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The Presidents Technical Advisor 384

T.Hobbes writes "There's an interview with the president's advisor on technology, Floyd Kvamme, at Some of it is just general political pr, though he does touch on (and dodge, at times) touchy tech issues (privacy, copyright, censorware, carnivore, ..). " He doesn't seem to be as mentally broken as the man he advises. But (and I know you liberatarians will scream) his stance on to many issues is that "The Industry Will Sort it Out". Of course they will. And then we will all have to go start a new planet just to prevent the the glorious self regulated industry from implanting chips in our asses to know where we are, what we are doing, and with who.
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The Presidents Technical Advisor

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  • Quick question: what is more profitable, controlling your 'customer' completely, or letting them do things like not pay you? Thank you, drive through...
  • Mind if I consider that a tenet of religious faith?

    You see, there seems to be no _practical_ basis for such a belief. It arises only as a logical conclusion of your value system and other axioms which you have taken on faith, but which are not ubitiquous.

    When you _do_ have a chip in your ass and are marked to be made into Soylent Green because you have the creeping troll plague and it's not economically viable to produce medicine for poor bastards like you, I will concede that you will go to your death waving tiny flags and cheering, 'hooray for the free market!'. However, would it be okay if those of us with a clue choose to consider you a dangerous lunatic rather than a libertarian prophet? ;)

    You are, however, right about Clinton, and you're correct that either Bush or the Democrats are turning the reins of global power over to, as you put it, the 'mega-corps'. Your only failing is in failing to realise that this _makes_ the mega-corps into Government.

    As amusing as it would be to see the look on your face when you realise what's happened, I think it would be better to keep fighting this tooth and nail.

  • "yet the thing that makes this possible--the DMCA--was an act of Congress."

    Oh yeah, right- Congress sat around going, "Gee, what should we do now? Well, we could give ourselves another pay raise, but wait, for no reason at all let's make up some laws to allow big corporations to throw our own constituents in prison for years! That might be good."

    What on earth is in your brain, that you can characterize this as an act of Congress? _Abuse_ of Congress might be a more appropriate term. "Puppet Congress" would also be suitable, though in fairness the poor saps are so buried in 700-page papers and proposals and bills that it's hardly surprising they tend not to care anymore.

    I cannot comprehend the mentality that encourages corporations to do this sort of thing, and then turns around and blames the Government. You are insane if you think Congress gives a rat's ass about this sort of thing- they mostly want more money and long vacations, and sometimes to represent their constituencies. Get rid of them, get rid of Government, and you will have _nothing_ but the corporations making more and more DMCAs (how about prison sentences for possession of computer hacking tools, like, oh, decompilers?) with no intermediary at all.

    I really _hate_ economic libertarians sometimes... anarchocapitalists don't deserve the name of anarchist, fascist is more the size of it.. :P

  • Bingo- the economic libertarians ought to be dancing in the streets- Harry Browne might as well have one if this is representative of who does Bush's thinking.

    Thankfully, it is the conservatives who tend to oppose gun control- so once they have turned power completely over to the multinationals and the whole world is like Santiago, Chile, we may not be able to shoot the boards of the multinationals (private police security forces, don't you know) but we CAN at least shoot the conservatives :)

    Which will not help, but it'll make some people feel better ;)

  • Hell, I agree completely that Clinton was corrupt. I voted for the guy the first time he ran (was a case of 'voting against') and still feel suckered.

    The difference is, Bush is every bit as corrupt and possibly more shameless about it- not that Clinton has any shame either, but Clinton is corrupt like a criminal, and Bush is corrupt like a disease culture- there is nothing else to the man but corruption, where at least Clinton has lust and vanity to make him vaguely human.

    I voted Nader. If he wasn't available, I would have voted Socialist. I'm sorry, _both_ the Democrats and Republicans are hopeless at this point. It's time to take stock of what humans are still left in the Senate and House, in case they can do anything- and failing that, buy guns. _Nobody_ is willing to give a damn about society anymore, and when we're stuck in a dystopia that's a weird combination of corpocracy and traditional government lossage, with the wishes of the corporations backed up by the guns of the puppet government, it's going to be a little bit perplexing figuring out where to point the Arms we theoretically still get to Bear.

    I wouldn't wish times this 'interesting' on anyone- just hope I can look back on it in my old age and go 'My God, was that a mess!' rather than 'And that was how it all started'...

  • You understate the case, Von Rex- perhaps because you're not familiar with fiduciary duty?

    while (food_profits food_profits - removing_mercury)




    //if we get here, there is something wrong with the program

    Fiduciary duty is not about _feelings_. It is impassive and rational. If a corporation can more cheaply lobby for legislation to relax any requirements (like not being allowed to have more than a certain amount of poisonous byproducts in their food products) than to remove the poison, by law it MUST lobby to be allowed to have more poisonous byproducts, and of course does so. This is not exactly through malice- it's just the way the program runs.

    I think it is axiomatic that for an _individual_ it's always more beneficial to steal, cheat, and murder to get what you want. That is why we have _society_ in the first place, because the good of the whole outweighs the will of the individual, and because cooperative effort accomplishes more than 10 million rugged individualists trying to smelt copper to build PCs and house wiring by themselves, only to go 'darn it!' when there's no electricity to run through the wiring.

    The trick is, for a corporation that's legally an individual which has _no_ rule but fiduciary duty but also has the capacity to alter and suggest legislation, the only possible outcome is stealing, cheating, and murder. There _are_ no other constraints on the corp, it has the capacity to amend or veto the laws that apply to it through lobbying and soft-money bribes, and it does so because unlike bipedal organisms IT DOES NOT HAVE FREE WILL.

    If corporations had free will, we wouldn't have this problem, but they don't. They don't have the capacity to go 'but that would be wrong'. If it's technically illegal they're formally blocked from that course of action. If it's legal and earns more money they have to do it- and if they can lobby and _make_ things legal in order to earn more money, they are compelled to do _that_. They are like computer programs or viruses, not like people.

    Maybe what we need is corporate suffrage- give 'em the right to not earn money? "Here you go- fiduciary duty no longer applies to you, now your shareholders must prove criminality to fire your board of directors- merely failing to profit isn't enough to get you in trouble anymore"? How interestingly socialist and yet weirdly libertarian or something- by what right do we legally give companies the death penalty for _failing_ to profit? If we are to give them freedom shouldn't we also be giving them security, freedom from fear? >:)

  • *g* something wrong with the program all right- forgot what less-than does in HTML O_O

    Serves me right for gettin' fancy. Use your imagination for what the 'code' might have been- with the guidelines of "removing mercury costs money", "fighting customer lawsuits costs money" and "lobbying for relaxation of mercury limits in food costs money". The proper algorithm should end up as "remove all limits, and then cut costs as much as possible until the lawsuits from people you're poisoning begin to cut into the profits earned by not controlling mercury content in food".

  • While I partially agree with you, I don't think there's any way either side could have legitimately won. The vote totals in Florida were so close as to be within any reasonable margin of error, so giving the victory to one side or the other is arbitrary. But since one side or the other did have to be given the victory, I don't particularly object to the way things turned out; if Gore had "won" the election there, it would've been just as fraudulent (take a look at a lot of the suppressed evidence of generously counting Gore ballots when any reasonable observer would see that the ballot was completely blank).
  • And Gore didn't either. Unless you could a ruling by the Florida Supreme Court as an election of sorts.

    What did you want to happen - give Ralph Nader or Pat Buchanan the presidency?
  • Sure, Gore received more votes in the US overall, but that's irrelevant as elections in the US are done on a state-by-state basis. All the states except Florida were pretty well-decided, and in Florida the vote totals were too close to accurately pick a winner. In the end Bush was pretty much arbitrarily picked, but if Gore had won, he'd have been arbitrarily picked as well.

    As for his policies, it depends on what policy you're talking about. Of course I partially agree with them - any reasonable person would agree with some things and disagree with other things. It'd be the height of partisan stupidity to say "I agree with everything X does" or "I disagree with everything X does."
  • Well yes, elections in theory do not have margins of error. But elections in practice do. Florida used a great deal of old vote-counting machines which are less than perfect. They might provide a highly-accurate count, but they don't provide a perfectly accurate count. With hand-counting you have the same problems. You say to apply one definition across the board, but such subtleties and slight differences between ballots come into play that the only way to do this would be to have one person actually hand-count every vote in the state, and this is obviously not feasible. Failing that, we're left with a machine count with its attendant margin of error, or a hand-count by many different people, and the error there cause by different interpretations or evaluations of standards by different counters (even if there were a clearly written standard).

    In the future hopefully computerized vote machines will be used, which will count the vote as the voter votes, and allow them to see what was counted, and tally things electronically. Then, there should be no question about how many votes were cast for each candidate.
  • Yes, perhaps "margin of error" was a poor choice of words, as that seems to be a statistics term that only applies when you're doing things like sampling a population. What I meant was more akin to the "uncertainties" in experimental science. Just as you measure something to 80.25 +/- 0.01 microamperes, the election as currently designed can only really measure vote totals to +/- 100 at best.
  • Sure, it was a total disaster of an election. I fully support making sure it doesn't happen again by installing modern voting machines and implementing more uniform standards.

    The point is that the election did happen, and neither Gore nor Bush won it, yet one of them had to become the President (since the other candidates weren't even in the running at this point, having won exactly zero electoral votes). In the end it turned out Bush became president, which gets all the Gore supporters angry, but if Gore had become president, all the Bush supporters would've been angry. It might be "illegitimate" but it's as legitimate as is possible under the circumstances - it was impossible for either candidate to be a legitimate president, and yet we needed one of them to become president anyway. So Bush it was.
  • by Trepidity ( 597 ) <delirium-slashdot.hackish@org> on Sunday May 20, 2001 @12:11PM (#209596)
    Taco, your extreme bias and general incomprehension of political issues is getting a bit annoying. It's ok to be completely ignorant about politics, but not when you constantly talk about them on a large site that purports to disseminate "news."

    Oh, and while I'm not a big fan of Mr. Bush's and usually vote Democrat, I'm glad he won this election - I shudder to think of what it'd be like if Joseph "ban movies and music" Liebermann and Tipper "parental advisory label" Gore had any power.
  • There is not a clear dividing line between industry and government, no matter how much the libertarian ideal says so.

    Only because of bureaucratic capture. The problem is easily solved by forcing individuals to be responsible for their own actions regardless of whether they were committed on behalf of a corporation. I don't see a conflict between this approach and libertarianism - people may still assemble freely, form corporate bodies for financial consolidation and efficiency, and buy and sell with no additional transaction costs. The only difference is that incorporation no longer protects the individuals comprising it from legal action, including criminal action. In other words, if Microsoft is found guilty of anticompetitive business practices, Bill Gates, Paul Allen, and the rest of the people who were responsible for the decisions go to prison. I think such a system would be very fair, no?

  • by Jamie Zawinski ( 775 ) <> on Sunday May 20, 2001 @11:10AM (#209598) Homepage
    Corperations are made of people who are remarkable like you and I, and run by people who actually grew up pretty much the same as you did..

    Yes, corporations are people, just like you and me! From Adbusters' history of the corporation []:

    President Abraham Lincoln foresaw terrible trouble. Shortly before his death, he warned that "corporations have been enthroned . . . . An era of corruption in high places will follow and the money power will endeavor to prolong its reign by working on the prejudices of the people . . . until wealth is aggregated in a few hands . . . and the republic is destroyed." [...]

    Then came a legal event that would not be understood for decades (and remains baffling even today), an event that would change the course of American history. In Santa Clara County vs. Southern Pacific Railroad, a dispute over a railbed route, the US Supreme Court deemed that a private corporation was a "natural person" under the US Constitution and therefore entitled to protection under the Bill of Rights. Suddenly, corporations enjoyed all the rights and sovereignty previously enjoyed only by the people, including the right to free speech.

    This 1886 decision ostensibly gave corporations the same powers as private citizens. But considering their vast financial resources, corporations thereafter actually had far more power than any private citizen. They could defend and exploit their rights and freedoms more vigorously than any individual and therefore they were more free. In a single legal stroke, the whole intent of the American Constitution -- that all citizens have one vote, and exercise an equal voice in public debates -- had been undermined. Sixty years after it was inked, Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas concluded of Santa Clara that it "could not be supported by history, logic or reason." One of the great legal blunders of the nineteenth century changed the whole idea of democratic government.

    So by virtue of this VC being Bush's advisor, all the corporate ``persons'' his company funded get to have lunch with the president every day. But non-billionaire ``persons'' made of flesh and blood will never be heard.

    "`I have great access,' said Kvamme."

  • by Phil-14 ( 1277 ) on Sunday May 20, 2001 @10:38AM (#209600)

    I know it's your habit to knock Bush, but were things really that much better when it was a pretend liberal (Clinton) pushing things like Carnivore and the Clipper Chip? I'd rather have someone with a hands-off approach than an administration that was looking into giving the Clipper Chip Backdoors to China so they'd have incentive to use it too... all the governments ganging up on all the citizens?

  • Well let's see...

    The Republican party is hardly unified under Bush. Rather they don't seem to pay much attention to him at all.

    His popularity rating is pretty much because people don't expect much out of the chump.

    The 1.35 trillion tax cut is going to happen as he would like, it'll be reduced by the moderate Republicans who aren't enthralled by his worshipness.

    The opposition was talking about a small tax cut well before six months ago. Not sure whose ass you pulled that one out of.

    He will likely fail with the missile defense. It's a bad idea we can't afford either economically or politically.

    I hope to God that we don't end up with the Texas education plan across the country. We is alredy dum enuf.

    Bush is an interesting temporary president. It'll be interesting to see how well he does with "bipartisanship" when he no longer has Congress in his back pocket. I guess we'll see in 2003.
  • Which of course means the vote of the Supreme Court was 5-4.

  • I did make one mistake, I thought the $1.35 was what Bush had proposed.

    That's actually what the moderate Republicans pared it down to. The original Bush plan was $1.6 trillion.

    The fact that you didn't know this makes your other comments about ignorance all the more funny.

    P.S. The Star Wars program has a 70% disapproval rating in the US. It will never happen.

  • There have certainly been better educated presidents than Dubya with his MBA -- Hell, Woodrow Wilson had a PhD in history and Herbert Hoover had a masters in engineering. However, neither Wilson nor Hoover would make the the top ten list of US presidents, so perhaps degrees aren't the issue.
  • I believe it is the Radio Music License Committee (RMLC), which interacts with various IP organizations like ASCAP (American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers).

    But that isn't the point. It's just trivia for me to know this stuff -- but a technology advisor to the president should know this stuff without hesitation -- it's his job, after all.
  • by Jonathan ( 5011 ) on Sunday May 20, 2001 @11:50AM (#209617) Homepage
    Gotta love this quote from the interview.

    Napster believes there is a legal precedent that has something to do with how radio...I guess when radio started to play songs, they had exactly the same problem. So this thing was set up. I can't even remember what the acronym is...this organization that now keeps track of which disc jockey plays which song

    I thought this guy was supposed to *advise* Dubya -- not sound just like him!
  • >With companies, you can avoid doing business >with them.

    It is the goal of all corporations to make themselves so ubiquitous so as to make avoiding them impossible. Take a look at Microsoft -- in their own words they want "Windows Everywhere".

    >...whereas a corrupt government can *control* >the judicial system,

    And corporations can't? Money controls everything ultimately, and many corps already have more money than some nations.
  • by Gray ( 5042 )
    > People like you

    What an enlightened viewpoint.. Thanks for telling me who and I and where I grew up.. Of course, as only you can clearly see any metasocial phenomenon, without your insight we would be lost.

  • by Gray ( 5042 ) on Sunday May 20, 2001 @10:35AM (#209620)
    So, in your future, it's a big facist goverment which keeps corperations out of our asses? That's *so* much better..

    Nothing like more laws to solve a problem..

    Oddly, I'm a democrat, but this kind of thinking is so luddite.. Corperations are made of people who are remarkable like you and I, and run by people who actually grew up pretty much the same as you did.. Don't hate me for what you can't do..

  • Can you do one single Political story without letting us know that you think Bush is an ass? I know this is your site, but is it really appropriate to make it so painfully clear that you hate another human as much as you do Bush?
  • by rho ( 6063 )

    Please -- here's the main difference between big government and big business.

    Big Business has to sell the Vietnam War to you.

    Big Government can just draft your ass and ship you overseas under threat of imprisonment and/or death.

    Now, which one is better again? Maybe you need to spend some more time thinking about it.

    "Beware by whom you are called sane."

  • by rho ( 6063 ) on Sunday May 20, 2001 @01:01PM (#209623) Homepage Journal
    My question to you is this: We can change the draft laws. We can get rid of the entire government. But the guys with all the money still have all the money. What do we do when *they* hold a gun to us and tell us to defend their property?

    This demonstrates a fundamental misunderstanding of how the market works. It's tempting to think of money and markets as a big pie -- i.e. if I have a big piece, you have a smaller piece. However, the reality is non-intuitive.

    You can create new wealth at any time, without taking from somebody else.

    But to answer your question (What do we do when *they* hold a gun to us and tell us to defend their property?) We point a gun right back at 'em! Please tell me the last time Proctor & Gamble (or GM, if you prefer) made you go to war? (I mean directly, not "They bought senators who voted for the war")
    "Beware by whom you are called sane."

  • 'Is this the MPAA? I thought it was the USA...'

    Megadeth - Hook in Mouth (1987)

    Dave Mustaine - always one step beyond the politicians, and bright enough to get the fuck out of Metallica in the early days!

  • Corporations are ultimately accountable to the consumer.

    If the consumer stops buying their products, the corporation must change their business model to meet their needs or go out of business.

    Or they can try to change the laws (a la DCMA) through paying off politicians, so that thier business model is unaffected.

    An entity can not be accountable to another if no framework exists by which it can be accountable. That modern framework is the law. Where the entity can alter the law, so that it avoids punishment, that entity is no longer accountable. Also where an entity does not have the same access to the law, as another, no accountability can exist.


  • And who bought Big Government to bring you that war?

    Even corporations can't buy something that isn't for, say, a government that isn't corrupt.

    Round and round we go ;)
  • ...whereupon you take your business to some other insurance company who has terms more to your liking.

    Next issue? ;)
  • As soon as a politician is elected to office, they already have to worry about getting re-elected. Their party has to worry about getting re-elected, and getting more of their member elected into offices held by their opponents.

    That is how our government is bought and paid for by big business.

    That's certainly the politicians' reasoning behind campaign finance reform, anyway. Except that a corporation can't buy something (like a politician) that isn't for sale in the first place.

    Don't you wonder, just a little bit, about the character and moral fortitude of a group of people (like, say, politicians) whose reasoning for finance reform is essentially "We'd be good, if only we weren't faced with all this temptation"?

    That'll be my reasoning if I'm ever in court.

    "Your Honor, I wouldn't have gotten drunk and run over those children if I hadn't been faced with the awful, awful temptation of the beer aisle of the supermarket."

    "I wouldn't have taken his car, except he tempted me by leaving the keys in the ignition."

    Or, the all time classic:

    "Hey, it's not my fault she was dressed all sexy like that - she was tempting me...."

  • What other insurance company? The other one who wants the chip in your baby, or the OTHER, other one who wants the chip in your baby? Oh, you mean the one out of state that wants the chip in your baby?

    Come on. If an ass-chipless (?) insurance policy is really important to enough people, why wouldn't someone step up to provide that service? If masses of people are demanding an end to ass-chips being required for insurance, I'll make a KILLING being the only one to provide that service. And the banks'll see that as well.

    Or, alternately, if you're the one-in-a-million customer who cares about, and is offended by ass-chips, whereas the rest of use, as evidenced by our inaction, are perfectly content with ass-chips, you can simply do without insurance.

    As an aside, I think I deserve some extra mod points just for multiple creative uses of the phrase "ass-chip"....
  • Hey, minorities could just "do without" riding in the front of the bus, or vote with their dollars, but believe it or not markets aren't always as perfectly efficient as the Libertarian party would have us believe.

    From time to time, economic interests and "social justice" do coincide, though. Look at Plessy v. Ferguson, for example. That case was an attempt to end the legal principle of separate-but-equal, brought at the behest of local railway companies. Why? Having separate facilities cost them more money. And who insured that separate-but-equal would continue for another 60 years? The government, in the form of the Supreme Court.

    Are markets perfectly efficient? Of course not. But neither are cartels, be they oil, diamonds, or insurance. After all, if they were, the price of oil over the last 30 years would ALWAYS be EXACTLY what OPEC wanted. They haven't been, largely because in any cartel, there is an enormous incentive for the members to cheat at the expense of their co-conspirators.

    The question, I think, is what will we decide are rights that must be available to all, and thereby provided by society at large, versus what should simply be opportunities for people to have (or provide for themselves) things they might *want*. Just because I think I have a natural right to daily handjobs doesn't mean that the 6 billion people who don't think it's my God-given right must provide it for me. If you're the only one with the belief that ass-chips are an affront, sorry, but you're SOL.

    Does the free market solve all human problems? I think not (there goes my LP card), but more often than not, I think, we all benefit from it. Surely, as a general rule, more freedom is better than less....

    I think the best post in this whole topic was the one about ass-chips

    Seconded ;)
  • Now, why would I flame that? You and I, I think, are mostly in agreement. All I'm saying (well, in other posts, not necessarily this one), generally, is that allowing politicians to pitch finance reform as a cure for all the political evils of this country is sort of like allowing the hookers to blame the johns for their choice of careers - you can't buy someone who isn't for sale, as I said.

    As it is, if you want to waste lots of money on politics you have to be either (loser) Michael Huffington-rich or (winner, the bankers she borrowed from are probably gonna be losers, though) Maria Cantwell-rich to do it.

    I suspect that one of the things to come out of campaign finance reform will be some serious restrictions on how people spend their own money - after all, the incumbents have largely nailed down any money from third-parties out there, so the only real threat to them is the multi-millionaire population.

    So, they heavily restrict third-party spending, favoring themselves, and then restrict how people spend their own money running for office, thus insuring that Congress becomes a sinecure for those lucky enough to already be there. Cute, huh?
  • Oooo, I love it when slapdash gets all warm and fuzzy. I'm sure you and I disagree about what's a "right", but for now I'll settle for a group hug ;)
  • The vote totals in Florida were so close as to be within any reasonable margin of error, so giving the victory to one side or the other is arbitrary.

    Okay, I'm going to totally nit-pick here, but elections don't HAVE margins of errors. A margin of error only makes sense to discuss in the context of a sample of a population, when you want to adjudge how accurately your sample reflects the population as a whole. A vote is not a sample of a population, it is an actual, enumerated count of all citizens who voted - it IS the population in a sense. It's not a statistical "dead heat" to win by one vote, because the vote is a *count*, not a statistic.

    Of course, the difficulty in Florida was the shifting definition of what exactly constitutes a legal, valid vote. But once we agree on a definition and apply it across the board, someone who wins by one vote is just as legitimate a winner as someone who wins by 1 million votes...
  • I'm not disputing that errors occur in tallying votes, just pointing out that the term "margin of error" has a specific meaning in statistics that doesn't really apply to vote counts. If I were going to be truly pedantic, I would, in fact, insist that *only* in the realm of statistics does the term "margin of error" have any meaning.
  • Well, I understand your definition of the term here, but I don't entirely buy that it is appropriate to apply to vote counts. If we are talking about machine counts, where some mechanical flaw or design shortcoming could result in a lack of precision, "margin of error" would only start to make sense to me if errors were random - if the miscounts are consistently biased one way or the other (like, say, if the machine simply discards every third ballot cast for Bush, or is able to count a partial punch for Bush but not for Gore), then you'd have results that were inaccurate, while still not being able to describe the inaccuracy using a margin of error, since "margin of error" necessarily implies that the error could have driven your result up OR down away from the actual total, whereas a biased machine can only drive the count in one direction.

    Again, as far as hand counts go, I think the problem was fuzziness in defining what constituted a legal, valid vote. Either hanging chads count, or they don't. Two corners detached = no vote; three corners = vote. Etc., etc.

    Assuming a standard exists that is observable by humans (and I've seen no suggestion that whatever the standard was, it required superhuman perception on the part of the counters), refusing to apply that standard is not an error, it is a bias.

    I think the problem was a lack of a standard for measuring against - they more or less had to create one on-the-fly, varying from place to place, under a serious time constraint - not some inherent flaw in the measuring process. After all, if I point you to my sock drawer and tell you to separate the white ones from the black ones and count each, you probably wouldn't come back to me and announce that I had 10 (+/- 2) white pairs and 8 (+/- 1) black pairs ;)
  • I'm realy gratified by many of the posts here. /. readers can post some knee-jerk reactions at times, but this is not one of them. We can control big business, by our dollars and reverse engineering, and competing technologies. If you think back, most of what corporations now do wrong has been allowed or promoted by big government (excepting perhaps tax evasion). Things like the DMCA in the US are pointed and painful reminders of the reasons just why governemt should stay out of big business regulation.

    Lay down the basic tenets: no murder, no/minimal pollution, no stealing (of money, anyhow--industrial espionage will never stop...). Yeah, maybe that's a dreamworld, but the less government interference, the better. IMO, this would definitely give consumers a more even chance in courts--right now, we have none or little, with respect to technology. Other industries vary some (witness McDonald's and hot coffee). Overall, however, fighting corporations (where we have a certain amount of choice) is much easier to do than fighting the government (and yes, I've called and dealt with tech support before...).

  • Hey, the only reason you're feeling any real pressure to put a crypto chip up your ass, is the government, not the industry. None of the industry's bad decisions really start to have a severe effect until the government backs them up, by passing laws like DMCA and FCC directives.

    The libertarian approach works great, but only when you don't mix it with fascism.

  • And try defying either. A business is likely to merely be annoyed if you ignore its ads and don't buy its products. A government is likely to eventually send heavily armed people after you if you ignore ITS dictats.

    See: Company Town; Unionization; 20th Century History

    People who love ubiquitous corporations are all under the age of 75, and have never bothered to learn history or what companies can and have done to people for such crimes as "not working for us" and "not buying our products".

  • All you have to do is just automatically accept everything the party tells you, no matter how outlandish or untrue. No thinking is required -- just listen to the rhetoric and let your blood boil about 'them'

    And most Republicans spend much more time examining the facts?

    Look, Democrats dislike Bush, but you simply cannot compare it to the unabashed, vitriolic, mindless HATRED republicans had for Clinton. I mean, I can't count the number of times he was basically acused in public of high treason against the nation, with little or no factual basis to back it up.

    Yet Democrats say "Hmm, Bush doesn't seem that bright" and all of a sudden THEY are the ones blinded by unthinking party loyalty? Please. Maybe he really just isn't that bright -- it's no crime. And it certainly doesn't indicate hatred so much as a lack of respect.

    Both party members play the same game, you have no high horse to ride on...

  • None of the industry's bad decisions really start to have a severe effect until the government backs them up

    Well, that's true. Without governments to uphold property rights, or imbue them to artificial persons, there wouldn't be any corporations.

    So now we're back to the same place we were before -- deciding where in the vast gray area the government starts and stops regulating the actions of business. There is not a clear dividing line between industry and government, no matter how much the libertarian ideal says so.

  • what corporation will legally be able to do that?

    Your insurance company. After all, they can't very well extend coverage to the child without being able to monitor his vital signs remotely, now, could they? Its simply economics, Ma'am, nothing personal.

    Next question?

  • Also, the Bhopal incident was an accident that was the fault of a company already following government safety measures

    Ah, so its not their fault because the government regulations should have been stricter, thanks for clearing up how that was all the government's fault.

    Now, back to the discussion about how great industry self-regulation is...

  • if a corporation goes out and gasses a village somewhere, then the stockholders have no personal responsibility, but the corporate employees who made the decision to perform the gassing, and the employees who carried it out will still go to jail for a long time

    That's news to me. I'd love to hear of any person ever being found guilty of wrongful death for deadly decisions they made on behalf of a corporation.

    Firestone may go bankrupt -- unfortunately, the dead people who rode around on their tires are still dead.

    The executives who decided to go ahead with the tire designs (despite engineers telling them they were faulty) will just find new jobs paying in the six figures, and joke about it all over brunch at the restaurant on the ninth hole.

  • Yeah, and people who love their government...

    I never claimed governments were harmless, either. Only that believing corporations have "no power but selling to you" flies completely in the face of the reality that this country (and most others) have lived through already. Lets make new mistakes, not repeat the ones of the past -- at least that way we can say we tried.

    Good ol' American public schools saving the world for democracy, one epsilon-minus Slashdotter at a time.

    Maybe if you study harder you can rise above this hindrance?

  • The difference is that Clinton really was corrupt

    Really? And what pray tell did he do that was corrupt? I mean, he lied about having sex (many times, with many different women, including in court testimony) but that's not corruption (it's either a virtuous lie or a damn lie with perjury, depending how you feel about him and infidelity).

    As far as I know, thats the only thing that was ever really proven, despite, as I said, many, many, MANY people spending the better part of a decade examining every strand of hair he had ever come into contact with.

    Sure, he killed Vincent Foster, sold nuclear weapons to China, performed pagan rites in the Lincoln bedroom and sodomized babies, but what I'm asking is why -- really, and truthfully -- do so many Republicans believe he, as you say, "really was corrupt" despite no actual evidence of corruption (or at least of corruption with any significant devation for a president).

    He was involved in some sort of bizarre land deal that he lost money on, unlike Bush who was involved in some bizarre CIA/oil deals, and GW, involved in some bizarre baseball team and oil deals, and Reagan, who was actually *provably* involved in some highly illegal arms deals.

    because at least Nixon had thought about the best interests of the country on occasion.

    See, that's exactly what I'm talking about. You've just stated that Clinton, in fact, never once considered the nation when making a decision (which I personally consider to be a charge tantamount to treason, at least philosophically). The worst that Democrats say about Bush is that he's greedy and dumb. And yet, somehow, the Democrats are the only ones being relentless and unreasonable?

  • ...whereupon you take your business to some other insurance company who has terms more to your liking

    What other insurance company? The other one who wants the chip in your baby, or the OTHER, other one who wants the chip in your baby? Oh, you mean the one out of state that wants the chip in your baby?

    Oh, no, I know the answer to this one -- start your own insurance company, right? But the bank won't finance an insurance company that doesn't put chips in babies, because the financial risk is too great compared to all those other companies that have more accurate medical info (thanks to the chips).

    Oh, right, I need to start my own bank...

  • I think such a system would be very fair, no?

    But you still have the issue of regulation, which is what this was all about. Where do you start and stop regulating? We have to use the government to defend property rights, so now we still have the same debate over whether to enact the DMCA (which is just a law to protect intellectual property) or environmental controls (which are laws that protect your property and health from being destroyed by the guy upstream).

    Deciding to hold individuals or corporations responsible makes no difference to the question of what we hold them responsible for, or what government gets involved with in terms of regulation of that responsibility vs self-regulation?

  • And the banks'll see that as well. can simply do without insurance

    Hey, minorities could just "do without" riding in the front of the bus, or vote with their dollars, but believe it or not markets aren't always as perfectly efficient as the Libertarian party would have us believe.

    Sometimes people are refused seating at the lunch counter, even though "economically" it doesn't make sense, and "economically" the bank should give them a loan.

    When all the star-bellied sneetches are refused medical insurance for being chipless, you can't count on economic theory to defend them, and when the hospitals refuse to admit them without insurance, you'll wind up with a lot of star-bellied corpses.

    Want to see a free market in healthcare? Go to any third-world country and go to the hospital. Try to get treatment without a big wad of cash in your hand. The free market doesn't care if you live or die, but thankfully we don't have a free market in the US, and an emergency room has to treat you whether you can pay or not. Hopefully that will still be the case after the ass-chips come!

    As an aside, I think I deserve some extra mod points just for multiple creative uses of the phrase "ass-chip"....

    I think the best post in this whole topic was the one about ass-chips -- "damn, Doritos is going overboard with all the new flavors". Alas, it doesn't seem to have been modded up much :(

  • the democrat attacks frequently stink of intellectual elitism

    I don't disagree with you at all -- that was definitely a lot of what people didn't like about Gore (he seems snobbish).

    The government needs more power and your money, because it of course can do better with it than you can.

    This must be a test of some kind, because I don't see that at all. The message isn't "we can do better with it than you can" but rather "there are some things that can only be accomplished collectively".

    I mean, you're not giving your money to Bill Clinton to spend "better", you're giving it to agencies that employ hundreds of thousands of people to handle details of life that would quickly overwhelm us if we had to do them individually. Who wants to build a road by getting together with their neighbors and buying paving equipment? Why not just give all that responsibility to one group and all they do is build roads all over the [geographic region]?

    I should note that conservatives/republicans don't disagree with this notion at all -- what they disagree on is WHICH things are better done collectively. We should, for example, provide funding to faith-based charities.

    The difference between attacking Clinton for scandals and other political issues (yes, some of us think perjury in a high court IS a big deal!)

    But that's just it -- there seemed to be very few "political" issues involved in the attacks. It was all "he murdered Vince Foster!", "He was in shady business deals" "he had sex with ______". Those aren't political issues.

    Perjury most definitely is a big deal (but its not "corruption", which is all I said). And it didn't come out until AFTER a decade was spent demonizing the man. So that has always been my question -- what was it about him that made the desire so great to brand him as Evil, long before Foster died, long before he even met Lewinsky, etc. These events were not causes, they were effects.

    And FWIW, i view the Republican party as being elitism of a different kind -- economic and moral elitism (and plenty of intellectual as well). I've always had the feeling that the Republican party felt Clinton didn't "deserve" to be in the White House because he wasn't of a high enough rank. He was white trash. And he certainly had the kinds of scandals unbecoming of the social elite -- they tended to be more soap opera than international arms deal. But I'm not sure why that would be WORSE.

    Again, if Bush is so dumb, and you're so smart, lets see _you_ actually do something with your life that affects other people

    Well, ignoring the fact that this is a complete red herring (what do the accomplishments of a critic have to do with the validity of the criticism?), what did Bush do to affect people's lives before he was "crowned" by the people who surrounded him. He had money, fame, and influence thrust upon him by virtue of being born and having a father in the White House. If he had been born a poor nobody, could he have achieved any of this? I really don't think so -- he's no Bob Dole or John McCain. He's certainly no Rockefeller or Gates.

    just go back to work, sit in your cubicle, and smirk at Bush's stupidity. I hope it makes you feel better at least

    Not sure if you're just using the collective "you" here, but I never claimed Bush was stupid. He's President of my country, i hope to hell he's a genius and will guide us well.

  • The question, I think, is what will we decide are rights that must be available to all, and thereby provided by society at large, versus what should simply be opportunities for people to have

    Then we're in perfect agreement! We should stop while we're ahead. Ultimately, that was my only point -- there are some things that transcend the freedom of the marketplace (and of course those "things" are ultimately where the disagreements come into play).

    I have a natural right to daily handjobs doesn't mean that the 6 billion people who don't think it's my God-given right must provide it for me

    watch out for chafing!

  • i think i would prefer just to invest the money myself and not have to pay the government SS.

    The issue i see with this is that we're not willing to throw people on the streets to die in their old age. So we're going to get stuck with SOME bill (whether large or small) based on taking care of people who didn't plan. Initially SS was just the answer to that problem -- it has grown in scope and size (and each growth was perfectly logical) but I don't know that there is a solution to the problem of it being too big.

    The money goes to pay for things, and has to come from somewhere. So either we tax people to get the money, or we tell people we can no longer pay to keep them from starving to death, we refuse medical care to the poor, etc. We're in a pickle because we aren't willing to say "no" to people as a society, but we don't like paying for it.

    The flip side of that is that if we provide *too much* to "fall back" on, it will encourage people to ignore planning for retirement. Which makes it even more critical for us to either get more money (from taxes) to support those people, or start refusing services right when the largest population of people who HAVE paid into the system their whole lives comes to expect something back.

    Hmm, come to think of it, we're screwed :)

  • Please restrain yourself from blaming the victims whom Wall Street robbed

    You misinterpreted what i said -- I wasn't blaming anyone, or even talking about any specific time or group.

    I was just getting across the conundrum that the SS plan was created to solve: there are people who, for whatever reason, have no capability to pay their own medical/food expenses, and we are unwilling as a society to simply let them perish.

    So we have SS, but we're possibly running the risk that we're hurting others by creating an incentive, as it were, to not be concerned about saving for those very expenses because they know they won't be allowed to simply perish. (of course, most people don't realize how little SS pays, but they're not thinking of the details, only the general concept)

    I was speaking more of OUR generations, not the ones getting SS now or previously, who never "expected" it.

  • Make up your mind: are you supporting the Second Amendment or voting liberal? In this country, the two really are mutually exclusive

    Unfortunately there are only two "sides" in politics that you can realistically vote for, so if you are concerned about more than one issue, your voting theory kinda falls flat.

    What if I want to support gun rights, and abortion? Which side do I pick, then? Which one is mutually exclusive?

  • If you really believe that Bush is proposing a hands off approach ... well, I guess we just haven't been reading the same news.

    Now if you want to talk about what he cliams, I'll agree that he claims to support a hand's off policy. But that and $1.10 will get me a donut (coffee's a bit more).

    Caution: Now approaching the (technological) singularity.
  • As natural persons, corporations are being denied their inalienable right to vote in US elections. Those that came before us silenced the voices of women and non-european races. How much longer can we continue to deny our fellow corporate citizens their voice? Today, these corporations must spend millions and millions of dollars on inefficient lobbying, contributions, and bribes. This inefficient, indirect "voting" wastes money that rightly belongs in the pockets of CEOs and their politicians. Demand corporate suffrage now!
  • For example, The whole DVD issue isn't one we can hardly complain about, since we brought it on ourselves and it's somewhat stuck with it for now.
    Bullshit. No one asked me if it was okay to region encode DVDs or pull other MPAA shit. Yet they get away with it because they have control over alot of media I WANT. I haven't got a choice if I want to see my favorite comedy/drama/Hong Kong action flicks.

    But what about Operating Systems with ACTIVATION SCHEMES? If we don't like them, we vote them out of existance by NOT BUYING THEM.

    You mean like when we buy an OS that's bundled with a machine? Or how about those millions of people who refuse to change operating systems because, dispite the hell they go through using what they use, they refuse to change because its THEIR operating system, and it what they're used to. This was one of Linus Torvald's big points when he went on Charlie Rose last Friday.

    I'd rather have companies telling me what to do than the Government, because at least with a COMPANY, I can refuse to pay them. Try not paying your taxes and see how far you get!
    First off, if you don't pay your taxes, the IRS is VERY soft on you these days. Second, if you go to jail for tax related issues you are probably a fucking moron. Everything you are taxed on is money you HAD at one point. Besided that, federal tax rates are relatively low in the U.S. I am so tired of conservative crybabies going on about how bad taxes are... Its not like the Turks, who cut Armenians open to take the coins they swallowed to hide from government agents before their people got forced on a death march through the desert (1916-1923).

    Okay that was just a rant. The real point here is that the federal government is far more accountable to the public will than any corporation in a noncompetitive olligopoly; the gov. is run by politicians of two competing parties who LISTEN in the hope of improving things for constituants so they can get your votes. Here YOU have the upper hand. Meanwhile, for many companies, the position is opposite; they have something you want, and they will rape you for as much as they can get to further their own self interest.

  • by Katravax ( 21568 ) on Sunday May 20, 2001 @10:53AM (#209670)

    I've spent a lot of time thinking about this issue... which is worse, big government or big business? Frankly, as anti-government as I am, I'm starting to think that big business is worse. The main reason is that because corporations have "personhood" under the law, but no one has to pay the price of any wrong they do. Also, these "persons" can afford the best lawyers and the best politicians to get their way. So they have the rights of normal people, but none of the responsibility, and the money to do pretty much anything they want. There's also no way to really attack them, because the corporation can just vanish, and the money it generated can go toward another different corporation with none of the liabilities of the first. Of course it's more complicated than all that, but bottom line is, a corporation is like a super-person... they're too difficult to stop when they're doing something wrong.

    Government, on the other hand, is fairly easy to attack should that become necessary. Look at the number of revolutions going on at any given time for proof. They may not all succeed, but at least there are visible targets that once removed, will stop doing whatever it was that drove people to revolt in the first place. Laws can be rewritten and policies changed. In other words, I believe it's easier to dispose of a corrupt government than a corrupt giant business should the need arise.The main difference between them, in addition to one being easier to destroy, is that it is legal for government to have armed enforcers that actually kill you (police, military, etc). Businesses do the same with security guards, etc., but note that in this case, the guard as a person would be responsible for any killing they do in defense of the company, as opposed to the government that ordered the killing on the part of the military or police.

    I haven't thought everything through (obviously), but bottom line, in my opinion, don't reject the original comment from a couple posts ago that we may need government to protect us from business. Businesses may be run by "ordinary people" like us, but they don't have the same liability for their actions like we do if those actions are carried out as corporate behavior rather than individual behavior. I think it boils down to which one is easier to make stop doing what it's doing that's causing problems.

  • I prefer big business over big government and the reason is simple: You only get one government.

    Think about it. If a government is corrupt, the only thing we can do is take arms (assuming we still have them), risk our lives, over-throw it, and put another soon to be government into place. If a business is corrupt, we can boycott them and buy from their competitors.

    As for big business not having responsiblity because they can hide behind lawyers, I would say that your government is already corrupt. Part of government's job is to make sure everyone plays nice. If businesses or people are getting away with more than they should, then government is broke. Sure, ethically businesses should play nice without being forced to do so, but this isn't human nature. How many people do you know that follow the rules to the T, regardless of whether or not they agree with them? I speed to work everyday, do you?

  • What if all of the ballot choices are corrupt?

    If all choices are bad, you lose, whether we are talking about governments or businesses. My approach is to try to have as many choices as possible. Government can't offer that. You may have different candidates, but if the system is flawed, there is little they can do about it. Each business is its own system; if that system is flawed, the business goes out of business.

  • The main reason is that because corporations have "personhood" under the law, but no one has to pay the price of any wrong they do. Also, these "persons" can afford the best lawyers and the best politicians to get their way. So they have the rights of normal people, but none of the responsibility, and the money to do pretty much anything they want. There's also no way to really attack them, because the corporation can just vanish, and the money it generated can go toward another different corporation with none of the liabilities of the first.

    Concrete example.

    My neighbor, who used to drive a truck for Company A, now drives for Company B. Company B, you see, bought (profitable) Company A. B took A's assets (trucks, contracts with terminals, etc.) but not its liabilities (basically normal cash debts). The truckers suspect that Company B will fairly soon dissolve Company A, leaving A's creditors in the lurch.

    Of course, A has already fired all their drivers and let them be re-hired by B at a lower wage. (This could have happened without the corporate shell game though, since the truckers are non-union and don't have a written contract with a guaranteed wage. But the shuffle made it look slightly more legit, maybe.)

    So, the truckers get paid less and the creditors are left out in the cold while Company B gets the benefit of a shiny new truck fleet.

    This maneuver wouldn't have been possible without the legal fiction of corporate personhood. Without it, Company A's liabilities would have been stuck on a real person (or group of people) who would still be liable after the transfer of assets.

    No sane person, in the place of Company A, would have let this asset-stripping happen for "nothing.". But because Company A isn't a real person, it doesn't have to feel the pain of being broke and unable to pay its bills.

    I think legislators should decide whether corporations are more like robots (in which case they shouldn't have rights) or more like people (in which case they shouldn't be owned and manipulated like slaves).

    It's the combination of having "personhood" powers at the same time that they can't feel personal deprivation that makes the corporate idea so undemocratic.

    It's wrong that a corporation can by its actions commit felonies but not actually serve jail time. It's wrong that a corporation can in some cases commit first-degree murder but not feel the pain of a death sentence. It's wrong that a corporation can even botch its own affairs badly enough to face bankruptcy but not have to deal with the realities of feeding, clothing, and sheltering itself without money.

    (Why yes, of course my business is incorporated. I'll give up my "corporate shield" when everyone else gives up theirs.)

  • " Second, limited liability only shields shareholders, not officers or employees who can and sometimes do go to jail for their actions."

    You know I am trying to think of one instance when ANYBODY was jailed when a corporation
    knowingly killed people, poisoned wells, caused disease, sold addictive drugs to teenagers, or spilled a billion tons of toxic sludge in somebodies back yard. Not firestone, not exxon, not Union Carbide, no airline, no car manufacturer no cigarette maker ever went to jail for crimes that would have landed you or I in jail. Perhaps you could provide a couple of examples.

    " Third, tens of thousands of people are killed in traffic accidents each year in the U.S., yet hardly any one is ever charged with murder because of it."

    That's because everybody (except the liberterians apparently) knows that when you kill someone in a car accident it's not murder it vehicular homocide, manslaughter, or at a minimum reckless driving. If the court finds that you were at any degree at fault (say you were drinking or speeding excessively) then you could end up in jail in a hearbeat. It's not murder but it's a jailable offence nevertheless.

    The people inside the corporations are never held liable no matter how much they did to cause death, injury or disease. NEVER. The corporation gets fined (maybe) or sued but the damages are always less then the profits caused by the reckless behaviour in the first place.
  • "The Indian Government owned 51% of the Bhopal plant. What, were they going to sue themselves? "

    This is the exact point the writer was making. By diluting the ownership and the decision making process the corporation gets off scott free. If nothing else the corrupting influence of the corporations is made all the more apparent by this buddy system that was arranged. The chances are very good that the corpies knew they were running an unsafe system and wanted to shift the blame to the govt if anything went wrong.
  • "You can create new wealth at any time, without taking from somebody else."

    Ah "the big lie" I was wondering when somebody was going to bring this up.

    You can not create wealth out of thin air. You HAVE to take it from someplace. You wither take it from another person or you convert some natural resource into money. The economy is nothing more then taking natural resources and turning them into cash. Only insofar as some resources are renewable AND they are used in a sustainable manner is the economy infinate. Since no reneable resource is being used in a sustainable manner the economic growth will one day hit a wall.
    Productivity depends on people and machines and people have to eat, drink, and breathe clean enough air. Machines need materials, to build and use and energy. NONE of these resources is infinate and NONE of them are being used in a sustainable manner. One day you will run out of clean air, drinkable water, or food safe enough to eat and one day you will run out of energy. It will take a while but that day will come.

    "Please tell me the last time Proctor & Gamble (or GM, if you prefer) made you go to war? (I mean directly, not "They bought senators who voted for the war")"

    Why does it make a difference how you ket killed. Why would GM make you go to war when it's easier to buy the govt and let them do it. That way nobody gets mad at GM. Corporations are not dumb enough to kill you directly they would much rather do it indirectly so that they have denyibility. Besides it's easier for GM to kill people by building unsafe cars, or poisoning the water and air. It's easer, more profiatble and more fun to kill that way. When the people you are killing complain you can drag their asses into court for a hundred years and torture them too. Trust me wars are no fun compared to playing with suffering human beings.
  • "Except that a corporation can't buy something (like a politician) that isn't for sale in the first place."

    no matter how honorable the politician needs to raise millions of dollars just to stay in office. The system is corrupt there are no two ways about it. If a politician could not be bought then he would be a one term politician.
  • Let's see
    One one had we have evil entity govt. Sure you can vote, lobby, run for office etc but either way it's big, harmful and lets face it you are screwed.
    One the other hand we have evil entity number two. Sure you can buy a few shares but you can't influence it in any way and you are screwed.

    Why do I have to choose one or the other. Why can't I
    a) Fight to limit the powers of both of them.
    b) pit them against each other so that their power cancels out.

    VOILA!. There's the answer. We encourage the govt to write laws which limit the corpies power, corpies fight back and spend money lobbying it, we vote for campaing reform laws which frustrates the corpies, they buy ads on TV which costs more money. See how it weakens both of them.
  • " I think legislators should decide whether corporations are more like robots (in which case they shouldn't have rights) or more like people (in which case they shouldn't be owned and manipulated like slaves)."

    Almost there my friend.
    Corporations should be more like dogs. Dogs can be owned by humans but at the same time they are not like other property because it's illegal to be cruel to them or abuse them (even by the owner). On the other hand the owner is responsible for keeping the dog fenced and well behaved and on a leash. If your dog causes harm to others it can be confiscated and killed by the govt without compensation to you. If the dog repeated bites people you can be tried and jailed for not keeping up your responsibility.

    The shareholders are the owners of the dog. It's up to them to keep the dog well fed, well fenced, and well behaved. If the shareholders are not fail in their duties then the corporation should immediately be dissovled and all the assets turned over to the govt. The shareholders should be severly screwed for letting their corporation get out hand and kill people or cause them serious harm.
  • Why does it matter what ford Reccomended. Firestone knew it was making a bad tire and did it anyway.

    Besides the point is that despite hundreds of people being killed nobody will go to jail, Nobody from Firestone, Nobody from ford.
  • He could do a billion things he is the freking president of the united states the most powerful human on the planet. The US bailed out Mexico by giving them billions of dollars, US gives Israel billions so they can buy fighter jets so they can bomb palestenian villages but when it comes time to help California it's "screw them they didn't vote for me anyways".
  • California used less energy this year then they did less year.

    Less demand should mean lower rates no?

    Also how does drilling for oil increase the supply of electricity? What percentage of electricity in the US is generated from oil?
  • Hey don't forget the second amendment.
  • "I am not going to be suprised if he even helps Microsoft some how with their split."

    When the state of Idaho sued to stop the roadless wildreness initiative the Bush justice Dept filed a TWO SENTENCE BRIEF with the court and USED FOUR OF THEIR ALLOCATED THIRTY MINUTES to argue in front of the judge. The judge (a republican of course) was able to stop the initiative with a clear conscience.
    Now the road building into the wilderness can continue as if nothing happened.

    This is exactly how the Bush justice dept will prosecute MS. File a two sentence brief and get your worst lawyers to make a brief appearance in court. MS will of course spend a billion on lawyers and will win handily. The fix is in.
  • "The government has no such concern. Are you aware that over 95% of our country's pollution takes place on government property?"

    you are mistaken on many points but...
    This statistic is misleading. Of course the pollution occurs on govt property the business is not going to dump toxic waste on it's own property is it? In NJ trucks full of toxic sludge were routinely driven into public lands and emptied. The pollution may have occured on public lands but it was put there by the corporations.

    Also if liberterians are for holding corporations responsible perhaps you can take this opportunity to explain just exacly how this would occur withoout some big bad govt to wield a stick? While you are at it perhaps you can provide some example of where a CEO was actually jailed for some crime his corporation committed.
  • Oh yea those two shares will really get the attention of the CEO of GM. At least with the govt it's one person one vote. With the corp it's I have a majority of the stock ya'll can screw yourselves.
  • He has a republican senate and a republican house. He should be able to pass every single bill he wants. It takes no skill when the entire congress agrees with you on everything.
  • Maybe you could get away with it once but the corpies would be on to you soon enough. These people are unethical not stupid. They are not spending money on politicians cos they have nothing better to do with their money they are spending it because they get something out fo the deal. Once your ethical politician lies to them the money will dry out. Worse yet the corpies will fund their own candidate and defeat your honest politician.

    Now you might say "voters are smarter then that" but really they are not. If the corpies can make you care about brown sugar water they can make you care about anything.
  • I am not familiar with the incidents you mentioned per se I would appreciate some links. In particular I would like to see if the people were jailed for criminal acts commited as an individual or criminal acts commited in the name of the corporation.
    Maybe if you set fire to your factory to try and collect insurance you get charged criminally for arson but that has nothing to do with the fact that you are a CEO of a corporation.

    Even if you are right even you have to admit that these are extremely rare.

    " Do you want to convict somebody just because it's not perfect?"

    First of all I only want criminal charges brought against the people who are actually responsible for death and mayhem. Secondly we do convict people because they are not perfect. Somebody can lead a perfectly fine life and one day commit murder then we jail them. We don't say well he is not perfect, this was just an abberation if he is found guilty he goes to jail.

    As for value jet I find it hilarious that a corporation can be found guilty of a crime. What are you going to do jail a corporation. Of course not you are going to fine them and then they will write off that fine on their taxes. No big deal, look at how much money they made/saved by flying unsafe aircraft in the first place.
  • First of all it's impossible to grow trees at the same rate that they are being cut down. There are simply too many humans on this planet who need wood and fiber for too many things. Maybe one day we will use alternatives here in the US but for most of the world they are running out of trees in a hurry.

    Also you point out how the economic structures we have set up only concentrate on the short term gains and completely ignore the long term consequences of the worldwide economy. Of course nobody is willing to pay for a tree or the woods, oc course trees, animals, oceans etc are worth more dead then alive. Nobody wants to leave the fish in the sea it's worth much more in a sushi bar!. This kind of thinking unfortunately is spelling doom for the salmon, bluefin tuna, squid, dolphins and much more alarmingly the algea and the plankton.

    By taking natural resources and turning them into money you are setting yourself up for long term catastrophy. Once the plankton die we are not too far behind.
  • The humans that wrote the program all ate, drank and breathed natural resources. The software was most likely packaged, burned on to CDs, delivered via trucks, stocked on shelves inside stores all of which require immense amount of natural resources to build and sustain.

    Software is the closest to a "low impact" product you can find because it requires so little to make but it still takes computers, buildings, heat, electricity, air, water, food, transportation etc to make it happen. Even delivery via the internet requires natural resources.

    Sorry no such thing as a free lunch.
  • The US government* already has extensive regulations about privacy for US citizens. With few exceptions, they're the main problem, and adding Band-Aids to the system without addressing them is at best a pretense of a solution. The requirements that cause the problems are the ones that create common identifying numbers and databases and require businesses and individuals to use them, which provide the tools for privacy-problematic activities by business and make it economically necessary for businesses to use those tools to be competitive. Some examples:
    • Same Social Security Number for All Tax Records - By forcing everybody to collect your SSN, everybody who pays you wages or dividends or bank interest has to have that number, and has a relatively strong belief in its uniqueness and long-term persistence, so they can use it as a database key. This is cheaper than doing their own unique keys, and it means that organizations like credit reporting companies can use that one number to track all your bank accounts. That wasn't a big problem in the 1930s-1950s, when records were kept on paper, with occasional help from Business Machines that sorted punch cards that disliked being Bent, Folded, Spindled, or Multilated. Around the 60s, computers started becoming affordable to medium-large businesses that could correlate information with them, though it was still pretty tedious using magnetic tape to handle large quantities of records. By the early 90s, anybody could afford computers faster than the government used in the 60s, and by the late 90s, anybody could afford high-speed storage on their desktops bigger than the off-line storage government could afford in the 60s, and could carry more CPU in their shirt pockets than the government could afford in the 60s, and database queries are no longer an arcane process requiring extensive development budgets - they're just something you type into websearch engines or your PC.

    • An alternative - Suppose you had a stack of Taxpayer ID numbers, and could give a different number to everybody who needs to know. The Tax Agencies would still be able to coordinate them, since computers and databases are affordable and cheap, but nobody else could.

    • Medical Records keyed on Taxpayer IDs - In the US, the government provides medical insurance for old people who've paid into the Social Security tax system, and they use the Social Security Number as their database identifiers, and force any medical providers to use that number to be reimbursed for the costs of medical services to old people. Therefore, almost all medical insurance companies use that as their database keys, and the insurance companies and government force doctors to use them as identifiers as well. Furthermore, tax policy strongly encourages businesses to provide their employees with medical insurance, and therefore employers need to use SSNs as their interface to medical insurance companies. And increasing social pressure about making employer-funded medical insurance pay for drugs makes pharmacies use SSNs as well. Do you really want your employer to know what medicines you're taking? It's much harder to solve this one than the tax issues, because the insurance process is very deeply tangled, and because even aside from the money there are medical benefits to sharing of information between anybody who a given patient interacts with.

    • Driver's Licenses tied to SSNs, Citizenship Papers. The Feds first permitted the states to use SSNs as a database key, and since then they've essentially made it mandatory. This does reduce the extent to which bad drivers maintain multiple licenses so they can still drive after being convicted of bad driving, but it's increasingly being used for enforcement of social policy. For instance, the State of California believes that Driving While Speaking Spanish is unsafe, so they've been requiring citizenship documentation to discourage Un-Americans from getting drivers' licenses. To some extent, this decreases the number of immigrants who get CA drivers' licenses or car insurance, which is directly counter-productive, but it also increases the financial advantage to Motor Vehicle Department employees to accept bribes in return for otherwise-unavailable paperwork services.
    • Permission To Work Tied To Centralized Databases - First there was the reprehensible policy of requiring anybody who wants to work as an employee in the US to provide Citizenship Papers and fill out forms with the Immigration Cops, but that was basically a one-way information flow. Since then, the Deadbeat Dads law has created a requirement that you not only tell the government you're hiring somebody, but ask permission first, in case they might be a father who's criminally failed to pay child support - even if they're not a Dad, or a Dad Required By A Court To Pay Child Support, or a Deadbeat, you're still required to treat your potential employees as if they might be, and get the government's permission first. This means there's a centralized database of US Citizens Not Permitted To Work, which is relatively simple to query, and it's probably possible for non-government employees to access the database of people who are known to be working - it's certainly simple for government employees to query the database, whether they're from the tax agencies or other parts of the government. This radically increases the consequences of inaccuracies in government databases, and also creates a strong incentive for identity theft by Personna Not Grata, while increasing the bribery potential of people who have access to the data.

    • Professional Licenses Tied To Central Databases and Social Policy - The Deadbeat Dad stuff has also spawned a requirement that cities and states which grant professional licenses withhold them from anybody who might be Listed, which has similar effects to the other privacy-reduction regulations. The intent is to force any Deadbeat Dads who are actually making money to pay up, which is fine, but the consequences for non-deadbeats can be significant.

    • Draft Registration - yes, it's been decades since the US government got into a war that required more cannon fodder than the politicians have been able to get volunteers for. But after the Vietnam Police Action ended, and the authorization for a draft ended, the Pentagon was able to talk Congress into re-creating the regulation for universal registration of young men, and they do extensive work with external databases that may provided pointers to non-registrants. Bill Clinton had the opportunity to end the draft, given one bill (military budget, I think) that got through Congress, but because of his Personal Background Problem he wasn't politically well-positioned to get rid of the draft that he'd had enough sense to dodge for himself. Phat chance that Bush will drop it.

    • Telecom and postal regulations allowing collection of user information without wiretap authorizations - The Feds and local police generally don't need specific wiretap authorization to collect telephone billing records or record who you receive Post Office mail from. There've been cases where they've subpoenaed phone bills from hundreds of thousands of non-involved people to find out if any of them might have called the person they _were_ authorized to surveil. And y'all know a lot about Carnivore and its friends The fun of being a leftover monopoly is that the government can do all sorts of things they couldn't get away with in an independent industry.
    • Add your own favorite example here!

    There are lots of things the government can do to help privacy, but the first step has to be reducing the number of ways that the government is harming privacy. It's a slow process, and there are some regulatory steps they can take that may help while they're getting their act together on the real issues. I personally expect most of those regulations to cause some harm along with any good they cause, and the good parts of the regulations can be repealed while leaving the harmful parts as legal precedent, but hey, that's cynicism for you.

    * Harassing the Europeans is a job for a separate posting. They've got similar problems with common identification numbers and the economics of computers, and while European Data Privacy Laws may be slightly larger bandages, they also provide government visibility into privately held databases (your pocket organizer or mobile phone's number list are databases, and they can go fishing in your machines for other data you might be suspected of having), they've decently demonstrated a continuing []
    Willingness to Throw Them Over When Their Police Ask Nicely.

  • by AntiBasic ( 83586 ) on Sunday May 20, 2001 @11:33AM (#209778)
    He doesn't seem to be as mentally broken as the man he advises.

    Ok Bush may be stupid, he flunked out of college once. But I never see you bash Al Gump who flunked out of college twice.

    You're just another one of those conformist rebels who love to hate capitalism yet love the life it is providing you. You hate capitalists but love capital.

  • by jacobito ( 95519 ) on Sunday May 20, 2001 @01:16PM (#209797) Homepage
    So we're measuring intelligence with grades? I've been measuring Bush's intelligence by his ability to compose a coherent thought extemporaneously, and by my measure, he's failing....
  • That is exactly what we want. We want the "industry to sort it out!" As for your ignorant rant about planting chips in the hind quarters of the population, as a libertarian I just want to know one thing.... what corporation will legally be able to do that? Yeah that's right Rob, no corporation can legally do that, that is an initiation of force. We don't tolerate that, that is what the government is here to stop. Corporations cannot legally force you to do that. But oh wait, you're a Gore supporter that means that anything that corporations do that you don't like is a fundamental violation of your "rights." Don't criticize Bush for being ignorant about politics if you confuse liberals with libertarians. Liberals want active intervention, not us. The only exception to that is spam and only because it is theft of someone's resources.

    And for those of you that think the government has all the makings of being the great champion of privacy remember that it started the war on drugs, and created wiretapping

  • by Daniel Dvorkin ( 106857 ) on Sunday May 20, 2001 @11:50AM (#209808) Homepage Journal
    I'm not sure how smart he really is -- or, more importantly, how well he chooses to use his intelligence. He admits to being uninformed, by choice, on the Napster case, which is surely one of the major intersections of law and technology in our time. And he cites an MBA as proof of Dubya Bush's intelligence, which is sort of like citing a drunk driving conviction as proof of an interest in addiction-related issues. He also seems blind to the enormous role government played in the early growth of Silicon Valley; I suspect that in this case his political ideology has overridden his common sense.
  • by Von Rex ( 114907 ) on Sunday May 20, 2001 @11:02AM (#209815)

    So, in your future, it's a big facist goverment which keeps corperations out of our asses? That's *so* much better..

    It's infinitely better. The government must at least follow the pretense of examination by a free press. Ultimately we get a chance to throw them all out if we don't like what we're doing.

    Contrast that with corporations, which are accountable only to their shareholders. If you're not one of them, you're shit out of luck.

    Government also has to weigh the total good of the people when it makes policy. This includes public health and the environment. A corporation isn't bound to consider any of these things. They'll cheerfully put more mercury in your food if it makes them an extra dollar. You'd really prefer to put your fate in the hands of such people?

    If you're one of these "free market is all" people, perhaps you should consider the United States of America as a corporation where we're all shareholders.

    I'm not bashing business. It's a businessman's job to maximize profit. But it's the government's job to make sure that the population as a whole isn't screwed by corporations, because the government is the only institution which has the power and resources to stop a corporation which is out of line.

    We can argue about the yardstick a government should use when considering intervention in a corporation's affairs if you wish, but don't try to tell me that government shouldn't have the controlling interest here. I'd much rather be ruled by politicians, even ones I despise like George Bush, than be ruled by GE, Ford, Coke, etc.

    And the matter gets even worse when you consider multinational corporations. Would you expect a foreign corp to look out for your interests better your own elected representives?

    Individuals are answerable to the government, and we call that "the rule of law". Yet when someone says that corporations should answer to the goverment too, people like yourself gleefully throw themselves down the slippery slope and start tossing around words like "fascism". It's tiresome, it's contrary to your own interests, and it sure as hell isn't "insightful".

  • by legLess ( 127550 ) on Sunday May 20, 2001 @12:57PM (#209824) Journal
    We've already given industry the chance to "sort it out themselves," and it wasn't exactly paradise. In England, at the start of the Industrial Revolution, there were no real restrictions on the behaviour of industry. Ever heard of chimney sweeps?

    Contrary to what you've seen in Mary Poppins, chimney sweeps were not happy little boys and girls singing in the streets. They were sold to chimney sweeping companies by their poor parents for less than a month's wages. Older, bigger kids couldn't fit in chimneys, so they had to use little ones (often as young as 2). If a child got stuck inside a chimney they'd just turn the furnace on. Children were cheap, and the poor kept having more. Don't believe me? Here's one source []; a Google search [] turns up more.

    This is industry unchecked: a machine with no regard for humanity. Corporations are smarter now, but don't believe for a second that they're any more concerned about human welfare. Nor are they obligated to be. Only one organization has a publicly and legally recognized obligation in this arena, and that's a government.

    Most reading this in the US had an opportunity to vote several months ago. Maybe half of you did. If you don't like the President's technical advisor, get off your ass and vote next time

    question: is control controlled by its need to control?
    answer: yes
  • by Skald ( 140034 ) on Sunday May 20, 2001 @05:15PM (#209838)
    Only one organization has a publicly and legally recognized obligation in this arena, and that's a government.

    Certainly not. The public expects certain standards of conduct from businesses, which is why the businesses are so often worried about "public relations". A company's image has a very real effect on their bottom line. Imperfect as this may be, it is very hard to see that those who make the decisions in government embody a higher standard of public obligation than those who make decisions for private businesses.

    Your latter point is wholly circular. The government is under fewer legal obligations than anyone. Obviously. They make the laws, and, without exception, can change them.

    This is industry unchecked: a machine with no regard for humanity.

    *Industry* unchecked is a machine with no regard for humanity? In case you missed the news last century, governments turned the furnaces on more people than a couple of chimney sweeps. Links available upon request, if you actually need them.

  • by sphix42 ( 144155 ) on Sunday May 20, 2001 @10:52AM (#209841) Homepage
    Upon reading the summary here, I was astonished to see it wasn't Katz that posted this.
  • by shanek ( 153868 ) on Sunday May 20, 2001 @11:20AM (#209864) Homepage
    And then we will all have to go start a new planet just to prevent the the glorious self regulated industry from implanting chips in our asses to know where we are, what we are doing, and with who.

    Taco, corporations cannot force anything on an unwilling person. Only the force of law can do that.

    We complain about the problems "big corporations" are causing by trying to prohibit P2P sharing, DeCSS, etc., yet the thing that makes this possible--the DMCA--was an act of Congress.

    Big corporations can intrude on our rights only if the government passes laws allowing them to, or giving them loopholes to wriggle through so that they can get away with it. The solution is to elect a Libertarian government. Libertarians would remove the laws that enable them to do harm while restoring the barriers preventing them from inflicting force or fraud on the public.

  • by FirstOne ( 193462 ) on Sunday May 20, 2001 @12:54PM (#209881) Homepage
    "On another topic, around here, as you've seen--as we've all seen--with the dot-com bust, a lot of people lost their jobs, lost their options. What role do you think government should have in that, in boosting the tech sector? Is there a role there? "

    "But not all of this falls into the administration's responsibility. Clearly, the Federal Reserve has a role to play here in terms of the amount of money in circulation and the interest rates."

    Let's review the Fed's tech record....

    H1-B, el cheapo imported tech labor program, (currently set at 250K+ new bodies per year), is federal subsidy for corporations at the expense of U.S. tech workers. DCMA is a federal law protecting corporations lame ass IP implementations at the expense of the consumers. A Patent Office which does NOT know the difference, between a hole in a ground and a flush toilet, (subsidy for lawyers/big corporations). IRS 1776 tax code change, which forced most independant workers into cheaper W2 (employee) positions. The 1986 labor ruling which decided employees making more than ~27 dollars and hour are not entitled to over time pay multipliers. Do you see the pattern yet!

    Yes, the Fed's have been screwing around the tech industry for a LONG.... time.
    Each time they act, you can bet, the U.S. worker will get screwed.

    The worst of the lot, is the current "H1-B" program, which is corrosively destroying our tech industry infrastructure from the inside out. Do you think it was an accident? That the tech industry started collapsing at an ever increasing rate, after the FED's more than doubled the yearly H1-B quotas? When you answer the question, who really drove U.S. tech sales forward, and who are the same people getting displaced by the H1-B's, then you will have found enlightenment about the current tech crash.

    Yep, great job..NOT!! I think we would be better off, if monkey's ran the U.S. government, at least they would be a little more consistent.

    Oh.. one last thought.. Greenspan's attempt to boost what remains of our economy, is going to trigger a serious bout of stagflation. Have a nice day..

  • So the eeevil corporations want to chip our asses, huh? Well, here's a great example [] of our kind and benevolent government doing exactly that. Here's the relevant part:

    But there's a darker side. Several government agencies are claiming that the 1994 Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act lets them use this technology to track you legally, without a warrant or even probable cause, in what it deems "emergencies." Do you trust these clowns?

    They're talking about a requirement that phone companies be able to geolocate wireless phones, not just to find you when your car has run off the road, but for 'tracking' purposes. Now who's doing the ass-chipping?

  • by hyrdra ( 260687 ) on Monday May 21, 2001 @12:55AM (#209931) Homepage Journal
    All through the interview I got the general feeling this guy doesn't know anything about any of the major issues in the tech world right now. Don't confuse this with avoidance, because it's complete ignorance.

    He may hold two engineering degrees, but he stumbled over all the major questions in the interview, without adding any information either way and basically not saying anything.

    Like my Grandfather always said, politicains are all the same, they say: "Some people are for [it] and some are against [it], and I'm for the people.". Absolutly nothing.

    I guess you have to realize politics is a profession, and to keep your job you gotta have the most people that like don't do anything. Don't agree, disagree, and when an interviewing asks you questions, go into rhetorical mode. This will keep people on either side happy because you're technically not for the other guy, and people like me who realize what's going on (e.g. 1%) just don't know what to think.

    This guy also seems to think just by providing power to an industry you're going to get results. Someone should explain the difference between an economic industry and a vacuume cleaner to him. Industries need monitoring, they need guidance just like a three year old around a cookie jar. You can't let an industry self-regulate...this is what's happening in California right now, which ironically doesn't even have power.

    I also love the fact he thinks privacy isn't important and giving up some of our privacy can be a good thing. Well, it can be good in that it saves lives and it saves money, but it also decreases the value of human life as set forth in the Constitution and Bill of Rights. But what is the inverse? Does such a system of complete non-privacy impact the citizens as having privacy at the cost of loss of information? People will always be killed and people will always kill people. It's the human way. We're violent and destructive. You can try to buffer all that by spying on everyone on the off-chance they might do something in hopes of preventing it, but at what cost overall. You have to look at the big picture and not just one output.

    I hope we get a tech advisor who at least does more than read the news paper clippings on the subject he is advising the nation in. Maybe someone with real interest in something who is not just doing the job because the country's been good to him, someone who has a vested interest in the safe progression of technology in such a way as to benefit people and not just corporations. We need someone who recognizes people are and own the country, not large corporations and ideas should be the medium of transaction, not money. Here's hoping for a better future ~
  • by Patrick McRotch ( 314811 ) on Sunday May 20, 2001 @11:00AM (#209939) Homepage
    "then we will all have to go start a new planet just to prevent the the glorious self regulated industry from implanting chips in our asses to know where we are, what we are doing, and with who."

    Rob, why would they need to put a chip in your ass to know what you're doing? What exactly ARE you doing? Oh and the last sentence should read "with whom".

  • by LaminatorX ( 410794 ) <sabotage.praecantator@com> on Sunday May 20, 2001 @11:38AM (#209949) Homepage
    "The main reason is that because corporations have "personhood" under the law, but no one has to pay the price of any wrong they do. Also, these "persons" can afford the best lawyers and the best politicians to get their way."
    Corperations serve to shield the shareholders from the wrongs that are done on their behalf. If we got a group of people together and gassed a town in India, we would be extradited and jailed. When Union Carbide does it, the get a nice big tax write-off, err fine.

    If our gas-gang were sued by the Indian government, we would all loose everything we have. The U/C shareholders would only have their stock devalued. The corperate veil is the ultimate tool of plutocratic supremacy. These pseudo-persons dilute the decision-making process so widely that the "normal" people involve can all feel like it's not their fault, or plausably deny knowlege or whatever. This is by design! This is how people who would not normally hurt anyone have turned blind eyes to every form of exploitation from slavery to unsafe SUV's.

    Governments have this problem also, but there is at least some accountability. If we as citizens folow an imperialist dictator, we will suffer the inevitable wars and sorrows that would bring. As much of a sham as govt accountability is when barely half of us vote and 90% of those votes are for the entrenched interests/parties, corperations are far worse.

    Noone ever voted for a chemical company, or signed a referendum on holding adjusted$ wages stagnant since the seventies while exexutive salaries go through the roof. Marketing infests our very minds. People describe themselves as "consumers" without a hint of irony or shame. If the government used the kind of marketing that businesses do, it'd be positively Orwellian.

    • This about it, can you imagine how much havoc All Your Baseisms have been wreaking on programs that scour the net looking for words like 'bomb'?

      Somebody set up us the bomb!!

    Berk Watkins

"We don't care. We don't have to. We're the Phone Company."