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

From: Declan McCullagh (declanat_private)
Date: Mon Nov 11 2002 - 13:18:56 PST

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    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: declanat_private
    From: "A.Lizard" <alizardat_private>
    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.
    member The Internet Society (ISOC), The HTML Writers Guild.
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