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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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  • by Shivetya (243324) on Saturday October 02, 2010 @04:10PM (#33772274) Homepage Journal

    Oh, I WTFV, but still, like there have been other oracles before him, it matters not. Technology has change government, it has given it more methods to keep people in line, to feed them what they want, to play one class off another, to better mince boundary lines to keep officials in power, to better redistribute wealth to do what boundaries cannot, and a host of other abuses. We have all the fun of McCain/Feingold followed by an Administration that seems to have free speech if it is of a differing opinion. One that takes the worst of the previous abuser and exaggerates them.

    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. China has to look over its shoulder as well, up and coming countries arise all the time, each more hungry than the last. Let alone their real problem, how to keep North Korea from causing an all out war next door.

  • Re:Not news (Score:3, Interesting)

    by masmullin (1479239) <masmullin@gmail.com> on Saturday October 02, 2010 @04:11PM (#33772286)

    corporate interests will eventually destroy your country (similar to the recent recession, but worse, far worse) and you will get to rebuild it.

    T-minus 14 years.

  • by rantomaniac (1876228) on Saturday October 02, 2010 @04:30PM (#33772378)

    I suspect it's simply impossible to create a non-corrupt government that manages a country that big and is so far removed from its citizens. Going back to the roots and organizing ourselves into something akin to city-states might allow us to keep closer control over the people we designate.
    Diversity of laws can be a problem, but at least nowadays with online communications it'd be easier for such city-states to cooperate on treaties.
    A question that arises is whether it wouldn't actually empower corporations more, with smaller states having smaller budgets than industry leaders.

  • “The few practice lawful plunder upon the many, a common practice where the right to participate in the making of law is limited to a few persons.” – Frédéric Bastiat, The Law

    And this is why Google wants 'net neutrality' - so it can protect itself from competitors by writing the laws that define its industry. The concept is called a nonmarket strategy.

  • Re:Not news (Score:5, Interesting)

    by commodore64_love (1445365) on Saturday October 02, 2010 @05:06PM (#33772578) Journal

    >>>T-minus 14 years.

    Maybe the 50 Member States should call a constitutional convention before that happens, and add a few amendments such as "Corporations do not have the same rights as the People." ALSO: "When one-half of the Legislatures of the Member States declare a Law unconstitutional, it shall be null and void from the moment of its enactment."

    AND: "The task of examining Laws and determining constitutionality shall reside in a Constitutional Court, independent of the United States, whose 7 justices shall serve for 20 years, and be chusen by the Governors of the States by simple majority ballot. They shall have power to overturn or affirm cases previously examined by the Supreme Court." AND: "Strike the clause 'and general Welfare'."

    *
    *The typical SCOTUS judge serves 29 years. I consider that too long, so I made it two-thirds that length.

  • by biryokumaru (822262) <biryokumaru@gmail.com> on Saturday October 02, 2010 @05:07PM (#33772586)

    That's actually a misconception. Oil from "Persian Gulf" countries only accounts for 17% [doe.gov] of foreign oil consumption, which is a mere 51% (same link) of our total oil usage, which is only 59% [doe.gov] (Liquids + Natural Gas) of our total energy consumption. That makes Persian Gulf oil a mere 5% of our total energy usage. Our Nuclear usage is more than that (8%, second link), and everyone knows we hate Nuclear in the US.

    The connection between our interests in the middle east and our oil needs is tenuous at best. What we really need the balls to do is build more Nuclear plants. Here China is again a great example, with 23 [world-nuclear.org] new reactors presently under construction.

  • by commodore64_love (1445365) on Saturday October 02, 2010 @05:25PM (#33772712) Journal

    >>>they play differently

    Hardly. Google slashdot's recent articles about Google's various pushes for new anti-citizen or anti-net neutrality laws.

  • by mjwalshe (1680392) on Saturday October 02, 2010 @05:55PM (#33772878)
    that’s the tough one some ideas of the top of my head

    1 get rid of a lot the states powers,
    2 the parties need to get party discipline and throw out the "nutters".
    3 have strict uk style election campaign limits
    4 replace the vast expenditure on tv campaigning with uk model of party political broadcasts.
    5 have more equal constituency sizes (which will stop small agricultural states leaching of the bigger ones)
    6 force all organizations (Unions and Company) to run a political fund for any lobbying and have it confirmed by vote every 7 years with opt out allowed)
  • by Man Eating Duck (534479) on Saturday October 02, 2010 @07:11PM (#33773356)

    Sounds like you want the US to rewrite it's entire constitution from scratch.

    I'm genuinely curious (I'm a foreigner), why would that be? I don't know enough about the US constitution to say anything about points 5-6, but 1-4 doesn't seem to be against it? Educate me :)

    Among other things, it sounds like you want the US to go to a parliamentary setup voting for parties instead of the current situation where the people vote for individuals.

    I'm still genuinely curious. Is your constitution based on voting for individuals, not political principles? Don't regard this as an attack, but I'd appreciate a short explanation :)

  • by Tork (68319) on Saturday October 02, 2010 @07:14PM (#33773376)

    So, the obvious question becomes why DOESN'T google start something like Google for Governments, and offer legislative tools for all levels of Government, from local to federal.

    Have easy, gmail-style interfaces to thread-based tool which exposes version changes and their source - and then make it open to the public so the public can see who, exactly, introduced what, and further, have it linked to relavent, search-based results. Offer it free to Governments to use in all proceedings, from City Council meetings to Senate subcommittees, and if Governments elect not to use the tools, then for the general public, automate the same sort of bill tracking, infographics, &c., and incorporate public secrets-type info to elevate what is a great existing resource beyond a wall of text such that voters can have a sense of where, and why, actions are taken (or not).

    Again, why doesn't google do what it does best, organize information for consumption? This seems like a slam dunk for Google - they have the knowledge, skills and abilities in house, and have already/are currently developing the traditionally hard parts (e.g., linking information) as a part of their core business.

  • by fredjh (1602699) on Saturday October 02, 2010 @09:55PM (#33774110)

    This country was FOUNDED on the idea of state's rights, regardless of how far away we've gone from that.

    The federal government was supposed to provide for a common defense and regulate interstate commerce (in a somewhat EU like manner, but there's too many differences). The states were supposed to be largely independent.

    The constitution specified SPECIFIC duties of the federal government and left EVERYTHING ELSE to the states or individuals.

    If you're thinking that doesn't sound like how the U.S. is run today, you'd be pretty smart.

    And yes, we vote for individuals... it should be a good way to do it, because you are supposed to get an ideology but with an individual's nuance, which should be clearly stated before the election. It doesn't work out that way, though. Today we more or less treat it like you're voting for a party. Not me, but it's true for the majority of voters, sadly.

  • Re:Not news (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Bigjeff5 (1143585) on Saturday October 02, 2010 @10:19PM (#33774234)

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

    I've got news for you: it's always been this way.

    This is not some new phenomenon in the last 20 years, the industry has always written its own laws. Most recently, the financial industry wrote the Financial Reform Act. 200 years ago, guess who wrote the copyright laws? If you said the book industry, you win a gold star! Today it's the music and movie industry writing the copyright laws - welcome the new boss, same as the old boss. Guess who is going to be writing the offshore drilling laws that will be coming out in the next year or so?

    The fact is, there is no other way to do it. Politicians do not know shit about a lot of this stuff. Sad, but true. Frankly, they can't. So when a new law needs to be written, they turn to the experts: industry insiders. This is a double edged sword, and over the years politicians have gotten very good at cutting themselves with it. Unfortunately, the politicians don't hold themselves accountable for following bad advice, and the people rarely hold politicians accountable for fucking their lives over.

    Industry should be afraid of the government, and the government should be afraid of the people. We let things slide though, and it just gets perpetually worse and worse. Maybe some day we'll snap out of it, but I think it's far more likely that we'll just get used to it instead.

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

    by rtb61 (674572) on Saturday October 02, 2010 @10:28PM (#33774266) Homepage

    More like,

    PR stooge - Plese sir, Dr. Schmidt sir, pardon me but you made yourself look like a real perverted arse hole when you claimed nobody has a right to privacy from you and, you need to fix it because it is severely damaging Google's image and your job is on the line.
    Scmidt - Can I blame the new guy or the pervert engineer.
    PR Stooge - not really sir, the words came out of your mouth publicly, but you could point the finger out someone else for something worse.
    Schmidt - worse, there is nothing evil in prying into everyone's private life, we need to keep an eye on all those families and help them to make the right decisions, the ones our advertising clients have paid for.
    PR Stooge - most families would consider that evil as the decisions are often not in their best interests but 'er' speaking of evil how about we change the topic and stop talking about privacy and pick on the lobbyists instead, they are definitely more 'er' not as family supportive as us.
    Schmidt - but we have lobbyists on the payroll trying to lock in our version of 'we have the right to analyse all your data which is now ours net neutrality'.
    PR stooge, doesn't matter everyone know lobbyists are lying, deceitful, corrupt, who will say and support anything they are paid too and the public will still accept it and, as long as we continue to pay ours they will accept anything you do or say, profits first, last and everything in between, the sociopath lobbyist motto after all.
    Schmidt - OK.

    The rest of us - really how gullible do you think we are?

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

    by Ifni (545998) on Saturday October 02, 2010 @11:24PM (#33774508) Homepage

    Let me impart a little lesson on reading between the lines. You read that sentence and see "family values." Why shouldn't taking care of your home and raising your children be more important than taking an interest and participating in your government?

    I read that sentence and I see the destruction of the nuclear family. Why is the parent picking up a child from daycare rather than caring for it at home? The reason, of course, is that most families are now dual income, with both parents working, which means that they do not have time to stay home and raise children. This was not true 50 years ago. It seems obvious to me that this is not progress - twice as much work must be done to achieve the same standard of living, though granted, with more cool gadgets. How did this come to pass? Politics. So, it seems obvious to me that taking an active interest in politics might be easily as important as many of the mundane things we do as part of our regular schedule.

    It is less immediate, sure, but not less important.

  • Re:Not news (Score:3, Interesting)

    by JesseMcDonald (536341) on Saturday October 02, 2010 @11:40PM (#33774578) Homepage

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

    Exactly. Violent revolutions are a triumph of mob aggression over organized aggression. Assuming the revolution is successful, you're still left with aggression, which will become more organized over time until you're back where you started.

    To defeat organized aggression you have to start from the other end. The first step is to ignore the aggressor: reject its claims of legitimacy and stop responding reflectively to its power. When the aggressor responds according to its nature, as it must inevitably do, only then can you respond proportionally in self-defense. If your defense is ultimately successful then the result is a triumph over aggression itself (at least for a time—"the price of freedom is eternal vigilance", etc.).

  • Re:Not news (Score:3, Interesting)

    by istartedi (132515) on Saturday October 02, 2010 @11:54PM (#33774622) Journal

    I think you've got it. Passive resistance only works if the enemy identifies itself as civilized in some manner, or has a sense of shame. Thus, India could use it to prevail against the British, who regarded themselves as civilized, Christian, moral, whatever you want to call it.

    On the other end of the spectrum, simple reactions of violence just bring about the replacement effect you describe.

    Somewhere in the middle, you have scenarios where you're dealing with an enemy that can't be shamed into stopping. You need to drive the evil out of it, and then stop short of becoming evil yourself...

    "It is well that war is so terrible -- lest we should grow too fond of it." --Robert E. Lee.

  • Re:Not news (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Dutchmaan (442553) on Sunday October 03, 2010 @02:34AM (#33775084) Homepage
    Get to the back of the bus Miss Parks. You could get the laws changed, not that you have the right to vote anyway. I supposed you could go online and protest but this is a whites only internet.
  • Re:Not news (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Danathar (267989) on Sunday October 03, 2010 @07:26AM (#33775860) Journal

    Reality is what we observe, not what what we would like it to be.

    Libertarianism (classical liberalism) does not trust ANY government because it recognizes that the tendency of humans to control and dominate one another. All human society will consolidate over time, the U.S. was designed originally (Constitution) to set competing groups against one another (3 branches checking each other, States against each other, States against Federal Authority).

    At the same time you must have some government to ensure the basic negative natural rights of the people which came from those philosophers of the enlightenment that deduced are inherent to human existence.

    The best you can do is attempt to slow down consolidation, and that means distributing institutionalized power as far as you can without opening yourself up to conquest by another country.

    The tea party movement is not about "taxes", or "small government". Those are ends that might occur as a result of below...

    Which is Liberty and Freedom, and THAT is what the Tea Party is about.

  • by CrimsonAvenger (580665) on Sunday October 03, 2010 @08:00AM (#33775996)

    I'm still genuinely curious. Is your constitution based on voting for individuals, not political principles? Don't regard this as an attack, but I'd appreciate a short explanation :)

    Pretty much. No-one is required to even have a political principle when running for office, much less state it out loud. No-one is required to have political principles that match up to their nominal Party if they do state them out loud. No-one is required to vote with the Party if in office.

    Actually, the only people who even expect our politicians to vote along Party lines are the higher ranking politicians, the press, and the real nutjobs. Most of the rest of us know better....

    Admittedly, the Parties have a fairly decent stick to coerce cooperation from their members - their reelection campaign funds - if you don't help your Party enough between elections, they can be mighty sticky about handing you a share of the Party's reelection fund. But if you are popular with your constituents, you don't need the Party's help getting reelected, no matter how you vote.

  • Re:So...? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Pandamonium (710232) on Sunday October 03, 2010 @12:37PM (#33777472)
    This: "Does the average congressman with a law degree understand the nuances of intertube technology"
    And then this: "provided that our elected representatives and their staffs actually read and digest the bills to ensure that the law is fair, enforceable, and beneficial"

    How does this work? You clearly state that government officials do not understand the mechanics behind a specific industry but you do hope that they will somehow vet the proposals based on....not knowing what they read?
  • Re:In other news (Score:3, Interesting)

    by nog_lorp (896553) on Sunday October 03, 2010 @02:35PM (#33778122)

    Notice that he does not say "I just realized that [our political system is fucked]", he says "Most americans don't know that [our political system is fucked]". That is a genuine concern that could be addressed by a PR campaign.

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

    by hoggoth (414195) on Monday October 04, 2010 @10:02AM (#33784110) Journal

    Lawrence Lessig:
    "Whatever else one believes about the Supreme Court's decision striking down limits on corporate speech in the context of political campaigns, there's one thing no credible commentator could assert: That money bought this result. We can disagree with the Court's view of the Framers (and I do); we can criticize its application of stare decisis (as any honest lawyer should); and we can stand dumbfounded by its tone-deaf understanding of the nature of corruption (as anyone living in the real world of politics must). But we cannot say that somehow, the influence of money has produced this extraordinary result. "

    Doesn't sound like "caving" to me.

When I left you, I was but the pupil. Now, I am the master. - Darth Vader

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