Is It Time For A GeekPAC?

from the techies-and-the-beltway dept

It was just a few months ago that Declan McCullough was suggesting that geeks focus on coding instead of trying to influence politicians in DC. His argument was that geeks were good at coding, but not at lobbying, and could influence more change through their code than through other methods. Now, however, he’s suggesting the opposite. He says that it’s time for techies to put together political action committees that can strike fear into the hearts of politicians by running the “anti-tech” ones out of DC. Of course, this has been tried before, and hasn’t worked too well up to this point. I also think John Gilmore’s quote in the article makes a very good point, saying that we shouldn’t be giving more money to DC, because their “racket” seems to be, “we create problems and then take money from you to solve them.”

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Comments on “Is It Time For A GeekPAC?”

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Steve says:

Aargh please no

I too liked Gilmore’s take. The thing is you can’t beat them when you play by their rules.

And say the tech industry united and formed a PAC that rivaled or displaced the media, energy, auto and banking & finance industries. You cut one head off and another one grows right back on. Yes our lives would be a little better, but society as a whole wouldn’t be much better off–so the politicians become owned by somebody else so what. It still means money rules and that is the underlying problem, not whether or not the legislators understand computers. And really we still wouldn’t have much more say, because it would swing legislation towards the largest–Microsoft would only get stronger, and you can bet that they would have no problems coming to some agreement the other biggest players in squashing free & open source software and smaller developers.

While I like the idea of using our talents to blackmail, the ends still don’t justify the means. And as far as raising money, geeks tend to be too idealistic to be willing to open up their checkbook to the legalized bribery that is the current campaign finance system. Now we need to keep better track of who votes for what, and present the information in a concise easy to digest format (with links to the full details of course) for the average person to understand. To that end, targetted advertising to show this info would be an acceptable use of money. I’d be willing to donate money to get commercials on displaying candidates voting record on issues that are important to me & enticing viewers to see a website for more info.

dorpus says:

Re: Aargh please no

You say money shouldn’t matter. I’m not being paranoid, because all the things below are actually being advocated in Washington.

– What if environmentalists demand that computer owners begin paying environmental impact fees of $400 per computer?

– What if Hollywood or other business interests outlaw any form of internet-based complaints against businesses, through “slander laws”?

– What if “family values” groups demand 6-week background checks and $50 application fees for all prospective computer owners?

– What if mining companies artificially restrict the supply of Rare Earth metals (Niobium, Palladium, etc.) critical for electronics, and get Washington on their side through “environmental sanctions”? Fact is, these metals already cost several times their weight in gold. Then we could be looking at $3,000 CPUs and $800 DVD drives.

– What if anti-virus software makers call for legislation that requires “mandatory” purchases of $100 anti-virus software for all new computers?

– What if labor unions, Amnesty International, et al get together to crack down on computer sweatshops in Asia? Beyong Boycotting Nike, there is boycotting Asian computer sweatshops — which are pretty much all computers produced on Earth. Again, we could be looking at vastly increased computer prices.

Steve says:

Re: Re: Aargh please no

They’re going to squeeze every last dime out of people no matter what–while the things you mention are truly awful (and some blatently unconstitutional) they are just the means to that end. As a technology worker, I don’t want to see anything that slows down or threatens the industry. But as a citizen, if the taxes are just shifted from one thing to another, it really doesn’t make things any better. The underlying problem is corruption and special interests buying votes–and the prospect of “my side” being the ones buying doesn’t really make me feel that much better.

Anyway my point isn’t that we should sit back and let awful laws be made–we just can’t fight with money because we: don’t have enough, won’t validate a corrupt system and if we actually pooled our money to make a difference, it would be the big companies getting what they want which would be a little better for the industry but also bad for the smaller guy and probably innovation in general. If you think the likes of Microsoft and Oracle would never put aside their differenes long enough to screw over everyone else, try a Google search on Mastercard Visa and collusion.

Though Declan’s sentiment of ‘write code, not petitions’ was too apathetic to be on the mark, it hints at a good idea. Something thing geeks are good at is collecting, processing and organizing data and it’s these skills that should be used to help convince the voting public and politicians alike that certain laws and politicians are bad.

It’s really very simple: try to educate lawmakers on technical issues. If they don’t respond to logic & information, only to money then educate the public to vote them out.

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