Internet Industry Hate Taken To Insane Levels: Ridiculous Proposals To 'Nationalize' Successful Internet Companies

from the say-what-now? dept

Over the last few years, there's been a ridiculous rise in a bizarre form of anti-Silicon Valley populism, in which people are encouraged to hate successful internet companies for... being successful. Usually, when you dig into the details, the attacks on the firms are a combination of general fear of "bigness," hatred/jealousy of success and a fundamental misunderstanding of economics. Now, let's be clear: big companies with too much power do have a rather long history of bad behavior and companies should be watched carefully if they abuse their position. But the anti-internet populism seems incredibly misplaced, especially given that the companies they're attacking are often companies that have clearly improved the lives of those doing the attacking. I'm always worried about old "enabling" companies becoming the new gatekeepers, but I'm also confident in the ability of a brand new generation of enablers to undermine business models of the last generation of internet giants as well -- especially if they start making moves that actually harm the public.

But, it seems, this general hatred of Silicon Valley is being taken to nearly parodic levels with two new articles, one in Salon and one in Slate, both of which call for "nationalizing" some of the internet's most popular companies. First up, we have Richard "RJ" Eskow saying that we should nationalize Amazon and Google because the original internet was publicly funded, and thus, apparently, everything built after that should be owned by the federal government.
Big Tech was created with publicly developed technology. No matter how they spin it, these corporations were not created in garages or by inventive entrepreneurs. The core technology behind them is the Internet, a publicly funded platform for which they pay no users’ fee. In fact, they do everything they can to avoid paying their taxes.

Big Tech’s use of public technology means that it operates in a technological “commons,” which they are using solely for its own gain, without regard for the public interest. Meanwhile the United States government devotes considerable taxpayer resource to protecting them – from patent infringement, cyberterrorism and other external threats.
Of course, based on this absolutely idiotic argument, you could argue that we should nationalize just about every business out there. Fedex and UPS? Why they make use of the federal highway system, which was publicly funded. So, "no matter how they spin it," the "core infrastructure" behind them was "publicly funded." Ditto for the entire US automobile industry (though, to be fair, we kinda came pretty close to "nationalizing" them a few years back). How about Wall Street? I mean, look at it: it's entirely dependent on federal currency. Clearly: should be nationalized. In fact, I'm having trouble coming up with a business that shouldn't be nationalized under these conditions. Almost every business relies on some aspect of publicly-funded infrastructure.

From there, Eskow insists that these companies are "abusive," which again is apparently a reason why they should be nationalized (he doesn't explain how the two are connected or why he believes nationalized companies would be less prone to abusive power -- because he can't). But he picks some rather unfortunate examples for "abuse."
The bluntness with which Big Tech firms abuse their monopoly power is striking. Google has said that it will soon begin blocking YouTube videos from popular artists like Radiohead and Adele unless independent record labels sign deals with its upcoming music streaming service (at what are presumably disadvantageous rates). Amazon’s war on publishers like Hachette is another sign of Big Tech arrogance.
Except, as we've detailed, neither of those stories is even remotely accurate. Artists are not being blocked from YouTube, they're being offered a better deal if they want to monetize their videos. Some don't like the terms of that deal, but they can still upload their own videos, just not to the monetized services of YouTube. And the Amazon/Hachette example is not a "war on publishers" so much as it's an attempt to get better prices for consumers. Apparently, Eskow would like to side with the publishers over the public. Why?

Eskow also finds his "support" in odd places:
Even Microsoft’s Steve Ballmer argued that Google is a “monopoly” whose activities were “worthy of discussion with competition authority.” He should know.
Wait. A company that is being beat left and right by an upstart competitor is complaining that that competitor should be regulated? Gee, that means absolutely nothing.

Nowhere in the entire piece does Eskow even attempt to explain how "nationalizing" these firms would actually solve any of these issues. He just insists it would. Apparently he's unaware of how "wonderful" service is from nationalized companies. I'm sure bureaucracies and government controls are just great for innovation. And, if we're talking about abuse, shall we bring up what happened with the history of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, which were "de facto nationalized?"

Eskow also goes on and on about the privacy violations of these companies, but for a deeper discussion on that, we'll flip over to Salon competitor Slate, where Philip Howard has an article about how we should nationalize Facebook because of that company's long-standing problems on the privacy front:
By “nationalizing Facebook,” I mean public ownership and at least a majority share at first. When nationalizing the company restores the public trust, that controlling interest could be reduced. There are three very good reasons for this drastic step: It could fix the company’s woeful privacy practices, allow the social network to fulfill its true potential for providing social good, and force it to put its valuable data to work on significant social problems.

Let’s start with privacy. Right now, the company violates everybody’s privacy expectations, not to mention privacy laws. It also struggles to respond properly to regulatory requests in different countries. In part, this is because its services are designed to meet the bare minimum of legal expectations in each jurisdiction. When users in Europe request copies of the data Facebook keeps on them, they are sent huge volumes of records. But not every user lives in a jurisdiction that requires such responsiveness from Facebook—U.S. users are out of luck because their regulators don’t ask as many questions as those in the European Union and Canada. Privacy watchdogs consistently complain that the company uses user data in ways they didn't agree to or anticipate. There are suspicions that the company creates shadow profiles of people who aren’t even users but whose names get mentioned by people who are Facebook users.
It's completely reasonable to question Facebook's privacy practices, and its history of arbitrarily changing things and being involved in "creepy" behavior. But, again, there's a massive leap in logic to go from "hey, Facebook isn't very good at protecting your privacy" to "let's hand the company over the to US government." I don't know if Philip Howard has been living under a rock for the past 13 months or so, but if there's one organization that appears to respect your privacy even less than Facebook, it would be the US government. The very same US government that is actively looking for new ways to spy on as many people as possible. And Howard thinks the approach to "protect" users' privacy from Facebook is to... give all that info directly to the US government?

In fact, Howard actually argues directly for how wonderful it would be for the US gov't to be able to snoop through our data to perform "research" on it:
Nationalizing Facebook would allow more resources to go into data mining for public health and social research.
Somehow, he claims that if the company were "nationalized," then there would magically be higher ethical standards to make sure this research is "good" and not "evil." He also has a funny notion whereby if Facebook were nationalized, not only would it be useful in tracking down bad people, but "good" activists that we liked could also be allowed to use pseudonyms, rather than real names. Because that's exactly what we want: the US government picking and choosing which activists are "good."

Having read both of these articles, I'm kind of wondering if they're both a form of satire, mocking the idea of nationalization or even the anti-internet populism we've been seeing lately -- but it looks as if they're both serious, if totally ridiculous.

Reader Comments (rss)

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  1.  
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    fogbugzd (profile), Jul 22nd, 2014 @ 8:19am

    Big tech companies are disruptive. That makes them unpopular with older, established companies who are not happy that their reign is threatened.

     

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    Violynne (profile), Jul 22nd, 2014 @ 9:17am

    The only thing I can agree to the article written by Eskow is how large internet companies are abusing their power to refrain from paying taxes in the US, monies which should go back to the very public who makes them a business, but instead, pockets it and laughs maniacally.

    It's rather disgusting this practice is so common, the government would rather spend time trying to get us to pay our taxes with online transactions than go after multi-billion dollar businesses and force them to pay back taxes owed.

    I'm not advocating they aren't paying any US taxes, but it's clear to me when the "origination" of a company is Ireland, soemthing's seriously amiss in the formula of "doing business in the US".

    Perhaps Eskow should refrain from trying to get an even worse entitle the power and try to convince them to do their damn jobs and collect what's owed.

    Provided, of course, none of those who enforce the laws don't have public stake in the profitability of these companies.

     

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    Dale (profile), Jul 22nd, 2014 @ 10:12am

    Well - if 'nationalizing' is the cure for 'abuse behaviour'...

    ..then let's 'nationalize' the NSA!

    Oh, wait....

     

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  4.  
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    Doug (profile), Jul 22nd, 2014 @ 10:14am

    Scared

    Do these articles scare anyone? They scare me. Yikes!

     

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  5.  
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    John Fenderson (profile), Jul 22nd, 2014 @ 10:20am

    A better solution

    I have a better solution to solving the problems with Google and Facebook. Don't use them. That's what I do.

    Nationalization is an extreme step that can make sense in certain narrow circumstances. One of those circumstances would be if the entity has effectively become an indispensable part of everyone's life, such that "don't use it, then" is no longer a viable alternative. Neither Google nor Facebook has attained that status.

     

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    orbitalinsertion (profile), Jul 22nd, 2014 @ 10:26am

    Even Microsoft’s Steve Ballmer argued that Google is a “monopoly” whose activities were “worthy of discussion with competition authority.” He should know.


    Yeah, Monkey Boy is my go-to guy to support any tech business claims. @@

     

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    Zakida Paul (profile), Jul 22nd, 2014 @ 10:29am

    I will never understand the mindset of people whose first reaction to a company they don't like is "nationalise it".

     

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    Michael, Jul 22nd, 2014 @ 10:29am

    When nationalizing the company restores the public trust, that controlling interest could be reduced.

    I know when I hear "put the US government in control of it" the first thing I am thinking is "hey! that's really going to make me trust it more!"

     

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    Ninja (profile), Jul 22nd, 2014 @ 10:30am

    Obviously they smoked some weed before writing.

    The argument "but, but, they use publicly funded infrastructure" is simply bullshit. The infrastructure was put there exactly to be used and to serve as a backbone to economic growth.

    As for Facebook privacy issues simply stop using it.

     

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    Matthew A. Sawtell, Jul 22nd, 2014 @ 10:30am

    Reminds me of Former ANCYL Julius Malema...

    ... and his veiled threats at Mark Shuttleworth and the Ubuntu Group a few years back, before he was ousted from the ANC.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 22nd, 2014 @ 10:33am

    Me, Me, Me !!!

    Hey wait up. If there's a line for nationalization I'm first. That would mean endless funding for whatever harebrained project I can come up with (drool, I can dream big), a government pension for ever and regular increases for inflation. Sign me up.

     

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    Ninja (profile), Jul 22nd, 2014 @ 10:33am

    Re:

    Yeah, I'd totally ask Apple about the qualities of Android or Comcast about how awesome Google Fiber is. Makes total sense.

     

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    Michael, Jul 22nd, 2014 @ 10:36am

    Re: A better solution

    You mean let people make their own decision?

    That idea is so crazy, it just might work.

     

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    Vidiot (profile), Jul 22nd, 2014 @ 10:41am

    Grab them all

    "The core technology behind them is the Internet..."

    No American auto manufacturer would have a platform for their products without publicly-funded roadways to drive on. Nationalize them all, right?

    And once the government nationalizes corporations, we can look forward to the same efficient management it brings to all its endeavors. (Please don't mention the Veterans Administration, etc...)

     

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    Chris Brand, Jul 22nd, 2014 @ 10:43am

    A better fix for the FB privacy issue

    would seem to be to improve the US's privacy laws.

    He states that Facebook's "...services are designed to meet the bare minimum of legal expectations in each jurisdiction", and then complains that "U.S. users are out of luck because their regulators don’t ask as many questions as those in the European Union and Canada". It seems pretty clear that the best solution is to improve privacy laws in the US (if only because doing so would fix *every* company, not just Facebook).

    Expecting the government to hold a company to a higher standard of privacy protection than the law dictates (even if the government runs that company) seems ... optimistic.

     

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  16.  
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    Mason Wheeler (profile), Jul 22nd, 2014 @ 10:46am

    Re:

    You know how we could essentially solve every single corporate tax-cheating problem we have, all at once? Make one simple change of definitions:

    Taxable profits under the US tax code are defined as all revenue received from sources within the US, minus all business expenses spent within the US.

    Make that one simple change, and transferring funds overseas would now have zero effect on one's tax status. Shipping jobs overseas would be severely impacted, since there's now a definite tax advantage for keeping the workforce local. All the foreign tax haven shell games would be brought to a screeching halt, and the job of calculating a company's tax burden would be massively simplified.

    So of course we'll never do it. It would make too much sense.

     

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    sorrykb (profile), Jul 22nd, 2014 @ 10:46am

    A Modest Proposal?

    Having read both of these articles, I'm kind of wondering if they're both a form of satire, mocking the idea of nationalization or even the anti-internet populism we've been seeing lately -- but it looks as if they're both serious, if totally ridiculous.

    I don't know. I'm still half-convinced it was brilliantly deadpan satire.

     

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    Chris Rhodes (profile), Jul 22nd, 2014 @ 10:48am

    Same As it Always Was

    The cry of all governments and their sycophants since the beginning of recorded history:

    1. You have something.
    2. Give it to me or else.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 22nd, 2014 @ 10:53am

    The core technology behind them is the Internet, a publicly funded platform for which they pay no users’ fee.


    By definition, this argument would apply to every company on the Internet. Also, it would surprise me greatly to learn that Amazon and Google pay "no fee" for bandwidth.

    But the greatest argument about not nationalizing them is this: Even if they provide an essential service, the government could provide the exact same service WITHOUT nationalizing those companies. The government is free to create its own search engine, online shopping website, social media platform, or whatever else they want. Just look at PBS and NPR: The creation of a public television or radio network did not need to involve the government nationalization of NBC or ClearChannel. They simply created their own stations alongside the existing ones.

    If we were talking about the actual wires, that would be one thing - it MIGHT make sense to nationalize the infrastructure, since it might not make sense to have twelve different companies running wires to a city. But we aren't even talking about the wires. We're talking about the use of those wires - and we're not even talking about companies using too MUCH of them. He didn't call for a nationalization of NetFlix, after all. What he proposes makes as much sense as nationalizing Wal-Mart because it uses roads to ship its goods, and those roads received a subsidy from the government. (Maybe I shouldn't be giving him ideas.)

     

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    JWW (profile), Jul 22nd, 2014 @ 10:57am

    Protip

    Protip for Mr. Howard.

    Never go full Commie.

     

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  21.  
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    bshock, Jul 22nd, 2014 @ 11:06am

    missing the target

    Even as misguided as talk of nationalizing companies happens to be, it's still funny to me that no one seems to be talking about nationalizing the obviously monopolistic bad actors like Comcast and its ilk.

    Of course, there are established procedures for dealing with such monopolies: we break them up.

     

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  22.  
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    ChrisB (profile), Jul 22nd, 2014 @ 11:09am

    Re: A Modest Proposal?

    Slate is usually pretty good, if a bit click-baity. Salon, however, is just nanny-state madness. Especially the comments.

     

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  23.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 22nd, 2014 @ 11:10am

    "anti-internet populism we've been seeing lately "

    It isn't "anti-internet" at all, but nice try at some spin. It's anti-greedy tech-douchebag, and it is very real indeed.

     

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  24.  
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    ChrisB (profile), Jul 22nd, 2014 @ 11:13am

    Re: missing the target

    There is a difference between government-made monopolies, like Comcasts, and consumer-made monopolies ("dominant firms"), like Google. Everyone uses Google because they want to, not because there is no competition.

    Breaking up the former is a good idea. Breaking up the latter is idiotic.

     

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    shyra, Jul 22nd, 2014 @ 11:15am

    Pendulum Swings...

    Inside every bad article are enough grains of truth (as others here have pointed out), that the low info voter automatically agrees. Critical thinking is NOT a valued commodity in today's world - especially this country.

    I also see this as the pendulum beginning to swing, possibly, in the other direction. The current kick (since Bush 2), to privatize absolutely everything, no matter how little common sense it makes or how many average people it hurts, may have finally gone far enough to start getting pushback. To me, that's a good thing.

    Profits are important for any company. No company, no matter how big or how globalized, should be able to scream bloody murder about our tax rates while utilizing every trick in the IRS book and then some to not only avoid paying taxes but -get refunds- on taxes they didn't pay. Nor should they be rewarded by the gov't when they move US jobs overseas for exploitive wage controls.

    And then they merge with like-minded pols and lobbyists to diss their own countrymen as lazy, take-it-all's when there are STILL 3 people for every job offered, and most jobs are minimum-wage? No... pushback will happen at some point. We may just be seeing the beginning of that.

    Again, I'm not for nationalization of everything -- or necessarily anything. Profits are profits. There are just some "industries" that should not fit the profit mold; those under which a good argument can be made as being for the "general welfare" of the people. Others are seeing the dangers in privatization of these, as well. For example, privatizing prisons and contracting for a constant 95% percent full does not bode well for justice - only for keeping prisons full, no matter what the cost to justice.

    The pendulum swings... Unfortunately, the pendulum usually swings all the way in the other direction before it can settle down into a stable middle for a while.

     

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  26.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 22nd, 2014 @ 11:16am

    I have enough of a problem with these large internet tech companies abusing privacy for their own bottom lines. I chose not to use them for that reason.

    I also have a huge problem with the nationally rigged spying game going on today. Enough so that I don't want to see any of these companies with the government at the helm.

    One of the oddball things you keep hearing from the NSA is about all this oversight that is no where to be seen. How do you repeal an EO such as EO 12333? In Court? In Congress? I don't think there really is a method to do so that can't be stonewalled and ignored until it dies. So much for accountability to the public.

    If there is no accountability, then there is no punishments for wrong doing, even if caught red handed. So tell me again why I would approval the government in control of these private corporations?

     

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  27.  
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    Michael, Jul 22nd, 2014 @ 11:19am

    Re:

    When you go to close your Facebook account, they use their powers of emotional manipulation to get you to remain a loyal customer.

    Holy crap. I was writing that and realized that is what Comcast does! Can we nationalize Comcast?

     

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  28.  
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    Anonymous Anonymous Coward, Jul 22nd, 2014 @ 11:20am

    Re: Protip

    Good advise. Can't get your shorts in a twist that way.

     

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  29.  
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    Geno0wl (profile), Jul 22nd, 2014 @ 11:23am

    nationalizing Facebook would solve privacy issues

    Nationalizing Facebook would certainly solve almost all of the data privacy issues as it wouldn't have any more data(because nobody would use it anymore...)

     

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  30.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 22nd, 2014 @ 11:24am

    Too late

    "And Howard thinks the approach to "protect" users' privacy from Facebook is to... give all that info directly to the US government?"

    Anyone who has been paying any kind of attention at all over the last should already know that any data Facebook has, or has ever had, or will ever have, is safely stored within the NSA's vaults.

    So while nationalizing Facebook is a stupid idea, its effect of data privacy would be zero.

     

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  31.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 22nd, 2014 @ 11:25am

    Fear Mongering?

    Fear and Hate, sure those type exist out there... but there are other reasons to prevent organizations from becoming too large.

    I am big on Free Market and Free Enterprise, neither of which we have had since before I was born. Anyone saying otherwise no longer has the ability to understand that Free means. We have way to much regulation is some areas and not enough in others.

    And while I am big on a Free Market/Enterprise, I can damn sure appreciate a very strong anti-monopoly system of regulations to prevent them from becoming TOO BIG! Big Banks, Utilities, & Internet Companies have enough muscle to change the Nation for better or worse by flexing their power in specific ways... the problem with this? They are not elected! And with all of the market gerrymandering done by corrupt political regulation and umbrella corporations our freedom of choice is pure illusion.

    People can already smell this... this is where the hate is coming from!

     

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  32.  
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    John Fenderson (profile), Jul 22nd, 2014 @ 11:42am

    Re: missing the target

    I don't argue for nationalizing Comcast (I think that makes no sense). However, I do argue for nationalizing the internet infrastructure itself.

     

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  33.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 22nd, 2014 @ 11:48am

    Howard is supposedly a professor. No wonder we are doomed if we are putting people like this in charge of the education of our children.

     

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  34.  
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    Anonymous Anonymous Coward, Jul 22nd, 2014 @ 11:49am

    Re: Fear Mongering?

    "They are not elected!"

    Not only that. As corporations, they cannot vote either.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 22nd, 2014 @ 11:51am

    "When nationalizing the company restores the public trust"

    HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA

     

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  36.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 22nd, 2014 @ 11:54am

    TFTFY

    Over the last few decades, there's been a ridiculous rise in a bizarre form of anti-American populism, in which Democrats are encouraged to hate successful people and companies for... being successful.

    This is nothing new; just a targeted form of what has been going on for a long time.

     

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  37.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 22nd, 2014 @ 11:54am

    Hang on, aren't these the same people who decry Communism as be Satan's work or some other such silliness?

    Hypocrisy or paradox crumple-zones? YOU DECIDE!

     

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  38.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 22nd, 2014 @ 11:56am

    Re: TFTFY

    They didn't build that. Sounds like a phrase right out of President's play book.

    because the original internet was publicly funded, and thus, apparently, everything built after that should be owned by the federal government

     

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  39.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 22nd, 2014 @ 12:09pm

    Re: Re: Fear Mongering?

    They don't need to vote when they can buy enough of the politicians.

     

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  40.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 22nd, 2014 @ 12:20pm

    Re: Dont hate the player, hate the game.

    Or, at least, the rulemakers. As long as they follow the law, companies of every size have every right to "optimize" their tax burden.

    If you think it's unfair, write your Congressperson. That's how democracy works.

     

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  41.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 22nd, 2014 @ 12:22pm

    Re: Re: A better solution

    You forget the Intelligentsia Conceit: People are too stupid to run their own lives, we need to do it for them.

     

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  42.  
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    Adam, Jul 22nd, 2014 @ 12:23pm

    I don't think it's hard to envision some positive reasons for a public-private partnership --

    The model here is utility companies which, like Twitter or Facebook, form a natural monopoly -- government stepped in a century ago to balance the power dynamic between consumer and producer, not to take over decision-making, and we're not going back -- when we loosened those regulations slightly, Enron caused rolling blackouts for profit.

    There's a much better article from almost a year ago on N+1 (guaranteed at least one of these writers or their editors read it). This was written shortly after Twitter's major crack down on third-party APIs, and the gist of the argument is:

    The best reason to "nationalize" a Facebook or Twitter is to establish them as protocols that other developers, companies and hobbyists can utilize to make new products. I know the TechDirt audience isn't happy w/ the amount of power we have to sacrifice to opt in -- nationalizing in some manner would have the goal of putting power back in our hands.

    The question of whether that's a reasonable decision or not depends on your answer to the question: What of Facebook's monopoly, Twitter's monopoly?

    If you believe those companies CAN adequately be challenged by a new startup social networking space, then maybe there's no issue -- but I can't imagine 1 billion users migrating to a new platform for any reason, harder still to imagine a company amassing the capital necessary to challenge FB or Twitter.

    Seems to me like the only way either company will die is at their own hands, not from new competition. For that reason, I think I would support nationalizing them in the sense of establishing them as public, open source quasi-protocols, taking away any ability those companies have to restrict their service and APIs.

     

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  43.  
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    Michael, Jul 22nd, 2014 @ 12:24pm

    Re: Re: missing the target

    Somehow I think that would result in potholes and bridge construction slowing down our traffic to a crawl.

    I don't think the US government should be in charge of any complex infrastructure.

     

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  44.  
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    Adam, Jul 22nd, 2014 @ 12:26pm

    Re:

    tl;dr? Tried to make it short as I could. Here's the bullet points from N+1:

    1. Social media should be socialized because services tend to be or become monopolies
    2. Social media should be socialized because attaining profitability (through ads or fees) is impossible without degrading the service
    3. Social media should be socialized because the fraternization of people is a democratic good, which for-profit operation impairs.
    4. Social media should be socialized not in spite of, but in service of, entrepreneurialism and innovation.
    5. Social media should be socialized because its content is produced by society at large, and society is distinct from the economy

    Honestly, I'm surprised how much hostility TechDirt has towards this idea -- since when do we defend Facebook?

    Are we just that scared of the specter of SOCIALISM?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  45.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 22nd, 2014 @ 12:27pm

    Re: Re: Dont hate the player, hate the game.

    "write your Congressperson. That's how democracy works."

    Only if you make the assumption that congressmen care about what you have to say.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  46.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 22nd, 2014 @ 12:30pm

    Re: Re: A better solution

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  47.  
    identicon
    Adam, Jul 22nd, 2014 @ 12:34pm

    Re: Pendulum Swings...

    Not only are Twitter and FB effective monopolies, not only are they "general welfare" services, they are profiting solely off of material they didn't create -- they create only a space, we create the content, and then they degrade our content with ads and tracking to monetize it

    All they've created for us are some webpages that read a database filled with info we entered about ourselves.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  48.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 22nd, 2014 @ 12:39pm

    Re:

    No one could imagine anyone challenging the monopoly power of Microsoft either yet it happens.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  49.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 22nd, 2014 @ 12:42pm

    Re:

    but I can't imagine 1 billion users migrating to a new platform for any reason, harder still to imagine a company amassing the capital necessary to challenge FB or Twitter

    Did Google not kill of Yahoo? Isn't Chrome, Android, iOS not putting a serious hurt on Microsoft? Is Amazon not making Wal-Mart scared? It is hard to imagine David slaying Goliath but it happens all the time. Best to let the market decide.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  50.  
    icon
    Josh in CharlotteNC (profile), Jul 22nd, 2014 @ 12:44pm

    Re: A better solution

    +1. My friends have given up trying to get me to create a Facebook page. Every time they asked, I kept saying the same thing: I don't trust Facebook with my personal information, so I won't give it to them.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  51.  
    icon
    nasch (profile), Jul 22nd, 2014 @ 1:05pm

    Re: Re:

    I was writing that and realized that is what Comcast does! Can we nationalize Comcast?

    It's much easier to make a good case for nationalizing last mile broadband providers than Google and Facebook. They're at least natural monopolies.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  52.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 22nd, 2014 @ 1:17pm

    These proposals don't both me at all.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  53.  
    identicon
    Anon, Jul 22nd, 2014 @ 1:28pm

    Better Target?

    Nationalize the Patent Trolls. They are making money off of nothing except the monopoly arbitrarily granted by the patent office to harass other companies. They produce nothing, and leach off the substance of the laws created at great expense by the Federal Government, and the mass of civil servants rubber stamping meaningless patents. Why should they instead of the general public reap the profits?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  54.  
    icon
    nasch (profile), Jul 22nd, 2014 @ 1:31pm

    Re: Re: Pendulum Swings...

    they are profiting solely off of material they didn't create

    They created the platform. Content isn't everything. Email services are based on content the users create. So is YouTube. So is Yelp. So are tons of services.

    All they've created for us are some webpages that read a database filled with info we entered about ourselves.

    If people didn't find value in the service FB provides they wouldn't use it.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  55.  
    icon
    nasch (profile), Jul 22nd, 2014 @ 1:36pm

    Re:

    The model here is utility companies which, like Twitter or Facebook, form a natural monopoly

    That is not a natural monopoly. There's a difference between self-reinforcing network effects and natural monopoly.

    The best reason to "nationalize" a Facebook or Twitter is to establish them as protocols that other developers, companies and hobbyists can utilize to make new products.

    If you want to discourage other companies from becoming that successful, yes. The reward for becoming a dominant player in a market is the government takes your business away?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  56.  
    icon
    John Fenderson (profile), Jul 22nd, 2014 @ 1:47pm

    Re:

    "What of Facebook's monopoly, Twitter's monopoly?"

    What of them?

    First, they don't actually have monopolies, they're just the dominant players in a field that still has several other competitors. Second, even if they were, that's not an argument for nationalization. Monopolies are permitted in our system. Abuse of monopoly position is not -- and the companies can be slapped down for such abuse even without nationalization.

    "Seems to me like the only way either company will die is at their own hands, not from new competition."

    And the same thing was said about myspace before Facebook came along. This is the way of these sorts of services: they become so dominant that they seem to be unstoppable. Then someone comes along with something better and a year later, everyone's forgotten about the unstoppable companies.

    Here's a pretty safe prediction: the day will come when Facebook is a has-been, just like MySpace. It won't be obvious what will dethrone them, or even that they are about to be dethroned, but it will happen, and it will seem like it happened overnight.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  57.  
    identicon
    jackn5, Jul 22nd, 2014 @ 1:53pm

    Re:

    Nice try at a double spin. It's communism and its very unreal.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  58.  
    identicon
    jackn5, Jul 22nd, 2014 @ 1:55pm

    Re: Re: Pendulum Swings...

    They ain't monopolies, they are just the market leaders (for the moment).

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  59.  
    icon
    OldMugwump (profile), Jul 22nd, 2014 @ 2:06pm

    Re: Re:

    Hm.

    Suppose I'm a Toyota dealer.

    For each car I import from Japan, I pay, say $20,000.

    Each car I sell in the US for $22,000.

    By that rule, I now owe US taxes on $22,000 of "profits".

    Even tho I only made $2000 on the deal.

    Seems like you've got a plan to basically outlaw all international trade.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  60.  
    icon
    OldMugwump (profile), Jul 22nd, 2014 @ 2:11pm

    Nationalize Techdirt!

    Yeah, and Techdirt uses the Internet, so... nationalize Techdirt!

    (Also all newspapers, radio stations, trucking companies who use public roads, airlines who use air traffic control, factories which are defended by the US Army, etc.)

    Actually, this system was tried in a number of countries. Around 1991 they all gave up on it.

    Didn't work out well.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  61.  
    icon
    Keroberos (profile), Jul 22nd, 2014 @ 2:12pm

    Re: Re:

    It would make too much sense.
    That, and the U.S. Tax code has been specifically designed to be exploited in this manner.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  62.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 22nd, 2014 @ 2:44pm

    Re: Re:

    ...Is Amazon not making Wal-Mart scared?...

    Not that I can see. I don't see Amazon building retail stores in every county, and I don't see Wal-Mart having a huge internet presence. Two different business models, and both appear to be doing quite well despite any issues. (And both do have issues.)

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  63.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 22nd, 2014 @ 3:20pm

    ... he said Veteran's Administration...

    So let's play that one back:

    Joe, we're going to cut your budget.

    On the one hand, if you make the same targets as before, we'll give you a bonus.

    On the other hand, if you don't make the targets, we'll fire you and hope the next person we hire tells us he hit the targets.

    Because that always works, right?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  64.  
    identicon
    Stan, Jul 22nd, 2014 @ 3:41pm

    name of framer born died lived years

    George Washington  1732 1799 67
    Benjamin Franklin 1706 1790 84
    Gouverneur Morris 1752 1816 64
    Rufus King 1755 1827 72
    William S. Johnson 1727 1819 92
    Alexander Hamilton  1755 1804 49
    James Wilson 1742 1798 56
    John Rutledge 1739 1800 61
    Edmund Randolph 1753 1813 60
    Oliver Ellsworth 1745 1807 62
    James Madison 1751 1836 85

    Average = 68

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  65.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 22nd, 2014 @ 4:39pm

    Mike's responses to the Salon article gave me the idea that national social healthcare can and should be easily argued, in favor of it, based on his examples. Federal govt built roads which enabled national business to flourish. Federal currency also enabled business to flourish, same with the govt's approach to managing the economy.


    The federal government has done a lot of things to enable the entrepreneurs who run businesses to succeed. Why not make it so people their selves have a greater chance of success by providing comprehensive health care to all citizens? And even a college education? Why stop at high school education when a more educated, healthy population, will allow much greater success and growth to be possible in the future? (rather than stagnate because we stopped enabling at no health care or higher education). This could allow the next %great person% to live a long life and have the education to do good for the entire nation or even world. Instead of perhaps dying early due to some health complication or not being educated enough to form the ideas necessary to make them great.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  66.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 22nd, 2014 @ 6:00pm

    compare to soviet russia

    I see 5-year plans to make trucks and tractors, while the rest of the world is flying.

    Under a socialist regime,

    THERE IS NO METHOD OF CALCULATION !!!

    How would a bureaucracy know which decisions to make, without a market?

    The answer is the Black Market, where vendors make a lot of money and don't have to pay taxes. Tourists to soviet russia used to pay for their trips by taking an extra suitcase full of blue jeans and cowboy boots.

    If the government runs internet companies, will the staff have to bring their own computers to work like all the other government agenices, since the government computers are generally obsolete? Will workers have to bring their own smart phones to work and use their personal email accounts to operate because the government emails are filtered?

    What person in their right mind would use a government website if they had a choice?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  67.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 22nd, 2014 @ 6:07pm

    >'When nationalizing the company restores the public trust..'

    A-HAHAHAHAhahahahahahahahahaha!

    Oh man this guy should do stand-up.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  68.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 22nd, 2014 @ 7:11pm

    Re: Re:


    Honestly, I'm surprised how much hostility TechDirt has towards this idea -- since when do we defend Facebook?


    Since we defend the rights of horrible people to fair trial. Rights are either for all of us or for none of us. If it can be taken away for someone else when "convenient" it can be taken away from you too. Besides those "points" are downright nonsensical.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  69.  
    icon
    Whatever (profile), Jul 22nd, 2014 @ 9:35pm

    What concerns me is that while there is all sorts of nasty comments about the NSA and their work, few seem to take up Google and other networks for their efforts.

    You can test out how pervasive tracking is by going to google and searching to buy something that is TOTALLY not your style. Go looking for sewing machines or whatever, and suddenly every website you visit will be gently (and not so gently) pushing sewing machines on you. Switch it up for "Virtual servers" and every ad you see will be a hosting company.

    The funny part? It's not just Google ads, but plenty of other companies who seem to trigger off of each other in a cascade effect. My facebook page is packed with ads for things I have search on google for.

    When you combine those few small facts, Google knows (beyond a doubt) the things that I personally am interested in, and yes, they can easily make the connection between me as some internet surfer and me the facebook guy, the google plus guy, and so on.

    At some point, Google has become so pervasive online that they are a threat to my privacy. All of the information they store on me, every search made, every page viewed... it all adds up a serious risk - all this because I choose to use a browser that they offer or visit their search pages.

    These guys are the new gatekeepers, and they are many times worse than the old ones because they know more about your real life than anyone. They control more, and can influence the masses by subtle changes to search results, including or excluding information they do not want to share.

    The new boss beats the old boss hands down, and everyone is on their knees licking it up.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  70.  
    icon
    techflaws (profile), Jul 22nd, 2014 @ 10:23pm

    Re: Re: Pendulum Swings...

    Hey, if you feel exploited, just don't generate content. You can start right here by quitting posting.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  71.  
    icon
    PaulT (profile), Jul 23rd, 2014 @ 1:19am

    Re: Re:

    Talking as someone from outside the US (but who uses multiple social networks daily):

    "1. Social media should be socialized because services tend to be or become monopolies"

    Even when true, they are often supplanted at some point by new competitors. Some people use multiple networks, while the usage of networks is often naturally skewed along age or geographical areas - as well as use case. Yes, some people use Facebook and Facebook alone, but others also use Pinterest or Twitter as well. Some countries have more usage of Badoo or Tuenti than Facebook, and a lot of kids are ignoring Facebook in favour of things like Instagram and Snapchat. Others will use Facebook or Twitter for personal interaction but then use LinkedIn or Google Plus for professional use.

    If there are "monopolies", it's because people go to where most of their friends or desired contacts are. This is difficult to control and may lead to some problems for a new service to compete. But, people still have options, and things can change quickly if a decent new service comes alone that removes the issues experienced by a new service.

    "2. Social media should be socialized because attaining profitability (through ads or fees) is impossible without degrading the service"

    If the degradation happens enough that people move to a different media or social network, so what? Especially if there's no monthly charge, people will happily move (MySpace also had a "monopoly" for a while). For younger users, you don't even need degradation for them to move, only a perception that their peers have moved to a newer, cooler service. You can argue that the profit motive is also degrading service for YouTube users, but this doesn't mean that YouTube shouldn't be a private enterprise.

    "3. Social media should be socialized because the fraternization of people is a democratic good, which for-profit operation impairs."

    As does governmental control. Unless you're dumb enough to think that government ownership of a primary means of communication won't be subjected to censorship, or that known government monitoring won't get people socialising in separate groups, of course.

    "4. Social media should be socialized not in spite of, but in service of, entrepreneurialism and innovation."

    This doesn't make any logical sense. If something is government owned, not only are they hard to compete with directly on the same level, but there's usually also bureaucracy and red tape to go with it. Regulations to be adhered to, that might be so rigid that innovation is not feasible. You've seen how slow the legal system has been to catch up with modern technology as it is. Now imagine that the government owned a monopoly on MySpace before Facebook, Twitter and all their competitors came along...

    It's telling that the article refers to "monopolies" in "social media", but then has to get picky about referring to "microblogging" later so they don't have to admit that there are multiple dominant social networks (and therefore competition, thus no monopoly). In other words, none of those companies have a monopoly in "social media". They may have a near monopoly in their particular niche, but not in "social media" as a whole. Thus trying to nationalise them is meaningless, since many of these niches were only created by these services innovating in the first place.

    "5. Social media should be socialized because its content is produced by society at large, and society is distinct from the economy"

    As is most of the content of the internet. Which, I might add, is created by the population of the entire planet. Why should the US government get the content produced by global society just because Facebook is headquartered there? Or, are you talking about separating the parts of these companies into national components and thus reducing most of their value? I know my interaction on Facebook is far less useful if I can't talk to friends in America, or if it's suddenly "owned" by a foreign government.

    "Are we just that scared of the specter of SOCIALISM?"

    No, just unworkable ideas that are bound to fail and will almost certainly not bring any of the promised benefits. Hell, just having the US government take any control of these services will probably cause them to fail rapidly, simply because non-US users will abandon it if they're not parcelled off separately.

    If you want more regulation, such as greater privacy protections, then empower those agencies to enforce those rules. Need new rules? Get your elected government to put them in place. But, there's not a real argument for actually nationalising these services.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  72.  
    icon
    PaulT (profile), Jul 23rd, 2014 @ 1:43am

    Re:

    "going to google and searching"

    Wow! How are Google getting the information that they then feed into their own ad network? It's a real mystery...

    "My facebook page is packed with ads for things I have search on google for."

    Why, it's almost as if ad networks share information! You should write a paper about this shocking revelation... just wait until you find that other companies do this as well, you could get a Pulitzer for your investigative reporting!

    "all this because I choose to use a browser that they offer or visit their search pages."

    So, the question is not what Google are doing. It's a question of why, even though they concern you that much, you actively choose to use their products and services rather than their many competitors in each area. Let's not start with your usual whining that some tracking cookies might follow you anyway - you're admitting that you deliberately give Google the information they request when you use their service and don't bother using anything else!

    What a surprise... another rant from Whatever, fully rooted in ignorance.

    "These guys are the new gatekeepers"

    Except you chose to go through their gates, and you're free to leave any time you want. That's not Google's doing. But, whining rather than thinking is usually too much effort, isn't it?

     

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  73.  
    identicon
    me, Jul 23rd, 2014 @ 4:30am

    Its frightening

    How far up that mans ass his head is.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  74.  
    icon
    nasch (profile), Jul 23rd, 2014 @ 7:04am

    Re:

    What concerns me is that while there is all sorts of nasty comments about the NSA and their work, few seem to take up Google and other networks for their efforts.

    I know right? You just never ever ever hear about anyone criticizing Google about anything.

    /s

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  75.  
    identicon
    Lalala, Jul 23rd, 2014 @ 8:12am

    Commie

    I'd like to see this guy make those claims 30 years ago...

    In Soviet America, we nationalize you!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  76.  
    icon
    John Fenderson (profile), Jul 23rd, 2014 @ 8:41am

    Re: Re: Re: missing the target

    Comparing the track record of government and private industry for managing complex infrastructure, I think that the government comes out on top. Not that it's perfect (not by a long shot), but that private industry is often worse and more expensive. This has been getting more and more obvious as more and more things are getting privatized.

    But the main reason for nationalizing critical infrastructure isn't about who can manage it the best anyway, it's about how much control we are willing to put into the hands of a private corporation, where we have no say.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  77.  
    icon
    Gwiz (profile), Jul 23rd, 2014 @ 8:58am

    Re:

    At some point, Google has become so pervasive online that they are a threat to my privacy. All of the information they store on me, every search made, every page viewed... it all adds up a serious risk - all this because I choose to use a browser that they offer or visit their search pages.


    You have just made a very compelling argument as to why things like encryption, TOR, proxies, VPNs and general anonymity online are important these days.

    Which is kind of funny in it's own right, because I'm pretty sure I've seen you argue against some of those things before.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  78.  
    icon
    nasch (profile), Jul 23rd, 2014 @ 9:31am

    Re: Re:

    Which is kind of funny in it's own right, because I'm pretty sure I've seen you argue against some of those things before.

    Must have been on an article where Techdirt mentioned that they're important. Therefore Whatever had to trash them.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  79.  
    icon
    trollificus (profile), Jul 25th, 2014 @ 11:12am

    People who think comparing the US Government and Google or Facebook should thank God, or the power of evolution, for the existence of the medulla, which controls autonomic systems like breathing and heartbeat. Because clearly they don't have enough intelligence to maintain those activities on their own.

    I mean, you are passing this off as "thought"??

    "Google gets my info."
    "NSA gets my info."
    "Therefore the threat from each is the same."

    Seriously?

    The compared things (Google=NSA) are not alike enough for the comparison to be useful. When Google has SWAT teams, courts and prisons, THEN maybe your bullshit 'argument' would be worth examining, but not until.

    Till then, good luck remembering to breathe you fucking idiot.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  80.  
    identicon
    Reality bites, Jul 28th, 2014 @ 9:46am

    Eskow is a known idiot, "Suits" always are!

    Any drooling cretin proposing the Feral government take over anything not only shouldn't be listened to, but should be deported.

    Eskow is the poster child for the corporate cretin parasite.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  81.  
    identicon
    DJEB, Nov 14th, 2014 @ 6:32am

    Privately run utilities are horrid

    "Apparently he's unaware of how "wonderful" service is from nationalized companies."

    Going by the government-run health care, police services, fire services, libraries, and other utilities I enjoy in my country, I'd use the term "kick-ass," myself.

    My home internet service will let me have a choppily delivered 25GB for $265 a month (when it costs them a nickel to deliver 1 GB to me). Yeah, I'd like nationalized internet. Then I can enjoy quality service at a low price so it will be less expensive to read incorrect opinion pieces telling me how awesome horrible things are.

    PS. Ron Paul is a kook.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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