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United States

The Politics of Technology 172

airrage writes "An interesting Washington Post article today, concerning technology's voice on Capital Hill, talks about how the high-tech sector is no longer the belle of the congressional ball. Apparently, circa 2000, politicos were simply tripping over themselves to be seen as pro-technology. Currently, it's much harder to get congressional leaders to embrace pro-technology initiatives. Seems like technology in general is trending towards more regulation as the industry is seen as staid as railroads, coal, or shipping."
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The Politics of Technology

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  • by reitoei1971 ( 583076 ) <reitoei@[ ].net ['gmx' in gap]> on Saturday November 02, 2002 @04:09PM (#4584909)
    Politicians love technology! Gore virtually single handedly invented the internet!
    • by Daniel Dvorkin ( 106857 ) on Saturday November 02, 2002 @04:46PM (#4585057) Homepage Journal
      Why do comments like this still get modded as "funny," or indeed anything but the trolls they are? The "Gore claimed he invented the internet" thing was bullshit propaganda two years ago; now it's just a dead horse. Give it up, people.
      • "During my service in the United States Congress, I took the initiative in creating the Internet."

        -Albert Arnold Gore, Jr, 3/11/99
        • Here's a nice summary [ucsd.edu] of the "Gore invented the Internet" bullshit. Note that Gore claimed to have been directly involved in providing NSF funding for ARPANET. This, in fact, he did. More importantly, he NEVER claimed to have invented the technology and engineering behind the Internet. Here's [cosn.org] what Robert Kahn and Vint Cerf have to say on the matter. Note that they ARE principal engineers of the original ARPANET. Essentially, they back up Gore and his involvement in providing the necessary funds to keep the ARPANET, and then the Internet alive during tough financial and budgetary times.

          You are repeating a political dirty trick the Republican's used to discredit Gore during the 2000 election. That it was completely false and a total misrepresentation of Gore's words and intent didn't matter to Bush and his campaign staff. That people still repeat the slander as though it was God's truth shows how effective negative advertising and media manipulation really is. I note finally that I dod NOT vote for Gore, and was never a Gore supporter. And I won't vote for him in 2004. But that doesn't mean I think it's acceptable to let this untruthful meme perpetuate without refutation.

          Cheers,
          --Maynard
          • If you read Gore's book "Earth In The Balance", he also claims to know a lot about computer architecture and claims that we need to put loads of PCs into elementary schools so that they can work in parallel to solve very hand problems. I don't doubt that there was some seed of truth in Gore's famous gaff, but it is also the case that Gore thinks he's a genius who ought to be calling the shots in all areas of technology and economics, and that is transparently false (not to mention unconstitutional).
      • Czech state TV reported Bill Gates invented the Internet... and what?

        Some may belive. Some laugh. Noone cares.

        There are too many people who invented the Internet yet, so one or two more is nothing.
      • by Brian_Ellenberger ( 308720 ) on Saturday November 02, 2002 @07:10PM (#4585568)
        He did not say he invented the Internet, but he did say "I took the initiative in creating the Internet". From snopes.com [snopes.com]:

        "During my service in the United States Congress, I took the initiative in creating the Internet. I took the initiative in moving forward a whole range of initiatives that have proven to be important to our country's economic growth and environmental protection, improvements in our educational system."

        Now sure the "urban legend" uses the word invent instead of create, but the point is the same. Al Gore seemed to be taking credit for something that was *MUCH* larger that he was---even as Vice President. Especially for a project that had been going on since the late 60's. What about Vint Cerf [rit.edu] the developer of TCP/IP? Or Tim Berners-Lee [smithsonia...ciates.org], developer of the World Wide Web. Or Ray Tomlinson [pretext.com] founder of e-mail? Heck, if we are going to talk about politicans what about LBJ since the DARPA project that became the Internet was started during his administration?

        There are a thousand people more deserving to proclaim they "took the initiative in creating the Internet". Sure Al may take credit in helping to promote it, but his statement was way too broad and arrogant. He didn't even acknowledge anyone else. It is everything I dislike about a powerful person taking credit for the work of the "little guy".

        Brian Ellenberger
        • by maynard ( 3337 ) <j.maynard.gelinas@NOSpAm.gmail.com> on Saturday November 02, 2002 @09:30PM (#4586038) Journal
          There are a thousand people more deserving to proclaim they "took the initiative in creating the Internet". Sure Al may take credit in helping to promote it, but his statement was way too broad and arrogant.
          Those "thousand people" weren't in congress promoting and voting on NSF funding for the net, now were they? While a congressman in the House of Representatives from 1976 to 1984, and while in the Senate from 1984 to 1992, he was one of the principal NSF fundraisers for the APRANET project. It's the truth, as much as some folks would like to overlook that fact. Oftentimes he was among the only members of congress who saw the potential of the net once computing became ubiquitous. Again, I point readers (and you) to what Robert Kahn and Vint Cerf [cosn.org] have to say on the matter. Al Gore has this [elwood.net] to say on the subject as well. He plainly makes clear that he never involved himself in deep technical and engineering aspects of the ARPANET project.

          Folks may not like the facts of his involvement, especially considering how contentious this issue has been after the factual misrepresentations by operatives from the Republican party and the press during the 2000 election. However, facts are facts and those misrepresentations and lies don't take away the real good that Gore did in promoting the 'net during almost fifteen years in congress, often in tough financial times. According to Kahn and Cerf, Gore actually was instrumental in providing the necessary funding to keep development alive from the late seventies on through to the early nineties, after which it took off on it's own.

          Again, I repeat that I am not a fan of Gore, didn't vote for him in 2000, and would not vote for him if given the chance in 2004. That doesn't make the slander that he misrepresented his involvement in funding the development of the net any less worthy of refutation.

          Cheers,
          --Maynard
        • "...his statement was way too broad and arrogant. "

          So here is the greatest political champion technology has ever had on capitol hill, and now that he is gone, we're having a discussion about the lack of a "technology" voice on the hill.

          Maybe his statement wasn't as broad or arrogant as you might think... Without Gore, the Internet would have remained an isolated academic afterthought, and all those real productivity gains in the economy that stem from the Internet wouldn't exist.

          Did you ever read the interviews with him about technology?

          Did you hear about his NASA satellite?

          This man is brilliant, broad minded and far thinking.

          Arrogance is telling the American people they don't have a right to know who you meet with when deciding policy or claiming you "signed a patient's bill of rights in Texas," when you did no such thing. Actually, that last one is lying, which even you admit Gore didn't do.

          -Sandy
          • If Al Gore is "greatest political champion technology has ever had on capitol hill" then why did the DMCA get passed under his watch? Why didn't he convince Bill to rally against it and veto it? If he is the greatest champion we are in big trouble.

            And while Al was a promoter of the Internet, he didn't "make" the Internet. The big event for the Internet was the invention of the WWW and the founding of Netscape. When everyone saw what this new technology could do that's when the boom began.

            Brian Ellenberger
  • Not suprised (Score:2, Flamebait)

    by Devil's BSD ( 562630 )
    I'm not surprised by this. If they really cared about the internet and such, we would have people like Bill Gates and Linus Torvalds (oh yeah, and CowboyNeal and CmdrTaco and...) as top Presidential/Senatorial/Congressional consultants and there would be GOOD anti-spam legislation.
    • by DarkSkiesAhead ( 562955 ) on Saturday November 02, 2002 @05:01PM (#4585118)

      If they really cared about the internet and such, we would have people like Bill Gates and Linus Torvalds (oh yeah, and CowboyNeal and CmdrTaco and...) as top Presidential/Senatorial/Congressional consultants
      "Mr Gates, how do you propose we deal with Iraq?"

      "Well, have you tried buying up the country and annexing it? Or if that doesn't work you could patent plutonium and sue the pants off of Saddam."
    • "If they really cared about the internet and such, we would have people like Bill Gates and Linus Torvalds (oh yeah, and CowboyNeal and CmdrTaco and...)"

      The upcoming election in South Carolina is so hopelessly depressing that I'd welcome the addition of a CowboyNeal option:

      Who should be governor?

      ( ) Mark Sanford (Republican)
      ( ) Jim Hodges (Democrat)
      (X) CowboyNeal is my candidate of choice!

      [VOTE] [Results] [Polls]

      Your vote (3) has been registered.

      Steve
    • You can tell if someone is interested in golf because he learns to play the game and buys himself some clubs. You can tell if someone is interested in dogs because he will buy a puppy to live with him, or at least hang out with people who do. If Mr. Gore were really interested in the Internet he would have bothered to learn to program or sling cable, and maybe even do something hard like get an engineering degree. If Mr. Gore really was so creative he might have invented TCP/IP, or HTTP, Java, or C++. If Mr. Gore really wanted to contribute something useful he might have donated some of his own money (or his daddy's money) to promote open source projects to build the Net faster and better. But he never did any of those things. He voted to spend other people's money on some research projects (which given his lack of comprehension of technological matters, he had no rational reason to think was anything more than a boondoggle). Whoopty fuckin' doo. Voting to spend other people's money on research you don't understand isn't a demonstration of insight or sincere interest, it's a demonstration of his willingness to buy power with taxpayer money. Gore is a power-hungry politician. He is like most politicians in that he cares about only one thing, and it's not the Internet. He'd make the Internet illegal in a second if he thought it would get him a lot of votes, campaign contributions, or political pull. You can tell that because seeking political power is all he has ever done in his life. I'll reconsider my opinion if he troubles himself to write HelloWorld() to demonstrate a passing interest and understanding of what we do. If I were interested in being a power monger I would be out there trying to take credit for other people's accomplishments too. I'd be buying influence with taxpayer money, and be trying like mad to get elected to the highest office I could, but I'm not. Gore had as much to do with the creation of the Internet as I had to do with the outcome of the presidential election. After all, I took my own time to read a bit, watched some TV, and voted and that's more than Gore did regarding the Net.
  • High-tech Pork (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Aztech ( 240868 ) on Saturday November 02, 2002 @04:12PM (#4584917)
    I'd say this is way to pessimistic, a lot of government money is washing into technology, which may not be good [com.com] for the long-term considering the healthiness of most state supported industries.
  • The pols don't want to be burned again like they were burned when the dot com bubble burst. A lot of people lost a lot of money and politicians don't want to be linked to that.
  • Pigs will fly, or I will be a politician. If I were a politician, then there would be at least one person who knows how to avoid infecting their computer with a virus, or that there should be legislation against SPAM mail. Too many Computer Science geeks are too meek to run for office where they could further the nerd agenda.

    Gates for President! ;-)
    [I'd say Linus, but he wasn't born States side.]
    • At first I was going to comment that it doesn't make sense to think of Gates in the same job as Linus, but then I remembered that supervillains always tell superheroes that they're quite similar people. And on an off-topic note, they are. Not real, that is. I guess Bill and Torvalds always say the same thing when they enter people's homes ;).
    • May I point you to my campaign website: www.VictorMarks.com [victormarks.com] ?
  • Bribery (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward
    "Rather than dropping a little bit of money here, dropping a little bit of money there," ITAA is looking to help established "friends" on Capitol Hill, especially those locked in tight races, Miller said.

    It has always bugged me how lobbyists and campaign contributors just have to spread money around to get the votes. Frankly I'm surprised the general public accepts it as much as they do.

    • Re:Bribery (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Vinum ( 603982 )
      It is because of one of the negative side-effects of capitalism that is being used in the USA. Too much capital is in the hands of too few people. Those with the most capital can pay for the TV ads, flyers, etc etc to get political people in power.

      This will just get worse and worse. When someone has 30 billion dollars, that is 30 billion dollars that someone else doesn't have. (Imagine how many people would live quite well if they split that 30 billion into 250k/person.)

      The solution is simple... let people be rich, but tax the fuck out of them for being so. This tax money will then be used by the government which will spread the money back through the economy which will be more likely to end in the hands of you and me and we can use that money to get the political people to do what we want. Unfortuantly monkies will fly from my butt before this happens.

      The most likely sitution is that too many people will acquire too much capital and the riots of L.A. will look like chickenshit compared to what will happen.

      It is funny because unemployment is supposidly at a historic low.. but I qestion those figures because I know many people that have skills and degrees that should get them nice jobs, but have to take more menial dayjobs to support themselves. If you are a computer science major yet you are selling tuxedos for a living than you should be considered unemployed as far as statistics go. This isn't a world where just anyone can go work a hard day's work at any old job and buy a house and support a wife and two kids anymore.

      Ohh well, what do I know...
      • Re:Bribery (Score:3, Insightful)

        by asparagus ( 29121 )
        There is this concept that if we look at a homeless man and a billionare, the latter somehow obtained his riches by stealing from the former.

        I think this theory is intellecutally bankrupt, but that's me.

        If you look at the amount of money actually given to politicans, it's scarily low. What's shocking is not whether they will sleep with you for money...it's how low their prices are.

        The american political system is dominated by two groups: a small minority who know how to push buttons to get their agendas pushed forward, and the great unwashed masses who would rather sit about and complain about the system.

        If you want change, then you must join the former rather than sitting about navelgazing and blaming the problems of society upon whichever group you're not a part of (rich, poor, white, black, hispanic, drug users, terrorists, aliens from outer space).
        • Re:Bribery (Score:3, Funny)

          by sconeu ( 64226 )
          If you look at the amount of money actually given to politicans, it's scarily low. What's shocking is not whether they will sleep with you for money...it's how low their prices are.

          Reminds me of an old story...
          A man walks up to a woman, and asks her, "Would you sleep with me for $1million?"


          She says yes. He then asks, "Would you sleep with me for $10?"

          Shocked, she replies, "What kind of woman do you think I am?!?"

          He answers, "We've already established that. What were doing now is haggling on price."
          Sounds like our Congress.
        • I have yet to see one person who knows how to push buttons to get their agenda pushed forward.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday November 02, 2002 @04:18PM (#4584941)
    As noted on the Smithsonian Institution's site [si.edu], the first official American flag had thirteen stars and thirteen stripes, each representing one of the thirteen original states.

    The flag icon for Slashdot's 'United States' section is missing its first stripe - the stripe that represents Delaware, the first state admitted to the Union. While a simple oversight could be forgiven, it should be known from here on out that Slashdot is in fact aware of the missing stripe, and even worse, refuses to do anything about it! [sf.net]

    This vulgar flag desecration and rabid anti-Delawarism must be put to a stop. Let the Slashdot crew know that we will not accept a knowingly mutilated flag or the insinuation that Delawarians deserve to be cut out of the union. I ask you, what has Delaware done to deserve this insolence, this wanton disregard, this bigotry?

    This intentional disregard of a vital national symbol is unpatriotic. Why, the flippant remarks CmdrTaco made about our flag border on terrorism! I urge you to join the protest in each 'United States' story. Sacrifice your karma for your country by pointing out this injustice. Let's all work together to get our flag back. Can you give your country any less?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday November 02, 2002 @04:19PM (#4584942)

    Some things are long overdue. Like applying standard contract law to EULAs and declaring them unenforceable. Or using existing product liability laws to hold software vendors accountable for their defective products.

    Legislators treating technology like a special case is exactly what gives us crap like the DMCA and UCITA.

  • by Lao-Tzu ( 12740 ) on Saturday November 02, 2002 @04:20PM (#4584951) Homepage
    Keep in mind those politicians who aren't interested in technology are there because you put them in power. (Well, at least in the states...) If you want more technically competant congressmen, some technically competant people need to quit their jobs as IT/IS folks and start campaigning instead. I personally would prefer that they stay disinterested in technology as long as they aren't savvy in the field. That's how we get things like the DMCA. Well, rich corporations buying legislation helps there too.

    Don't I hear half of slashdot whining about being unemployed all the time too? Of course, if you're unemployed, you may be overly incompetant to be a politician... well, let's be realistic, it's hard to be more incompetant than the current politicians. ;)
  • by locarecords.com ( 601843 ) <david@@@locarecords...com> on Saturday November 02, 2002 @04:21PM (#4584952) Homepage Journal
    I think it is important that technologists realise the importance of politics to technology. The centres of power cannot simply be ignored and difficult questions about where technology is leading us and where we want it to lead us need to be addressed particularly by those who understand the technology.

    This is especially crucial when politicians start to introduce crazy new laws (DMCA anyone?) without any deeper understanding of the implications.

    People claiming that Open Source must remain apolitical and neutral are naive. To address this subject we are running an open debate on technology and politics on our website digitalagora.com [digitalagora.com] and would welcome your comments and debate.

    • by Anonymous Coward
      Interesting to read the Eric Raymond interview.. Is he mad or what?

      FF

    • I think it is important that technologists realise the importance of politics to technology.


      If only *somebody* would come up with a website to foment discussion on the intersection of politics and technology in a nerd-accessible way...


      But who am I kidding?

    • Laws like the DMCA make me want to say why don't we just burn the Constitution and Fed-Ex it back to 1787 and tell them "we don't want your Free Speech."

      Seriously when is the public going to wake up and realize their rights are being chipped away by the Republicrats? Argh!
    • I guess that the "centers of power" are important, but where are they? We can get along just fine without them and their nosey and ignorant ways. they on the other hand NEED our attention, money, and votes so they can continue to pretend they are in charge of what we are doing.

      Just waht would you propose that we do in the area of "paying attention" to them? We pay a lot more attention to them than they pay to us. I can name a hundred politicians, can then name ten engineers? What good would it do to have them understand a little bit anyway? When we tell them that we don't need them to tell us what to do or "help" us, they will never believe it anyway. The one thing a politician will never believe is that you don't seen him as the center of your social universe and that you don't want him to be.

  • by i_want_you_to_throw_ ( 559379 ) on Saturday November 02, 2002 @04:22PM (#4584961) Journal
    If you are one of the companies that can line their pockets with cash.

    Some things never change.
  • Trust (Score:3, Insightful)

    by danimrich ( 584138 ) on Saturday November 02, 2002 @04:25PM (#4584970) Homepage Journal

    A lot of people had to learn that not everything that glitters is gold the hard way - they probably would not trust someone who promises a second dot-com boom.

    Politics is not so much doing the best for the country's future as trying to please voters and supporters.

  • Post Bubble, Tech Sector Urged to Practice Politics 101

    It's ironic how the Tech Sector is being portrayed as the group wishing for Capitol attention...
  • 1.0? (Score:4, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday November 02, 2002 @04:27PM (#4584981)
    Republicans unveiled an "e-contract with America" and Democrats responded with a series of high-tech legislative agendas numbered like software releases ("e-genda 1.0," etc.).

    ummm... since when has a software release looked like "e-genda 1.0" ? maybe "e-genda 2.4.51-pre0" would be more like it...

  • More regulated? (Score:3, Informative)

    by RebelTycoon ( 584591 ) on Saturday November 02, 2002 @04:28PM (#4584986) Homepage
    "Seems like technology in general is trending towards more regulation as the industry is seen as staid as railroads, coal, or shipping."

    If anything its the opposite. Look at how they dealt with Microsoft. Personally I would welcome a little more regulation. It seems that we in the technology sector seem to like the Wild Wild West and the Internet Gold Rush.

    Sure, shit laws like the DMCA get passed, but that's not regulating the technology industry as much as it is the Consumers of the technology. The DMCA actually give more power / less regulation to technologies companies at the expense of the consumers.

  • Hold your horses! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by CatWrangler ( 622292 ) on Saturday November 02, 2002 @04:28PM (#4584987) Journal
    Is this article suggesting that the tech industry is not important to politicians anymore because they have less money in petty cash to grease the congress critters with in this election cycle?

    I suppose you are also going to tell me that congress allows 181 Fortune 500 companies loopholes so they don't pay any federal taxes just because these corporations fill up their war chests.

    Nothing is new under the sun.

  • by Anonymous Coward
    telnet to charlesfaris.com - login "charles" - password "maniac"
  • Regulation? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by SexyKellyOsbourne ( 606860 ) on Saturday November 02, 2002 @04:29PM (#4584994) Journal
    If Congress began to act for the brick-and-mortar industries to stifle the internet revolution by creating laws such as bandwidth, sales, and e-mail technologies, it would be a further disaster for our economy.

    The internet/tech sector may have suffered a tulip fever and fell from it, but it is still the future of the economy -- any government regulation of industry is bad and damages free markets, both at the business and consumer level, and if the Democrats (with moderate Republican support) began putting all kinds of red tape and creating bureaucracies on .coms and tech companies, it could stomp our high-tech industry nearly into oblivion.
    • Re:Regulation? (Score:4, Insightful)

      by gad_zuki! ( 70830 ) on Saturday November 02, 2002 @08:37PM (#4585859)
      >any government regulation of industry is bad and damages free markets

      Nonsense, Mr Gates. All sorts of things fall into the category of regulation like anti-trust laws, environmental laws, labor laws, etc. It would behoove the pie-in-the-sky libertarians and other lassiez faire types to acknowledge that free markets do a poor job of remaining free and also consolidate power in a way which defeats the purpose of a market to begin with. Regulation should be judged individually, not generalized as being bad because it counters what your conservative professor told you in Economics 101.

  • by anthonyrcalgary ( 622205 ) on Saturday November 02, 2002 @04:29PM (#4584995)
    I don't think it's about the dot com bubble, at least not completely. There are a lot of conflicting viewpoints, and lobbying dollars at the moment. The entertainment industry wants to castrate some technologies, so they can't be used for piracy. The manufacturors want fewer restrictions, because restrictions will lower demand, and restrict possible international exports. The open source communities, the ACLU, etc, want fewer restrictions on principal. And so on like that. In an environment like that, strong support for any given position is likely to get a politician in trouble from someone, so they probably think it's better to be seen as indifferent or neutral.
  • Thesis subject (Score:4, Interesting)

    by SixDimensionalArray ( 604334 ) on Saturday November 02, 2002 @04:30PM (#4585002)
    Actually, this happens to be a part of my college thesis - and it's really interesting to see the effect of control of technology(and who that control gives power to). These "politics of technology" are incredibly disruptive to the free flow of information within organizations. Most of these politics arise through the external pressure from the government and the internal pressures organizations are required place on themselves (employee monitoring, etc.). Neat stuff. ;)
  • Technology lobbies and companies must focus their energies and resources on candidates who have stuck their neck out for the high-tech industry, said Harris Miller, president of the Information Technology Association of America (ITAA), noting that the industry's campaign "piggy bank is less fat than it was last time around." "Rather than dropping a little bit of money here, dropping a little bit of money there," ITAA is looking to help established "friends" on Capitol Hill, especially those locked in tight races, Miller said.

    Aren't you glad to hear the tech industry has upright, honourable people like this to help them in times of need?

  • a good thing... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by lyapunov ( 241045 ) on Saturday November 02, 2002 @04:34PM (#4585015)
    Perhaps, now that the large tech leaders do not have the political influence that they once had it will allow for more policy directed towards users rights instead of the industries.
    • I don't see how this follows. With the notable exception of Microsoft, most technology firms have come out publicly AGAINST laws attacking users' rights like S. 2048.

      Granted, these objections are generally based on pragmatic concerns (e.g. Why should Sun be forced to spend more money on its product line to include DRM, especially if it's solely for the protection of Hollywood?) instead of ideological ones. But the maxim "an enemy of my enemy is a friend" applies here.

      Existing laws like the DMCA restrict entry into markets such as DVD players. The licensing fees for technologies like CSS increase the price of making products. Most often, the manufacturers don't have enough pricing power to get away with passing the entire increased cost to customers, so these companies' profit margins are squeezed.

      Meanwhile, the importance of the media has not diminished in the past several years, since politicians continue to rely on the media to get or keep themselves in office. If, as you claim, the technology industry's political weight has diminished as a result of the dot-com bust, then that would mean that the media and related industries (movies, music, etc.) will have an even greater influence relative to the tech industry than the media enjoyed a few years ago.

      Given the public positions of those like Hilary Rosen and Jack Valenti, if these people now have a greater influence over the U.S. Congress than they've previously had, then it looks like we're heading in the direction of progressively more Draconian laws against "piracy," i.e. one's right to use a device he or she purchased in any way said person sees fit.

      I wonder how the petroleum industry or the NRA feels about these issues. If the technology industry isn't going to matter as much as it formerly did in speaking a voice (accidentally)consistent with most Slashdotters' opinions, I think we're going to need a replacement ally as powerful as Big Oil to fight the attack on users' rights mounted by the "content industry." And it looks like we need one ASAP.
      • You are correct, I did not think of the relative strength of the voice of the tech. sector compared to that of the media and microsoft and how it will diminish in the wake bust. I agree that there have been some companies to speak out against crappy legislation and it is a pity that their voices are now the less distinguished.

        My hope was that it would make the users interests louder as some of the background noise diminished. But, as you mentioned, it will probably only make the media industries voices even more dominant.

        Cheers!
  • Jobs (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday November 02, 2002 @04:37PM (#4585025)
    Does this mean there will finally be "regulation" of the H1B system? Or punitive legislation for those who outsource overseas?

    Or does it just mean MS will be slapped with more lawsuits?

    Depending on the regulation, this could either totally kill the job market, or maybe ease things a bit for those of us still trying to make a living at something we paid big bucks at college to train for.
    • Funny! Very Funny!

      The corps that fund most of Congress LIKE the H1B visa system (it saves them money). We, the citizens of the USA, are not the 1st, 2nd or 3rd most important thing on Congress' mind.
      • The corps that fund most of Congress LIKE the H1B visa system (it saves them money). We, the citizens of the USA, are not the 1st, 2nd or 3rd most important thing on Congress' mind.

        Not really -- if anything, an H1B holder typically costs the parent company more.

        What it does give them is a workforce that isn't as mobile -- think of it as enforced company loyalty.

        Simon
        • Then why are US companies keeping there H1B's while laying of US citizens?
          • Re:Jobs (Score:3, Informative)

            by spectecjr ( 31235 )
            Then why are US companies keeping there H1B's while laying of US citizens?

            They're not all doing that. A lot of H1Bs are being laid off. And guess what? Most recruiters won't even look at people with an H1B these days -- and really haven't since mid-1999 when the first strains of the economy crashing started to be heard.

            And guess what? If you're running a company intelligently, you don't always cut for the bottom line. You sometimes cut away the lowest-producing people instead.

            And those people aren't always H1B workers.

            Simon
  • The Real Losers (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Alethes ( 533985 )
    From the article:
    "We were a darling, definitely," said Robert Cresanti, vice president of public policy at the Business Software Alliance. "Some of that impossible-to-maintain perfection has worn off."

    The BSA was the "darling" -- not Technology as a whole. The rest of us are in the same political position as always -- if not better, because of the lack of clout the BSA has now. Who's losing ground politically? The BSA. The Post is essentially mourning this fact, but it's actually pretty damn good news, I'd think.

    Does the Free Software Movement even have anything resembling a lobby at this point?
  • Well I find this very hard to believe, we're not on the brink of war with countries that hold long range chemical and nuclear weapons. We didn't within the last year and a half suffer the greatest loss on american soil ever. The economy isn't in a downward spiral. American aren't losing jobs at an enormously large rate. American education and social aid programs and grants aren't being cut because the money just isn't there anymore.

    If these things were happening I'd think there would at least be an excuse for politicans to not care about technology.

    • by Elbereth ( 58257 ) on Saturday November 02, 2002 @07:54PM (#4585689) Journal

      Well I find this very hard to believe, we're not on the brink of war with countries that hold long range chemical and nuclear weapons.

      You mean China? I didn't know we were on the virge of war with China. Ohhh, you mean Iraq. The very same country that took a week to devastate in Desert Storm?

      We didn't within the last year and a half suffer the greatest loss on american soil ever.

      You mean the Civil War was last year?

      The economy isn't in a downward spiral.

      Mmmm. That's why everyone on Slashdot is buying Pentium IV 3GHz PCs, SUVs, and 50" digital televisions.

      American aren't losing jobs at an enormously large rate.

      Right, that's why the dockworkers in California have guaranteed job security lined up. Not to mention all those people recruiters in California who are desperately trying to find (here's the big one, folks) QUALIFIED tech workers. Sorry, if you were part of the dot-com boom, your services are no longer required. Unfortunately, that does, in a round-about way, mean I lost my job, too. But I can get a new one easily enough... I'm just choosy.

      American education and social aid programs and grants aren't being cut because the money just isn't there anymore.

      Same thing as any other year. More money to build the war machine, less money for science and education.

      If these things were happening I'd think there would at least be an excuse for politicans to not care about technology.

      Good troll.
      • You mean China? I didn't know we were on the virge of war with China. Ohhh, you mean Iraq. The very same country that took a week to devastate in Desert Storm?

        Actually, I meant northern korea and china.

        You mean the Civil War was last year?

        Nope, I meant Sept. 11th attacks. Where we lost more american lives in one day than we have on any other day in all of history. If I meant a moment of time which compared death rates to percentages of population I would have picked the era of the american indian war, in which both native americans as well as immigrants were part of the american population.

        Mmmm. That's why everyone on Slashdot is buying Pentium IV 3GHz PCs, SUVs, and 50" digital televisions.

        And I'm a troll? I know I sure as hell can't afford an SUV. I'm quite sure there are numerous members of of Slashdot that don't have the funds to buy such things at the drop of a hat.

        Right, that's why the dockworkers in California have guaranteed job security lined up. Not to mention all those people recruiters in California who are desperately trying to find (here's the big one, folks) QUALIFIED tech workers. Sorry, if you were part of the dot-com boom, your services are no longer required. Unfortunately, that does, in a round-about way, mean I lost my job, too. But I can get a new one easily enough... I'm just choosy.

        The unemployment rate has been going up as the state of the economy has been going down. How many people do you think worked for Martha Stewart or Enron? As well as airline workers and industrial assemblers throughout the midwest losing their jobs.

        Same thing as any other year. More money to build the war machine, less money for science and education.

        So I suppose the amount of roads developed, the amount of money to private contracts etc are far less troublesome than buying defense contracts?

        Good troll.

        Takes one to know one?

  • Food chain. (Score:2, Insightful)

    by t0qer ( 230538 )
    One thing that we all hated about the .com period, poser geeks.

    During that time, geek was shiek. Everyone and their sister was trying to be geek, people that had absolutely no idea of what underlying technology was powering their company would run around touting it as something grand, like upper upper class l33t society, gods gift to geekdom society.

    So we had a lot of people with money hopping on the technology bandwagon, the politicians want their money (simple so far right?) Just like the CEO's that ran around swindling the savings out of unsuspecting retiree's for their latest .com whatever the fuck.

    So basically we have a food chain like this..

    Politicians swindle money from CEO's
    CEO's swindle money from retiree's
    Retiree's are plankton, they just kind of float around.

    Now all this money floating around for technology, well it created a need for an IT infrastructure and support personal. People like myself were able to get their foot in the door and get their carreers started because of this. It was awesome because people like me who are sort of antisocial and enjoy solitude with a computer were finally able to fit into the scheme of society to be brought out of our darken CRT lit caves and into the cookie cutter cleanroom of cubicles and flourescent lighting.

    Well, at least a few of the companies I worked for, the plankton started asking questions like...

    "Is it ready yet?"

    After a while, they got sick of being food for the CEO's, and like a food chain, everyone went elsewhere to look for food.

    So now it seems everyone from the president on down are sort of being anti technology. I see construction workers still have jobs. Construction hasn't seen nearly the hit technology has. Nor has most of the other pre .com sectors out there. Military is growing steadily which is sort of scary.

    Sad thing to see it all go. For once in my life I had found something that people liked about me that just came naturally. But back to the politics.

    Right now there is more investment than ever in anything that does not equal technology. America is gearing up for war according to our president. In fact he mentioned something about a draft last thursday. The only thing that comes to my mind when I hear that is my younger brother or cousins. At 29, constant smoker, married and house ownin, they wouldn't want me. 24?? 23? 25? These are the ages of the youngest males in my family.

    Politicians don't want to touch technology because it's left a bad taste in our mouths. A lot, and I mean a lot of really hard working people that put their money into these dot coms that dot bombed just would never vote for someone techno related because of it.

    Bah, it's saturday, this comment is boring me, Hey post a michael story ok?

    --toq
    • We've just had the 20thC version of Railway Mania [fathom.com]. I'm sure there was a short period in the mid 19thC when it was cool to discuss the differences between Bullhead and flat rail, or if 0-6-0 was the best setup for steep hills#. No doubt they had "*, but with a railway" patents too. Sooner or later the net will be as nerdy as trainspotting, and the besuited types will have to find something else to pretend to understand.

      # I'm not exactly well informed about railways, so forgive my examples

  • This is because every new technology is now tripping over legalities. The possibilities of litigation over every damned little thing (like all these stupid patents) have entangled new technology in years-long battles. Now, to be associated with technology means you're associated with so-called criminals. (Of course, since the RIAA and MPAA have succeeded in having the laws changed to favor them, those people are criminals.)
  • by trims ( 10010 ) on Saturday November 02, 2002 @05:07PM (#4585141) Homepage
    I'm actually not that unhappy that the tech bubble and its attendent fawning are gone. Sorry about all those without a job right now, but in the long run, it's better...

    Somehow, the technology sector was promoted (and believed) to be "different" than any other sector in history, and therefore we couldn't, possibly, no never apply the same logic that we'd used to analyse other sectors at it. Look where that attitude got us.

    I'm not saying that we shouldn't look at technology with fresh eyes as to the benefits and possibilities it brings. And I'm definitely not for forcing all technology into previously-defined cubbyholes via direct legal analogy (e.g. it's the Internet folks, not some fucked up mutant telegraph or road system. Look at the new paradigm). However, that doesn't mean we can't learn and use previous analytical and legal tools to help mold the direction of tech.

    I'd actually love to see a good chunk more of regulation in the "tech" sector, which actually also includes the "Intellectual Property" sector. We really could use:

    • Real Consumer Protection Laws. Just like buying any physical object, whether a vaccuum or car, my software better come with an enforcable warranty of fitness. And I should be able to return defective merchandise, no questions asked (even if I've opened the shrink-wrap).
    • Product Liability for Bad Quality. Why the hell don't standard QA laws apply here?
    • Real Contract Law. We have 500+ years of Common Law on what constitutes a real contract between two parties. Now, suddenly, the tech and IP sector want to redefine that because the old way simply "doesn't apply" to their paradigm for some reason (primarily because it's not to their liking?)
    • Similarly, Application of Traditional IP Standards This whole concept of "licensing" a copy of a problem is bullshit, the same way that "licensing" a copy of a book or music tape was 100 years ago. And we had several hundreds of years without patents on anything other than physical devices. WTF?
    • Level Field for Taxation. I see no reason why local sales taxes shouldn't be normalized and then applied to purchases bought on line. There's no real excuse not to tax catalogue and Internet retailers the same as local ones.
    • Actual Oversight of Company Finances. This isn't a tech problem per-se, but the biggest egregarious sinners are tech companies, and tech in general doesn't seem to think that the way they did things in the 90s was bad. Another "we're different, so the rules don't apply" delusion.
    • Better Labor Law Enforcement. WTF is up with standard 80-hour weeks for tech sector? The enforcable "non-compete" clauses? The "own-your-brain" shit? The royal clusterfuck that is the H1B program (oh, it could be such a great thing, if it wasn't run so badly...)

    Tech needs to stop with the "we're special" attitude, and get back into the real world. This includes getting a bunch of regulation and responsibilities. Right now, the tech sector is behaving like a spoiled teenager. The sooner it grows up and realizes it needs to play by the same rules everyone else does the sooner that politicians (and everyone else) takes it seriously again.

    -Erik

    • I am in general very 'supportive' of many of your ideas, but I must consider the little guy (which happens to be me, as I am looking at doing some shareware development).

      Real Consumer Protection Laws. Just like buying any physical object, whether a vaccuum or car, my software better come with an enforcable warranty of fitness. And I should be able to return defective merchandise, no questions asked (even if I've opened the shrink-wrap).

      In this method, how would I allow them to return their software? My method of allowing purchases would be by serial number. If I give out a serial number, how can I allow them to return the software? I can't block out every single serial number returned, or else the serial numbers couild outnumber the actual software code/data. Then they could of course use that code to activate the software they already have.

      I know shareware is supposted to be try before you buy, but it is not always possible to try out every part of the software for suitability.

      Product Liability for Bad Quality. Why the hell don't standard QA laws apply here?

      How would my software come in here? I would of course strive for the best possible quality I can. But if there is all this liability for bad quality similar to consumer goods, that would mean external oversight. This would only help big companies, and squeeze out the little guys.

      Similarly, Application of Traditional IP Standards This whole concept of "licensing" a copy of a problem is bullshit, the same way that "licensing" a copy of a book or music tape was 100 years ago. And we had several hundreds of years without patents on anything other than physical devices. WTF?

      I agree with you on this bullshit, but how can sell a copy of something while preventing them from distributing it? Borland's No-Nonsense License of past had a good idea to it - treat it like a book, I could install it on my 100 computers, just as long as I couldn't use it on more than one computer at the same time. If I sell a copy of foobar 1.0, I certainly have no problem with them using the software on any computers they have for personal use. If it was a bigger customer like a school, I would definately make a distinction there. I would want to get more money from them because their number of copies would likely go way beyond what the personal amount would reasonably be. Again - how would I prevent his friend from using his copy of foobar 1.0 on another computer (that is not his).

      These are the kind of issues that I feel must be addressed. Solutions are welcome, email or reply. Palladium is not the answer to this either. It might help solve the problems, but would create too much control from 3rd parties of your system.
      • Last questions first (in reverse order):

        1) Laws don't Prevent anything. They assign penalties for certain actions. As such, they serve as stimulus to modify behavior. You shoudn't be looking to prevent someone from doing something using the law. That's the trap we're in now - the only way to prevent a potential "bad-guy" from doing something is to lock up everyone, good and bad. If they're copying your program without buying the appropriate number, they've broken the law, and you're entitled to damages.

        2) Quality laws do fine now for both the small guy and big guy. Both have to adhere to the same level for making suring that the quality is there. I'm not going to cut my local store more slack for selling me shoddy merchandise than I would WallMart, simply because the local store is "smaller". Obviously there has to be a certain amount of leeway for QA in software (i.e. it can't be perfect, but...). There has to be a minimal barrier-to-entry for producing software, and QA is it. Everyone is held to the same standard, and if the standard is written correctly, then it won't be too burdensome. However, you might need product-liability insurance, like many traditional manufacturing busineses...

        3) This goes back to the original statement: you need to be able to provide them with a method for returning the merchandise, but you generally don't have a guaranteed method of locking out cheaters. As a rough analogy: what prevents me from buying a 42" TV, using it for a party that weekend, then returning it on Monday? I'm cheating the retailer, but that's not really detectible. The vast majority of people will pay for a properly priced product, rather than cheat. And if you do it correctly, someone with an "illegal" copy isn't going to be able to get upgrades, support, documentation, et al. And yes, part of your company will have to deal with maintaining serial number collections. That's part of the business. TANSTAAFL.

        Right now, being a software company (both big and small) allows the company to sidestep a huge number of obligations that non-software companies take for granted as a cost-of-business. I see no reason for this, and in fact there is a considerable social cost to absolving the software companies of these responsibilities. If this reduces the number of potential small software companies starting up, then so be it. We have to get out of the mind-set that a software company can just spew random crap at the EU. There has to be some responsibilities with producing a product, and these responsibilities cost money.

        -Erik
        • The most likely model I would go after for business is that somebody buys a product, they get continual upgades (ala getright, mirc, etc.). In this way the serial numbers would have to be perpetual. The cost of the software would not be very much, like 10$ to 15$.

          If somebody wanted to return a product that was already evaluated (purpose of shareware), and was not disabled in any meaningful way (such as a reasonable time limit during use, limited number of times running, ultimate length of time of evaluation) (unreasonable disabling would definately include limiting features available) I would deny them the ability to return it.

          This obviously won't apply to all products out there.

          The overhead of serial numbers can't out way the actual overhead of actually developing software.

          Your example of the 42" TV is actually perfect. If that TV is going to be used for that, and you don't like it for that purpose then by all means return it. You can't exactly make copies of that product (... yet ... :p)
      • But software is different. If the usual nonsense the government forces on cement companies were heaped on the software world (as it is starting to be) it would be dead. It's possible to know that a simple device with a hundred parts that does one thing "works". What about devices with many billions of highly complex interacting parts which is used for an "open-ended" purpose in conjunction with who knows what other such things? And when it doesn't work "right" (whatever that means) what judge or lawyer would have the foggiest idea of why or who was to blame if anyone? In what sense would having armies of lawyers and congressmen "helping" us make anything any better than it is now?

        There's nothing "helpful" they can offer except perhaps to send men with guns to the homes of all spammers, kiddie porn sites, and the RIAA? ;-)

    • I agree with most of what you have to say. You might want to consider pitching it to a business magazine as an article entitled "What high tech must do to win the confidence of the public again" or something like that.

      It's irrelevant to the subject under discussion.

      Where the hell did anyone here get the idea that political decisions in DC have any discernable relationship to the public interest?

      High tech industries would be hugely influential anyway in DC if they paid the same microscopic fraction of their profits as campaign contributions as Hollywood does. Or the telcos do. Or for that matter, dog food manufacturers do.

      Any major corporate CEO is supposed to know that paying off politicians is just another cost of doing business.

  • by i_want_you_to_throw_ ( 559379 ) on Saturday November 02, 2002 @05:22PM (#4585178) Journal
    Gore taketh away....
    • Hey, dummy - last time I checked, Gore wasn't in the government. Why don't you re-read the first thread instead of trying to propogate the falacious, slanderous, and relatively shallow and stupid "I invented the Internet" meme by way of a lame joke.

      P.S. The ones of you who modded this funny need to get out more. Sheesh...

  • by Alex711 ( 585263 ) on Saturday November 02, 2002 @06:11PM (#4585364)
    I worked in the senate this summer for the Majority leader and his top technology advisor (believe me, when I say we are trying to stick it to ICANN), and I saw first hand WHY politicians don't really work closely with the tech industry.

    Techies tend to stick to themselves, taking the attitude of "If you don't bother us, we won't bother you." With a few exceptions (MS is one of them), the technology industry does NOT lobby the Hill much at all.

    While it isnt always about the money, one indication of their lack of involvement is money donated to campaigns. The technology industry is HUGE, much bigger in revenues than the TV/Movie/Music industry. But when it comes to money donated to campaigns, the tech industry gives considerably less ($12 million less in the last 3 years 2000-2002).

    Techies shouldn't suffer all of the blame, but in an atmosphere like the Hill, when everyone, and I mean EVERYONE, is vying for the attention of politicians, those who scream loudest get heard. The NRA knows it, the financial institutions know it, but the technology industry DOES NOT.

    I am an avid /.'er and I really want things to get done. Hell, I even call my old boss now and again and tell him to put the screws to ICANN (working on it, low priority, unforunately). However, the technology industry as a whole needs, and especially those of us who are smaller in #s but are out their trying to champion rights for everyone, to learn HOW to get their voice heard. Hiring lobbyists is not a "sell-out" thing to do, it is often the smart thing to do. MS figured it out, now it is time for us on the other side to figure out how.
    • Call me a dreamer, but wouldn't it be nice if money didn't talk so loud in your politics?

      I'm not naive enough to believe that money doesn't talk loudly in other countries' political systems, but, really, the roar seems to be deafening in the states. Even The Economist thinks so, and its editors are well-known fans of America's free enterprise.

    • One thing that's often overlooked here is the time horizon in politics versus technology. A tech company will live or die based on how its next product/IPO/bug fix/whatever does in the next 6-12 months. Politics moves FAR slower. Getting a politician elected takes YEARS. Getting a bill proposed, debated, and voted on takes YEARS. And rather than offering an opportunity to pass laws doesn't really matter in terms of tech companies and their activities. By the time Congress even discovers a new product area it's probably dead or dying already anyway, so as a CEO how could you justify throwing away money on lobbying when you could spend it on something productive?

      Besides, it's hard to show a return from giving money to one of them in order to get them to "leave us alone" than it is when the steel industry buys a tarrif increase or the coal miners buy access to new coal fields with their "contributions".

  • I don't get it (Score:2, Interesting)

    by sbwoodside ( 134679 )
    "Seems like technology in general is trending towards more regulation as the industry is seen as staid as railroads, coal, or shipping."

    Sure, with the microsoft judgement technology is looking more like railroads every day ... railroads circa 1900 that is ...

    I don't get it. How do we have a trend towards regulation from a government trending away from antitrust? That doesn't make sense.
  • Every industry goes through growing pains as a part of the maturation process. The IT industry and its associated hi-tech supporting matrix is not unique in terms of the phases of this process, but it is unique in the nature of how it rapidly evolves and mutates.

    Early in the auto industry there was a fascination stage, a glitzy new technology (invention) stage followed by the utility stage. The romance with cars continues but the glitz of the industry is gone. The IT industry will follow these stages also. For many of the so-called politicos it's not a matter of the glitz phase being over it's more of a matter of trying to distance yourself from economic sector in a slump. The bandwagon left with many holding the bag or at least that is the picture that gets painted for IT at the moment. Things will change and a health steady-state stability will set in for the industry with a healthy and manageable growth rate.

    • When was IT ever glitzy? I think you are connecting IT with other things.

      IT has always made my eyes want to glaze over.
      IT brings to mind people plugging in un-plugged printers, helping people with Word, and resetting people's passwords, at least in the 90's and 00's. And it doesn't get any less glitzy than that. IT is stuff for idiots and liberal arts majors. Maybe for people doing internships that are on their way to better things. But it was never glitzy.
      • No, I was referring to the IT image that most people see and the perception of many on the outside of industry. Not many things are glitzy if you on working in a support position in the field. However if you listen to a late night advertisement on TV of how enrolling in your local technical college will set your future path on fire many would think you were walking in Hi-tech Hollywood. This image that the masses were perceiving is a lot of what many politicians were hitching their wagons too.

  • Talk to your pol... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by epcraig ( 102626 ) on Saturday November 02, 2002 @07:59PM (#4585703)
    If you're in the US, on Tuesday drop a postcard in the mailbox to your represetative letting him know how the DMCA influenced your vote. Do remember to vote.
  • by baine ( 600693 ) on Saturday November 02, 2002 @08:31PM (#4585835) Homepage Journal
    No matter whether you're democrat or republican (but libertarians, by virtue of their perversely compulsive adherence to an ideology are exempt), there is one immutable rule of politics : money == influence .

    For better or worse, be it actual, factual, and true - or not - politicians have the same populistic view of the high-tech secor as the media and every other Joe Schmoe who has lost money (insert another rant here about the fallacy of the 'lost money' arguement here) from their 401k in the past 2 years. The tech sector isn't "hot" right now, and politicians don't want to be seen as meading out what limited special favors they have to lost causes.

    That being said; there are a few out there such as Utah Gov. Mike Leavitt, who are at least still paying lip service to the high-tech industry. The Gov. still has his little self-empowerment council running, hell bent on making Utah the next tech hotbed.

    The only thing is, I haven't seen anything but hot air for the past two years. This begs the question : is it just a lot harder these days to get tech-anything ventures moving (presumably moving to UT to save money with the dirt cheap labor force - insert other rant here about underpaid techies in Utah -), or has there been a real reduction in effort and money expended to woo tech firms into moving in state?

    For my $0.02; I think it's a little of both.
  • Political influence? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by alizard ( 107678 ) <.alizard. .at. .ecis.com.> on Saturday November 02, 2002 @08:36PM (#4585856) Homepage
    If high-tech industry wants influence on the Hill to prevent laws which are as bad for them as they are for us, they're going to have to buy it just like Hollywood does or the telcos do.

    Personally, I think that it would be cheaper for them to buy a few hundred politicians than to move R&D and production operations outside the USA and to develop separate dumbed down models of both consumer hardware and software for the US market. Doing this would require a far smaller percentage of profits than Hollywood is currently paying.

    Apparently, the delusion that they can do business with the content industry and even profit by doing so is still prevalent within the industry, with the sellout led by Intel and AMD.

    As someone pointed out on the "La Grande, TCPA, and Palladium" thread, what the public will get out of this will be slower, buggier computers and software that won't allow third-party vendor fixes. I'm sure the public will buy the first few thousand... and the word will get out about them within a few hours.

    Hopefully, Via and the new microprocessor company in China will have sense enough to realize that a US "Big Brother Inside" in their chips is a BAD IDEA. Or Phillips or one of the other EU electronics hardware companies will start making DRM-free chips and HDs that happily accept open source software. They'll have to, they won't be able to depend on supply from Intel or AMD anymore. Of course, it won't be legal for US users to import these chips, but they might be available on the black market.

    For those of you who haven't gotten this yet, AMD SUPPORTS TCPA JUST LIKE INTEL DOES.

    When CEOs suddenly realize that they are personally going to have to move to England or Ireland or Canada or Holland or Beijing to keep their jobs, it's going to be a bit too late for them and for the USA. I mean those who are allowed to keep their jobs.

    I don't think the investor community is going to forgive CEOs who don't realize a favorable political climate is just as important to high-tech companies as it is to a telco or a manufacturer of dog chow.

  • The chilly reception that tech sector interests are receiving on Caital Hill is hardly surprising in the wake of Enron, Global Crossing, etc. and the "dot-bomb" fiasco. Even mature representatives are likely to feel slighted by the past industry indifference to the Washington establishment, and when said representatives were being told only a few years ago that it was their "meddling" that was the principle threat to the glorious new economy, they can hardly be expected to race to the industry's side now that the Good Ship Lollypop has run aground and needs a tugboat. Of course, you also have your standard run of stereotypical capital critters: any perceived neglect on their part is simply a mirror of the irrational zeal that they invested in the dot-com phenomenon - it's shabby, but ever so consistent.

    Nevertheless, regardless of the motivation behind it, this cold-shoulder routine is ultimately self-defeating. Both the government and high-tech industry have plenty to account for, and the problems facing the economy aren't going to evaporate. These two need to simply acknowledge their respective sins and move forward in a mature partnership.
    • It is extremely unlikely that even DC politicians think the telcos invented investment fraud. Enron is NOT a high-tech company. It used high-tech in its operations, just like Texaco or Shell. So much for your poster child. Also note that there are still voices of opposition in Congress to improved securities regulation.

      Securities fraud, pump and dump, etc. are not news even to the old-timers on Capitol Hill. Securities fraud has existed as long as there have been securities to sell. It's just another kind of ripoff.

      Stock bubbles are not news to anyone who's studied enough history to know what the "Dutch tulip bubble" was, i.e. enough history to get a 4 year degree back when most of the old-timers were in school. It crashed in 1636.

      The SEC has been around since 1934. Why was it created? Because investors were ripped off, often in fraud pyramids just as intricate as anything that Enron created or that Andresen signed off on.

      The reason for the high-tech companies losing political influence on the Hill has nothing to do with public reaction to the dot.bomb any more than corporations lose influence on The Hill just because their products killed a few people.

      Any industry that wants influence on the hill has to buy and pay for it. High tech hasn't done this.

      If high-tech companies paid the same miniscule proportion of their profits to DC politicians as the content providers do, we wouldn't have CBDTPA to worry about and the Broadcast Working Group probably wouldn't even exist.

      • Woah there Al... caffeine should be taken in moderation!

        "It is extremely unlikely that even DC politicians think the telcos invented investment fraud. Enron is NOT a high-tech company. It used high-tech in its operations, just like Texaco or Shell. So much for your poster child. Also note that there are still voices of opposition in Congress to improved securities regulation."

        I haven't invoked Enron as the poster child for anything, other than the sort of corporate irresponsibility that helped to fuel the dot-com crash. Enron is an excellent example of the "don't tread on our business model" attitude that was so typical of the tech sector back in the good old days. The big "E" also had a similar rap sheet - an unclear, nebulous purpose for existing, a business model that was speculation heavy, subsidiary investments to hide losses, etc. etc.

        " The reason for the high-tech companies losing political influence on the Hill has nothing to do with public reaction to the dot.bomb any more than corporations lose influence on The Hill just because their products killed a few people."

        Funny, I don't recall saying that it has anything to do with the "public reaction" to the dot-com fiasco. Rather, the cold shoulder is a response to the fact of the tech collapse, naturally. Public opinion has little to do with the political support recieved by any given corporation. The big oil and pharmaceutical corps have managed to maintain tremendous influence in spite of a horrendous public image.

        "Any industry that wants influence on the hill has to buy and pay for it. High tech hasn't done this.

        Or, as the tech boom proved, simply be successful. You can be quite bastardly if you're successful, and the politicians will sing your praises and jump through flaming hoops to gain your favor. However, once you hit rough water, they'll swim for shore and leave you stranded if you haven't formed close ties - after all, they have nothing to lose at that point. I've never disagreed with the conventional wisdom that campaign investment and lobbying is, in general, the only way to gain an inveterate status in Washington. My point, rather, is that the tech industry and the capital need to get together now in a serious way and address these economic problems, which, I'll remind you, are not simply tech industry problems but national problems; the US economy is increasingly based on high technology, IP, etc. If the tech sector continues to decline, everyone loses. We need a cooperative relationship between the technology industry and government now as much as ever.

        • It appears that we're in basic agreement, despite my disagreeing with what you originally appear to have said.

          I'm merely trying to make the point to the high-level suits who read /. as strongly as possible that the price of staying in business is to spend money on and pay attention to politics.

          If they do this, that cooperative relationship is assured.

  • politicians are happy to not know how it works just like they are happy to not know how anything else outside the self created fairyland called Washington DC works.

Nothing ever becomes real until it is experienced. - John Keats

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