Google's Clunky Moves Into Politics Includes Trying To Silence Politicians Offering It Tax Breaks

from the whoops dept

A decade or so ago, it was Microsoft that was having trouble learning the game of dealing with politicians. The company was caught unaware as it faced anti-trust actions. Lately, it's been Google that's appeared especially amateurish in its dealings with politicians. The latest is the story coming out of North Carolina about Google's heavy handed attempts to get certain tax breaks in place in order to open up a data center in North Carolina. Apparently, Google representatives threatened to pull the whole project over some wording changes and also tried to ban politicians from talking about the fact that Google would be such a large beneficiary of the tax break. Apparently, "do no evil" is morphing into some variation on "see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil."


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  1.  
    identicon
    dorpus, Feb 5th, 2007 @ 12:24pm

    The Welfare Industry

    Welcome to Information Technology: the industry that depends on government handouts for its existence. Dell built its empire on Texas tax credits, Oracle built its empire on government contracts. Washington is full of lobbyists for these companies drumming up government contracts and favors, while the executives posture about "free markets".

     

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  2.  
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    ScaredOfTheMan, Feb 5th, 2007 @ 12:28pm

    this sounds like something WalMart would do...not google.. Shame Shame.

    Ok We get it you are building big data centers in places what could really use the jobs and investment, but do youhave to trample over all that good will by sending in your gag order wielding lawyers?

    I mean municipal Taxes are usually in the public domain no?

     

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  3.  
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    Bumbling old fool, Feb 5th, 2007 @ 12:43pm

    The Truth vs. Non-disclosure in public affairs

    When it comes to dealings in public affairs..

    The truth will set you free.
    Non-disclosure will void the mantra "do no evil".

     

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  4.  
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    Awesome Mr Ethan, Feb 5th, 2007 @ 1:19pm

    Well...

    I don't think that "Do no evil" and "Politics" can really function together.

     

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  5.  
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    Mac Beach, Feb 5th, 2007 @ 2:05pm

    Is this anything unusual?

    What's so special about this? Don't municipalities and states offer tax breaks to lure business all the time? Nobody FORCES them to do this. Besides that, if the company is going to spend $600M on a datacenter at the outset, hire 200 people (and no telling how that might grow) $90M OVER THIRTY YEARS hardly seems significant. How can anyone even predict what tax rates and laws will be in 30 years? It sure looks like to be the area will get an immediate benefit (assuming they actually want to add hi-tech employed people to their population base, all of whom will be paying taxes of various kinds) in exchange for a PROMISE of tax breaks over a very long period. If Google closes the place after a year it will hardly amount to a large sum of money, but the city/town will still be left with improved infrastructure and some potentially useful new residents.

    Now I agree that these things shouldn't be kept so secret. Balancing the company's need to keep it's plans to itself vs the citizens need to know what's going on is tricky. My guess is that a larger town would not be able to pull this off at all as the elected officials might not have the autonomy to act without full disclosure. Maybe this one doesn't either.

     

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  6.  
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    |333173|3|_||3, Feb 5th, 2007 @ 2:13pm

    Don't tax breaks have to be revealed under FOI law

    Surely NC would have to reveal what tax cuts they are giving to Google under FOI laws, so that other states can match hier offer and so the public cna know what they are doing.

    Why don't Google go to north Canada, where they can set up dehumidifiers on the ventilation system adn use the naturally cold air to cool thier servers? This would surely offest the cost of laying the fibre within a few years, especially with the tax breaks that Canada would be sure to offer. Thier R&D and admin work can stay where it is, but the data centres don't matter where they are. Before anyone comments on my use of Commonwealth spelling, I am English, not Canadian.

     

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  7.  
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    Brock Meeks, Feb 5th, 2007 @ 3:10pm

    Welcome to the real world

    Good grief, you people act like police chief in Casablanca talking about gambling going on inside Rick's Cafe. "Why I'm shocked, shocked, I tell you!" Bah.

    Google is acting the way any other company acts. The secrecy here is because to build the kind of facility needed to house this data center takes a lot of real estate and once the word is out, ZOOM, local land owners start demanding prices no one ever dreamed they'd ever see. Talk about greed!

    Wal-Mart does the same thing when it targets a new town; the Disney corporation set up an elaborate series of SHELL companies with the specific purpose of buying up a major part of Orlando and doing so without any knowing it was actually Disney doing the buying.

     

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  8.  
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    Matsukuroneko, Feb 5th, 2007 @ 3:13pm

    Not a sin

    I agree that it probably shouldn't be kept so secret, but perhaps they just want to keep their business quiet while they are still building it up. Or perhaps they don't want the people of North Carolina to get the wrong idea, that Google is only coming there for the tax breaks not to improve the economy. Look, Google is not responsible for North Carolina's economy so if thats not their objective thats up to them. However no matter what happens as MacBeach said, even if Google shuts the place down after a year, Google is out $600M and NC is great, 200 people just made $(?)K and can feed that money back into the economy. We should as a nation be grateful that they are not sending the job overseas just so our money can go out the window.

     

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  9.  
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    Justin, Feb 5th, 2007 @ 3:21pm

    What?

    Of course they are going to NC for tax breaks... why the hell else would anyone go there?

     

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  10.  
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    Jim Morris, Feb 5th, 2007 @ 3:36pm

    "Do no evil."

    Google's motto is "Don't be evil," which offers much more latitude for doing evil. It's like the difference between Hitler and Satan. :-)

     

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  11.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 5th, 2007 @ 3:38pm

    I believe that Google's secret motto is "do no evil unless it might adversely impact financial results for 2 successive quarters".

     

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  12.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 5th, 2007 @ 5:45pm

    Google has always done evil

    I've never believe the "Don't be evil" stuff. It is all PR.

    Remember years when Google was swearing it wouldn't show advertisements on its search page? At the time it was saying that, it was building Google's AdSense engine -- you know, the one that puts ads on all their search pages.

    Google's public statements were at odds with its internal plans. It is not evil for Google to put ads on its search pages. However, it is evil to deliberately lie about it though. It is especially evil since Google stood to make no gain by telling the lie. They just couldn't help themselves.

     

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  13.  
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    averros, Feb 5th, 2007 @ 6:15pm

    Evil? Use your heads, people.

    A lot of people here seem to be confused about what the tax break means - it is not a handout, it does not give the company anyone's money, it is merely a promise by the government to steal less.

    What's evil about that?

    A company provides jobs, and produces something needed by the people - otherwise it wouldn't be paid. So even with zero taxes paid the company is beneficial to the community.

    What's evil about that?

    The only evil there is the politicans and THEIR greed.

     

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  14.  
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    Fred Tucker, Feb 6th, 2007 @ 2:09am

    Re: What?

    Yeah, because Michigan is the first stop on everyone's vacation wishlist. Nothing like being able to go outside for only 4 months out of the year. I also hear Dearborne is a great place to visit as long as you are not wearing a yamaka. See you down in Florida when you are around 70 and have finally figured out that you don't have to live in that hell hole you currently call home. Oh and Go Gators...Big Eleven is a farce.

     

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