found a way to counteract their deeds.

    No, the solution is well-known, just unpalatable to many people: stop having the government attempting to micromanage the economy. Every time Congress decides to treat one segment of the economy differently than another, through special taxes, regulations, subsidies, privileges, etc., the lobbyists will appear. Note that I am not arguing against all taxes and such, just pointing out that all such interference produces lobbyists.

    Besides, if you want Congress to (e.g.) redesign the health care system, do you think they would actually do a better job if doctors, hospitals, and drug companies weren't consulted at all? I don't. I think they'd end up with legislation that was even more clueless. Just because lobbyists are arguing for a particular group doesn't mean they're always wrong.

    If you want to minimize lobbyists, advocate against all special tax breaks and subsidies and for making taxes and regulation as uniform, sensible, and simple as possible.

  • Re:Not news (Score:4, Insightful)

    by WitnessForTheOffense (1669778) on Saturday October 02, 2010 @06:06PM (#33772584)

    Just because lobbyists are arguing for a particular group doesn't mean they're always wrong.

    No, it just means they're always biased and will use the truth to manipulate the legislative process to favor their interests. The most dangerous lies are 99% true.

  • Re:Yes, and? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by catbutt (469582) on Saturday October 02, 2010 @06:10PM (#33772608)
    I disagree on point 1. First, I think it is a separate problem. I also think it is stupid to do so. Nader voters doing just that in 2000 gave the election to GWB.

    That problem is solvable by having a ranked voting system (as we have here in San Francisco), and using a Condorcet method [wikipedia.org] for tabulating the ballots (unfortunatly SF's system is not condorcet but "instant runoff"....still its better than plurality)

    Still....different issue. Important issue, yes, but not the same issue.

    Regardless, suggesting that the problem would only be solved if human behavior was suddenly different doesn't help anything. It's almost like saying that we'd have less plane crashes if only we didn't have bad weather. Well duh, but that doesn't help.
  • So...? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Aragorn DeLunar (311860) on Saturday October 02, 2010 @06:11PM (#33772616)

    Who do you want writing laws that govern complicated industries (high-tech, medical, etc.): a bunch of politicians, or people who actually work in those respective industries? Does the average congressman with a law degree understand the nuances of intertube technology (too soon? nah.), for example? I have no problem with industries proposing or even drafting legislation, provided that our elected representatives and their staffs actually read and digest the bills to ensure that the law is fair, enforceable, and beneficial.

  • Re:Not news (Score:3, Insightful)

    by istartedi (132515) on Saturday October 02, 2010 @06:19PM (#33772662) Journal

    You have decided to use violent revolution to overthrow the government. Now you have two problems.

    Don't worry though. We can drop brown tree snakes on the revolutionaries. The snakes? We can drop poisoned frozen mice on them.

  • by Iron Condor (964856) on Saturday October 02, 2010 @06:19PM (#33772676)

    Google is doing very well these days - they can afford to be the white hat guy.

    Wait till their fortunes start to decline. Then we'll shall see what they're truly made of .

    Anybody can weather adversity. There's no strength in that, no quality of character to be discerned.

    If you truly want to see a man's character, give him power. Give him free reign. Don't try to confine or constrain him, but let him act at his every whim. That's when you learn what someone's made of.

  • by IICV (652597) on Saturday October 02, 2010 @06:23PM (#33772690)

    Do you.. do you really think that the reason why we're not building more hydroelectric dams is because of the Greens?

    You realize that they have almost exactly zero political power, right? The reason why we're not spending money on infrastructure like green energy (or even just fixing up the energy sources we currently have) is pretty clearly explained here [wordpress.com]. And if you don't believe me, just look at our budget - actions (or in this case, budget allocations) speak louder than words.

  • Very true (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Sycraft-fu (314770) on Saturday October 02, 2010 @06:33PM (#33772754)

    Despite what some whiners online may say, America really is a free country both in that you can say what you want, and that the people have the power to change the government. What that means is that if you want to organize around candidates to change the current system, the government can't stop you, and that if you vote those candidates in to power, that is that.

    The only obstacle is people who are whiny and say nothing can be changed. Bullshit, it can so. Doesn't mean it is easy, doesn't mean it won't take time and effort, but it can be done. One of the first steps is just getting the message out. Let people know what is going on, and so on.

    This is precisely the same as the "third party" bullshit. "Oh voting for a third party candidate is throwing your vote away." No, that is only the case if idiots continue to believe that and not vote third party. If you look around, you find that at a state level third party candidates have won and held office. There is no evil force that keeps them out, only the force of apathy/whinyness from people who say "It can't be done."

    Americans DO have the power to change their government, however to do so they have to understand this fact, and exercise it. Bitching does no good.

  • Re:I agree (Score:3, Insightful)

    by postbigbang (761081) on Saturday October 02, 2010 @06:45PM (#33772814)

    ....no external input? How much was that? Does a cogent argument get put in, or one that's bought and paid for?

    The flames you'll get refers to your sense that we're somehow 'Balkanized' when in fact, we're simply bought and paid for these days with little regard to the consequences. Most of the turmoil in the US today can be traced this way:

    1) reduced, paid for banking and stock/commodity purchases were a result of blind-eye regulations towards Wall Street
    2) the economy needed a boost, so we turned a hunt for Bin Laden into three costly wars and still don't have Bin Laden
    3) the telcos bribed everyone, and now net neutrality is just about a thing of the past
    4) we allowed corporations to keep earnings outside the USA, and also export labor away from union shops to the third world, and did a free trade agreement to 'help' Mexico and Canada.

    There are lots more. Bought and paid for. Have a nice day.

  • Re:Not news (Score:5, Insightful)

    by P0ltergeist333 (1473899) on Saturday October 02, 2010 @06:52PM (#33772860)

    Real news would be if somebody actually found a way to counteract their deeds.

    No, the solution is well-known, just unpalatable to many people: stop having the government attempting to micromanage the economy. Every time Congress decides to treat one segment of the economy differently than another, through special taxes, regulations, subsidies, privileges, etc., the lobbyists will appear. Note that I am not arguing against all taxes and such, just pointing out that all such interference produces lobbyists.

    Epic fail. Your words utterly fail to match reality. First off, even if there were no regulations, they would still be lobbying as much (more, actually, since 'regulation' also covers lobbying) to get favorable treatment, government contracts, etc. etc. Secondly, during our best and strongest years(post-WW2), the top tax rate was in the 90's, the banks were heavily regulated, and the government was distributing a large percentage of the GDP for the general welfare of people including helping retired and poor people with their bills and medical expenses, many grants for health and other technologies, and infrastructure (such as highways, power, water, and communications) without which both the commercial and private sectors (of the whole world, and especially the US) would have stagnated and possibly had another dark age!

    Both the commercial sector AND government can be great positive OR negative forces. Crippling EITHER is sheer idiocy! We merely need to curtail the TRUE threats without succumbing to slippery slope rhetoric by the radicals.

  • Re:In other news (Score:4, Insightful)

    by lostmongoose (1094523) on Saturday October 02, 2010 @07:28PM (#33773080)
    Keep digging, Watson.
  • by cdrguru (88047) on Saturday October 02, 2010 @07:30PM (#33773090) Homepage

    The founders in an incredible amount of foresight and wisdom knew that an "efficient" goverment is a dictatorship - one man making decisions and implementing them immediately. This is the best it could get to be as there would be no need for endless debating, no filibusters, no gridlock.

    The only problem is, how well can you choose your dictator? Experience and history shows that a really good choice of dictator is rare and doesn't last very long even if you get a good one. So this idea of an efficient government was discarded.

    There is another problem with an efficient government. We have somewhere in the neighborhood of 10 million laws - probably not an exaggeration. A new law takes days at a minimum regardless of it being a municipal, state or federal law. Some take months or even years to enact. Can you imagine a process that made passing laws "efficient" so it only took minutes? What would we be saddled with?

    Sure, the US government has grown to the point where the Congresscritters are unable to keep up and are relying on external help. Can you just imagine what it would be like if there was no gridlock, no filibustering and things got done in an efficient manner? We might have to double the size of Congress just to be able to process stuff and keep things flowing. That would be the goal, right? To keep things flowing and passing more and more bills, laws, regulations and requirements.

    The US government was designed to be horribly inefficient and to have so much momentum that it was virtually impossible to pass anything unless a lot of people really, really believed it was necessary to do so. And still we have millions of laws and more all the time. I'd say it is working as designed.

  • by lostmongoose (1094523) on Saturday October 02, 2010 @07:32PM (#33773106)
    You make it sound like that's a bad thing.
  • by fluffy99 (870997) on Saturday October 02, 2010 @07:32PM (#33773110)

    Do you.. do you really think that the reason why we're not building more hydroelectric dams is because of the Greens?

    They have some political power, certainly at the local levels. The oil companies have immense political influence and they stand to lose revenues if alternative energy sources are exploited. If you look up the history of the Grand Coulee dam for example, you'll see that oil and traditional power generation companies almost sank the project.

  • Re:So...? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Haedrian (1676506) on Saturday October 02, 2010 @07:36PM (#33773132)

    I personally do believe in a Technocratic system of government - but that's beside the point.

    The problem is this:

    People start companies to earn money. They take care of their clients because it earns them more money, and they provide a quality service for the same reason.

    Now if a company decides to write the rules - without having to stick its head out - and when it already dominates the market - what do you think its going to be in aid of? Are the movie companies going to draft a law which reduces their profits?

    No way.

    Everyone pulls towards their interests. Now capitalism has the happy effect of "The needs of the rich outweigh the needs of the many", and when you give power to people who want money - they will /NOT/ produce any bills which do not suit them.

    Which is where this fails.

  • by Haedrian (1676506) on Saturday October 02, 2010 @07:47PM (#33773202)

    Something to think about:

    Companies depend on selling their products to the masses. Therefore, you may not realise it, but we actually hold the key to destroying them if we wanted to. The problem is that people are undirected, they do not wish to take a stand. It is only the chosen few who actually become 'leaders' , and usually they start doing what suits THEM instead of what suits the masses.

    When the masses stop being controlled by the media, and are able to THINK - and decide that they do want change, and realise that THEY hold the power - then the world will change dramatically.

    But that's never going to happen, so I guess we're stuck in this hellhole.

  • by shadowofwind (1209890) on Saturday October 02, 2010 @08:01PM (#33773298)

    Actually environmental protection, primarily in relation to salmon, has been a big issue in relation to dams. It doesn't take enormous political clout, just a few favorable regulations and court rulings. The hydroelectric companies like Idaho Power aren't tremendously strong politically either. I agree with your general pro-environmentalist sentiment though.

  • by macraig (621737) <mark.a.craig@g[ ]l.com ['mai' in gap]> on Saturday October 02, 2010 @08:33PM (#33773470)

    Remember the old cliche, "the victors write the history books"?

    It's incomplete. The victors - both military AND economic - also draft the laws.

    Most of our legislative burden, that portion not derived directly from common law, is all about serving primarily the interests of our "captains of industry" and "pillars of society", preserving and increasing the control and material resources acquired at the expense of everyone else. Any beneficial fallout for the rest of We The People is purely accidental and not really intended.

  • Re:Very true (Score:5, Insightful)

    by The Hatchet (1766306) on Saturday October 02, 2010 @08:55PM (#33773574)

    That is right, in America, I am free to live in debt slavery until I die from a simple medical condition I can't pay for. That is pretty much how it goes unless you are born into money, or happen to be in the 99.99th percentile of people in your city, the 1 or 2 people that actually get out and do something with their lives. You try accomplishing something when you can barely pay your bills working your ass off every single fucking night.

    When 1% of the country owns 95% of its assets, they can easily out-finance political campaigns and win any election. Just look at Fox news, successfully spouting total lies (don't believe me, just watch 10 minutes, write everything down, and painstakingly fact check it. I have spent more than 8 hours doing this, and have not found a single truth on that channel), and yet, despite the lies, a large number of people believe everything they say totally without question. You try fixing a system that fucked up, I have been trying my whole life.

  • by x2A (858210) on Saturday October 02, 2010 @09:39PM (#33773760)

    "Something that the US has a hard time with"

    To be fair, the US seems to be having a hard time with passing bills that have long or short term effects! Every time I look at what Congress seems to be doing I end up wondering how there's even a country left! How it needs that many people to make doing nothing as slow as they've made it is beyond me!

    Am completely with you on the China front. Human rights abuses aside (which our countries have more than our fair shares of - just that ours are primarily in countries other than our own) it's hard not to look at China's ability to actually do things without feeling mighty envious!

  • by dh003i (203189) <dh003iNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Saturday October 02, 2010 @10:31PM (#33773998) Homepage Journal

    "bills that members of Congress actually read and then determine what stimulus funds were successfully spent."

    Members of Congress read the bills?

  • by sonicmerlin (1505111) on Saturday October 02, 2010 @10:45PM (#33774054)
    You're a retard, you know that? He just said he barely makes enough to support himself despite working hard every day. The top 20% of the country owns 87% of the wealth. The bottom 60% owns less than 1% of the wealth. What the heck is anyone supposed to do when half of those paupers vote for politicians who want to give MORE money to the rich?
  • by Bob9113 (14996) on Saturday October 02, 2010 @10:48PM (#33774060) Homepage

    I completely agree that our foreign entanglements budget and general military budget are wildly out of control, and should be vastly curtailed.

    Another two to look at are Social Security and health care.

    Social Security will eat the entire GDP in the not too distant future if the age threshold is not raised. Check out the numbers, they are as bad as the military (and rising significantly faster).

    Health care is becoming too expensive; lots of reasons for this, including a ton of protectionism, lawyerism, and corruption, but the one that cannot be fixed is this: Our technological ability to keep people alive is advancing faster than the GDP growth rate can keep up with. At some point, we will have to stop paying for everyone's maximum possible life extension (either by choice or by collapse).

    Not trying to piss in your cheerios -- you're right about the military -- just pointing out two other oncoming trains that are bigger and faster. Check the numbers for yourself -- they're scary.

  • by russotto (537200) on Saturday October 02, 2010 @10:56PM (#33774128) Journal

    Do you.. do you really think that the reason why we're not building more hydroelectric dams is because of the Greens?

    You realize that they have almost exactly zero political power, right?

    Nonsense. They have enough power to throw sand into the process to sink about any large project. Even if they don't get a court to shut down the project, they manage to get delay after delay after delay, adding so much risk and cost that the investors back out.

  • Re:In other news (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Bigjeff5 (1143585) on Saturday October 02, 2010 @11:09PM (#33774190)

    Shouldn't that lend credibility to the argument?

    I'm not sure what you're protesting here - a company with one of the biggest lobbying machines letting everybody know that lobbyists write the rules, and that it should not be that way.

    Sounds downright noble to me.

    You think Sony is going to tell you that (they've helped write a number of copyright laws, fyi)?

  • Re:Not news (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Idiomatick (976696) on Saturday October 02, 2010 @11:33PM (#33774286)
    Ahahaha. Sometimes libertarians crack me up.

    Corporations are too powerful and our government gets controlled by them. To counteract this we should allow companies to become more powerful, less restricted and take powers away from the government, reel it in.

    Almost as good as the teapartiers. "Can you believe the government is in so much debt??? Obama needs to cut taxes across the board NOW!"

    Completely 100% not based in reality.
  • by The_mad_linguist (1019680) on Saturday October 02, 2010 @11:45PM (#33774344)

    What do you mean, "almost exactly zero political power"? They're behind the dearth of atomic energy in the US.

  • by The Hatchet (1766306) on Sunday October 03, 2010 @12:09AM (#33774442)

    See, you not only don't know how to read, but jump up on all the typical bullshit. For starters, I am trying. I have been trying, I go to college all day, work in my spare time, and I have been working on several inventions, and trying to sell them in what time I have left. I work my ass off every day of my life, and yet have no choice but to live in debt slavery, no matter how hard I try to fix shit. And I do all of that with Cluster Headaches, the most painful medical condition known to medicine. Most of the time I am working to improve my situation, but I wasn't born into money, so I will still be living in debt slavery working at some corporate giant giving away my expertise for a tiny ass paycheck watching my ideas and ingenuity going to make the world worse instead of better.

    Also, I like what Fox says, I WISH it were true. But it is a load of bullshit that keeps hard working people like me inpoverished and overworked while getting nothing back. I am also an eagle scout and spead a good deal of time doing voluntary community service.

    At least those people can Afford to go to a 3rd world country to fix it. I could live for a month of the cost of a plane ticket, and I frequently have to. Now is it ok to whine while at the same time doing everything to get into a better situation? Yes it is you ignorant jack ass. go back to living the easy life getting mad that the poor people who work 20 hours a day are so lazy. Fuck you.

  • Re:Not news (Score:5, Insightful)

    by JesseMcDonald (536341) on Sunday October 03, 2010 @01:07AM (#33774670) Homepage

    Corporations are too powerful and our government gets controlled by them. To counteract this we should allow companies to become more powerful, less restricted and take powers away from the government, reel it in.

    The corporations aren't "too powerful" in their own right; they simply have too much influence over the government, given the amount of power the government has over everyone else (which is another problem quite apart from corporate influence). There are two aspects to solving this issue. One is to reduce the power of governments, which simultaneously limits the power available for corporations to influence. The other is to reduce the influence corporations have over the government. Both are worthwhile goals.

    Almost as good as the teapartiers. "Can you believe the government is in so much debt??? Obama needs to cut taxes across the board NOW!"

    You missed an "..." in your "quote". Public debt and high taxes are both very real problems, a fact acknowledged (to varying degrees) by both major political parties. Obviously the only way to solve either problem without making the other worse is to spend less, which is also a goal of the "Tea Party".

    Basic financial management for governments is no different from financial management for individuals: first, earn a productive income (i.e. not stolen from others); second, maintain your capital investments (needs); third, plan for the future (pay down debts, save & invest); fourth, consume (satisfy wants). Taxes are a symptom of failing the first step. Debt and degrading infrastructure are symptoms of erroneously prioritizing consumption.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday October 03, 2010 @01:11AM (#33774678)

    " Already long ago, from when we sold our vote to no man, the People have abdicated our duties; for the People who once upon a time handed out military command, high civil office, legions — everything, now restrains itself and anxiously hopes for just two things: bread and circuses."

    --Juvenal, 100AD (If Wiki is correct that is)

    “How fortunate for leaders that men do not think.”

    --Hitler

    "If a nation expects to be ignorant and free, in a state of civilization, it expects what never was and never will be."
    --Thomas Jefferson

  • by elucido (870205) * on Sunday October 03, 2010 @01:45AM (#33774810)

    There will always be ways to manipulate or get people to do what you want them to do. Bribes may be the best way but threats work very well on people who have a lot to lose.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday October 03, 2010 @04:17AM (#33775208)

    Not this again. Yes, most of the oil the US uses comes from Canada. But this is little more than a logistic convenience. A barrel of oil is a barrel of oil no matter where in the world it's produced. If the US buys all of Canada's oil, there's that much less oil in the world market, meaning SA and pals can get a higher price for it.

    There are two things that matter: how much the US uses on oil, and how much the middle east profits from oil. Both amounts are virtually unaffected by which countries buy which ooil.

  • Re:This just in (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Fantastic Lad (198284) on Sunday October 03, 2010 @04:40AM (#33775270)

    I would put it to the readers that overall "the great experiment" has turned out better than one could have hoped.

    Depends on whose perspective you are taking. If the goal of the experiment was to achieve domination of the public mind and the turning of everybody into an acting sociopath, then it's been very successful I would say.

    Secret wars, deals and shenanigans are generally less prevalent as the decades roll on (granted this is also evident world-wide).

    What are you basing that on? I think people are, if anything, MORE easily trained into going along with lies and manipulations than ever before. Who needs a secret war when people will go along with a public one? Who needs shenanigans when people are willing to put up with corruption happening right in front of their eyes. Consider the bailout fiasco, as a massive for instance.

    There are no more Rothschilds/Habsburgs.

    That's not true.

    -FL

  • by DrJimbo (594231) on Sunday October 03, 2010 @07:04AM (#33775644)

    Social Security will eat the entire GDP in the not too distant future if the age threshold is not raised. Check out the numbers, they are as bad as the military (and rising significantly faster).

    Bull. Shit. You seem to have fallen for the pro-corporate propaganda. There are many other ways to "fix" Social Security. For example, if people making over $100,000 per year contributed at the same rate as poorer people then the problems would be solved for the foreseeable future. In fact, this is what Obama promised to do before he got elected.

    Health care is becoming too expensive; lots of reasons for this, including a ton of protectionism, lawyerism, and corruption, but the one that cannot be fixed is this: Our technological ability to keep people alive is advancing faster than the GDP growth rate can keep up with. At some point, we will have to stop paying for everyone's maximum possible life extension (either by choice or by collapse).

    More of the same. The problem with our health care system is simple. We can basically do three things with our health care system:

    1. Provide affordable health care
    2. Provide effective health care
    3. Fund obscene corporate profits

    Pick any two. Unfortunately, both the Dems and the Repubs keep picking option (3) making it impossible for us to have the first two options together. If insurance companies are trying to maximize shareholder value then their job is to minimize the health care that is provided while maximizing the cost of that care. They are very good at their job.

    The idea of fixing the economy by increasing the income gap between the rich and the poor makes about as much sense as dousing a fire with gasoline.

  • Re:NO.. really? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by SomeKDEUser (1243392) on Sunday October 03, 2010 @10:42AM (#33776374)

    Oh, no. Not the same standard of living. Not remotely.

    We live much, much better. In fact, if you want to live with all the gadgets from the 60s, you don't need double income. You probably only need part of the first income. data [gapminder.org]

    Do we live better? well, living better depends not only on income, but also health and education. And there was significant progress. more data [gapminder.org] -- but only since the 80s, although I will submit to you this interesting graph of child mortality: graph [gapminder.org].

    So what is obvious to you is in fact plain wrong. And this is a big issue, because you are not the only one: hardly anyone looks at the actual data to decide whether things are really getting worse. BTW, one of the things is getting worse in the US these days, and that is inequality. Look for the graphs showing the gini coefficient.

    And before I conclude, one last graph, showing the effect of women's education on family size -- because you are arguing, whether you realise it or not, that half of the potential workforce should get no education. And sadly, this half will be women. graph [gapminder.org] Push the play button. Largish families of the sixties and stay-at-home mothers are a consequence of a largely uneducated female population, forced in that role. And it's a guy telling you that.

  • by SomeKDEUser (1243392) on Sunday October 03, 2010 @12:06PM (#33776930)

    Income mobility is remarkably low in the US. There was an economist article on that a while back.

    Also, about the government being inefficient: this is a huge strawman: the government is meant to fill those niches which cannot be filled by the market, because the externalities are hugely positives but there is no profit (roads for example). Also those niches which are natural monopolies: in this case profit can be extracted, but this profit is pure loss for the society, utilities tend to be like that, telcos can tend to that point, collectively, health insurance companies are like that. This is something the US gov does badly, in that it doesn't take over these roles as much as it should.

    Also, the UN recommends lowering the income inequality, because this helps growth. This is obvious: markets depending on the choice of a few select individuals are vastly less efficients than markets depending on the collective choices of a great many individuals: in other words, although some guy is a really clever investor and became hugely rich, you cannot depend on them to invest efficiently all of his money: the choices are too numerous and complex.

  • Re:I agree (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday October 03, 2010 @12:09PM (#33776954)

    The average starting salary for congressional staffers who go into lobbying after one term as a staffer is over $700,000.00 per year.

    Wow! What's the source for that statistic?

  • Re:So...? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by sjames (1099) on Sunday October 03, 2010 @03:08PM (#33777998) Homepage

    I want the bills drafted by people who actually represent the PEOPLE as a whole. To do so, they may find that they need to consult hired independent experts in those industries. Otherwise we get a bunch of know-nothings taking the word of "industry experts" with a lot of vested interest rubber stamping whatever they want.

    To do so, they will be called upon to tirelessly educate themselves in a variety of disciplines. That's the job (for which they are well compensated both tangibly and intangibly) and if they don't want it, there's plenty of bright people with a genuine love for learning who will gladly step in.

  • Re:NO.. really? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by x2A (858210) on Sunday October 03, 2010 @03:37PM (#33778128)

    "Yet another stubborn attitude"

    Perhaps it's a little stubborn on both sides, no? If you know that your attitude towards them triggers the response of them digging their heals in (which you blatently do know, because it's a bit hard to miss that there are people like this!) and you do not adapt your interactions with them to try to avoid this from happening, then you're being just as stubborn as they are with the same results (their and your stubbornness results in them digging their heals in).

    "I know that most people are like this, and that it's simply illogical"

    It's not in the slightest... this just comes down to you not making enough attempt to understand things from others points of view (or you make the attempt but lack the experience to achieve the understanding). How do you expect to sell somebody on the idea that what you're proposing to them will result in them being treated better, if you won't even show them a basic level of respect (or you do but then drop it as soon as they challenge you or disagree with you on something)?

    I know it's a pain having to bite your tongue for stupid/complacent people, but if you're not even willing to do that, can you really expect someone else to make the sacrifices that will affect their family for the same thing?

    "protesting, for example, won't take up all or even a majority of their time"

    Oh come on, being a complainy-pants won't achieve anything, because people protesting doesn't mean anything. Sorry, I know protesters hate to hear that, but let me give you an example as to why. In my country at the moment there are people protesting left right and center over public spending cuts. Problem is, the government was only voted in a few months back, and they were voted in saying "we're going to make massive cuts"!! Despite massive protests over the Iraq war, both Bush and Blair both got voted in again! Protests are just talk because they're not backed up by the actions that actually matter, like a change in how the majority votes, or boycotts.

    And boycotts is the important one here. What people need to wake up to is that democracy doesn't start and stop at election times. Every pound, or dollar, is a vote, and it's up to you who you give it to. You buy cokacola, and you have blood on your hands, plain and simple. You can fill the streets with people protesting the arming of militias that kill union leaders in developing countries as part of the process of removing workers rights, but if those people then go quench their thirst by buying cans of cokacola... their protest said one thing, but their actions said another, which is "we support the murder of union workers so that we can have a cheap fizzy drink".

    That's where real responsibility lies. So you're not asking families to take a day out here and there to protest something, not if you really want to make a difference. You have to get them to stop supporting evil - at least to the best of their abilities (as you can never be 100% sure about everything you buy) - at least enough for there to be an obvious competative advantage for companies to stop oppressing people because they know their profits will be slashed otherwise.

    You can blame the government or expect the government to deal with these issues all you like, but if you're serious about actually working towards solving the problem, rather than just "feeling" like you're doing something about it, then you have to stop passing the buck to the guys at the top, and start looking at the people who're putting and holding them there.

  • Re:I agree (Score:2, Insightful)

    by floorgoblin (869743) on Sunday October 03, 2010 @10:04PM (#33780594)
    Could you provide a citation for this? Not that I think you're wrong, necessarily, but that seems to be a bit on the extreme end. Why would any staffer work longer than one term, if that were the case? I could believe that some staffers make that much straight off the job, but I would doubt that most do. If it is true, I would like to be able to back it up with evidence!
  • Re:I agree (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday October 04, 2010 @11:56AM (#33784716)

    I would disagree highly. Perhaps it's just my state or county, but personally knowing many people who are staffers for both the Pennsylvania House of Rep's and the US House of Rep's for PA, they're paid about $20,000 - $30,000 a year. In my county, of course. It's barely above our poverty line (approximately 20 grand a year).

    The actual representatives, of course, are a different story. Most of the money they receive is used for their campaigns, and their base salary is whatever the House or Senate pays them. For the Pennsylvania House of Representatives, the pay isn't that great - not exactly upper middle class here. A family friend that is in the PA House barely makes more money there than as she did as a Commissioner of the county.

    Again, this is for the PA House and US House. It's commonly understood that a representative that moves up from the House to the Senate is a raise/promotion, so to speak.

    But about the lobbyists controlling congress? All I have to say is "DUH!" C'mon now. This is the land of the free and the home of the dollar.

There is hardly a thing in the world that some man can not make a little worse and sell a little cheaper.

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