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Is the Government Scaring Web Businesses Out of the US? 271

suraj.sun sends this quote from an article at Techdirt: "The federal government has been paying lip service to the idea that it wants to encourage new businesses and startups in the U.S. And this is truly important to the economy, as studies have shown that almost all of the net job growth in this country is coming from internet startups. ... With the JotForm situation unfolding, where the U.S. government shut down an entire website with no notice or explanation, people are beginning to recognize that the U.S is not safe for internet startups. Lots of folks have been passing around [a] rather reasonable list of activities for U.S.-based websites."
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Is the Government Scaring Web Businesses Out of the US?

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  • They got it wrong (Score:2, Interesting)

    by X.25 ( 255792 ) on Saturday February 18, 2012 @10:24AM (#39085155)

    It's not US government shutting down US sites.

    It is US government shutting down all other sites, so that users around world end up having to use US based 'service providers'.

    That and "intellectual property" are the only 2 things that can keep US economy afloat for bit longer.

    And they're betting big on it.

  • Re:Really? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Paul Fernhout ( 109597 ) on Saturday February 18, 2012 @10:40AM (#39085267) Homepage

    "Is slashdot scaring away developers with more political submissions? Remember when there used to be a Developer section instead of all this political BS? I swear YRO has ruined this site."

    Politics is about resource allocation. Much of computing design is about resource allocation, too. So they are more connected than you might think at first.

  • by Paul Fernhout ( 109597 ) on Saturday February 18, 2012 @10:46AM (#39085299) Homepage

    One problem is that the latest "war of the da"y is always profitable to somebody:
    http://www.lexrex.com/enlightened/articles/warisaracket.htm [lexrex.com]
    "WAR is a racket. It always has been. It is possibly the oldest, easily the most profitable, surely the most vicious. It is the only one international in scope. It is the only one in which the profits are reckoned in dollars and the losses in lives. A racket is best described, I believe, as something that is not what it seems to the majority of the people. Only a small "inside" group knows what it is about. It is conducted for the benefit of the very few, at the expense of the very many. Out of war a few people make huge fortunes."

    War is just not usually beneficial to most people who have to pay the costs (which includes the US taxpayer, as well as all the victims abroad or at home who were in the way...)

    And so a society consumes itself, burning itself to the ground because every incremental step makes sense to the fire... Where are the "political" firefighters when we need them?

  • by Paul Fernhout ( 109597 ) on Saturday February 18, 2012 @10:48AM (#39085319) Homepage

    Good questions. Please keep digging...

    Some of my own thoughts on that:
    http://pdfernhout.net/beyond-a-jobless-recovery-knol.html [pdfernhout.net]
    "This article explores the issue of a "Jobless Recovery" mainly from a heterodox economic perspective. It emphasizes the implications of ideas by Marshall Brain and others that improvements in robotics, automation, design, and voluntary social networks are fundamentally changing the structure of the economic landscape. It outlines towards the end four major alternatives to mainstream economic practice (a basic income, a gift economy, stronger local subsistence economies, and resource-based planning). These alternatives could be used in combination to address what, even as far back as 1964, has been described as a breaking "income-through-jobs link". This link between jobs and income is breaking because of the declining value of most paid human labor relative to capital investments in automation and better design. Or, as is now the case, the value of paid human labor like at some newspapers or universities is also declining relative to the output of voluntary social networks such as for digital content production (like represented by this document). It is suggested that we will need to fundamentally reevaluate our economic theories and practices to adjust to these new realities emerging from exponential trends in technology and society."

  • Re:Really? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Paul Fernhout ( 109597 ) on Saturday February 18, 2012 @11:03AM (#39085419) Homepage

    ... through arguing over resource allocation. According to "Conceptual Guerilla", mainstream economics is just mainly a mythological cover story to justify elites:
    "The Mythology of Wealth"
    http://www.conceptualguerilla.com/?q=node/402 [conceptualguerilla.com]

    http://www.responsiblefinance.ch/appeal/ [responsiblefinance.ch]
    "The authors of this appeal are deeply concerned that more than three years since the outbreak of the financial and macroeconomic crisis that highlighted the pitfalls, limitations, dangers and responsibilities of main-stream thought in economics, finance and management, the quasi-monopolistic position of such thought within the academic world nevertheless remains largely unchallenged. This situation reflects the institutional power that the unconditional proponents of main-stream thought continue to exert on university teaching and research. This domination, propagated by the so-called top universities, dates back at least a quarter of a century and is effectively global. However, the very fact that this paradigm persists despite the current crisis, highlights the extent of its power and the dangerousness of its dogmatic character. Teachers and researchers, the signatories of the appeal, assert that this situation restricts the fecundity of research and teaching in economics, finance and management, diverting them as it does from issues critical to society."

    Other ways to look at economics:
    http://debunkingeconomics.com/ [debunkingeconomics.com]

    And also the similarly named:
    http://www.amazon.com/Economics-Rest-Us-Debunking-Science/dp/1595581014 [amazon.com]
    "Why do contemporary economists consider food subsidies in starving countries, rent control in rich cities, and health insurance everywhere "inefficient"? Why do they feel that corporate executives deserve no less than their multimillion-dollar "compensation" packages and workers no more than their meager wages? Here is a lively and accessible debunking of the two elements that make economics the "science" of the rich: the definition of what is efficient and the theory of how wages are determined. The first is used to justify the cruelest policies, the second grand larceny. Filled with lively examples--from food riots in Indonesia to eminent domain in Connecticut and everyone from Adam Smith to Jeremy Bentham to Larry Summers--Economics for the Rest of Us shows how today's dominant economic theories evolved, how they explicitly favor the rich over the poor, and why they're not the only or best options. Written for anyone with an interest in understanding contemporary economic thinking--and why it is dead wrong--Economics for the Rest of Us offers a foundation for a fundamentally more just economic system."

  • by twotailakitsune ( 1229480 ) on Saturday February 18, 2012 @11:17AM (#39085491)
    We need to start moving more away from human labor. In 30 years we should not need money. You do a job because you love it. Robot slaves can do the work Humans don't want to do.
  • So what? (Score:0, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday February 18, 2012 @11:30AM (#39085575)

    Competition over scarce resources isn't just the founding principle of capitalism, it is the founding principle of life.

    If you want something, you have to compete against others who also want it. And if you get it, that means that someone else does not.

    There are a few exceptions...like air....but political power is definitely *not* such an exception. Wealth is the same thing.

    So of course those who have it are fighting to keep it, and of course they are striking the best balance they can between what seems most likely to work and what they are most likely to be able to get away with. They have every incentive to do this, just as you have every incentive to knock them down and take from them as much of their wealth and power as you can.

    Sit and whine about how evil they are for wanting the same thing as you, or jump into the fight, it's your choice.

  • by msobkow ( 48369 ) on Saturday February 18, 2012 @11:32AM (#39085593) Homepage Journal

    One of the main reasons I opted for the ISP I'm using for my business is not the fact that they're cheaper (it's only $10/month difference), but the fact that SaskTel hosts their data center in Florida, and the one I'm using is hosted in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan.

    I don't want my business anywhere near US regulation and control without oversight and intervention by Canadian authorities. The US has been proving to be insanely jackbootish about their approach to the internet for the past 2-5 years, and I simply do NOT want to take the chance of having them interfere with my business.

    Or rather, I don't want US media companies interfering with my business. They don't do proper checks before issuing their takedown requests, and were I in the US, I'd be effectively subject to domain seizure and content takedowns without due process and the chance to defend myself. That is an UNACCEPTABLE BUSINESS RISK when it is so easy to avoid.

    Worse, the US dollar is in such a sorry state that I will not be accepting payments in greenbacks. I want to be paid in a stable currency that I don't have to pay exchange rates on in order to spend -- namely Canadian dollars. For years I've had to pay extra to convert my Canadian currency to US dollars to pay for goods and services ordered out of the US. The shoe is on the other foot now.

    Even if I work a contract in the US for a US company, I'll either be paid in Canadian dollars or charging a 5% premium for the hassle of converting US currency to Canadian dollars (it's a 2-3% bank fee as well, so 5% isn't as much as you might think.) Add in the fact that all foreign payments get held by the bank for 30 days, and the resulting lost opportunity cost of having my money tied up and inaccessible, and I find I really don't have much interest in business south of the border at all right now.

    Besides, if I have to travel to service a customer, I may as well visit somewhere I've never been before, preferably China, Australia, New Zealand, or Germany. (I've just always wanted to see those countries some day. I've already spent about 12 years living and working in the US, so I've seen the US. I want to see someplace different next.)

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday February 18, 2012 @12:03PM (#39085767)

    I had a site shut down, when I get back on my feet, I'm going to take it to Canada... this is NOT as easy as moving the server!

    As I plan my recovery, I'm learning that it isn't enough to just move your server over there. You've got to actually *be* Canadian if you don't want your site taken down. (sure, you could lie about it, make it appear to be from Canada or Panama or wherever, but if you're in business, this is hardly a viable option.. they'll find out you're really a US citizen) for me, this means finding a very trusted Canadian to "take over" for awhile, until I can collect enough material to prove myself worthy of Canadian citizenship.

    From what I've studied, the problem is the lobbyist influences. Startups do NOT donate money to campaigns, most of them will never donate to campaigns because most start-ups fail. If you want to make it in the US, you have to have enough money to hire lobbyists that are more powerful than competitors lobbyists. It really is that simple.

    For most of us, the plutocratic system of government is irrelevant, but if your small niche business threatens the established companies who are running the country, AND they notice you (or your industry), you can expect them to run you out.

    Ultimately, we can look forward to these same lobbyists pushing OTHER countries around, much as the US already does for the oil lobby. It'll be interesting to hear them justify a war with Panama or Canada, it'd be nice if the citizens wised up to the game before then, but I'm not holding my breath.

  • Re:JotForm takedown (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Jah-Wren Ryel ( 80510 ) on Saturday February 18, 2012 @12:24PM (#39085881)

    Sounds like a good reason to leave GoDaddy, IMO.

    Sounds like a good reason for a decentralized name resolution system.

    While GoDaddy are a bunch of scummy toadies, they aren't the real problem. The real problem is the tendency of those in power to abuse their power. Today it is the secret service and godaddy, tomorrow it could easily be some other government and some other DNS provider.

    Ultimately the only solution is to decentralize name resolution. Sure that comes with a whole host of problems on its own, starting with trust and reliability. But the current hierarchal DNS is just such an easy single-point-of-choking that it is inevitable that the powerful will abuse it.

  • Re:Bullshit (Score:4, Interesting)

    by chrylis ( 262281 ) on Saturday February 18, 2012 @12:24PM (#39085889)

    We're arguing on the same side; the parent to my post got modded into oblivion. He said that if you're legal, you have nothing to fear; I'm pointing out that several legal sites have already been blown away for exactly the reasons you describe.

  • by aaarrrgggh ( 9205 ) on Saturday February 18, 2012 @02:51PM (#39086805)

    You obviously have never started a business! The US is pretty safe on the balance given the rule of law. I've started and operated businesses in the US and Thailand, and investigated starting businesses in Hong Kong, Malaysia, Cambodia, Singapore, Australia, Sweden, and Ireland. While HK and Singapore (arguably Ireland, but that is a bigger reach) are much more tax-friendly than any of the others, each country has significant risks. By comparison, the US is the easiest place to make money and build a long-lasting business.

    Now... there are plenty of stupid regulations that you deal with, and there are certain aspects of taxation that are fairly oppressive for a small business (namely being taxed on retained earnings rather than just draw or other money taken out of the business). The whole MAFIAA crap needs to stop, and patent law needs a makeover, to be sure. But, in your daily life you don't have to worry about who needs to be bribed, what regulations exist simply for someone to collect a bribe to look the other way... or what your competitor might be able to do to you without any recourse on your end.

    Manufacturing is a different story. And, if you are doing anything borderline illegal, sure... you may have some concerns. Also, things change when your revenue is over a certain amount as to what place is most advantageous.

    Specific to JotForm, they got screwed because someone was using their service for phishing. They discovered it, stopped it, and the SS shut them down in parallel. If they needed a service that was more resilient, they could have planned differently.

    The moral of the story is plan for confiscation of equipment or domains when running an online business. Maximize resiliency.

  • Re:Bullshit (Score:4, Interesting)

    by HiThere ( 15173 ) <{ten.knilhtrae} {ta} {nsxihselrahc}> on Saturday February 18, 2012 @02:52PM (#39086821)

    Do you *ever* follow one of those stories? Even one of the high profile ones, where there is live footage of the assault? A policeman shot a guy after he'd forced him to lie down on the floor, the guy died, the policeman got a month off.

    I suppose that sometimes there is a policeman who is punished as the law would require of a normal person, but I haven't run across a report of such an instance. The absolure *worst* I've ever heard of happening is that the policeman was fired. A couple of years later. (In that instance he was hired by someone else almost immediately.)

  • by cold fjord ( 826450 ) on Saturday February 18, 2012 @03:28PM (#39087037)

    Major General Smedley Butler, United States Marine Corp, was an extraordinarily brave and devoted Marine who served the United States in an exceptional manner while in uniform, earning two Congressional Medals of Honor - the highest American medal for bravery on the battlefield. Out of uniform and in the realm of politics, however, citizen Butler involved himself in leftist fringe politics. I would be inclined to follow Major General Butler anywhere on the battlefield, but nowhere near a voting booth. In this regard he is like Chomsky [discoverthenetworks.org], a man of exceptional virtual in his field, but a political crank (popular though he may be) and genocide [wikipedia.org] denier [ipa.org.au].

    . . . . Back in the 1930s, the U.S. Communist Party recruited a former Marine Corps general, Smedley Butler, to give speeches on the eve of World War II denouncing military preparedness as a capitalist racket. The idea was that by persuading an individual man of valor to propound shameful views, those views would somehow become less shameful. It didn’t work then. I doubt it will work now. - Wesley Who? [nationalreview.com]

    War is sometimes chosen for you [yahoo.com] by your enemies [navy.mil], not by some secret cabal in government or industry. Other nations and groups have their own plans, such as forcing Islamic conversion and Sharia law to replace the US Constitution [guardian.co.uk] on the US independent of anything the US does.

    If the so called Military-Industrial complex is so powerful, why has the long term trend since World War 2 been towards decreased spending as a percentage of the economy?
    Defense Spending as Percentage of GDP Well Below Historical Average [heritage.org]

    If there is no threat, why do we keep seeing arrests and convictions like this?

    Federal agents arrest Amine El Khalifi; he allegedly planned to bomb Capitol [washingtonpost.com]
    Federal authorities on Friday arrested a 29-year-old Moroccan man in an alleged plot to carry out a suicide bombing at the U.S. Capitol, the latest in a series of terrorism-related arrests resulting from undercover sting operations.

    FBI’s Top Ten News Stories for the Week Ending January 27, 2012 [fbi.gov]

    Denver: Man Arrested for Providing Material Support to a Designated Foreign Terrorist Organization

    Jamshid Muhtorov was arrested by members of the FBI’s Denver and Chicago Joint Terrorism Task Forces on a charge of providing and attempting to provide material support to the Islamic Jihad Union, a Pakistan-based designated foreign terrorist organization. Full Story

    Baltimore: Man Pleads Guilty to Attempted Use of a Weapon of Mass Destruction in Plot to Attack Armed Forces Recruiting Center

    U.S. citizen Antonio Martinez, aka Muhammad Hussain, pled guilty to attempted use of a weapon of mass destruction against federal property in connection with a scheme to attack an armed forces recruiting station in Catonsville, Maryland. Full Story

    Washington Field: Man Pleads Guilty to Shootings at Pentagon, Other Military Buildings

    Yonathan Melaku, of Alexandria,

  • Re:Really? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Tenebrousedge ( 1226584 ) <tenebrousedge AT gmail DOT com> on Saturday February 18, 2012 @03:39PM (#39087117)

    "Entre le fort et le faible, entre le riche et le pauvre, entre le maître et le serviteur, câ(TM)est la liberté qui opprime et la loi qui affranchit."

    The only justice is that which is defined by society, generally in the form of laws. We give men rights (they are not inherent) so that we may more fairly structure our societies; the rights of society are paramount. What you advocate is totalitarianism in the form of monarchy; the ultimate expression of your philosophy is one man who owns the whole world. Concentration of wealth *diminishes* its utility, even your anarcho-capitalist textbooks should teach you that.

    Of-course Marxists like you, are happy to use any amount of collective government violence to ensure that the wealth is "distributed equally", which means unproductively from people who CREATE wealth, to those who WANT it. Thus eventually you descend into totalitarianism and dictatorship, and you call THAT justice.

    There has to be some logical step between "equal distribution of wealth" and "dictatorship". I think you need to be a little more explicit in step two. [stackoverflow.com] Or just y'know, admit that you're scarred by personal experiences and you're trying to rationalize what is inherently an emotional argument that has nothing to do with the real world. There is no useful pure philosophy, in attempting to argue for one you're revealing yourself as a nutcase (and harming your cause).

  • by greenbird ( 859670 ) on Saturday February 18, 2012 @06:41PM (#39088425)

    The fact is that the GOP pretty much is an enemy of freedom

    This is the third time I've posted in this thread on this theme.


    You do realize we're under a supposed left wing liberal administration at the moment. You know, the ones that just passed a law allowing the government to jail anyone indefinitely without due process by simply labeling them a terrorist. The ones that almost managed to pass PIPA/SOPA. The ones that somehow committed the USA to an international treaty, ACTA, without approval of congress. The ones that granted the teclos retroactive immunity for illegal spying on US citizens. I could go on and on and on.

    It ain't GOP or Democrats. It's all of them.

    See. That's how they're controlling us. They have you focused on the "bigoted, theocratic religious whackjob religious nutjobs" and the "bigoted, theocratic religious whackjob religious nutjobs" focused on the "commie, perverted, whackjob god hating, faggot loving, nutjobs".

You know, Callahan's is a peaceable bar, but if you ask that dog what his favorite formatter is, and he says "roff! roff!", well, I'll just have to...