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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 Hognoxious (631665) on Saturday October 02, 2010 @05:02PM (#33772222) Homepage Journal

    In other news, Sherlock Holmes claims he is not shitting anyone.

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      You complete oaf. The phrase is used to indicate to the listener (who is explicitly compared to Sherlock Holmes) that there was little bullshitting taking place, i.e. there was little attempt to hide some facts of the matter and the implicit claim on the part of the listener that some kind of shrewd deduction or observation had been achieved was an insult to the intelligence of the audience.

    • Re: (Score:2, Troll)

      by arivanov (12034)

      Exactly.

      The company in posession of one of the best lobbying machines is bitchin' about lobby influence. Gimme a break would ya...

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Bigjeff5 (1143585)

        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)?

    • by Hojima (1228978)

      You're doing it wrong. If someone says "no shit Sherlock", you reply "keep digging Watson". So the correct way to say it is: "in other news, Watson keeps digging".

  • I agree (Score:5, Funny)

    by gagol (583737) on Saturday October 02, 2010 @05:03PM (#33772228)
    We should hire lobbyist to represent us to our represemtatives... but that would be redundant ,right?
    • 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: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.

    • Re:I agree (Score:5, Informative)

      by PopeRatzo (965947) * on Saturday October 02, 2010 @07:55PM (#33773250) Homepage Journal

      We should hire lobbyist to represent us to our represemtatives... but that would be redundant ,right?

      If they're not lobbyists when they get elected, they certainly become lobbyists after they leave office.

      Even lowly congressional staffers are on the gravy train. The average starting salary for congressional staffers who go into lobbying after one term as a staffer is over $700,000.00 per year.

      It's an indication of just how much money gets thrown at our congress people.

  • Does anyone not know this already?

    No.. never mind. Don't answer that. The people that I meet every day that are in their own little world is actually contradictory evidence. There are still plenty of people out there willing to argue that the corporations aren't in control. A lot of the facts are not apparent until you dig for them, and they're too busy picking up the kids from daycare and mowing their lawns to bother...

    • Re:NO.. really? (Score:4, Informative)

      by PopeRatzo (965947) * on Saturday October 02, 2010 @08:02PM (#33773302) Homepage Journal

      Does anyone not know this already?

      I don't know how many people know that most laws are written by lobbyists, but I wonder how many people know that the recently released Republican Pledge to America was written by a lobbyist for AIG, Pfizer, Comcast and others.

      To quote "Pissed on Politics":

      the Republican’s new “Pledge To America” was written by a heavy hitting lobbyist named Brian Wild. He’s lobbied on the behalf of major corporations like AIG, Comcast, Exxon Mobil, and Andarko Petroleum on top of working for Dick Cheney from 2004 to 2005 as a legislative affairs advisor. This guy Wild worked for the Nickels Group, a lobby firm set up by Oklahoma’s former Republican Senator Don Nickles.

      Meet the new boss, same as the old boss.

      Bad-assed blogger Sam Stein expands:

      Until early this year, Wild was a fairly active lobbyist on behalf of the firm the Nickles Group, the lobbying shop set up by the former Republican Senator from Oklahoma, Don Nickles. During his five years at the firm, Wild, among others, was paid $740,000 in lobbying contracts from AIG, the former insurance company at the heart of the financial collapse; $800,000 from energy giant Andarko Petroleum; more than $1.1 million from Comcast, more than $1.3 million from Exxon Mobil; and $625,000 from the pharmaceutical company Pfizer Inc.

  • 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.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by masmullin (1479239)

      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.

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

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

    • 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.

        • by PapayaSF (721268)
          Well, true, but I see this as no different than lawmakers making laws that benefit their favored interest groups, for ideology or money or votes or all of the above. At least lobbyists have to convince lawmakers of their case, while lawmakers can just collude among themselves.
      • 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: (Score:3, Funny)

        by similar_name (1164087)

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

        Growing up with my Mom and Dad thousands of miles apart I flew a lot. Once when I flew into BWI I sat next to a lobbyist. I was around 7. He taught me how to play Blackjack. He took four dollars from me.

      • 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.
        • 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.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by Danathar (267989)

          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

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Bigjeff5 (1143585)

      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

  • by Anonymous Coward

    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.

    • I was ridiculed YESTERDAY for saying this...

    • by hedwards (940851)
      I thought it was the Illuminati. I mean serious, if the legislators can't be arsed to even read legislation at all prior to voting on it, I think it stands to reason that they weren't the ones writing it. Wouldn't surprise me that it's not just the Patriot act that was done in that fashion.
  • by Shivetya (243324) on Saturday October 02, 2010 @05:10PM (#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: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by fluffy99 (870997)

      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 f

      • Re: (Score:2, Flamebait)

        by hedwards (940851)
        Wow, either trolling or you're a complete moron. It's pretty well established that the dams are harming the salmon and preventing them from going back to the way they used to be.

        The Chinese government doesn't deserve any admiration for that. They've chose to put people's lives at risk over a poorly considered project. China: cracks in the Three Gorges Dam, so 300,000 people can wave goodbye to their homes [telegraph.co.uk]

        Yeah, that sounds like something I want my government doing. At least with the dams, there's sci
        • by fluffy99 (870997)

          Wow, either trolling or you're a complete moron. It's pretty well established that the dams are harming the salmon and preventing them from going back to the way they used to be.

          Neither a troll nor moron am I.

          I agree that the dams impact the Salmon. It has also been shown that removing existing dams has negligible benefit to populations that have adapted to the restrict spawning area caused by those dams. Watch closely while I cite a source - http://www.nwcouncil.org/history/DamsImpacts.asp [nwcouncil.org]. You can also search and find many references that bypass systems such as fish ladders to allow upstream migration and return paths have been show to be fairly effective.

          Basically, the short-s

      • by biryokumaru (822262) <biryokumaru@gmail.com> on Saturday October 02, 2010 @06:07PM (#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.

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by Gertlex (722812)
          I find two faults with your observations. The first (isn't really yours as it's so common) is equating the 5% of energy use as foreign oil with "only". Seems to me that combining the energy used to generate electricity and that used to transportation (and industrial/other "energy uses") is flawed in that it's too general of a statement. Pulling that 17% of our fuel out of our transportation infrastructure would be a plenty big problem without stockpiles/rapidly increased production.

          And at the same tim
      • 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.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by fluffy99 (870997)

          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.

        • 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 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 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: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by russotto (537200)

          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: (Score:3, Insightful)

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

  • 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.
    • 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.
      • 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: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.

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

        by hoggoth (414195) on Saturday October 02, 2010 @07:05PM (#33772928) Journal

        Point 4 is exactly where Lawrence Lessig started 'Change Congress' to try to fix the underlying root of our corrupt congress. Lessig says you can't fix anything else until you fix this first. Anything else, like for example fixing the problems in our Healthcare, will be subverted by corporate lobbyists to just make more profit for the incumbent corporations.

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

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

      by sayfawa (1099071) on Saturday October 02, 2010 @05:56PM (#33772528)
      The long game doesn't have to be so long. See Canada's bill C-24, enacted in 2003. Corporations can't donate over $1000 to a party, people can't donate over $5000.

      The gritty details [parl.gc.ca]
  • 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 hedwards (940851)
      Google's business model over the years has been focused on things which are quite disruptive to the way things have been done, and so it's not surprising that at times they'd be doing something like this.

      However, Google has made use of the same corruption as everybody else. There's no way that they could've bought doubclick had the DoJ under Bush been enforcing antitrust regulations, it's just not something that would've been allowable.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      >>>they play differently

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

  • 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: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by hsmith (818216)
      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.
    • In the U.S. Constitution there is no 'right' to free speech, only a limitation on who may create laws on speech.

      Amendment I

      Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

      If you would like to see corporations have their 'speech' limited, then support the Constitution.

      And to those who w

  • by rantomaniac (1876228) on Saturday October 02, 2010 @05:30PM (#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.

  • 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.
  • In his administration. Look how long that lasted...

    The system is just clearly broken, thanks to both parties (Which in reality is just one big party). But this is nothing new, this is as old as our country. Hell, anti-monopoly laws, were written and designed by the largest businesses in the country themselves. It is buying protection, that is it. "Hey, here is some money to run again for congress, lets work on this law together. On yeah, it just may benefit me and block my competition"

    When typically 9
  • “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.

  • There once was the Golden Rule: Whoever had the gold, made the rules.

    Today, that means hiring lobbyists. What's news? Combustion releases heat aka, fire is HOT?

  • 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: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.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by sjames (1099)

      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 the

  • 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 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 macraig (621737) <(mark.a.craig) (at) (gmail.com)> 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.

  • by guanxi (216397) on Saturday October 02, 2010 @09:13PM (#33773654)

    There's lots of talk and theorizing, but little research on the effect and influence of lobbyists. Thankfully, there is a large ten year study of lobbying, Lobbying and Policy Change: Who Wins, Who Loses, and Why [uchicago.edu] (available at your favorite bookstore). There's a pretty good review of it at Miller-McCune [miller-mccune.com]. An excerpt:

    The real outcome of most lobbying -- in fact, its greatest success -- is the achievement of nothing, the maintenance of the status quo. "Sixty percent of the time, nothing happens," says Frank Baumgartner, one author of the book and a political science professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. "What we see is gridlock and successful stalemating of proposals, with occasional breakthroughs. We see a pattern of no change, no change and no change -- and then some huge reform."

    But those large reforms -- such as health care for 32 million uninsured Americans under President Barack Obama, the scheduled phase-out of the estate tax under President George W. Bush, and the normalization of trade relations with China under President Bill Clinton -- are far more often linked to a change in who inhabits the White House than to campaign contributions or K Street hires.

    The weak link between money and policy change is counterintuitive but understandable, the authors say. The balance of power in Washington already hugely favors the rich. The status quo reflects the considerable advantages the wealthy have managed to secure in the law, down through the generations.

  • by dh003i (203189) <dh003i@g m a i l.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?

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