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Google Sought To Hide Political Dealmaking

Zonk posted more than 7 years ago | from the they're-slipping-to-true-neutral dept.

Google 283

A blog entry by Michael Kanellos at ZDNet links to and expands upon an article in the Charlotte Observer. Last year Google was apparently throwing its weight around in North Carolina, seeking tax breaks from state and local legislators. When the company didn't get what it wanted pressure was brought to bear on legislative aides, journalists, and politicians. The search giant was especially touchy about keeping the negotiations secret: "Executives didn't want anybody even to mention the company's name for fear that competitors could learn of its plans. Most involved with the negotiations were required to sign nondisclosure agreements ... That posed challenges for elected officials, charged with conducting the public's business in the open. As the tax measure wended its way through the legislature, some lawmakers began linking it to Google." The results of this deal are extremely lucrative for both sides. Google brought some $600 million in investment and as many as 200 jobs to the state, and legislation enacted with Google's help is projected to save the company some $89 million in taxes over 30 years.

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Um (5, Insightful)

Umbral Blot (737704) | more than 7 years ago | (#17880240)

Can we just all agree that Google is about as evil as the average corporation now? Or do some of you still believe that Google really is above the rest morally?

Re:Um (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17880258)

Google is even Evil-er than Skeletor!

http://evolvingtrends.wordpress.com/web-30/ [wordpress.com] ---- more sites like this please!

Re:Um (2, Insightful)

Timesprout (579035) | more than 7 years ago | (#17880276)

Can you not tell from the language used in the summary. Read blackmail or extortion for 'political dealing' if this was Microsoft. Note how the benefit to both parties is mentioned, if this were microsoft then it would be evil for everyone except MS.

Re:Um (5, Informative)

QuickFox (311231) | more than 7 years ago | (#17880384)

Google has been slipping for a long time. They've been supporting domain squatting [google.com] forever.

It's sad, really.

Re:Um (1)

P(0)(!P(k)+P(k+1)) (1012109) | more than 7 years ago | (#17880858)

They've been supporting domain squatting [google.com] forever.

There's a very subtle innuendo in that link, however: domain squatters use IE.

Re:Um (2, Funny)

canUbeleiveIT (787307) | more than 7 years ago | (#17880474)

<sarcasm>I'm sorry, that's just not true. Everyone knows that there is no anti-MS bias on slashdot.</sarcasm>

If it were MS, the headline would have read, "Bill Gates Diabolically Subverts Democracy"

Re:Um (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17880522)

If it were MS, the headline would have read, "Bill Gates Diabolically Subverts Democracy"
But that's not news. That's common knowledge.

Re:Um (1)

canUbeleiveIT (787307) | more than 7 years ago | (#17880614)

Yeah, that's right, now fly back to the hive.

Re:Um (2, Informative)

Zeinfeld (263942) | more than 7 years ago | (#17880732)

Can you not tell from the language used in the summary. Read blackmail or extortion for 'political dealing' if this was Microsoft. Note how the benefit to both parties is mentioned, if this were microsoft then it would be evil for everyone except MS.

The subsidies they obtained are not even that great. $89 million over 30 years is only $3 million a year. That is for a $600 million capital investment.

Expecting to do this quietly is somewhat strange, unless they were really concerned that there would be some sort of tree-hugger anti-Google faction.

What I would be rather more worried about if I was Google is the flood plain issue. Building a data center full of expensive delicate equipment in a flood plain is a somewhat odd idea.

I would not take this approach because it is more likely to be counterproductive. Bothering about the competition is silly, a data center is a cost center. It is only to Google's advantage if Yahoo was to build in the same area.

Re:Um (2, Insightful)

Ucklak (755284) | more than 7 years ago | (#17880852)

I'm not part of the "Google does noe evil" but what is wrong with wanting to get tax/extortion breaks?

It all comes down to the bottom line and the purpose of all businesses is to make money.

$3 million a year in taxes is a lot of money. Why the hell does North Carolina need that much from 1 company????
Does North Carolina have a secret army? What does Red Hat pay? What does any medium sized bank pay?

Re:Um (4, Informative)

HuguesT (84078) | more than 7 years ago | (#17880922)

States have expenses too. Maybe not armies, but roads, schools, employees and so forth. Some of these expenses hopefully benefit the public. They have to be paid by taxes, and if Google doesn't pay these 3 millions a year, rest assured that someone else will, most probably taxpayers in one form or another.

Re:Um (1)

aussie_a (778472) | more than 7 years ago | (#17880990)

But not all of the money would stay with North Carolina, right? Surely some of it would get booted up to the Federal level where there are armies to pay for.

Re:Um (4, Interesting)

GrumpySimon (707671) | more than 7 years ago | (#17880310)

Yeah, the shine's definitely gone off Google, eh? at the rate google (and yahoo) are swallowing up other sites there's going to be some major monopolising going on.

I think searching the web is one of the few bastions where closed source still rules, and it surprises me that no-one's really made an open source search engine. I'm aware that there are things like Nutch [apache.org] and ht:dig out there but their scope is completely different (site-wide searching primarily).

So - why don't we have an open source search engine? Pagerank [ams.org] is fairly easy to implement, and would serve as a good starting point for improvement. Writing apps to rank and sort web pages strikes me as the type of problem that a lot of smart people would find a lot of fun.

I know that it requires a crap load of infrastructure, but if Wikipedia can handle it. Besides, you can index one hell of a lot of pages with the standard few GB of bandwidth a month on cheap-ish hosting plans.

So - why not?

Re:Um (1, Redundant)

QuickFox (311231) | more than 7 years ago | (#17880338)

Very interesting idea. Mod parent up.

Open Source Search (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17880586)

The problem with open-source search engines is that it's not really an open-source venture, but a hardware venture.

You are gathering information, which needs storage, and you need huge amounts of bandwidth and processing power. The actual algorithm is rather unimportant in that context.

So while it might be interesting to see corporations and universities team up to create a search engine, it is questionable if the costs are worth it.

What would you say is the advantage of an open search engine, other than having a competitor to Google (and there's still Yahoo, MSN, Ask.com for that)?

Tall poppy syndrome (5, Insightful)

TapeCutter (624760) | more than 7 years ago | (#17880588)

"Writing apps to rank and sort web pages strikes me as the type of problem that a lot of smart people would find a lot of fun."

Your at least a decade too late, the ship has sailed and it's called google.

"Yeah, the shine's definitely gone off Google, eh? at the rate google (and yahoo) are swallowing up other sites there's going to be some major monopolising going on."

Playing one state of against another is just the regular kind of "evil" found in all big-bussiness, big-bussiness don't pay tax bills like ordinary folk, they negotiate thier tax bill (global corporatization on a smaller scale). Google are paying tax and staying in the US. The politicians did thier job by attracting a large corporate to thier turf and getting gauranteed revenue for 30yrs plus all the spin-off effects on the economy, what more do you want?

Attacking google for this behaviour is like kicking the cat after a bad day, if you want to attack "evil" there are plenty of targets, corporations that lay the planet to waste and supply waring tribes with modern weapons. They destroy lives and feed from the public trough rather than create meaningfull employment and a nice pot of tax money. OTOH: "Kick the cat" often enough and it will scratch your eyes out while your sleeping.

Evil is as evil does - Gump.
The state where I live (not part of the US) built a power plant specifically for an Aluminium smelter, gaurenteed cheap dirty (and drit cheap) electricity for 30yrs or so. They also built a massive sewer to take the waste from a large paper mill and dump it in the ocean and called it a "green project" to rehabilitate the river the mill had already killed. The mill threatened to move overseas/interstate if it had to spend money and went so far as to infiltrate "enemy" community groups in order to discredit them. The crap these places spew and the fairy tale propoganda they use to justify it, is IMHO "evil", but try telling that to anyone who's livelyhood depends on it. Try telling the guy at the nuclear missle plant or the biological warfare lab that his work is "evil" and he will claim he is "preseving freedom" or some such rationalization, to him the thought of not planning for nuclear war is "evil".

I get kind of sick of the "we caught google being evil" shit that accompanies so many articles, it's not like they are claiming they have God on their side or that anyone else is "evil". Here in Australia we have some odd expressions, the one that fits google on slashdot is Tall poppy syndrome [wikipedia.org] .

Disclaimer: "you" - not picking on "you" personally, just the general sociopathic pendantry that surround google's brilliantly provocative slogan.

Re:Tall poppy syndrome (5, Insightful)

14CharUsername (972311) | more than 7 years ago | (#17880674)

Yes but google's motto it "don't be evil". Maybe they should change that to "don't be quite as evil as the other guys". But I guess that doesn't have quite the same ring to it.

Re:Tall poppy syndrome (5, Insightful)

Guppy06 (410832) | more than 7 years ago | (#17881010)

"The politicians did thier job by attracting a large corporate to thier turf and getting gauranteed revenue for 30yrs plus all the spin-off effects on the economy, what more do you want?"

How about public accountability in a republican form of government?

"Attacking google for this behaviour is like kicking the cat after a bad day, "

The cat doesn't do much more than follow sunlight around the house, occasionally taking a break to eat. The cat isn't involved in perpetuation a corrupt mechanism and rob the people of access to their own government.

"The state where I live (not part of the US) built a power plant specifically for an Aluminium smelter, gaurenteed cheap dirty (and drit cheap) electricity for 30yrs or so."

Your failure to properly maintain your own government doesn't make it right for others to follow suit.

Re:Um (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17880600)

Hmm, how about because community might have some troubles acquiring the computational capacity (now I'm talking about all those oh-so-famous google farms) necessary for such a thing. Or maybe because implementing a ranking algorithm such as pagerank isn't easy task at all... Just guessing...

Big Evil Monopoly (1)

reallocate (142797) | more than 7 years ago | (#17880694)

>>"...at the rate google (and yahoo) are swallowing up other sites there's going to be some major monopolising going on."

Big doesn't equal evil monopoly, unless Google buys every search site on the planet a-n-d acts to stop new competitors from entering the market.

Re:Um (4, Insightful)

Rich0 (548339) | more than 7 years ago | (#17880728)

You don't see it for the same reason that you don't see open-source drug design, car design, plane design, bridge-building, etc.

The beauty of software is that it takes no capital to develop it, and it is easy for thousands of people who have never met to collaborate. It also takes no capital to test. And it can be generally implemented on small scales as large as big ones.

Wikipedia started off as a site nobody ever heard of. Wiki itself started as an extension to the blog concept. I can run my own wikipedia in my living room if I want to - as long as I keep it quiet and don't have the whole world knocking on my door.

A search engine is useless unless it has indexed a substantial portion of the entire internet. You'd need GBs of data just to know if your algorithm is working. So, it is fundamentally a different problem. Even if you built up the database it is hard for people to collborate on it since they need access to all the data to test new algorithms. Wikipedia scales much better - you don't need to have the whole encyclopedia to test out a new interface model, and the back-end is all commodity software like mysql/apache/etc (that software does require more infrastructure to test - but it is somebody else's project and they could test large table performance in mysql just by having tables full of random data).

The same issues apply to other types of community-based projects. You want cheap drugs, and think open-source is the answer? Well, now you need a bunch of people with chemistry degrees and about $100k minimum worth of equipment in their basement. And even if by some miracle they come up with something how do you test it? Typically you have to pay volunteers to take your pills, and pay doctors to be bothered with handing them out. Oh, you also need to go out and inspect your doctors so that they don't just falsify reports and collect their checks without bothering with actual test subjects (it happens all the time - it would happen more if doctors didn't know that pharma companies would catch them and turn them over to the FDA - this is a punishable crime). That is one of the biggest areas of expense in pharma R&D. Similar issues apply to anything that involves physical reality - like engineering/etc. You can model a new plane on a computer, but at some point you need to build a test model and you can't do that without serious cash. Groups like the planetary society are always drawing up models for interstellar spacecraft, but there is no way to know if they'd work without testing...

Open source software is a wonderful development and in time I think it will transform the ENTIRE industry - just give it a generation. However, until we have star trek style replicators many industries will not be able to benefit from a similar model...

Re:Um (1)

Frankie70 (803801) | more than 7 years ago | (#17880738)


I think searching the web is one of the few bastions where closed source still rules, and it surprises me that no-one's really made an open source search engine.


A search algorithm is just one part of a web search engine. Equally or more important
is the infrastructure. The amount of infrastructure is too much to imagine and the
expertise in managing the infrastructure.

Re:Um (1)

PhilipMarlowe9000 (1035214) | more than 7 years ago | (#17880916)

Yeah,after about 3 years of media adulation-- Google has Segways in it's office, it's says it won't do evil stuff!-- it seems like Google has come down to business as usual. I'm sure Bill Gates was young, hungry, honest, and loved at one point, and Google was the company that happened to take the mantle of head Innovators. It was immeadiately evident the honeymoon was over after the China debacle. This is not necessarily Google's failing-- capitilsim is not evil, but it's purely immoral and demands that all participants do anything to get ahead. It's like the giant machine in Fritz Lang's Metropolis-- the impressive facade doesn't hide the fact that people are eaten alive by the machine.

Re:Um (4, Interesting)

sphealey (2855) | more than 7 years ago | (#17881098)

> I'm sure Bill Gates was young, hungry,
> honest, and loved at one point,

In fact, for many years Microsoft was seen in the same light as Google is today: as a savior from the iron-fisted "data processing overlords". It wasn't until the 1992-1994 timeframe that information professionals started thinking that Microsoft might have other designs. Now Microsoft is viewed as the iron-fisted overlord, and Google the savior...

I think The Who have a song about this.

sPh

Re:Um (1)

vakuona (788200) | more than 7 years ago | (#17880954)

Just popped over to the Nutch page.

The search box there says search Google. Talk about eating your own dog food.

Re:Um (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17881018)

I know that it requires a crap load of infrastructure, but if Wikipedia can handle it.

Bad example. Half the time that I use the Wikipedia's search box, it can't even handle searching itself -- and suggests that I use Google to search Wikipedia instead.

Re:Um (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17880396)

Are you so nieve to expect more from a Captialist system? It is about PERSONAL OWNERSHIP ofcourse greed comes into it when PERSONAL GAIN is involved.

Re:Um (4, Funny)

suv4x4 (956391) | more than 7 years ago | (#17880408)

Can we just all agree that Google is about as evil as the average corporation now? Or do some of you still believe that Google really is above the rest morally?

Not until they don't change their slogan! It'll be too confusing otherwise.

Re:Um (1)

donaldm (919619) | more than 7 years ago | (#17880428)

If what Google did is deemed illegal in the eyes of the law then at least the people who are involved in this should be held accountable and prosecuted, but this type of thing may be just standard (well maybe a little suspicious) business practice and nothing can be done unless the courts say otherwise.

The problem here may be a form of ethics. It may not be illegal but it definitely puts the party in a bad light. All companies will try to do the best for said company even if it means bending the law slightly. As long as they bend but don't break the law they are operating legally but their reputation may be taken down a peg or two in the eyes of the public. How much a company bends the law depends on how much of their credibility they are willing to loose if what they are doing becomes public.

If this was Microsoft the law would scrutinise this in much more detail because if you are a Monopoly and Microsoft is, then the law can be harsher on them compared to a non monopolistic company like Google.

Please don't take this as an apology for Google. As far as I am concerned if someone in that company did something illegal then they should be prosecuted and if that means the credibility of the company drops then so be it.

Re:Um (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17880684)

Illegal? What the hell are you talking about? This is situation normal and an accepted practice throughout every state in the entire US. As I understand it, the non disclosure was only dealing with the actual company name which was Google who was applying for the breaks. The actual breaks and terms were public.
Read your local newspaper once in a while or attend a local ciy/county/state government meeting once and a while and you will see that this practice of tax breaks is encouraged by both sides. I'd be willing to bet that just about any company or factory that has more then 200 employees or a national presence has negotiated a deal before they build in your area. Hell, my county just negotiated with the FBI (fed gov), Ely Lily, and had a Toshiba chip fab here and all had well known and published breaks. Look at the auto plants in the southern US (BMW, Honda, Hyundai, etc..), I'd bet my left testicle each has huge tax breaks.

Maybe this practice is a little shady but but I do know it happens and is encouraged by both sides everywhere.

Re:Um (1)

hereyago (1041870) | more than 7 years ago | (#17880498)

wow, i thought that google would be the only company not to use such debasing methods, but i guess i was wrong....


Political Discussion [houseofpolitics.com]

The simple answer: IPO (3, Insightful)

mangu (126918) | more than 7 years ago | (#17880592)

"Do no evil" is a nice motto for an individual or a privately owned company, but a publicly traded corporation is different. When you have stock traded in the market you have to maximize profits. One often thinks of "capitalists" as some faceless evil, greedy person, but in fact the capitalist is anyone who has money invested.


When you make any sort of investment, like buying insurance or a retirement plan, you don't ask how evil the corporations are. All you want is the biggest return for the lowest price, which means the portfolios that will make your investment will be composed of stock from the companies with biggest profit.

Re:The simple answer: IPO (5, Interesting)

ringo74 (970328) | more than 7 years ago | (#17880646)

When you make any sort of investment, like buying insurance or a retirement plan, you don't ask how evil the corporations are. All you want is the biggest return for the lowest price, which means the portfolios that will make your investment will be composed of stock from the companies with biggest profit.

With all due respect, sir, you speak for yourself. I *do* check the behaviour and ethical standards of the companies I purchase from or invest in. Yes, sometimes this means lesser profit. So what?

Re:The simple answer: IPO (1)

GoofyBoy (44399) | more than 7 years ago | (#17880760)

>"Do no evil" is a nice motto for an individual or a privately owned company, but a publicly traded corporation is different

1. Regardless, Google put this in their official documents when going public. Its not us that should have known better, but its Google to live up to their standard they set.
2. Google is not really a public compnay, most of the voting shares are held by a few individuals. Unless you are one of these people, Google could be run into the ground and there is very little you could do about it. So I'm not sure what being a public corporation has now changed the way they do business.

Re:Um (4, Insightful)

Trailwalker (648636) | more than 7 years ago | (#17880610)

This is a normal business practice. Every company checks localities for tax breaks before committing to a major investment.

Here, in the American southeast, jobs are very important. An investment of six hundred million dollars and two hundred jobs is a fair trade for the tax break requested. And I doubt Google will have many minimum wage jobs at their new location.

This is the same treatment given to everyone from bakeries to automobile manufacturers. All will receive tax breaks for new plants and jobs. The only question is how much.

Re:Um (5, Insightful)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 7 years ago | (#17880964)

The tax break isn't even that much of a loss of income for the government. If Google are employing 200 people, it works out at $15,000 per new employee. Somewhere between 30-50% of everything earned in the US eventually flows through the government in taxes (income taxes, property taxes, sales taxes, etc), so if Google is paying somewhere between thirty to fifty thousand to each new employee then the government is breaking even or making a net profit.

Of course, some of this goes to the federal government, rather than the state, but I would imagine that they are betting that Google will expand over the next thirty years, employing more people and thus generating even more tax revenue.

This is ignoring, of course, the tax that will be paid by those people employed in construction of the new Google facilities, and any other taxes that Google will pay. I would be very surprised if the state government didn't make a significant profit out of this deal. It sounds like it's good for both parties. The only question really is why Google felt the need to keep it secret.

Re:Um (1)

ToriaUru (750485) | more than 7 years ago | (#17880698)

Yeah, we can just all agree, but will we? No, there will be those who will make excuses why Google is somehow "different" but they ain't. They just want PROFIT, and that's all. Check out the China deal that Google did. If they were "honest" they'd never have started negotiations with the Chinese gov't. Nah, just all about the bottom line: pure profit.

Re:Um (1)

thanksforthecrabs (1037698) | more than 7 years ago | (#17880742)

Amen. They are as evil as the next company. I get tired when people place Google (censorship, eco-friendly 747 jumbo jet/office) and Apple (stock scandal, rumored factory conditions) up on a pedestal as examples of the perfect organization and the choice alternative to the first corps on the block.

Re:Um (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17880744)

Save 89 million?? That is nothing to either a corporation like google, or the state budget.

like some of said a while ago (1)

cinnamon colbert (732724) | more than 7 years ago | (#17880888)

corporations are corporations; expecting one to be nice is like asking a hyena to be gentle. It's just in their DNA.]
what is surprising (or perhaps not, given human intelligence) is that people fall for the were just a couple guys interested in [insert technology here] and not really greedy corporate monsters schtick over and over anover.
dollars to donuts, the same thing will happen again with the next google

frost (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17880244)

frost phiss!

Results 0 - 0 for search "backhander" (2, Funny)

LiquidCoooled (634315) | more than 7 years ago | (#17880260)

Results 0 - 0 for search "backhander"

Did you mean to search for "Tax evasion"?

Re:Results 0 - 0 for search "backhander" (1)

robably (1044462) | more than 7 years ago | (#17880440)

Maybe you should try avoision.

Just be a little evil (0, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17880274)

http://www.google.co.uk/search?hl=en&q=google+corr uption [google.co.uk]

About 5.8 million hits.

http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&q=google+corrup tion [google.com]

About 2.9 million hits.

And they don't censure results, either.

Re:Just be a little evil (3, Informative)

TapeCutter (624760) | more than 7 years ago | (#17880312)

Just had to try it, 6.03M results for both links.

Re:Just be a little evil (1)

QuickFox (311231) | more than 7 years ago | (#17880356)

Strange, I get 2.92M and 2.93M. But in my home country .se I get 6.21M.

Re:Just be a little evil (1)

Tim C (15259) | more than 7 years ago | (#17880400)

I'm in the UK and I get 2.92m and 2.93m too. Mind you, Sourceforge's geolocation stuff (that picks the nearest mirror for you) always seems to think that I'm in Germany, so who knows what Google thinks?

Re:Just be a little evil (2, Interesting)

fatphil (181876) | more than 7 years ago | (#17880478)

I'm on a .fi network

              hl=en hl=fi hl=no .com 6.17 6.21 6.21 .co.uk 6.28 6.21 6.21 .fi 6.28 6.21 6.21 .no 6.19 6.21 6.29

So it looks like it doesn't depend only on the TLD you use, but also the hl parameter.
But not in a particularly logical manner.

Slashcode's broken my Plain Old Text table, that's 3 columns for the three languages 4 rows for the 4 TLDs

Re:Just be a little evil (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17880360)

Well, I got "Results 1 - 10 of about 5,860,000 for google corruption. (0.03 seconds)"

so clearly they are reading Slashdot and adjusting the results in real time.

(do I really have to put a </joke> tag on this? please please can we assume intelligence on the internet? Good point.)

Re:Just be a little evil (2, Funny)

QuickFox (311231) | more than 7 years ago | (#17880438)

please please can we assume intelligence on the internet?
Come on, be realistic. This is Slashdot! We're all superintelligent here, but Aspieishly incapable of distinguishing a joke from a serious statement.

Which reminds me, you didn't explain whether it was your Google hit count or your conclusion that was a joke.

Re:Just be a little evil (1)

aussie_a (778472) | more than 7 years ago | (#17880556)

I'm seeing odd things happen with the numbers, but nothing that indicates a cover up. I'd say its simply quirks with the google system.

Beatup (3, Insightful)

wombatmobile (623057) | more than 7 years ago | (#17880286)

The blog accuses Google of "[trying] to browbeat lawmakers".


But the article simply states that Google, in negotiating with NC and six other states, asked for confidentiality.


Ultimately, Google chose NC. Presumably, NC offered the best tax breaks to support 200 new jobs.


The blogger even says "Tax breaks actually are not that unusual."


So where is the evil?


Re:Beatup (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17880322)

> So where is the evil?

I believe Microsoft have the monopoly.

Re:Beatup (5, Insightful)

tonyquan (758115) | more than 7 years ago | (#17880370)

Sigh...do my fellow Americans understand basic civics anymore?

In a democracy, legislatures do not draft laws under non-disclosure agreements. The proper operation of a democracy hinges on transparency. There is a strong possibility here that Google was asking the legislators to violate the open meeting or sunshine laws of their own state, which guarantee that government business is done in the open. This is why some legislators refused to sign the NDAs.

That's where the evil is.

Re:Beatup (1)

wombatmobile (623057) | more than 7 years ago | (#17880436)

"Sigh...do my fellow Americans understand basic civics anymore?"

I am one of the 5,700,000,000 humans who are not American.

What do you mean by "The proper operation of a democracy"?

Re:Beatup (5, Insightful)

mtenhagen (450608) | more than 7 years ago | (#17880402)

They evil is with the Nondisclosure Agreement!

The people should be able to judge how their government is acting. The fact that google is asking this is not that weird that politicians on the other hand agree is the worst part. Lets hope (I know it wont) they will notice this the next elections.

Re:Beatup (2, Insightful)

wombatmobile (623057) | more than 7 years ago | (#17880508)

"They evil is with the Nondisclosure Agreement!"

The article states, "Executives didn't want anybody even to mention the company's name for fear that competitors could learn of its plans."

And the Google guy is quoted as saying he recognizes the need for legislative due process. "We respect the legislature needs to conduct its business, to deliberate on bills," Weiss wrote in a June 7 e-mail to Hobart. But legislators must understand that the project likely will be canceled if anyone "mentions the company's interest in the bill, North Carolina, or the project itself."

So the article doesn't even suggest that Google was seeking to quash debate on the issue or the principle of the tax break, merely to have the specific company name and project details kept confidential.

Those are normal requests in business negotiations.

Still, NC could have declined Google's request. And Google could have chosen to work with one of the 6 other states that were able to respect its request for confidentiality

That Google and NC worked through all the issues suggests... goodwill rather more than evil, wouldn't you agree?

At least 200 North Carolina citizens with new jobs would surely agree, don't you think?

Re:Beatup (5, Insightful)

aussie_a (778472) | more than 7 years ago | (#17880572)

That Google and NC worked through all the issues suggests... goodwill rather more than evil, wouldn't you agree?
No it suggests that Google and the NC legislators are evil.

If a bill is being drafted specifically for a company, then the public should know which bill it is and which company it is. If Google can't pursue the idea without those stipulations (and the fact they're requiring a special law makes me immediately say they shouldn't be pursuing the idea, I'd need to be convinced they should pursue it) then tough luck.

The fact that the NC legislators are willingly helping Google in covering up their actions in creating a law simply spreads the evil, it doesn't negate Google's evil.

Re:Beatup (1)

GoofyBoy (44399) | more than 7 years ago | (#17880718)

>the specific company name and project details kept confidential.

>Those are normal requests in business negotiations.

Not when you are dealing with government organizations. Its called Transparency. Elected officials were voting/reviewing a bill and were not given all the information.

Re:Beatup (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17880846)

canceled if anyone "mentions the company's interest in the bill, North Carolina, or the project itself.

You can't really debate proposed legislature if you can't mention the motivation for a certain bill.

Re:Beatup (1)

icepick72 (834363) | more than 7 years ago | (#17880832)

The evil is with the Nondisclosure Agreement!

Non-disclosure agreements are not a device for someone to cover their tracks. It protects business information. For example, Google has a responsibility to the board and shareholders and Wall Street to not disclose certain financial information or plans ahead of time. No doubt the elected officials would become privy to some such information during negotiations; resulting in the requirement for NDA to be used. NDAs are not evil. Google is following common business practice. Also remember, Google is not a person, it is a business entity and will act as such.

Re:Beatup (1)

dr.badass (25287) | more than 7 years ago | (#17881064)

But the article simply states that Google, in negotiating with NC and six other states, asked for confidentiality.

Why does a publicly-traded corporation, in negotiating with elected public officials, need to keep secrets from the public?

So? AFAIK MS gets away with this too.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17880398)

As far as I'm aware the Microsoft tax "contribution" to the US from raising a global tax on computing is pretty damn close to zero, so I can't see why Google can't manufacture a similar deal.

That's the sign of big business: getting the rules changed for you..

Giant corps like google getting massive tax breaks (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17880462)

For 200 jobs.. I'm sure this will stimulate the economy in NC into an orgasmic frenzy of uncontrolled capitalism and exploding growth. Google has no concern at all for the social well being of the residents of NC, that part is plainly obvious. One can only hope after google is firmly established in the state and construction is complete, the next house of reps will renig on this lousy deal and raise taxes the bastards at google. You think the social welfare benefits and public services in this state are free? Fucking hell they are.

Nothing Evil there (5, Insightful)

Jack Sombra (948340) | more than 7 years ago | (#17880482)

"The results of this deal are extremely lucrative for both sides. Google brought some $600 million in investment and as many as 200 jobs to the state, and legislation enacted with Google's help is projected to save the company some $89 million in taxes over 30 years."
Lets see, NC gets $600 Million investment that could have gone elsewhere, 200 odd new jobs (and tax revenue from employee's) that also could have gone elsewhere and it just cost them $89 million tax revenue over 30 years, tax revenue that they would probably not have got if they had not done the deal.

Sounds like NC got the better end of the deal by a long margin

The secrecy and nondisclosure agreements are pretty standard, for reasons that are obvious if you give it two minutes worth of consideration

Re:Nothing Evil there (1)

aussie_a (778472) | more than 7 years ago | (#17880590)

The secrecy and nondisclosure agreements are pretty standard, for reasons that are obvious if you give it two minutes worth of consideration
The government should not be involved in any secrecy or NDAs when creating new laws. I took your 2 minutes to consider it, and the reasons I could come up with were not worth the government secretly creating laws for a specific company.

Re:Nothing Evil there (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17880792)

Let's take a closer look.

The tax cut gives Google 200 employees with 50 grand salary working for them for 9 years.

What could you do, if tomorrow you had 200 people starting to work for you for 9 years for free?

Do the math (1)

metamatic (202216) | more than 7 years ago | (#17880978)

Sounds like NC got the better end of the deal by a long margin

I don't think so. $600 million, divided by 30 years, divided by 200 jobs = $100,000 per job per year.

Why not just give $100,000 a year to 200 people and cut out the middleman?

Re:Nothing Evil there (1)

Guppy06 (410832) | more than 7 years ago | (#17881032)

"Sounds like NC got the better end of the deal by a long margin"

North Carolina's governor has put his signature on the tax cuts. Have there been any corresponding signatures from Google guaranteeing the investment volume bandied about? It "could" be $600 million in investments, or it might simply manifest itself as the state's population going up by 200 transplants from California.

do no evil (2, Funny)

spottedkangaroo (451692) | more than 7 years ago | (#17880510)

Do no evil!!!! Unless you're in china or in politics, cuz then you're just trying to fit in. Right? Right?

Re:do no evil (2, Informative)

wateriestfire (962915) | more than 7 years ago | (#17880886)

what evil exactly is Google doing in China? To me it just looks like they are giving the people in China the best possible search under the current laws. They aren't killing people, they are just following the laws. If Google didn't censor their search, China would have censored it for them. China also could have just blocked Google from their country. Then you know what? NOTHING would have changed. Some Chinese search engine would just fill in the gap. Then what? bringing jobs to American cities and donating a lot to those cities is evil now? I am sorry, I had no idea, I'll think twice before donating anything towards public education from now on. Yeah, Google got money too but it's mere pennies compared to what they gave.

Uhh So? (3, Informative)

logicnazi (169418) | more than 7 years ago | (#17880514)

This is just standard buisness practice. States compete to attract large companies with jobs and those large companies do their best to cut good deals for them.

There is nothing even slightly unethical about this. One might argue that such a system is undesierable as it gives large companies an advantage over small companies, and their is some truth to that, but on the other hand large companies may have requirements that aren't easily dealt with in non-negotiated ways.

So I certainly see an argument for the federal government outlawing states from making deals with companies to attract them (some sorts of tax breaks are already forbidden) google certainaly didn't do anything immoral by using the same system that everyone else does. I mean that's like arguing your a bad person for taking advantage of Bush's tax breaks just because you voted against them.

Re:Uhh So? (1)

aussie_a (778472) | more than 7 years ago | (#17880596)

This is just standard buisness practice.
Doesn't make it right. Other things that were once standard business practice include:
* Slavery
* Racism
* Sexism, etc.

We don't accept those either AFAIK.

Re:Uhh So? (1)

logicnazi (169418) | more than 7 years ago | (#17881080)

Hence the reason I offered the analogy of taking tax breaks that you don't support. Do you refuse to take tax breaks that you think are bad policy?

Slavery, Racism and sexism have very specific and compelling reasons why they are wrong. If someone engages in a perfectly legal and commonly accepted practice you have the burden of explaining what is morally wrong about it.

Re:Uhh So? (1)

aussie_a (778472) | more than 7 years ago | (#17881142)

Do you refuse to take tax breaks that you think are bad policy?
I'm not eligible for any tax breaks ;)

Morally I think government officials shouldn't be signing NDAs when it concerns putting forth laws. If Google wants a new law, then everything the government officials have been told should be made available to the public. I think laws for specific individuals (whether good or bad) or companies are terrible ideas and much too prone to abuse and so they should be done in an extremely sparing fashion, if at all.

Re:Uhh So? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17880770)

Some examples of what is negotiated.
Company A may have a small amount of internal equipment but a large workforce doing sales or soft production (software).
Company B may have a huge amount of capital equipment like a factory (which is taxed yearly) but may not have a lot of employees or may not have many actual sales.
Company C may be just a very large depot level warehouse that does not actual sell or produce anything at all, it may be a transfer point.

Each of these companies will be taxed completely different then the other ones. The negotiation starts. If a deal can not be met, Company A, B, or C goes elsewhere.

What if your local county taxed by sq ft? Company C would be screwed
By the amount of capital equipment you have? C would pay almost nothing but B would be out.
The list goes on. I do not automatically consider this practice unethical or wrong by any means.
Each area knows what it needs to support itself and its people. If you give Company A a break so they will move in, you will know get 1000 local residents off of the unemployment line so they can support themselves which will help other businesses in the area as well.
   

Re:Uhh So? (1)

logicnazi (169418) | more than 7 years ago | (#17881100)

Thanks, I couldn't think of good examples. I said there was an argument that it was bad policy but I'm not convinced.

Re:Uhh So? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17880856)

So, what you're saying is that as long as it is common practice to do something wrong - that makes it right?

Two wrongs make a right?

Interesting. I always thought the saying went, "two wrongs don't make a right".

Re:Uhh So? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17881034)

It's so ethically sound that they felt the need to hide it with confidentiality agreements!

Re:Uhh So? (1)

logicnazi (169418) | more than 7 years ago | (#17881124)

No, they didn't want their competitors muscling in on the agreement or otherwise getting wind of their plans.

Not to mention the other reasons to make confidentiality agreements. If you are buying up big plots of land you don't want to announce it otherwise you will get hold outs who can block the deal unless they are given big payoffs.

Re:Uhh So? (1)

Guppy06 (410832) | more than 7 years ago | (#17881046)

"States compete to attract large companies with jobs and those large companies do their best to cut good deals for them."

Why must it involve robbing people access to their legislators?

Evil starts with "standard business practice" (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17880630)

Thank you for many of you to point out, that "this is just stndard business practice."

Evil starts with "standard business practice", doesn't it?

Governments, financed by public money, should be transparent and accountable to the public at all cost, without a very few exception.
Corporate interest would not be one of those exceptions.

In fact, any "standard business practice", which is trying to deform this basic political principal should be refused, reported to criminal investigation.

Attempting to corrupt the political system should trigger the ultimate capital punishment for corporate violators.

A new slogan for Google in the Pacific NW (1)

LM741N (258038) | more than 7 years ago | (#17880636)

Given that they are building a giant data center on the Colombia River to take advantage of cheap (but not cheap on the environment) hydro power I propose the following new slogan something along the lines of the following:

"Download a movie (YouTube), kill a salmon."

Perhaps someone else could make it catchier, but you get the idea.

Re:A new slogan for Google in the Pacific NW (1)

Ortega-Starfire (930563) | more than 7 years ago | (#17880830)

Given that they are building a giant data center on the Colombia River to take advantage of cheap (but not cheap on the environment) hydro power I propose the following new slogan something along the lines of the following:

"Download a movie (YouTube), kill a salmon."

Perhaps someone else could make it catchier, but you get the idea.


Would you rather google killed the salmon (hydro), the atmosphere (coal), or use the ever-feared nuclear power? Until the PL6 or PL7 technology shows up, Google using hydro and solar power whenever they can seems to be a good thing.

Re:A new slogan for Google in the Pacific NW (1)

bvimo (780026) | more than 7 years ago | (#17880892)

OMG think of the fish.

Re:A new slogan for Google in the Pacific NW (1)

aussie_a (778472) | more than 7 years ago | (#17881066)

So I take it you don't eat salmon?

No Democracy Agreement (1)

AHuxley (892839) | more than 7 years ago | (#17880658)

In Capitalist North Carolina officials laugh as Googles legislation explained to you after vote.
In Soviet Union lucrative new North Carolina potassium agreement explained to you!

Carlotte? (4, Funny)

Ka D'Argo (857749) | more than 7 years ago | (#17880700)

As a resident of "Carlotte", North Carolina my entire 25 years on this Earth, I gotta let you in on a secret; we named it Charlotte. What is this "Carlotte" you speak of? ;p

Re:Carlotte? (1)

chipper (21422) | more than 7 years ago | (#17880774)

Yes, you beat me to it. Also, What is 200 jobs anyways? What was the salary range of these jobs? If we are talking about junior button punchers at a datacenter in the middle of nowhere, how much does that help the economy of North Carolina?

Re:Carlotte? (1)

adamkennedy (121032) | more than 7 years ago | (#17880882)

You don't use Juniots to run a 600m facility...

200 x 80k (to pick wildly from the air) = 16m

So it helps the economy of North Carolina by 16m per year.

Plus there's the construction jobs, and local contractors for other various stuff related to it.

And of course, 1 primary export job (since money is coming into the state) supports about 10 other people.

Plus of course, they chew up electricity, which probably helps the local power company, and there's probably more jobs there...

Any large company that for an area, that is bringing in money from OUTSIDE that area is a very desirable thing.

Re:Carlotte? (1)

aussie_a (778472) | more than 7 years ago | (#17881044)

Right, but perhaps NC lost 50m per year because other companies negotiated tax breaks with other states that had they not done so, may have gone to NC.

This might be standard operating procedure. But so was racketeering.

Re:Carlotte? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17881104)

No, you're thinking of Charlotte. This is Carlotte we're talking about.


... Dumbass.

You call this capitalism? (2, Interesting)

bhmit1 (2270) | more than 7 years ago | (#17880708)

Sadly, this is pretty normal these days, and I don't blame Google for doing it. They have to look out for their share holders, and that involves saving money when reasonable. I only partially blame the state, since if NC didn't do this, another state would and the jobs would go that way too, making NC a worse place for their residents. But the sad thing is that small businesses are just now getting their tax bills for the year from their counties (yes, for the privilege of having a file cabinet in my office, I owe the county more money). And the tax breaks that the big businesses get are basically discrimination against smaller businesses and anti-competitive.

We are raising barriers of entry into every large industry we create. I don't think that it's up to the states to fix this, but the federal level should pass a law banning these anti-competitive practices. No city, county, or state should have the right to change taxes on one group in such a way that it discourages competition. We should implement this similar to anti-discrimination laws that we already have to minimize the impact on the local governments right to raise money.

possible typo (should "wended" be "winded"?) (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17880712)

That is, wind as in "winding road" as opposed to "tilting at windmills"?

The evil about tax-financed jobs (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17880754)

Here is why financing jobs with tax(break) money is evil:

1) large corporation "buys" hundreds of new empoyees to create wealth, increase profit for the sole benefit of the corporation ("yes, but they create jobs, don't they?" Corporations need those new employees to achieve their goals, employment for corporations is like any other commodities "human resources", like "financial or natural resources", needed to run the business, it's a side-affect, that "human resources" happen to be voters in the political system, in fact, that's the only reason why they have the value to bargain for tax break, but the corporation will let "human resources" go in a moment, when they are not needed, just like dropping an order for new supply of raw material)
2) public is financing the purchase of increased profitability
3) corporation gets larger, wealthier, with the help of the public
4) larger, wealthier corporation uses its power to get further brakes, special treatment, even influencing legislation, for a simple goal: to avoid or minimize paying tax, in other word: to support the public
5) The very same public, which supported, financed them at the first place with tax(breaks) to become large, wealthy and powerful
6) and to become the loudest advocate of the "power of free market", "less government", "no subsidies", etc.

No "google shill" trolls? (1)

Asztal_ (914605) | more than 7 years ago | (#17880840)

Disappointing.

It depends on your point of view (1)

vakuona (788200) | more than 7 years ago | (#17880898)

Some capitalists believe taxes are evil.

So Google, by trying to pay as little tax as possible, are trying to do less evil. /me ducks and runs away.

Get a clue... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17880944)

Google is in business. In order to remain competitive Google must take advantage of all incentives available to business in deciding where to locate. The competition certainly will and next thing you know we'll be reading about how Google failed in it's responsibility to it's stock holders. Evil stock holders like your pension fund and your insurance company which are NECESSARILY EVIL because they do not have the power of TAXATION. Next thing you know people will be complaining that Google AND Exxon should be paying windfall profit taxes. It's not like people NEED Google any less than the NEED gasoline. Hell, how are they gonna know where to drive their SUVs. You guys should walk a block in my Birks and try to find a place to park the VOLVO at the mall. mmmm...chinese chicken....mmmm HOLD THE FsCKING ACCENT!

It's called lobbying... (1)

silversurf (34707) | more than 7 years ago | (#17881030)

...and just about every company on the planet does it in one form or the other and it's not that bad as long as it's done within reason and this doesn't seem that unreasonable to me. I think it's worth pointing out that this type of behavior is no different than negotiating a lease, in fact I'd say these deals are a necessity in some places of the US given the taxes and regulations that companies have to put up with. I'm all for moderate regulation and a reasonable tax on business, but this is the type of thing (high taxes) that drives companies to do this type of deal making. If states and counties got their taxes under control then this would become less common place.

In the end, high taxes, over regulation and unwillingness to soften those issues are what's going to drive more business out of a particular state, county, or even country because otherwise it's hard to compete when your competition has lower costs than you.

-c

This is GOOD (1)

Reality Master 101 (179095) | more than 7 years ago | (#17881094)

Sheesh, I can't believe the comments about this, that it's somehow damaging to Democracy. This sort of thing helps Deomcracy!

One of the unique things about the United States, and a very underrated aspect that helps strengthen our economy, is the fact that we have so many states with separate governments that compete with one another. When The People (read: business) have the opportunity to negotiate directly with governments, it helps keep them in line to not create punitive and damaging (and greed) tax laws.

"Corporations" are not alive. They represent real people. This was a win for The People against oppressive government taxation.

Disclaimer: I am NOT a Libertarian. Yes, government does have a role in regulation capitalism. But it's critical that government also be regulated.

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