Beta
×

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!

Google's New Lobbying Power in Washington

samzenpus posted more than 7 years ago | from the one-nation-under-google dept.

Google 167

*SECADM writes "Learning from Microsoft's error, Google is building a lobbying power house in Washington." From the Washington Post article: Two years ago, Google was on the verge of making that Microsoft-like error. Davidson, then a 37-year-old former deputy director of the Center for Democracy & Technology, was the search-engine company's sole staff lobbyist in Washington. As recently as last year, Google co-founder Sergey Brin had trouble getting meetings with members of Congress. To change that, Google went on a hiring spree and now has 12 lobbyists and lobbying-related professionals on staff here — more than double the size of the standard corporate lobbying office — and is continuing to add people.

cancel ×

167 comments

Sorry! There are no comments related to the filter you selected.

ginseng tea (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19589491)

really makes me horny. seriously. im sippin on some now and balancing the keyboard on a woody.

captcha: grimace

go figure!

So? (4, Insightful)

RevRigel (90335) | more than 7 years ago | (#19589493)

He's just one US citizen. If he wants to have influence on Congress he can vote like the rest of us. The fact that he can't get personal meetings with them should be surprising or distressing, regardless of his net worth, given how difficult it would be for everyone else.

Re:So? (5, Interesting)

gartogg (317481) | more than 7 years ago | (#19589629)

Actually, I've never had a problem getting a meeting with my representative - have you ever tried to do so? It would be a shame if you were just talking out of you ass...

Re:So? (5, Insightful)

Short Circuit (52384) | more than 7 years ago | (#19590159)

my representative
Key point: YOUR representative.

Lobbying is about influencing more than just the representative from your district and the senators from your state. Could I get a meeting with my Representative Pete Hoekstra? Possibly. Could I get a meeting with my Senator Debbie Stabenow? Maybe, if she didn't prefer to ignore her constituents. Could I get a meeting with my Senator Carl Levin? Probably not, he hasn't responded to my letters since the Democrats became the majority.

But even if I were to convince all three that we needed to make law the presence of my product in every household, Levin and Stabenow are only two Senators in one hundred, and Hoekstra is only one Representative in several hundred.

Limiting your influence to those for whom you are a voting constituent won't get you very far. That's why corporations have lobbyists.

Re:So? (2, Interesting)

smilindog2000 (907665) | more than 7 years ago | (#19591149)

Heck, I'd settle for an automated reply e-mail. AFAIK, my rep completely ignores me, but given that many here on slashdot also ignore me, I shouldn't be surprised. The only two issues I've ever raised up the flag pole to my rep is 1) support for a law that would ban discrimination against IP packets based on origin, and 2) redefining the definition of rad-hard chips to take into account reality at 90nm and below, so that we can have a sane rad-hard electronics industry in the US. Maybe if I were in the habit of making political donations, it'd be different, but in general I believe political donations are worse for the country than burning the money.

So Google is getting political... I bet that will make it even harder for them to stick to their "Don't be evil" policy.

Re:So? (2, Insightful)

crayz (1056) | more than 7 years ago | (#19589639)

Except now they have a lobbying firm and presumably no trouble meeting with legislators. Is that not a serious problem with our system?

Re:So? (1)

couchslug (175151) | more than 7 years ago | (#19589661)

"If he wants to have influence on Congress he can vote like the rest of us."

That's not enough. My vote alone isn't shite.
My vote and those of many NRA members, represented by lobbyists to remind Congress we exist, DOES matter.

Re:So? (5, Insightful)

Ibag (101144) | more than 7 years ago | (#19589697)

He's not just one citizen, though. It has nothing to do with his net worth either. He's in charge of a company large enough that congress holds hearings and proposes bills that not only directly affect his company, but sometimes affect only his company. If 535 men were discussing whether to restrict what only you were doing or whether to help only your biggest competitors, you would be entitled to an audience with them too.

Or are his opinions about net neutrality and Chinese Internet censorship no more important than yours when congress discusses them?

Re:So? (4, Insightful)

rtb61 (674572) | more than 7 years ago | (#19589817)

That is just really daft and probably the worst possible reason I have ever heard. The company has thousands of shareholders and hundreds of major investors and thousands of employees who also have a voice, how many times should the voice of that company be repeated over and over again to the exclusion of the general public.

He is just one citizen, with absolutely no more or less entitlement to access to politicians then any other citizen. If point of fact he has already well and truly profited by the system and the only reason for further access is to further inflate their personal profit. All people are created equally and should be treated as such in the eyes of the law and by politicians. It truly disgusts me that anybody thinks already wealthy people should have greater access than the rest of the community to politicians so as to further bloat their wealth.

In fact the system should be designed specifically that no individual has far greater influence than any other citizen. Further to that laws should be implemented to ensure any discussions between public companies and politicians or those who have influence beyond the voter should be made public, so the citizens at large can form their own opinions about the corporations the drive their own self serving agenda's and the politicians that listen and well as what those politicians agree too.

Re:So? (5, Interesting)

Short Circuit (52384) | more than 7 years ago | (#19590235)

The company has thousands of shareholders and hundreds of major investors and thousands of employees who also have a voice
The shareholders and investors (Technically, shareholders are investors, but we're not talking about accounting here...) depend on Google to carry its own interests. The point of buying shares in a company is typically to take advantage of that company's good market and management, not to take on an active role in aiding that company. It's just not cost effective to do it that way; the cost of effective lobbying* far exceeds the gain in stock value one might see as a result.

* Writing a letter and making phone calls is not an effective way to influence your representatives. I've written hundreds of letters and made around twenty phone calls to my representatives, and I only know of one time where one of my representative voted in favor of my position. $2,000 from a PAC is more likely to change their vote than a fifty cent letter or a free email and fax. I still write, though, because I have to do something, don't I?

Re:So? (1, Insightful)

Score Whore (32328) | more than 7 years ago | (#19589819)

He's not just one citizen, though. It has nothing to do with his net worth either. He's in charge of a company large enough that congress holds hearings and proposes bills that not only directly affect his company, but sometimes affect only his company. If 535 men were discussing whether to restrict what only you were doing or whether to help only your biggest competitors, you would be entitled to an audience with them too.


Wait, is this Jesus we're talking about or some businessman? I make latex products and latex related products (not really), and congress makes laws that affect my company all the time. There has never been a time when either the senate or the house have considered a law that would affect only Google. Never. You are talking out of your ass.

Or are his opinions about net neutrality and Chinese Internet censorship no more important than yours when congress discusses them?


Congress should never discuss Chinese Internet censorship, it's completely outside the scope of their duties. And his opinions on net neutrality are no more important or less important than anyone else's. He's not a king, lord, duke, pope, bishop, prince, or queen. He's just one of the founders of a company that has been convicted of copyright infringement. Woop dee do.

Re:So? (2)

pravuil (975319) | more than 7 years ago | (#19590219)

Wait, is this Jesus we're talking about or some businessman? I make latex products and latex related products (not really), and congress makes laws that affect my company all the time. There has never been a time when either the senate or the house have considered a law that would affect only Google. Never. You are talking out of your ass.

Through the sarcasm, you do make a good point though. There's not just one interest vying for attention, there are thousands plus. Some of them disagree on certain issues that would divide the Red Sea. Some come out with sincere motives while there are others that provide realistic goals and opportunities. If morality was truly an issue or even a reasonable goal, whose responsibility is it for these effects to make itself known within the market? Demand is a good motivator for companies to lobby for things in which the majority would agree upon.

What happened to grassroots? What happened to educating the public? With the current technological capability, what are we doing to voice our concern? I don't raise these questions because we aren't doing this stuff. I'm raising these questions to re-evaluate the stance so the scope can be broadened to accomplish greater things and to provide better mobility to reach the audience that should be reached. If google has the power, what should that power be for us.

Re:So? (1)

speaker of the truth (1112181) | more than 7 years ago | (#19590251)

He's not a king, lord, duke, pope, bishop, prince, or queen.
Well, actually.....

Re:So? (2, Informative)

emc (19333) | more than 7 years ago | (#19590249)

Or are his opinions about net neutrality and Chinese Internet censorship no more important than yours when congress discusses them?

No actually, they are no more important. The only difference is that he has more to gain or lose (financially) than I do.

Re:So? (3, Insightful)

RealGrouchy (943109) | more than 7 years ago | (#19590771)

He's not just one citizen, though...He's in charge of a company

One citizen, two "persons".

- RG>

Re:So? (1)

nEoN nOoDlE (27594) | more than 7 years ago | (#19589733)

regardless of his net worth, given how difficult it would be for everyone else.

given his net worth and in comparison to his peers and competitors of similar stature, it would be foolish to compare himself to "everyone else" when it comes to him not being able to get personal meetings with congressmen. If you want to have a qualms with this, take it up with the system he's trying to play in instead of the man himself.

Re:So? (1)

Score Whore (32328) | more than 7 years ago | (#19590155)

Sure. He's not breaking any laws. But it's perfectly legitimate to judge him. To think less of him. Seriously, he's worth 11 billion dollars. He doesn't have to do anything he doesn't want to do. If he's playing in the system then it's because he thinks it's ok. If he didn't think it was ok, he could take a billion dollars and setup a non-profit for the sole purpose of saying "We're watching you dirtbag politicians." It wouldn't change his standard of living in the least and he could be said to advance the ideals that the public face of his company claims to hold to (openness, access to information, do no evil.)

It is totally legitimate to look at Bryn and say "what a hypocritical putz." And in no way whatsoever is the system to blame.

Re:So? (2, Insightful)

jlarocco (851450) | more than 7 years ago | (#19590223)

I think the GP *was* complaining about the system "the man" is playing in.

And if he's not, I am.

I understand that Congressmen and Senators are busy people, but if Sergey Brin wants to talk to one of them, he can shut the fuck up and make an appointment like everybody else. The fact that he founded a company and has a lot of money shouldn't be relevant in this situation, and it's disappointing that our representatives think it is.

Re:So? (0, Flamebait)

TooMuchToDo (882796) | more than 7 years ago | (#19590899)

A company is a distinct entity in the US system, and has plenty of the same rights as a person. So why can't it have lobbyists looking out for it's interests? Shut the fuck up and stop bitching until you do something as valuable or more then what Google has done.

Fucking Slashdot. Figures.

Re:So? (2, Funny)

Puff of Logic (895805) | more than 7 years ago | (#19589921)

I'm telling you people, this is just a harbinger of what's to come. A thousand years from now, as the Google empire reigns with an iron fist over the cringing masses of humanity, records will tell of that legendary sage Puff of Logic and his predictions of Google's rise to empire!

Re:So? (1)

Nossie (753694) | more than 7 years ago | (#19591063)

think maybe Google is the new catholic church? and here was me thinking that was steve jobs' job.

disclaimer (I own a mac or two)

strange though... what is a religion at its basic roots? and what will be the next religion to rebel against in 1000 years from now..

Re:So? (2, Interesting)

Savage-Rabbit (308260) | more than 7 years ago | (#19589991)

He's just one US citizen. If he wants to have influence on Congress he can vote like the rest of us. The fact that he can't get personal meetings with them should be surprising or distressing, regardless of his net worth, given how difficult it would be for everyone else.
I'm sure I'll be punished for this with lots of negative modding but it's just to much fun to mutate some dusty Marxist theory beyond all recognition:

Why would the fact that people can't get personal meetings with members of Congress unless they have a high net monetary worth be distressing? In a pure capitalist meritocracy human worth is measured in money and access to the people's elected representatives is also prioritized according to the wealth of the citizen in question. Come to think of it in a pure capitalist meritocracy the country (assuming that concept would even exist in such a world) would actually not be governed by elected representatives but rather by the most wealthy citizens (who by definition would be the most worthy) wouldn't it? In practice pure capitalist meritocracies don't exist since, at least in the western world, quaint and annoying traditions like democracy tend to get in the way. But even if one only achieves a partial capitalist meritocracy it still is more or less true that the wealthier a citizen is the greater his/her de facto human worth and the more and better his/her access to elected representatives and the better, speedier, more merciful and generally favorable the treatment he/she gets from the courts. Even if you get arrested and sentenced to jail for some crime a regular, less worthy, citizen gets sent to a normal jail where he/she will be subjected to all the brutal horrors a modern penal system has to offer while a wealthy citizen goes to a special protected detention facility where time is served in relative comfort, things like getting raped in the showers is something they don't have to worry about and generous reductions in the time that has to be served are easy to obtain. What this boils down to is that each country and it's people have to make up their collective mind about whether they want to be a capitalist meritocracy first and a democracy second or vice versa. Each choice has it's drawbacks and expecting to get the best of both worlds will lead to disappointment.

Re:So? (1)

JoshJ (1009085) | more than 7 years ago | (#19590125)

That'd be all well and good if everyone started out on the same footing, but unfortunately inheritance gets in the way there.

Worthington's Law (2, Informative)

poopdeville (841677) | more than 7 years ago | (#19590647)

This is called Worthington's Law. [youtube.com]

Re:So? (1)

Bazar (778572) | more than 7 years ago | (#19591189)

Thats horribly short sighted.
If you believe that all citizens should be given the same attention, regardless of circumstances.

In the case of large multinational organizations, you want to be helpful towards them, as the welfare of those company's are reflected in their employees. Poor decisions can result in them just packing up and moving to a more considerate country. Then your down in both tax revenues and employment.

Its understandable why they should give large companies a little extra time to hear about their concerns. Their needs are simply more dire then the average citizens.

Re:So? (1)

mwvdlee (775178) | more than 7 years ago | (#19591549)

I can't decide what surprises me the most about the US system; the fact that you have professional lobbyists or the fact that it's legal. Actually, the real surprise is probably that it seems to work. Any representative with a shred of moral decency would have a blacklist of all lobbyists and ban them from communicating with him/her.

Lobbyist. (5, Interesting)

jshriverWVU (810740) | more than 7 years ago | (#19589499)

Besides the typical point of view that Lobbyist are basically rich people with an agenda paying off congressman to get legislation passed in their favor. What is the real "legal" definition of what a lobbyist is supposed to do? You'd think if their sole purpose is to pay off people it would be illegal. Any pro's/con's in this?

Re:Lobbyist. (1)

.Chndru (720709) | more than 7 years ago | (#19589631)

My friend, welcome to the american "democracy"...

Re:Lobbyist. (3, Insightful)

garcia (6573) | more than 7 years ago | (#19589635)

Well, we are talking about Google here, right? Let's ask them how Google defines a lobbyist [google.com] and what they think are the pros and cons of lobbyists [google.com] .

What better source than straight from the horse's mouth? ;-)

Re:Lobbyist. (2, Insightful)

DerekLyons (302214) | more than 7 years ago | (#19591123)

Those are Google searches - not the definitions or opinions of Google itself (or it's constituent personell).

Re:Lobbyist. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19589653)

I believe the theory is that lobbyists are supposed to help with research and inform congressmen about the wants of the people.

Re:Lobbyist. (1)

cerberusss (660701) | more than 7 years ago | (#19589667)

What sort of black/white world view do you have? The main point of a lobbyist is to talk to a politician to make sure he/she understands whatever the lobbyist is trying to get across. Now campaign funding might look like paying off said politician and there are rules about that. And I'm not saying these rules work or not, but the main point is TALKING.

And believe it or not, YOU can talk to your congressman as well. The other day, I read in the news that my congressman (a woman) was spouting off what I thought nonsense about how windenergy can't be stored. I wrote her an e-mail saying, yes, it can actually be stored and here's a wikipedia link to a great project in Scotland which does that. I got back a nice reply with a thanks, but she had heard of lots of problems in said project, so didn't see it as a viable solution.

I'll bite (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19589687)

When I was in high school, my state had a YMCA Model Legislature program. Students would act as representatives, senators, and even governors (executive branch) to learn more about how the government worked. I was a lobbyist. The role of a lobbyist is to act as an expert on an issue. There may be lobbyists arguing both for and against a certain bill, giving valuable information to the committee of representatives and the chair so they can determine how to amend, pass, or not pass a certain bill. As you can see, a lobbyists are very important in the democratic process and often aren't even representing organizations. They may just be common citizens arguing their case on a certain bill. Disclaimer: This is my understanding of lobbyists in a bicameral legislature of a state government, but I assume it is similar at the national level. The captcha is "missed."

Re:Lobbyist. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19589693)

A lobbyist is simply any person who wants to discuss some matter related to govt. and the law with someone in Congress. Congress is busy, however, so in order to get a meeting with someone, you need to donate a lot of money to their campaign. Professional lobbyists all ready have all the connections, so you pay them to get your meeting for you. If a congress person is honest, your donation shouldn't influence his position, only the strength of your argument.

Re:Lobbyist. (1)

JimDaGeek (983925) | more than 7 years ago | (#19589979)

If a congress person is honest, your donation shouldn't influence his position, only the strength of your argument.
Huh? Why should someones argument be strengthened by how much money they have/bribe the politicians with? The strength of the argument should be based on the points of the argument. For example:

person #1: I think we should reduce copyright terms because blah..blah..blah.
Person #2: I think we should extend copyright terms because blah..blah..blah. Oh, and here is a nice fat check.
Is there such a thing as a long term "representative" that doesn't except bribes? Don't they all? There is no way that our "representatives" are not overly influenced by bribes. Just look at how extreme copyright laws are, or how messed up patent laws are. These two examples are because our so-called "representatives" have take millions in bribes from big corps while those who want a fair copyright system and better patent laws don't have the same cash to bribe as the big corps.

It is my opinion that corps. should not be allowed to give bribes or influence law at all. Corporations are fictitious entities, they are not people/citizens. Each member of a corporation has the ability to try to influence law, at the same level as any other citizen. However, when we let these big corps. with big bank accounts bribe our politicians it creates an unfair advantage that the average citizen just cannot compete against. Hence Americas progress toward a corportism.

Re:Lobbyist. (1)

poopdeville (841677) | more than 7 years ago | (#19590689)

If a congress person is honest, your donation shouldn't influence his position, only the strength of your argument.

Huh? Why should someones argument be strengthened by how much money they have/bribe the politicians with? The strength of the argument should be based on the points of the argument.

Wow, you need to practice reading. Sure, it wasn't the clearest sentence. But interpreting it to mean the exact opposite of what he meant takes a severe lack of reading comprehension. Especially since he talked about his point for several sentences before that.

PARENT IS FUCKING IDIOT (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19589745)

MOD -1, STUPID

The captcha is "charger."

THE GNAA GAY NIGGER ASSOCIATION OF AMERICA

Michael Sims Fired, Joins GNAA to Troll Slashdot Full Time

FREMONT, CA (TECHNEWS) - After a heated debate at Slashdot executive offices, editor Michael Sims was locked out of the building and departed in a tirade of lisping insults, vowing revenge immediately. This morning, industry sources revealed that Sims has joined the infamous trolling organization Gay Nigger Association of America with the intent of trolling Slashdot fulltime.

In a short phone interview with Technews, Sims asserted that he was calm but resolved on his course of action. "The Slashdot editors and I had a disagreement," he explained. "I did it all for the users, but they..." he drew the syllable out painfully, resting on a case full of Little League trophies and certificates of participation from transgendered dating services, "They just couldn't take my truth. They were -- babies, just babies, oh, the horror, the abomination," he said, before being led away by three white-clad male nurses.

According to Harvard Psychology Professor Arnold Rothstahlberg, "trolling" is an internet phenomenon where dissenting users disrupt a site by flooding it with absurd or paradoxical information. "It satisfies the primal id," he said, chewing on a large, bulbous, phallic black cigar. "To justify themselves by forcing their enemies into hysterics. It's a compensatory mechanism much like getting back at the kids who beat you up in high school by installing Linux and using it to pingflood their XP boxes and Macs."

Slashdot editor CmdrTaco was reticent to comment. At an interview conducted in the crap-filled Ann Arbor bungalow he shares with his wife, to whom he proposed over Slashdot, he said, "Well, you know, Slashdot is just a web site. Michael should calm down about this. But if he doesn't, our corporate sponsors will sue him until he's giving $4 blowjobs on Haight Street."

From the GNAA corporate headquarters, a mysterious floating island off the coast of Newfoundland that few reporters have seen and even fewer have returned from with their sexual identities intact, GNAA "Head Programmer" timecop said he was glad to have Sims on hand. "From what I've seen of his postings on Slashdot," said timecop, "he's a total fag. Which is convenient as all our halfops need anal, and I can't handle the drama. That's what's worst about the net: the drama."

Sims has been involved in previous internet firefights, most notably the controversy over the censorware.org website in 2001. While Sims alleges that the site was his creation that was sabotaged by others, his coworkers disagree. Bennett Haselton, security consultant for the "Anarchy Anal" and "Chaos Cumshot" websites, said of Sims, "We set up this website, and left him the password. We have a disagreement, bam, the website goes down and someone raped my two-week-old Labrador puppy with an iPod."

Slashdot Editor CowboyNeal, who was entangled in a whale net after attempting to swim the English channel, spoke fondly of his former coworker. "Michael always brought a certain passion to the work, a passion that was easily ignited and led to many sweaty sessions in the corporate washroom," he said. "I'm not at all surprised he joined an organization of gay niggers. He always like something different and unique in his pasta salads."

Programmer Seth Finkelstein alleges that Sims is "totally unstable" and agreed readily to this interview. "Of course, I'm a disinterested observer," he said. "But anytime I see that closet psychopath and monkey nut-muncher stealing the spotlight from hardworking programmers like myself, I have to speak up, for the benefit of the people, of course," he said. Technews reporters were permitted to leave the premises only after making a PayPal donation to Finkelstein.

Mike Godwin of the EFF, who balances a career as privacy advocate with his hobby of making videos of teen swingers blowing goats, agreed. "I've never met another editor like Michael," he said. "And, since my regimen of retrovirals is already costing me an arm and a leg, I hope I never do." Godwin mentioned that Sims believes his trolling of Slashdot is providing a "different perspective" that benefits "the broader Linux, er, Slashdot, community."

When Technews returned to interview Sims, he spoke softly and with conviction. "They don't have the interests of the user community at heart," he said. Suddenly he was pounding his desk in tears. "Those bastards cut off my lifeline, my raison d'etre," he sobbed. His voice and eyes became clear, a hatred burning behind the lenses. "I'll crapflood every Linux kernel update from now until oblivion. They haven't heard the last... of Michael Sims," he said.

About GNAA:
GNAA (GAY NIGGER ASSOCIATION OF AMERICA) is the first organization which gathers GAY NIGGERS from all over America and abroad for one common goal - being GAY NIGGERS.

Are you GAY?
Are you a NIGGER?
Are you a GAY NIGGER?

If you answered "Yes" to all of the above questions, then GNAA (GAY NIGGER ASSOCIATION OF AMERICA) might be exactly what you've been looking for!
Join GNAA (GAY NIGGER ASSOCIATION OF AMERICA) today, and enjoy all the benefits of being a full-time GNAA member.
GNAA (GAY NIGGER ASSOCIATION OF AMERICA) is the fastest-growing GAY NIGGER community with THOUSANDS of members all over United States of America and the World! You, too, can be a part of GNAA if you join today!

Why not? It's quick and easy - only 3 simple steps!

        * First, you have to obtain a copy of GAYNIGGERS FROM OUTER SPACE THE MOVIE and watch it. You can download the movie (~130mb) using BitTorrent.
        * Second, you need to succeed in posting a GNAA First Post on slashdot.org, a popular "news for trolls" website.
        * Third, you need to join the official GNAA irc channel #GNAA on irc.gnaa.us, and apply for membership.

Talk to one of the ops or any of the other members in the channel to sign up today! Upon submitting your application, you will be required to submit links to your successful First Post, and you will be tested on your knowledge of GAYNIGGERS FROM OUTER SPACE.

If you are having trouble locating #GNAA, the official GAY NIGGER ASSOCIATION OF AMERICA irc channel, you might be on a wrong irc network. The correct network is NiggerNET, and you can connect to irc.gnaa.us as our official server. Follow this link if you are using an irc client such as mIRC.

If you have mod points and would like to support GNAA, please moderate this post up

Re:Lobbyist. (1)

unlametheweak (1102159) | more than 7 years ago | (#19589753)

It's a good counterpoint to the RIAA lobbyists. At least Google will be more likely to lobby against excessive controls on things like information sharing. They would certainly be a strong voice for net neutrality. Google at least has the incentive to fight for positive things like this.

Re:Lobbyist. (1)

Kalriath (849904) | more than 7 years ago | (#19589929)

Um, why is controls on Information Sharing "Bad" if Google disagrees with it, but "OMG Greatest Thing Ever" if, say, Microsoft or AOL disagree with it? I would prefer MORE controls on Information Sharing, not LESS.

You can rest assured, Google will fight against such things as Privacy Protection Laws, and Data Retention Restriction laws. Heaven forbid they not be allowed to retain 75 years of your personal data to mine.

Re:Lobbyist. (2, Insightful)

unlametheweak (1102159) | more than 7 years ago | (#19589987)

Perhaps I could have worded that better, with more detail of what I meant. I meant sharing information with the public in general. Issues like (copyrighted) songs being played in the background of a YouTube video for example, or the use of thumbnails to copyrighted images have come up in legal controversies. I meant information sharing in the sense of information generally being free (and shared), as opposed to overly controlled.

No I did not mean information sharing like with 3rd party cookie. Sorry, I should have worded that better.

what a lobbyist is and why they're important (5, Interesting)

JimBobJoe (2758) | more than 7 years ago | (#19589773)

What is the real "legal" definition of what a lobbyist is supposed to do?

A professional who informs democratically elected representatives about issues.

While these professionals have to be paid somehow, and the root of their pay makes them beholden to some interest or another, what a legislator needs to do and understand is simply too complex without receiving counsel and guidance otherwise.

I live in Columbus near the Ohio statehouse and since I have a lot of knowledge about identity theft, privacy and driver's license security issues, I often show up at the statehouse and give testimony on a bill. I'm essentially a college student with a job with no set hours, so it's not hard for me to do. I can meet up with a legislator or make a committee meeting (which are always held during the day) with no trouble. People who might have the knowledge or expertise but have regular jobs will find that difficult.

But what I do I do for free, because I want to see Ohio have better laws on things that I feel passionate about or interest me. I can only devote so much time to it.

The other day, I testified on an identity theft bill. I was talking about a major problem with some state websites and I wanted to show the committee what the problem is--so I asked if there were a projector available to hook my laptop to.

The assistant to the chair of the committee said he's never asked for a projector before--and he's done the job for 3 years now.

That scared me. It doesn't take much computer knowledge to put together a powerpoint presentation, and we all know (stereotype alert) that low-tech types like powerpoint. It implied to me that the people who would often speak in front of this committee didn't have a very good knowledge of computing.

I did get my projector, and made my presentation (which included talk about "brute force" techniques.) The next week, a state senator's office called--the senator read my written testimony and asked during that committee hearing what was the difference between brute forcing a password and phishing. No one was there who could answer the question.

It's clear to me that Ohio needs to have a professional lobbyist walking around the statehouse who knows computer security issues and who could spend his time getting legislators up to speed. While lobbyists are often political mercenaries, they do fulfill a certain role that no one else can.

Re:what a lobbyist is and why they're important (2)

jshriverWVU (810740) | more than 7 years ago | (#19589847)

Interesting read, especially since I live in Toledo :) Keep up the great work.

Re:what a lobbyist is and why they're important (4, Interesting)

geekoid (135745) | more than 7 years ago | (#19590177)

Contact the governer see if they can create a Chief Computer Advisor position to appoint you to. Some of those senators you have helped might be able to help you out.

Re:what a lobbyist is and why they're important (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19590409)

Advocating that someone should denigrate themselves by going into politics?

Isn't there a law against that?

(kudos +1 to the gp btw. seriously.)

Re:what a lobbyist is and why they're important (3, Informative)

lawpoop (604919) | more than 7 years ago | (#19590179)

As a fellow Ohioan, I am glad to hear that you are working on my side!

Perhaps, for the legislator's benefit, you could put together a document that demonstrates the difference between brute-force and phishing. Something like this might work well both on print-out and in power-point:

<H1>Brute-force Attack</H1>

Welcome to Online Banking! Please enter your username password:

Username: buckeye_joe@internet.com
Password: ******
Wrong password! Please try again.
Password: ******
Wrong password! Please try again.
Password: ******
Wrong password! Please try again.
Password: ******
Password accepted! Your balance is $125.00.


<H1>Phising Attack</H1>

From: criminal_in_in_diguise@russia.net
To: buckeye_joe@internet.com
Subject: Online Banking Password Maintenance


Message:
Hello! This is your bank. We've recently done some maintenance and upgrades to our online banking website. However, we've accidentally deleted your password. Please send us your password as soon as possible, in order for us to assure the outstanding customer service you've come to expect from us!

Re:what a lobbyist is and why they're important (1)

TapeCutter (624760) | more than 7 years ago | (#19590227)

"While lobbyists are often political mercenaries, they do fulfill a certain role that no one else can."

There used to be this quaint notion that the public service would answer a politicians questions "without fear or favour", and some public servants still adhere to that notion (eg: Jim Hansen [wikipedia.org] ).

The answers a politicaian gets from a lobbyist will by definition "favour" his employer and the lobbyist is (also by definition) working under the "fear" of losing his job.

It's a big world out there (1)

snowwrestler (896305) | more than 7 years ago | (#19590407)

The laws and regulations on the books are so complex, and the nation so diverse, that unintended consequences are a frequent result of anything the government changes. The civil service is on the whole a bunch of smart, hard-working folk, but even with such a large government there is just no possible way they could hold expertise on every subject under the sun. Who's going to know (or care) about the implications of every new law and regulation for left-handed widget makers? Pretty much no one but the left-handed widget makers. And since they're busy making widgets, and they're not experts on law anyway, they hire someone to keep track of government activity as it relates to their business, and to speak on their behalf to the government. A lobbyist.

Re:Lobbyist. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19589925)

Lobbyists are supposed to provide government officials with information relevant to legislation.

Re:Lobbyist. (1)

evilviper (135110) | more than 7 years ago | (#19591003)

What is the real "legal" definition of what a lobbyist is supposed to do?

Every citizen has the constitutional right to lobby their government. That is, to state their opinions on issues to their representatives, saying what they want them to do.

Like anything else, it has been corrupted, because whoever can spend the most money, can pay the most people to lobby for the issues they want. And, when big money gets that close to those in power, bribes are the natural result.

Re:Lobbyist. (1)

paxundae (1031998) | more than 7 years ago | (#19591021)

Lobbyists really don't buy votes very often, at least not in the corporate context. It's hard to hide large sums of money, so all sides of an issue can usually afford to pay the largest practical sum. No one 'wins' by money alone.

It's actually really unclear exactly why lobbyists are effective, though it is known that they spend most of their time lobbying those who already agree with them and trying to get them to mobilize on the issue. Hall and co do a good job of examining theories, poking holes in a lot of them, and eventually proposing their own in 2006.

Check out Richard L. Hall & Alan V. Deardorff, "Lobbying as Legislative Subsidy," 100 American Political Science Review 69 (2006). They give an overview in that article of a wider survey that's published as Richard L. Hall & Frank W. Wayman, "Buying Time: Moneyed Interests and the Mobilization of Bias in Congressional Committees," 84 AM. POL. SCI. REV. 797 (1990).

They'll need it (1)

ibbie (647332) | more than 7 years ago | (#19589503)

What with all the trials and litigation going around. But then again, they have seemed to pick legal fights when they wanted a law established. (re: google image search and copyright law)

hmmmm wierd.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19589517)

senators not wanting to meet google founder....they probably have not heard of these guys yet!

democracy (4, Insightful)

wall0159 (881759) | more than 7 years ago | (#19589543)

It's a sad indictment of politicians that they need lobbyists to tell them what to think, rather than going out and actually talking to their constituents. Democracy is supposedly representative of the people - the skewing of this system towards serving only the wealthiest corporations is only going to take us to bad places.

Re:democracy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19589559)

But this is Google we're talking about, and they do no evil. Therefore I am left to believe that they are only taking us to good places :o)

Re:democracy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19589573)

It has been this way for 200 years. The fact that people are discovering it now is a sad indictment to the education of the typical American.

good god people Learn about your own country. It's far more important than the specs on your new volvo.

I agree (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19589587)

Corporations sponsored the Nazi's bid for power in Germany, which was a democracy before they came to power. Of course they only agreed to rubber-stamp all laws the corporate sponsors wanted put in place, not to actually run the country ethically, but it wouldn't be in shareholders interests to insist politicians do that.

Do no evil (0, Flamebait)

thewiz (24994) | more than 7 years ago | (#19589549)

I'm surprised that the guys from Google can't get politicians to talk to them. After all, their willingness to help China censor the web and now using lobbyists is definitely a sign that they say one thing and mean the opposite. They're beginning to sound like the congresscritters.

Re:Do no evil (1)

42Penguins (861511) | more than 7 years ago | (#19589869)

With the difference being that they actually provide a useful service while doing so.

I, for one, welcome our... (3, Funny)

Will the Chill (78436) | more than 7 years ago | (#19589561)

Googling-Money Oogling-Paige Congressional Overlords!

-WtC

Obligatory (1, Funny)

xinjiang77 (1106823) | more than 7 years ago | (#19589601)

In Soviet Russia, Google controls the government.

Change.... (1)

WwWonka (545303) | more than 7 years ago | (#19589609)

...and due to another bombardment of being "Google"ized I am now officially switching search engines and mail service to someplace else. The underdog is now the king and it is further entrenching it's dictatorship.

Do no Evil? (1)

Handbrewer (817519) | more than 7 years ago | (#19589613)

Do No Evil -> To Be as Evil as Everyone else. But what can you expect from public companies anyways, and an American system thats no more democratic than a banana republic anyways.

Re:Do no Evil? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19589787)

They don't have to do evil. That's what the lobbyists are for.

Re:Do no Evil? (2, Insightful)

geekoid (135745) | more than 7 years ago | (#19590141)

Hiring lobbyist doesn't make a company 'Evil', it makes it smart.
To determine if they are evil look at what they are lobbing for.
Perhaps if more people learned that, they6would get together and hire there own lobbyists.

You want to add a speed bump to your street? you go talk to the city. AKA lobbying.
You want congress to take steps towards something you want, you write a letter. AKA lobby. Hell you might even be able to pay someone a few bucks to talk to a congress person instead of a letter.

Tired of this mistake (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19590245)

Google's well-known motto is "Don't Be Evil", not "Do No Evil".

It seems people use the latter more frequently than the former now, which is a pet peeve of mine. It's an easy mistake to make, but they're not at all the same thing. In some decisions you're forced to choose the lesser of multiple evils. For example, on the China censorship issue, you could easily have said Google is doing evil no matter regardless of what they did -- do they help enforce an evil government policy, or do they hurt users in China by making it more difficult for them to use their product?

that's right fags (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19589649)

google is just another big business whore. it's official. are you going to do the goosestep or are you going to fight back?

Google is just a regular company (4, Insightful)

jorghis (1000092) | more than 7 years ago | (#19589811)

*gasp* Google paying out the nose for influence in Washington? Its almost like they are your standard multi billion international corporation.

Lets give it a rest already, this doesnt make Google evil. It just means that they are like any other company which is something nonfanboys have known all along. Do we need to see a headline every time a tech company hires a handful of lobbyists? What makes Google special?

Re:Google is just a regular company (3, Insightful)

joeytmann (664434) | more than 7 years ago | (#19589893)

What kinda flawed thinking is that? If you are going to have a holier than thou attitude, you better be holier than thou. If you are going to do the same bullshit all the major corps do, then you are a hypocrite and in my opinion just as bad, if not worse, than a "evil" company.

If you want to change the system, start with yourself and get others to follow your lead. You don't change the system by taking advantage of its flaws, you become apart of it.

Re:Google is just a regular company (3, Interesting)

wellingj (1030460) | more than 7 years ago | (#19590597)

My father always said you had to be a part of the system to effectively change the system,
because change from within is more well received than forceful change from the out side.

Re:Google is just a regular company (1)

joeytmann (664434) | more than 7 years ago | (#19590847)

Very true. But that doesn't mean you have to abuse its flaws. I originally intended that, but didn't convey it so well.

Re:Google is just a regular company (2)

JimDaGeek (983925) | more than 7 years ago | (#19590073)

What makes Google special?
Not special, but they do stand out. When Google started, they were "different". Young, full of ideas and most importantly, they attracted tech geeks because of their "do no evil" motto. A lot of people thought, hey a big company that won't just be another money grubbing corporation with no ethics!

Now, we see how Google has become what they appeared to be against, another big money grubby corp with no ethics. If Google really held to the motto of "do no evil", they wouldn't be censoring in China. If Google's founders held to the motto of "do no evil", the two founders wouldn't be flying around in a big multi-million dollar jet wasting tons of fuel (when they can fly on a commercial jet with more people on it) and polluting while on the other hand telling their employees to drive hybrids. I guess it is a case of "do as I say, not as I do"? I use to be a fanboi of Google in the early days. Now I don't care for them much as a company.

Re:Google is just a regular company (1)

Blakey Rat (99501) | more than 7 years ago | (#19590127)

Yeah, Microsoft was the same way when they started out. Probably IBM, too, but I'm not that old.

Welcome to Reality 101: You can't be a successful business without being a business. That is, doing all those things businesses have to do... keep a legal department and lobbyists on staff, for instance.

Readily searchable politics (2, Interesting)

the_kanzure (1100087) | more than 7 years ago | (#19589919)

Would be very useful, Google. Maybe one of those nifty "email new search results" to give us heads up on potentially destructive politics?

Why do we put up with lobbyists? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19589927)

Instead of having a government run by lobbyists, why don't we have a government run by us?

http://www.metagovernment.org/ [metagovernment.org]

Could it really be any worse than this tyranny that we pretend is a representative democratic republic?

Re:Why do we put up with lobbyists? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19590197)

Representative democratic republic? Hardly. Have you ever seen the Patriot Act?

Um...what was Microsoft's "error"? (1)

xxxJonBoyxxx (565205) | more than 7 years ago | (#19589937)

Two years ago, Google was on the verge of making that Microsoft-like error. Blah...blah... Google went on a hiring spree and now has 12 lobbyists and lobbying-related professionals on staff here -- more than double the size of the standard corporate lobbying office -- and is continuing to add people.


Um...what was Microsoft's "error"? Are you telling me that Microsoft has never employed lobbyists?

And why is this news in the first place - you think "net neutrality" was really a term coined, flogged and pushed as a political issue by a bunch of angry nerds?

Re:Um...what was Microsoft's "error"? (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 7 years ago | (#19590083)

Microsoft ignored washington for a long time.

Re:Um...what was Microsoft's "error"? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19590667)

Nope, they didn't. Think M$ would have gotten nailed with the monopoly conviction if they'd been schmoozing the right people and greasing the right palms? IBM was ten times worse when it came to strongarming people but they knew how to spread the money and influence around.

M$ learned their leasson and opened their wallets after the conviction. Notice how fast the anti-trust lawsuits went away after the administration changed?

Re:Um...what was Microsoft's "error"? (4, Informative)

jorghis (1000092) | more than 7 years ago | (#19590681)

Remember the anti-trust thing? Microsoft assumed that as long as they werent some contracter trying to bribe the government for pork they didnt need to lobby. Politicians love to pick on big companies, but they go after the ones that arent spending money lobbying them. MS wasnt sending out bribes so they got attacked by politicians. Google is now recongizing that they have the potential to be hounded for privacy concerns, intellectual property violations, unfairly leveraging their dominant search engine, etc. So they arent going to fall into the same trap MS did and assume that just because they arent breaking any laws grandstanding politicians and their lawyers wont go after them.

Google warns of IT worker shortage in US (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19589943)

Google warns of IT worker shortage in US.

Wait a minute...that was Bill Gates who warned congress of the IT shortage.
Google doesn't have a shortage. Hmmmm.......

Yep. They're evil... (2, Funny)

usa1mac (1002007) | more than 7 years ago | (#19590075)

12 lobbyists. Wow. Sounds like something a Tobacco company would need.

Don't worry (3, Funny)

niceone (992278) | more than 7 years ago | (#19590105)

Don't worry, Google's lobbying office's motto is: "Do no lobbying".

Re:Don't worry (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19590929)

It's "Don't be evil," not "Do no evil." Tard.

Check... (1)

stdion (1086389) | more than 7 years ago | (#19590111)

GOOG's intension was never DO NOT BE EVIL, it was one of their engineers who would write it around the office and Google decided to adopt that "philosophony."Didn't GOOG's stock drop when they denied the government's request for 3 months of search results? I wouldn't be surprised if many politicians had stock in "The Google." The ones with the information have the power which is why Google can get lobbyists on staff in the first place. Maybe next Google will buyout lumber mills, curbing the distribution of paper, so everyone will use their data; "Sergeying their stock" (he plays so dirty) through the roof.

Re:Check... (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 7 years ago | (#19590209)

Money is why google can hire lobbyists. WHat they they are lobbing for is what you need. What if they ar lobbying for a more transparent government? Government funding for new power sources?
Geez, your not supposed to eat the tinfoil, just make a hat out of it.

When they start lobbying for giving a pack of smokes to 1st graders, then they are evil.

Next monday I will be lobbying my mayor for a speed bump on my street..I'm so EVIL! MUAHahahahaha.. moron.

Re:Check... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19590537)

GOOG's intension was never DO NOT BE EVIL, it was one of their engineers who would write it around the office and Google decided to adopt that "philosophony."

Dude. If one of my engineers started scrawling "DO NOT BE EVIL" on the office walls, I'd send for a psychiatrist. Probably an exorcist as well.

Re:Check... (1)

91degrees (207121) | more than 7 years ago | (#19591607)

Dude. If one of my engineers started scrawling "DO NOT BE EVIL" on the office walls, I'd send for a psychiatrist. Probably an exorcist as well.

I take it your company is as successful as Google. :)

And yes, I'm being facetious. I well aware that it's possible Google can afford to hire eccentrics because they're successful rather than them being successful because they hire eccentrics.

Here's a slashdot interview with a lobbyist... (5, Informative)

morganew (194299) | more than 7 years ago | (#19590183)

and that Lobbyist was me [slashdot.org] ! Many of these same questions keep popping up; things like "isn't lobbying bribery"? and "how dare congress listen to him/her!" Basic reality is, Members of Congress listen to their constituents, and issues they think will affect their constituents. And regardless of the opinion of Lessig and other ivory tower "experts", there is not simple answer to the money issue. I would posit that money has never been more important in politics, but 'single source' money has never been less influential.


Think of it this way, Members have to raise more than ever before, but they can still only raise it in relatively small amounts, so small that on single check for 2,000 has much influence when you consider that an average House race will cost in excess of 2 MILLION.


This creates a problem. The Representative must raise $2 Million, but has to do it in small amounts. This forces them to spend a disproportionate amount of time raising money, but it also lowers the influence of any one check. Members must spend endless hours calling hundreds of people to ask for $50, $100, maybe even $500 dollar contributions.


Because money is now a volume activity, all of the slashdotters who want to leap to the incorrect conclusion that all Lobbying is done through payouts from a few lobbyists are living in movieland. The reality is that the lobbyist's true power comes from being able to show a Representative how his support or opposition to a bill will make his Constituents happy - and encourage them vote for him. This reduces the Member's need to raise/spend money, and therefore is considered a great thing to the Member of Congress.


For example, Slashdotters assume that the only reason anyone would ever support the DMCA is because the RIAA paid them off. Well, as a recent consumerist report showed [slashdot.org] , the RIAA hasn't written very many big checks! However, many of the Members of Congress who are the most agressive in support of the DMCA have songwriters, movie studios, themeparks and software companies in their districts. It should come as no surprise that they want to help the people they represent keep their jobs, pay taxes, and generally be happy with their elected officals. As a side note, if you wonder how that article in Consumerist and Slashdot affected Capitol Hill, well, it didn't - because no one called in. I did an informal poll of the members who were on the top of the RIAA list as presented here on slashdot. Guess what? most offices got only a couple of calls. Here on slashdot, the DMCA is treated like it's legislation that will bring about the next anti-christ, but the rest of America doesn't actually care. If you compare the 1 or 2 calls on the DMCA with what happens when the NRA, the WWF, Sierra Club, Right to Life or NOW pushes people to call in, you begin to understand that Members aren't being paid off, they just understand that their constituents aren't appreciably harmed by the DMCA - in fact many have jobs that benefit from it. There has yet to be a Gallup Poll showing the DMCA coming in ahead of HealthCare, the War in Iraq, Education, Social Security or even the proliferation of hangnails as experienced by the elderly. So stop assuming that the only reason anyone could support a position is a payoff.


SImply put, leaping to the conclusion that anyone who dissagrees with you must be 'bought off' creates a false dicotomy. If it were literally all about the money, then there would be a lot less work for lobbyists!

Re:Here's a slashdot interview with a lobbyist... (3, Insightful)

MilesNaismith (951682) | more than 7 years ago | (#19590485)

Ah the concept of "corporate personhood" rears it's ugly head. You sir, are individually a constituent of your district and a voter. Your corporation is not a constituent or a voter. The rest of it is rationalizing bribery and influence peddling.

Puhleeze... (4, Insightful)

mbstone (457308) | more than 7 years ago | (#19590523)

OK, so lobbyists don't usually flat-out "buy" Members of Congress (although there have been lots of recent exceptions like the Duke Conningham or Freezer Dude Jefferson cases). But Members don't support bad legislation like DMCA because "they have songwriters," etc. in their districts. Lobbyists write the legislation. Lobbyists schmooze Members over free dinner or free Capitol Hill receptions or free or underpriced private jet rides. Lobbyists get their clients to give to the candidate's PAC, or have their clients' employees give, or have their clients' employees trade checks with a party campaign committee so it looks like Rep. X is getting a contribution from his or her own party committee. It's gotten to the point where Members seem to think there are no points of view other than are represented by some lobbyist. Look at phenomena such as Tech Policy Summit [techpolicysummit.com] , an echo chamber composed of public-policy mavens from big tech corporations. Public policy is supposed to be for the public. The public interest might occasionally coincide with that of some big corporation, such as Google's stand in favor of net neutrality -- even a stopped clock is right twice a day. Tomorrow Google might merge with a telco and suddenly start lobbying in the opposite direction. Look at Sony, a company that used to lobby for fair use, then they bought a movie studio.

As for crowing about how few people "call in," do Congressmembers really believe the only calls that should count are those drummed up by lobbying organizations? I'll bet most people here on Slashdot believe calling or writing a Congressmember, on any issue, would be futile / a waste of time.

Re:Puhleeze... (5, Informative)

morganew (194299) | more than 7 years ago | (#19590949)

Your comment is proof that your mind is so clearly "made up" that no amount of knowledge or insight will change your tightly held (albeit unsupported) beliefs. But for the others who may be reading this thread, let's break it down:

1. You are completely right about some of the total corruption cases we have had - bad news, bad actors, and they got caught pretty easily. The scrutiny is pretty tight nowadays, and some will still be so arrogant as to believe they will get away with it, but history suggests that they are going to get caught.

2. "Members don't do things because they have people in their districts". My only answer to you on this is: you are an utter idiot if you actually believe that, get yourself a tinfoil hat and stay away from open windows. And since you make these assertions, tell me how you "know this? I can tell you in excruiating detail the days, nights, weeks, months and even years of work that goes into it. Building coalitions, identifying members who are interested, fending off other interests, educating educating educating. If money were the simple answer, legislation wouldn't take long to pass. THe proof point here is even bills that you view as corporate give-aways take YEARS to get done.

3. "Lobbyists write legislation" - . "Lobbyists" don't automatically write legislation - what they do is say to a Congressional office"If you are interested in this issue area, we'd like to meet with you to discuss legislation that might be of interest to your constituents, or is relevant to the Committee you Chair". Then, a meeting is held and you essentally "pitch" the prospective legislation. Describing why it's good, who benefits, what are the risks, etc. etc. If the Congressman is convinced, then the lobbyist may play a role in crafting the legislation. Your problem here is you see the transaction as a "black box". The reality is the lobbyist is an issue area expert in the subject of the legislation. He is driven by enlightened self interest to know more about a subject than anyone else; he must be able to develop the entire argument, and counter-argument for the legislation. Moreover, he has to understand the politics of the issue, and explain that as well. So to say "lobbyists write legislation" can also be said as "Issue Area Experts write legislation". Most congressional staff are people under 30 years old making around 30k a year. You WANT issue area experts to have a hand in crafting legislation. Also remember that if the bill is controversial, then the 'other side' will come in and argue against it. Literally every imaginable viewpoint gets heard, if not via lobbying, then via hearings.

4. "Public Policy is supposed to be for the public" While this phrase sounds pithy, it means nothing. You complain about the TPS, but note that the people talking were people who focus on public policy. If I go to OSCON, I want to hear Tridge talk about SAMBA, I don't want to hear someone who isn't part of the development team tell me about the next version of SAMBA. And your comment about Google being "right" at least on occasion proves the main problem you have. You use your own frame of reference to define why a decision was made. If it's a good decision, well, then it was in the public interest - if it was a bad decision it was driven by "Corporations". Yet you are the only person defining "good" and "bad". So your model is flawed from the outset - better to look at legislation from the perspective of enlightened self interest. For example, IBM is pumping lots of money into lobbying for ODF preferences and tech mandates to be made into law around the world. Normally, you would probably oppose tech mandates and preference. But if you support ODF being instituted via law, then would you ignore the clear corporate interests and claim it's good policy? If you do that, then you can't support a public vs. corporate viewpoint. Stop looking at it from the "good" vs. "bad" and start looking at it as enlightened self interest.

    There are lots of bills that are so important and so large that they umbrella out far beyond narrow interests. Some of these are horrible, like the PATRIOT Act, which was passed in response to CONSTITUENTS needing to be reassured about the security of America. But for the kinds of laws you are talking about, it's most often a merger of interests.

5. "Members seem to think there are no points of view other than lobbyists/Corporations". Actually, it's Constituents who are the key viewpoint for members. Why? 'cause they are the voters. Again, here is where your model of "good" and "bad" creates problems. If you are Congressman Tim Ryan in Ohio, you have an auto plant in your district. If you work hard to make sure that plant stays in your district and keeps employing your constituents, does that mean you are only hearing the viewpoint of the auto industry? NO! Again, look at it from the enlightened self interest perspective. Congressman Ryan cares about the auto industry viewpoint b/c it's important to his voters. Any time he votes on legislation affecting the plant, he must take a look at the legislation through the perspective of his constituents who are employed at the plant. While he could meet with every one of the nearly 700,000 people in his district, it makes a lot more sense to meet with the company representative, a union representative , an environmental lobbyist (yes, they have lobbyists too) and get a broad sense of how the bill will help or harm the people he represents. So it shouldn't shock you when he does something that helps keep jobs in Ohio and helps a corporation.

6. "Calling or writing a Congressman is Futile" - WRONG AGAIN. That's called lobbying! Why do you think the Sierra Club runs ads telling people to call? Do they spend that money because it doens't work?? It works like gangbusters and it's called grassroots lobbying. It's effective because if you can get constituents to call their Representative in Congress, you've told the Member that it may affect the next election. And now we are back to enlightened self interest again.

Ultimately your post tells me that you don't really understand our Representative form of government and the extent to which constituents drive the debate. Heck, even your comments about money fail to follow to the end of the story - Members of Congress don't raise money for self-enrichment, they raise money to 'speak' to their constituents though ads, mailings townhall meetings and so on. So yes, money matters, money from PACs matters but it isn't the whole story - look at the entire picture and it will make more sense.

Re:Puhleeze... (1)

mbstone (457308) | more than 7 years ago | (#19590995)

Been there, done that, got to ride the private elevator, hate the weather there, left town.

I stand corrected. Lobbyists are really Enlightened Self-Interest Advocates.

Re:Puhleeze... (1)

morganew (194299) | more than 7 years ago | (#19590993)

Oh, and lest anyone think I came up with the theory of US politics as driven by enlightened self interest, I should point out that I am really stealing from de Tocqueville - you can read more by following the links on wiki http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Enlightened_self-inte rest [wikipedia.org]

Re:Here's a slashdot interview with a lobbyist... (1)

servognome (738846) | more than 7 years ago | (#19590981)

Because money is now a volume activity
Also important is votes are a volume activity. That's why running a campaign is expensive, and why groups like NRA, Christian Coalition, NAACP, are more influential than any corporation. Politics is now about representing specific groups because most people (those who participate at least) vote acording to what the group leadership tells them.

Funniest thing I've read in forever (2, Funny)

MerlynEmrys67 (583469) | more than 7 years ago | (#19590205)

To make friends on Capitol Hill, Google plans to initiate Google 101, a series of tutorials for congressional aides that will teach them how to use Google's search engine better and faster. The aides will learn, for example, how to do simple math by writing numbers in the proper order on Google's search line.
So you are telling me that these people aren't capable of doing math - either in their head, on paper, or with a calculator that they have to learn how to do math with Google?

Seems to me having lobbyists is not the problem (2, Insightful)

NotQuiteReal (608241) | more than 7 years ago | (#19590455)

Having a lobbyist is not the problem... if that's the way the game is played, you need to play it.

Lobbyists are like advertising... nobody would pay for [ads or] lobbyists if they didn't work.

The problem is that "representing the people" has become a game.

Maybe we ought to just "draft" a congress. It probably wouldn't be worse than electing one of folks who want to be politicians.

As for the Senate, maybe we could just draft them too - from the pool of former drafted congress members who pass a post-service vote of confidence.

Their journey to the dark side is nearly complete (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19591323)

Now all they need is astroturfers on slashdot ;)

Thank god ! (2, Insightful)

unity100 (970058) | more than 7 years ago | (#19591341)

Back last year when the anti-net neutrality shit hit the fan, courtesy of at&t again, i said that these kind of things were possible to thwart more easily with lobbying. If there was sufficient lobby of google, yahoo and the like back then this thing would never come around even. Good to see that they have understood what to do and going for it. If, a country is run by representatives who are persuaded/bought, you need to stick to the custom yourself to get things done too.

Evil, for want of a better word, is Good (4, Funny)

BillGatesLoveChild (1046184) | more than 7 years ago | (#19591563)

> Google is building a lobbying power house in Washington

Google is so rich they why don't they just buy Dick Chenney? They can afford him, and not like he's not for sale. He can also lend his expert skills to filling in that void left by the ever shrinking 'Don't do Evil' motto. You'll get FOXNews and the rebranded Wall Street Journal thrown in for free.

The result would be excellent PR: Within six months 56% of Americans will believe Microsoft was behind the 9-11 attacks. Look out for Photoshopped photos of Osama bin Laden swinging a chair.
Load More Comments
Slashdot Login

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?