Politech is the oldest Internet resource devoted to politics and
technology. Launched in 1994 by Declan
McCullagh, the mailing list has chronicled the growing
intersection of culture, technology, politics, and law. Since
2000, so has the Politech web site.
A reply to my weekly column on don't get mad, get even
- Date: Mon, 11 Nov 2002 16:18:56 -0500
- To: email@example.com
- Subject: FC: A reply to my weekly column on don't get mad, get even
- From: Declan McCullagh <firstname.lastname@example.org>
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
From: "A.Lizard" <email@example.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
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
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
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
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
member The Internet Society (ISOC), The HTML Writers Guild.
"Those who would trade liberty for security shall have neither."
Personal Website http://www.ecis.com/~alizard
business Website http://reptilelabs.com
backup address (if ALL else fails) alizard@CHOICE1.zzn.com
PGP 7.0.3 key available by request,keyserver,or on my Web site
Download PGP from http://www.pgpi.org for e-mail privacy.
PGPfone v2.1 available for secure voice conferencing, get
your own (W9x,NT,Mac) at http://www.pgpi.org/products/nai/pgpfone/
Disaster prep info: http://www.ecis.com/~alizard/y2k.html
POLITECH -- Declan McCullagh's politics and technology mailing list
You may redistribute this message freely if you include this notice.
To subscribe to Politech: http://www.politechbot.com/info/subscribe.html
This message is archived at http://www.politechbot.com/
Declan McCullagh's photographs are at http://www.mccullagh.org/
Like Politech? Make a donation here: http://www.politechbot.com/donate/
Recent CNET News.com articles: http://news.search.com/search?q=declan
Return to politechbot.com