×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

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

Soulskill posted more than 3 years ago | from the bought-and-paid-for dept.

Government 484

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.

cancel ×
This is a preview of your comment

No Comment Title Entered

Anonymous Coward 1 minute ago

No Comment Entered

484 comments

In other news (4, Funny)

Hognoxious (631665) | more than 3 years ago | (#33772222)

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

Re:In other news (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33772426)

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:In other news (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33772448)

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.

No shit, Sherlock.

Re:In other news (1, Troll)

arivanov (12034) | more than 3 years ago | (#33772444)

Exactly.

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

Re:In other news (1)

Hojima (1228978) | more than 3 years ago | (#33772450)

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".

Re:In other news (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33772486)

Bull frogging shit! No shit?

Re:In other news (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33772718)

(transcript of Schmidt interview)

Interviewer: We are here with Eric Schmidt, CEO of Google, one of the mightest companies in the computer business today. Good to see you, Eric Schmidt.

Schmidt: "Doctor Eric Schmidt"

Interviewer: "Dr. Eric Schmidt, PhD who is CEO of Google"

Schmidt: "And I was CTO of Sun Microsystems and was in charge of Java."

Interviewer: "Very impressive. Now Dr. Schmidt, what is it that you want to discuss today..."

Schmidt: "And I was CEO of Novell"

Interviewer: "Dr. Schmidt is one of the smartest men in all of Silicon Valley. Very well, Dr. Schmidt..."

Schmidt: "Did you ever hear of 'lex'? I wrote lex, you know, way back in the 1970s"

Interviewer: "Did you really? Ah Dr. Schmidt, exactly what is it that you want to talk about today..."

Schmidt: "There's something I just recently concluded as a sort of a summary of the state of technology in America.."

Interviewer: "Drawing on forty or so years in the technology business..."

Schmidt: "Has it been that long? Ye-e-e-es. It's been a long time. A very long, strange trip that winded through labs and executive suites.."

Interviewer: "Ah, your topic for today."

Schmidt: "Ah yes. The next thing I saw will be my conclusion."

Interviewer: (leans forward)

Schmidt: *coughs*

Schmidt: "The laws in this country are mainly drafted by lobbyists for the companies that are affected by the regulations covered by the laws."

Interviewer: "Absolutely correct, and inexcusable, it is. And your point.. ?"

Schmidt: "And that's it! That's my conclusion."

Interviewer: "Oh, OK. Well, it was a pleasure having you..."

Schmidt: "I have a second conclusion, one that draws upon my forty years of experience in the technology industry that extends from one coast to the other..." *coughs*

Interviewer: "Oh, shut up."

Schmidt: "A career that extends from university labs to corporate headquarters..." *coughs*

(zoom out and audio fade)

The answer is 200% of the laws. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33772224)

How?

They write twice as many laws to serve the lobbyists.

I agree (5, Funny)

gagol (583737) | more than 3 years ago | (#33772228)

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

Re:I agree (4, Insightful)

click2005 (921437) | more than 3 years ago | (#33772400)

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

Re:I agree (5, Insightful)

postbigbang (761081) | more than 3 years ago | (#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 (1)

mjwalshe (1680392) | more than 3 years ago | (#33772736)

When an individual does it, it's called lobbying :-) would you suggest that laws are made with no external input?

Yes i know American politics is "A bit like that" - but the solution is to move to a more modern political system and reform your existing 18th century system that worked for a mainly agricultural system with limited franchise - to a more modern system that works in a more democratic way.

ok I am going to get flamed for this but the current Balkanised system does not serve the average American very well

Re:I agree (1)

Ironsides (739422) | more than 3 years ago | (#33772764)

Please describe the structure of "a more modern system", how it "works in a more democratic way" and how it would be superior to the "current Balkanized system".

some ideas Re:I agree (2, Interesting)

mjwalshe (1680392) | more than 3 years ago | (#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)

Re:some ideas Re:I agree (1)

Ironsides (739422) | more than 3 years ago | (#33772932)

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

Re:I agree (2, Insightful)

postbigbang (761081) | more than 3 years ago | (#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.

Business (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33772806)

Lobbyists are key players in the trillion-dollar business of government. Individuals, for the most part, are not. Lobbyists increase the net worth of government by providing justification for more spending, more borrowing, and more power over the people. Individuals, for the most part, do not.

If you're at the top of the power pyramid, whose opinion do you value more? Obviously, the people whose primary goal is to rake more cash through your hands every year.

Re:Business (1)

postbigbang (761081) | more than 3 years ago | (#33772868)

The reality is you're correct. And they shouldn't be. They do not, however, increase the net worth of government. The borrowing costs money; we're in for $100K per capita now, and are becoming economic slaves to the Chinese.

This power pyramid you speak of is more and more like what the founding fathers fought: principalities and fiefdoms. Yet taxes are needed for genuine obligations. Tax subsidies for so many industries are simply robbery. And those that get to write their own legislation are unelected, simply buying it.... the same as a bribe to a Brazilian customs officer.

Reality (1)

Oxford_Comma_Lover (1679530) | more than 3 years ago | (#33772894)

Sort of. Individuals make campaign donations to get a voice, too.

Bribery vs. legislation is more about the target.

Although the point of the story is kind of silly... we've had phone bills for decades, for example, but we don't have [to my knowledge] a public web site showing the donor phone calls of each senator. And senators spend most of their time making donor phone calls, or donor personal contacts.

Re:I agree (1)

TheNarrator (200498) | more than 3 years ago | (#33772920)

Slashdot or some other web 2.0 startup should start a PAC and hire lobbyists. It would crowd source legislation that would be presented by lobbyists as written bills. You just need to find your area of expertise. That's the problem though. The public doesn't really know what goes on inside of various industries and getting that information is difficult, practically the only people who have it who aren't in the business are trade magazine journalists and some financial analysts that follow the sector full-time.

Translation (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33772232)

"We want the lobbyists to write laws in Google's interests. Like Net Neutrality."

As for "helping the stimulus", imagine how bad the US would be without all those "jobs saved"... :-P

NO.. really? (1)

MickyTheIdiot (1032226) | more than 3 years ago | (#33772240)

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? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33772534)

they're too busy picking up the kids from daycare and mowing their lawns

So things are as they should be. Come on, people, focus on the important things in life.

Re:NO.. really? (1)

cheekyjohnson (1873388) | more than 3 years ago | (#33772656)

Yeah! Those silly things known as "freedom" and "rights" are far less important than mowing your lawn or picking up children from daycare centers!

Not news (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#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:Not news (2, Interesting)

masmullin (1479239) | more than 3 years ago | (#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.

Re:Not news (4, Interesting)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 3 years ago | (#33772578)

>>>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 (1)

demonlapin (527802) | more than 3 years ago | (#33772912)

Why should states have declare a federal law unconstitutional to get it repealed? Just pass an amendment allowing a simple majority of state legislatures to repeal a law. It would go a long way toward correcting the imbalance between state and federal governments.

Re:Not news (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33772338)

Find the writer of the patriot act.

Burn all of his houses down.

Ditto DMCA.

Re:Not news (2, Insightful)

istartedi (132515) | more than 3 years ago | (#33772662)

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.

Re:Not news (5, Insightful)

PapayaSF (721268) | more than 3 years ago | (#33772518)

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 (4, Insightful)

WitnessForTheOffense (1669778) | more than 3 years ago | (#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:Not news (1)

PapayaSF (721268) | more than 3 years ago | (#33772638)

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 (5, Insightful)

P0ltergeist333 (1473899) | more than 3 years ago | (#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.

Was ridiculed in High School @1994 for saying this (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#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.

Re:Was ridiculed in High School @1994 for saying t (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33772406)

Ridiculed? What?

"You're wrong because this system is perfect because authority figures say so!"

Like that?

Re:Was ridiculed in High School @1994 for saying t (1)

hedwards (940851) | more than 3 years ago | (#33772504)

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.

Re:Was ridiculed in High School @1994 for saying t (1)

istartedi (132515) | more than 3 years ago | (#33772724)

Was ridiculed circa 1992 for saying "we don't need China" to a graduate business school student, who was being indoctrinated with Free Trade ideology. I told him our grandchildren would blame us for the result. My only real mistake was that I should have said "our children", as my predictions seem to be coming true sooner than I thought.

Rambling bunch of Duhs! (3, Interesting)

Shivetya (243324) | more than 3 years ago | (#33772274)

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:Rambling bunch of Duhs! (2, Insightful)

fluffy99 (870997) | more than 3 years ago | (#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:Rambling bunch of Duhs! (1, Flamebait)

hedwards (940851) | more than 3 years ago | (#33772544)

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 scientific research to back the idea that the dams are harming our fishing industry. All so that we can sell the power that we don't use or need to the Californians that don't care about the effects it has on our economy.

Re:Rambling bunch of Duhs! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33772660)

preventing them from going back to the way they used to be

"Going back to the way they used to be" isn't an option. Grow up.

Re:Rambling bunch of Duhs! (2)

fluffy99 (870997) | more than 3 years ago | (#33772958)

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-sighted approach of simply demolishing existing dams as some groups are proposing has no tangible benefit to the migratory fish species and would have a far greater environmental impact.

Re:Rambling bunch of Duhs! (4, Interesting)

biryokumaru (822262) | more than 3 years ago | (#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:Rambling bunch of Duhs! (1)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 3 years ago | (#33772654)

I consider using foreign idea WISE. We drain the Mideast and Russia dry of oil, then we tap our own resources (US and Canada) and become filthy rich because we'll be the only ones left with a supply.

And relocating people is great, if it's for a good reason. i.e. Not because you want to demolish a neighborhood so you can build a mall, simply because you (the politician) believe you'll get more tax money out of the mall.

Re:Rambling bunch of Duhs! (1)

AnonymousClown (1788472) | more than 3 years ago | (#33772672)

What's this "might" be helped. I take it your referencing the Snake River dams?

The salmon on the river are declining rapidly and the major cause are the dams. Those dams are pretty much supplying the excess power allowing obese Americans to sit on their asses to watch the power hungry big screen TVs, computers, video games, and all those electronic gadgets that all of a sudden the "need".

Then there are the farmers who use that water behind the dam to grow their nutritionally deficient crops that just make us more obese as a nation. But what's more of a crime against the fish, is that the farmers are on welfare. Not only are they getting this water thanks to the Government, but they're also getting their subsides to grow their crap. If more of us were able to eat that wonderful and expensive Salmon, we'd have much better health. But unfortunately, the prices are high because of their declining populations. Farming fish is not a solution because they are fed corn which lowers their Omega-3 fatty acid content drastically; as well as polluting the river even more. Farmed fish also affects the wild stock. Farmed fish is crap, too.

There are no need for those dams or the power if we Americans would just learn to stop being such power pigs. We are just 4% of the World's population but we use 25% of the World's oil. The percentage is even higher for total energy consumption. We are gluttons.

Creating more power generation isn't the answer. It's using less of it. And don't forget, there's solar, wind, and geothermal too.

Re:Rambling bunch of Duhs! (2, Informative)

fluffy99 (870997) | more than 3 years ago | (#33772876)

You're forgetting that the major reason for building some of these dams such as the Grand Coulee dam, was to control flooding. The cheap power generation and source of controlled irrigation waters were secondary benefits.

Of course none of this has much impact on our growing energy demands. The cost of energy doesn't seem to have much effect on that. As an example the tripling of gas prices in recent years had a very minor effect on miles driven.

Re:Rambling bunch of Duhs! (5, Insightful)

IICV (652597) | more than 3 years ago | (#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.

false dichotomy (1)

bigtrike (904535) | more than 3 years ago | (#33772694)

It's so sad that we have to chose between building dams that interfere with wildlife that we eat for food and foreign oil. If only there were more than just those two sources of energy, we wouldn't have this problem!

Yes, and? (3, Insightful)

kurokame (1764228) | more than 3 years ago | (#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? (5, Insightful)

catbutt (469582) | more than 3 years ago | (#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 (3, Insightful)

Sycraft-fu (314770) | more than 3 years ago | (#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:Yes, and? (5, Informative)

hoggoth (414195) | more than 3 years ago | (#33772928)

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? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33772452)

The long game would be much shorter if two very important things happened.

1) People voted for what they actually beleived in instead of throwing away their votes as "tactical" votes or for "the lesser evil"
2) People became informed of politics.

Re:Yes, and? (2, Insightful)

catbutt (469582) | more than 3 years ago | (#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.

Re:Yes, and? (4, Informative)

sayfawa (1099071) | more than 3 years ago | (#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]

+5 Interesting, despite other comments (5, Insightful)

openfrog (897716) | more than 3 years ago | (#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.

Re:+5 Interesting, despite other comments (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33772384)

Also in Europe, for example the ERT [www.ert.be] is behind quite a lot of EU legislation. This is not something US-exclusive, it is a world wide phenomenon.

They can afford to. (0, Troll)

AnonymousClown (1788472) | more than 3 years ago | (#33772496)

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 .

Re:They can afford to. (3, Insightful)

Iron Condor (964856) | more than 3 years ago | (#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.

Re:They can afford to. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33772742)

Indeed.

http://xkcd.com/792/ (xkcd.com)

Re:+5 Interesting, despite other comments (1)

hedwards (940851) | more than 3 years ago | (#33772568)

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:+5 Interesting, despite other comments (2, Interesting)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 3 years ago | (#33772712)

>>>they play differently

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

Obvious (1)

cheekyjohnson (1873388) | more than 3 years ago | (#33772326)

Really, there are people who didn't know this? Come on. This is exactly why our rights are slowly being stripped away (part of the reason, anyway) in favor of corporate interests (ACTA, DMCA, and every other idiotic anti-piracy bill in existence that hurts the average citizen).

Corporations should have zero Free Speech (5, Insightful)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 3 years ago | (#33772330)

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:Corporations should have zero Free Speech (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33772388)

Or better yet, make accepting campaign contributions from lobbyist carry the same penalties as accepting bribe money...

Re:Corporations should have zero Free Speech (2, Insightful)

hsmith (818216) | more than 3 years ago | (#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:Corporations should have zero Free Speech (1)

MyFirstNameIsPaul (1552283) | more than 3 years ago | (#33772542)

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 will argue that the 14th amendment applies to the first amendment, please read Government by Judiciary [amazon.com] by (liberal) Raoul Berger [wikipedia.org].

Re:Corporations should have zero Free Speech (1)

roystgnr (4015) | more than 3 years ago | (#33772844)

I don't think corporations should have free speech rights.

You want to allow the government to decide which ads to revoke; do you also want them to decide which news stories to revoke? If not then you can just expect to see more biased news, coming from even more concentrated corporate power [freepress.net]. If so then you've just written a blank check for incumbents to spend on skewing all political speech in their favor.

Protecting incumbents seems to be the most common unintended consequence of "campaign reform" laws and proposals. It would make me suspicious about the "unintended" part, except that such reforms seem popular even among people who have no ulterior motives, just enough good intentions to pave a road.

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.

That's great for people with a million-dollar personal salary. For people who need to band together just to buy a single commercial, being unable to do so safely is a bigger problem. I assume you don't intend to give more relative political power to the rich, though? So even aside from the moral case for freedom of speech and assembly, perhaps we need more consideration of the practical case against the unintended consequences of political power.

Re Technology is fundamentally disruptive (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33772372)

Clearly it is, but that is a double edged sword. It can vastly increase productivity and bring down entrenced monopolies, but can also lead to cases of cyber-bullying, such as the recent suicide of the college student after a live webcam was posted of his gay sexual encounter, and online slam books posting anonymous personality critiques of students at the university and even grade school levels. In the past, it has led to catastrophic pollution of the environment (the many Superfund sites stand as examples). To say that society would benefit most by unchecked technological advancement is naive - the same has been said about capitalism, a philosophy which has led most recently to the subprime mortgage crisis, TARP bailout of Wall Street banks and the Great Recession of 2008.

The scale is the problem (3, Interesting)

rantomaniac (1876228) | more than 3 years ago | (#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.

Re:The scale is the problem (1)

cheekyjohnson (1873388) | more than 3 years ago | (#33772546)

"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"

If you elect a few officials in and give the people almost zero power, yes. However, if you were to force the government to hold a vote for every action they try to make (new laws, bills, etc) that will affect the people, there would be far less corruption (if implemented correctly and enforced, that is).

Re:The scale is the problem (1)

suomynonAyletamitlU (1618513) | more than 3 years ago | (#33772930)

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.

As a programmer, the problem is that AFAIK no government:

1) Was really engineered, except in a rudimentary fashion
2) Was organized to be debuggable
3) Was actually debugged by anyone who had the authority to reorganize or fix it
4) Is in any other way, is the beneficiary of all we now know about engineering processes, or what we're going to learn as the years go on.

Which is mostly to say, "We haven't seen dick when it comes to governments." Until people are free to experiment with them, we won't be able to test theses. Right now, in lots of places, you can't even theorize about what good government looks like or you'll be hated, let one actually trying anything.

But computers, and the ability to experiment, with all the practice that gives us in finding faults in ongoing processes, gives me hope that all of our bullshit can be worked through. Eventually.

His first line from TFA sums it (4, Insightful)

stimpleton (732392) | more than 3 years ago | (#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.

Re:His first line from TFA sums it (1)

obarel (670863) | more than 3 years ago | (#33772458)

I thought the average American watches The Simpsons, and they've already explained the system very clearly.

Good thing Obama said he'd ban them (1)

hsmith (818216) | more than 3 years ago | (#33772420)

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 95% of incumbent are reelected with ease, we have a problem.

A quote form Bastiat seems apropos. (1, Interesting)

MyFirstNameIsPaul (1552283) | more than 3 years ago | (#33772464)

“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.

Hardly News (1)

oldmac31310 (1845668) | more than 3 years ago | (#33772468)

This is hardly news, but I think it is a good thing to have someone as prominent as Schmidt come out and say it in bold terms. Does he mention anywhere that he has to shower 40 times a day to cleanse the stink of corruption from his sullied flesh? I didn't RTF(ing)A.

mechanism (1)

MrBrainport (1637275) | more than 3 years ago | (#33772470)

Google could implement some fancy open government mechanism/solution...

Re:mechanism (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33772502)

Google could implement some fancy open government mechanism/solution...

Beta of course.

Look, the world has changed (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33772492)

It'll all make sense again if you read the situation as follows:

s/worker/slave/
s/citizen/worker/
s/corporation/citizen/
s/industry/corporation/

The emphasis is toward big players, because they are the ones that can keep the world afloat,
or so the thinking goes. Ah the brave new world.

There was a rule... (1)

DWMorse (1816016) | more than 3 years ago | (#33772514)

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?

Moron (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33772610)

If you're going to be a part of one of the world's biggest names on the internet and say things like this, then change what you're bitching about.

Otherwise, nobody wants to listen to your ego-fueled rage.

So...? (5, Insightful)

Aragorn DeLunar (311860) | more than 3 years ago | (#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.

This just in (1)

UncleWilly (1128141) | more than 3 years ago | (#33772622)

Water is still wet.

Really, anyone who is even moderately interested in history realizes that this has been going on in the USA since Washington left office (1797), maybe earlier.

I would put it to the readers that overall "the great experiment" has turned out better than one could have hoped. Secret wars, deals and shenanigans are generally less prevalent as the decades roll on (granted this is also evident world-wide). 100 years ago most of Europe was run by a dozen Emperors, Kings and Queens who were mostly all related (lol @ accountability). There are no more Rothschilds/Habsburgs.

Creepy line (1)

HyperQuantum (1032422) | more than 3 years ago | (#33772700)

When Bennet asked about the possibility of a Google "implant," Schmidt invoked what the company calls the "creepy line." "Google policy is to get right up to the creepy line and not cross it," he said. Google implants, he added, probably crosses that line.

So Google has a line they will not cross?

"With your permission you give us more information about you, about your friends, and we can improve the quality of our searches," he said. "We don't need you to type at all. We know where you are. We know where you've been. We can more or less now what you're thinking about."

And this doesn't cross their line? Sounds pretty creepy to me.

Re: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33772734)

I don't know, man, I always hated Tracer Tong's ending in Deus Ex.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2FYNOXMcfMo

Load More Comments
Slashdot Account

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?

Don't worry, we never post anything without your permission.

Submission Text Formatting Tips

We support a small subset of HTML, namely these tags:

  • b
  • i
  • p
  • br
  • a
  • ol
  • ul
  • li
  • dl
  • dt
  • dd
  • em
  • strong
  • tt
  • blockquote
  • div
  • quote
  • ecode

"ecode" can be used for code snippets, for example:

<ecode>    while(1) { do_something(); } </ecode>
Sign up for Slashdot Newsletters
Create a Slashdot Account

Loading...