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A reply to my weekly column on don't get mad, get even

Previous Politech message (note A.Lizard is not the same reptile as Mr. 
Lizard, another longtime list member):


Date: Mon, 11 Nov 2002 13:09:59 -0800
To: declan@well.com
From: "A.Lizard" <alizard@ecis.com>
Subject: Re: FC: Weekly column: In elections, don't get mad, get even

At 12:25 PM 11/11/02 -0500, you wrote:
If you want to know *HOW TO GET EVEN*, read this message carefully.

>    Perspective: Don't get mad, get even
>    By Declan McCullagh
>    November 11, 2002, 4:00 AM PT
>    WASHINGTON -- The National Rifle Association rates politicians on
>    whether they support the Second Amendment.
>    Emily's List gives campaign cash to pro-choice Democratic women. The
>    Club for Growth supports politicos who pledge to lower taxes and limit
>    government, while aiming to defeat tax-and-spenders.
>    Is it time for the technology industry to come up with a similar way
>    to reward friends and punish enemies?

Only if it wants to continue to exist in any form other than as 
distributors of products designed and manufactured in the rest of the world 
and dumbed down to comply with laws for the US market, and only if 
companies which want to design and build products that the rest of the 
world want to buy don't want to move out of the US.

Otherwise, they should feel free to continue business as usual.

$92,000 from TechNet is chump change. The industry has gotten exactly the 
service that it's been paying for. If the industry paid off the politicians 
with the same microscopic percentage of its profits that the content 
providers who 0wN Hollings pay, high-tech would own *BOTH* major US 
political parties and if Hollywood wanted DRM, Jack Valenti would be going 
to the industry hat in hand, begging for "More gruel, please, sir."

People in high tech industries are hoping that Hollywood is going to be 
reasonable and that still there's profit to be made in dealing with the 
enemy. Check into sales of the DRM-d new audio formats (SACD and DVD-Audio) 
if you want to see how profitable that kind of delusion is. Consumers are 
NOT buying them. No digital computer interfaces despite the price, and 
that's how the content providers wanted them. The early adopters know 
better than to buy, and if there aren't any, there won't be any late adopters.

Where is the profit in appeasement?

There is some reason to believe that the playing field can be leveled by 
exporting US restrictions on technology, note the successful export of DMCA 
and the EU Copyright Directive. As for why the EU is allowing its laws and 
regulations to be written in and for the benefit of Hollywood, interesting 

As soon as countries whose politicians are NOT on the payroll of the 
RIAA/MPAA notice that ALL they need to do in order to give their high-tech 
industries an unstoppable advantage over US companies is simply to either 
do NOTHING when US entertainment lobbyists come to their offices or repeal 
the laws they passed by mistake, the playing field isn't level anymore and 
the jobs that will be lost will be American. There's a lot of anti-American 
feeling all over the world and a great many people even among our nominal 
allies who wouldn't mind in the least if the US economy slid into the 
toilet and their local industries got the business.

How hard is it to persuade a politician to do *NOTHING*?

>    There's certainly good reason for it. Over the last two years, U.S.
>    Congress has considered a series of benighted plans to regulate,
>    restrict and otherwise hamstring technology.

Of course there's good reason. I predict confidently that high-tech 
industries will finally figure out that they really should have gotten 
seriously involved in the political process when US CEOs start having to 
look for good private school for their kids in Canada, the UK, Ireland, 
Germany, The Netherlands, Mexico or wherever their corporations are going. 
WE will figure out that we really should have done something when we find 
ourselves figuring out where we should be emigrating to if we want to stay 
in *making* high-tech products.

Hollywood is NOT unstoppable. Even the high-tech user community can afford 
to put together an NRA-style end user PAC which could outspend Hollywood 
without putting a strain on our collective wallets.

The first of the problems is that people who are inclined to write checks 
write them to EFF or other non-profit geek advocacy group, take their tax 
deductions, and decide that this is all that needs doing. While EFF, etc. 
are needed, they CAN NOT buy politicians or tell people how they should 
vote in political races other than initiative campaigns by virtue of their 
tax-exempt status.

The ONLY thing which will stop Hollywood from getting a stranglehold on US 
technology is funding Political Action Committee(s) which *can* raise money 
for friendly politicians and can campaign against bad ones.

 >The 2004 election is less than two years away. Any volunteers?
This is the only *big* mistake you made in the article.

Volunteers ARE NOT going to build the kind of organization capable of 
taking over Congress. GeekPAC is the poster child for that kind of failure.

An organization that doesn't have the funding to hire full-time 
professionals to:
1) lobby Congress. We need top-bracket lobbyists who are already known to 
politicians *and* their staff members on The Hill.
2) do political organization among the high-tech community
3) comply with the laws regarding political fund raising
4) analyze *all* laws and regulations in progress which might have effects 
on high-tech communities and interests
5) build and maintain an infrastructure capable of doing the routine 
day-to-day tasks
         a) a *professional-looking website*. Ever see GeekPAC's?
         b) Web-to-fax gateway so voters can contact *the right* 
congresscritters via point and click and fax. Works for NRA, AARP, ACLU. 
Letters to DC are a VERY BAD IDEA.
         c) mailing list so that people who want to participate will know 
*when* to contact their Congresspeople when critical votes come up.
         d) permanent clerical staff to deal with public communications and 
process donation checks
6) create media campaigns for/against politicians and issue-related 
campaigns and buy print space / media time

Sorry, everyone, but that's the price of freedom these days. If either 
high-tech industry or we who are end users won't fund this, we're going to 
lose. If nobody thinks this is worth paying for, we *DESERVE* to lose.

Don't count on the GOP to stop the worst of the bills under consideration. 
How long to you think it'll take for Hollywood to figure out collectively 
that GOP votes are the ones they need to buy now?

Volunteers not only *can*, but *must* help in all of these areas in order 
to win.

However, the hard-core heavy lifting MUST be done by people who don't have 
to worry about working to pay the bills to make it possible for them put in 
8-20 hour days doing politics because politics on our behalf ARE what they 
do for a living. The other point is that the expertise to do this doesn't 
appear to exist in the high-tech community. We need real experts to help us 
solve our political problems, and the expertise is specifically political. 
Highly trained and skilled professionals have one thing in common 
regardless of field. REAL high hourly rates. If we don't want their 
services, we don't have to pay their prices.

The money needed to build this political infrastructure needs to appear 
BEFORE the first dollar is raised to support or oppose a politician. I'm 
estimating about $1M. This money needs to be raised by an individual or a 
group small and wealthy enough to come up with it by passing the hat, and 
it needs to be raised *before* the first announcements are made to the 
public that the organization exists.

Geeks have been burned a lot by announcements of new organizations designed 
to fix our political problems that go absolutely nowhere. Some of us have 
even given our time and money to them.

The people I've discussed this with would be happy to donate or work for an 
organization run by people with a clue with a significant probability of 
taking EFFECTIVE ACTION. We've seen enough organizations obviously 
organized by the obviously clueless with no up-front funding (ok, that's 
redundant) ... and they've ALL gone nowhere. At this point, an organization 
that wants people smart enough to be useful to help will have to 
demonstrate that it is credibible AT THE TIME AT WHICH IT ANNOUNCES ITS 

$1M is only the seed money. The ONLY volunteers who can do us any good in 
this area now are the ones who can come up with that money.

The $1M will give the rest of us a place to send our money with confidence 
it'll be used *effectively*, will make it possible for us to contact our 
Congresspeople EFFECTIVELY, and will let us know which politicians we 
should vote or work for and against in our own areas.

The rest of us are going to have to come up with the tens of millions of 
dollars in $5 and $10 and $100 chunks it will take to make this a big 
enough player on the national political scene to *make certain* that our 
concerns are addressed FIRST.

There are quite a few of us and our average income and educational level is 
far better than that of the average NRA or AARP member. Why do both groups 
tend to get what they want most of the time from Congress and the high-tech 
commuity get ignored? Because these organizations give the gun owner or 
retired individual a chance to work with many millions of his fellow 
individuals to take *effective* actions, and we have nothing of the sort.

The business of America *is* selling high technology to the world. Selling 
entertainment is secondary and can NOT provide the US with enough income 
from the world marketplace to keep us all working. So why are the concerns 
of the entertainment industry allowed to threaten our jobs?

You know why.

If you want Hollywood stopped, you know how now if you didn't before 
reading this.


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