Linked by Thom Holwerda on Mon 23rd Apr 2012 22:40 UTC
In the News "The increase is a sign that the search engine can no longer afford to operate in a Silicon Valley vacuum. For years, Google had a reputation for indifference inside the Beltway. It took Google until May 2005 to set up a presence in Washington and even then, its headquarters consisted of a one-man lobbying shop in suburban Maryland." Do the Americans among you just accept this? Is this normal? Why aren't you guys turning to the streets when your country is quite clearly being bought left and right? I mean, I'm sure this happens everywhere, but on this scale? Gives me the creeps.
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libertie$
by fran on Mon 23rd Apr 2012 22:53 UTC
fran
Member since:
2010-08-06

That is because freedoms is hard fought, I mean bought.
And how does this lobbying compare to say tobacco.
My hunch a bigger lobby is lobbying this scrutiny.

Reply Score: 5

RE: libertie$
by flynn on Tue 24th Apr 2012 13:05 UTC in reply to "libertie$"
flynn Member since:
2009-03-19

And how does this lobbying compare to say tobacco.

Ars has comparisons to other lobbies in their article:

From January to March of this year, Google spent over $5 million on lobbying, nearly matching its entire 2010 lobbying budget of $5.2 million. If the company maintains this pace, it will likely earn itself a spot as one of the top ten spending entities for the year as logged by Open Secrets. Comparing this same rate with 2011 figures, Google would outspend the entire tobacco industry ($17.07 million), the combined spending of JPMorgan Chase, Wells Fargo, and Citigroup ($18.67 million), but would be just barely behind the combined budgets of pharmaceutical giants Pfizer and Merck ($20.685 million). For comparison, Apple spent only $500,000 for the same 2012 quarter; Microsoft spent $1.79 million.

Reply Score: 4

...
by Hiev on Mon 23rd Apr 2012 23:00 UTC
Hiev
Member since:
2005-09-27

What is Lobbying?

Reply Score: 2

RE: ...
by Flatland_Spider on Tue 24th Apr 2012 00:36 UTC in reply to "..."
Flatland_Spider Member since:
2006-09-01

lobbying
http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/lobbying?s=t

verb (used with object)
5.
to try to influence the actions of (public officials, especially legislators).
6.
to urge or procure the passage of (a bill), by lobbying.

Basically, it's where a constituent asks their representative to support a particular position on a subject using a personal appeal or having a proxy appeal on their behalf.

Most people associate lobbying with using a proxy and don't realize the lobbying applies to personal appeals as well.

Reply Score: 3

RE[2]: ...
by Hiev on Tue 24th Apr 2012 01:51 UTC in reply to "RE: ..."
Hiev Member since:
2005-09-27

Thanks.

Reply Score: 2

RE: ...
by OSbunny on Tue 24th Apr 2012 10:01 UTC in reply to "..."
OSbunny Member since:
2009-05-23

Legalized corruption.

Reply Score: 2

Truth be told
by kragil on Mon 23rd Apr 2012 23:01 UTC
kragil
Member since:
2006-01-04

Lobbying sucks, but without Googles efforts we would have SOPA and PIPA much sooner and way worse. They spend $4 million just fighting those.

Reply Score: 6

America isn't all roses...
by minifig404 on Mon 23rd Apr 2012 23:15 UTC
minifig404
Member since:
2012-02-26

Yes, America has a ton of lobbying. Unfortunately, the only thing we the people can do is threaten to not re-elect an official. The primary reaction of the SOPA/PIPA protests wasn't an understanding of the issues with the bill, it was a fear of "getting SOPA'd". So far, I haven't exactly seen a pristine-perfect land yet, and as much room for improvement or revolution there may be, it is more important to hone in on the real problem, and get the change correct, than to act at all.

Reply Score: 3

RE: America isn't all roses...
by Lennie on Mon 23rd Apr 2012 23:36 UTC in reply to "America isn't all roses..."
Lennie Member since:
2007-09-22

I asked some people from the US, but I've not had any answers from anyone.

So is this gonna happen and will it solve anything ? or will they just hide is somewhere else ?:

Bernie Sanders Proposes 'Saving American Democracy Amendment'

http://readersupportednews.org/news-section2/318-66/8804-bernie-san...

Reply Score: 3

Bill Shooter of Bul Member since:
2006-07-14

I hate to be a pessimist, but I don't think that will end up making it as an amendment. Amending the constitution is a long process. There are only two ways:

1) 2/3 majority passage in both congressional bodies
AND
3/4 2/3 state governments to ratify it

2) 2/3 state governments demand it
AND
a Constitutional Convention confirms it.

I don't think anyone has tried the second method, as no one knows the how to run a constitutional convention anymore.

Reply Score: 3

RE[3]: America isn't all roses...
by Lennie on Thu 26th Apr 2012 12:10 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: America isn't all roses..."
Lennie Member since:
2007-09-22

Pessimism and politics go hand in hand, so don't worry about that. :-)

Thanks for the reply. It is good having some perspective from the US. It explains a lot.

Reply Score: 2

RE: America isn't all roses...
by Fergy on Tue 24th Apr 2012 05:13 UTC in reply to "America isn't all roses..."
Fergy Member since:
2006-04-10

So far, I haven't exactly seen a pristine-perfect land yet, and as much room for improvement or revolution there may be, it is more important to hone in on the real problem, and get the change correct, than to act at all.

I don't exactly get what you are trying to say. Do you mean that the US might have room for improvement but you haven't seen better in other countries? What is the real problem? What change needs to be correct?

Reply Score: 2

It's very simple
by Flash3441 on Tue 24th Apr 2012 00:09 UTC
Flash3441
Member since:
2006-03-29

The reason people get confused with American politics is because they think that politicians are caring people who love their country and want what is best for their fellow countrymen.

The reality is that politicians (especially American politicians) are like prostitutes. They will do anything and everything to (a) make a lot of money, (b) be taken care of by powerful corporations/pimps, and (c) not end up in jail.

Keep this in mind and everything will start making sense. Including the current state of the country.

Reply Score: 8

RE: It's very simple
by l3v1 on Tue 24th Apr 2012 06:17 UTC in reply to "It's very simple"
l3v1 Member since:
2005-07-06

think that politicians are caring people who love their country and want what is best for their fellow countrymen


Caring? Some might care for one thing or the other, if at least one of those makes him happier. Love their country? I suppose that could be accepted. Best for their fellow countrymen? I suppose it could be true, as long as countrymen's definition is me, me, and oh, I.

I have yet to see a politician that would by both action and words adhere to all the above at the same time.

And yet they still get elected. I suppose people have by now realized that whatever government is still better in general, than no government. But sometimes it's really peculiar, to say the least, when these elected politicians act as they would've got their powers from [whichever] God to do whatever they see fit the crowds of mere mortals.

Reply Score: 2

RE[2]: It's very simple
by zima on Sat 28th Apr 2012 12:02 UTC in reply to "RE: It's very simple"
zima Member since:
2005-07-06

But sometimes it's really peculiar, to say the least, when these elected politicians act as they would've got their powers from [whichever] God to do whatever they see fit the crowds of mere mortals.

Nothing really peculiar about it when, for one, some prominent political options ride, more or less, on just such myths...

Reply Score: 2

Comment by Flatland_Spider
by Flatland_Spider on Tue 24th Apr 2012 00:27 UTC
Flatland_Spider
Member since:
2006-09-01

Do the Americans among you just accept this? Is this normal? Why aren't you guys turning to the streets when your country is quite clearly being bought left and right?


Yes, it's a well established facet of the congerssional legislative process. We aren't revolting because it's a useful tool, which works fairly well. The US is a big country, and as such it makes sense to have a mechanism where the distant citizens can have a presence in the capital.

Hiring lobbyists isn't exclusive to large businesses. Anyone can hire a lobbyist. The EFF hires lobbyists, and support of lobbying efforts is one of the reason to donate to organizations that support personal causes. Lots of organization websites have written tools, so people can easily lobby their representatives in regards to causes they support. PETA and Downsize DC are two examples.

We do have problems, but we have so many leaks one weepy little leak isn't going sink the ship. We'll fix that one after we fix the basketball sized hole in the side of the ship.

Reply Score: 2

RE: Comment by Flatland_Spider
by Fergy on Tue 24th Apr 2012 05:23 UTC in reply to "Comment by Flatland_Spider"
Fergy Member since:
2006-04-10

The US is a big country, and as such it makes sense to have a mechanism where the distant citizens can have a presence in the capital.

That is what voting is for.

Isn't it weird that you have to hire organizations to influence the people that you voted for to get them to do what you want?

If you take away normal democracy in the US you are left with how most of the world sees the US: the president is the guy that spend the most on his commercials, lobbying groups are directly in charge, huge corporations spend the most money and thus are in charge of the country.

Reply Score: 7

RE[2]: Comment by Flatland_Spider
by Drumhellar on Tue 24th Apr 2012 10:03 UTC in reply to "RE: Comment by Flatland_Spider"
Drumhellar Member since:
2005-07-12

It isn't weird at all. The actual vote is only one way of many to participate in the democratic process, and only gives an affirmative or negative on an elected official's whole platform. Since you will never find a politician who's platform is both all encompassing and 100% identical to your platform, you have to be active in helping to shape what your representative does.

Reply Score: 3

Flatland_Spider Member since:
2006-09-01

Exactly. Getting a candidate in office who is sympathetic to your positions counts for about 10% (I'm being generous with that number). You have to keep the whip on them to get what you want.

Reply Score: 1

Flatland_Spider Member since:
2006-09-01

That is what voting is for.


Right, because 1500 miles if just next door.

What the politicians want us to do is forget about them until the next election and let them vote without any oversight.

Lack of oversight is how we end up in this position in the first place. We let the politicians pass legislation whatever they felt like, and they passed bills that benefited them and whomever was prompting them.

If we want change, we're going to have to get in their face, and let them know what we want. Have you heard about the squeaky wheel that got the grease?

Pulling a lever and hoping everything works out isn't going to cut it. It's going to take a lot of effort, time, and diligence to right the ship, and casting a vote isn't the end of your responsibilities as a citizen. That's one day out of the year. There are 364 days, 365 in leap years, left in the year where you need to make sure your representative is serving your interests.

Reply Score: 2

RE[3]: Comment by Flatland_Spider
by Fergy on Wed 25th Apr 2012 05:10 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: Comment by Flatland_Spider"
Fergy Member since:
2006-04-10

Pulling a lever and hoping everything works out isn't going to cut it.

I agree with you fully. But lobbying is a symptom of a broken system. You should have more influence in politics but I think it should be built in the system. You already pay the government why pay again for lobbying groups?
I think we should be able to vote on things that we find important not on people. I don't care about the people in politics. And if we can't change the system; A large country like the US should at least have 20-30 parties.

Reply Score: 3

They learned from Microsoft's lesson
by MollyC on Tue 24th Apr 2012 00:35 UTC
MollyC
Member since:
2006-07-04

Microsoft had zero lobbying in DC when the DOJ came after them; after the DOJ had been lobbied by Sun, Netscape, Oracle, who had hugely funded lobbying operations (while Microsoft had none).

Reply Score: 2

Flatland_Spider Member since:
2006-09-01

That's why it's so shocking Google took so long to establish an lobbying effort.

Politics is a dirty game, and if you're not trying to get the dealer to load the deck, you're doing it wrong.

Reply Score: 2

transami Member since:
2006-02-28

That's exactly why Google got dragged into lobbying too. Basically our government says, "Hey, big company XYZ, inc. is not paying their fair share of graft money. Let's litigate the hell out of them. Then they'll know how to play the game."

It's a sick sick system.

Reply Score: 6

Comment by jigzat
by jigzat on Tue 24th Apr 2012 00:50 UTC
jigzat
Member since:
2008-10-30

That is not just American politicians, every politician around the world works the same way.

Reply Score: 4

RE: Comment by jigzat
by Fergy on Tue 24th Apr 2012 05:24 UTC in reply to "Comment by jigzat"
Fergy Member since:
2006-04-10

That is not just American politicians, every politician around the world works the same way.

You have experience with all politicians around the world?

Reply Score: 2

RE[2]: Comment by jigzat
by AWdrius on Tue 24th Apr 2012 09:01 UTC in reply to "RE: Comment by jigzat"
AWdrius Member since:
2006-07-18

Well, I do know that that is exactly how it works in my country (Lithuania) and other countries around it (Poland, Latvia, Russia?).

It always fascinates me when people think that politicians are all about love and ponies. And that is especially true the poorer the country is. My sister lives in US and we had a huge argument when she was trying to convince me that in US politicians are going to a "power" because they love their country (btw I call this "western fever") and that money mean little to them cause they already have money. Well hell yeah, the rule I learnt is that you do not have rolls or cash rolling around just by being nice (-.

Reply Score: 2

OWS tried, and failed
by ozonehole on Tue 24th Apr 2012 02:25 UTC
ozonehole
Member since:
2006-01-07

Thom asked: Do the Americans among you just accept this? Is this normal? Why aren't you guys turning to the streets when your country is quite clearly being bought left and right?

That in large part is what the #OccupyWallStreet movement was all about. That is to say, people are very disgusted by the way the wealthy 1% has bought the government.

So how did the 1% respond to the protests? With nightsticks, tear gas and mass arrests. And America's mainstream media bent over backwards to paint the #OWS folks as crazy commies who deserved to be beaten, tear-gassed and imprisoned.

So why do most Americans not protest? I think it's pretty self-evident - it doesn't work. As for solutions, I don't have any in my back pocket. Maybe when the USA finally collapses, the public will at least come to understand why, though I wouldn't count on that either.

Reply Score: 8

RE: OWS tried, and failed
by Brendan on Tue 24th Apr 2012 04:14 UTC in reply to "OWS tried, and failed"
Brendan Member since:
2005-11-16

Hi,

So why do most Americans not protest? I think it's pretty self-evident - it doesn't work. As for solutions, I don't have any in my back pocket. Maybe when the USA finally collapses, the public will at least come to understand why, though I wouldn't count on that either.


WARNING: This is a intended as a joke, and should not be taken as a serious suggestion!

There's more than one way to protest in a land that promotes the right to keep and bear arms; and Americans do have a long and proud history of (both successful and failed/attempted) presidential assassinations.

Let's be honest here - you probably only have to blow away a few politicians and the rest will suddenly remember what democracy is.

- Brendan

Reply Score: 2

RE[2]: OWS tried, and failed
by zima on Mon 30th Apr 2012 21:29 UTC in reply to "RE: OWS tried, and failed"
zima Member since:
2005-07-06

Thing is, as long as they can cherish this largely meaningless law, as long as you give them guns, they're happy ...maybe just with the guns and not much else.

Reply Score: 2

It's just a shakedown
by trev on Tue 24th Apr 2012 02:36 UTC
trev
Member since:
2006-11-22

As many have pointed out we've had Microsoft and many others. Google is just the latest company to pay to play in the U.S. The US government is basically a legal mafia that collects protection money as well as does "dirty jobs", like SOPA and PIPA, for more money. I think most people see a trend in the companies that lobby to defend themselves soon turn into lobbying to get laws they want. At this point I think the corruption is so deeply rooted only a revolution will reset things. Sad but I really can't see it changing any other way. Even the elections can't be trusted any more thanks to the closed source electronic voting machines.

Reply Score: 4

matthewp131
Member since:
2011-09-21

Lobbying is an unfortunate reality brought about by hundreds of years of determined exploitation of the Constitution. Such exploitation should come as no surprise, as it is the inevitable consequence of granting any sinful man any amount of power. While this exploitation can only be expected, there is really no way to stop it. Men will always grasp for power, to the point of a revolution. And then the cycle starts over. Ultimately years of study of governmental philosophy has shown me one thing: men will never act altruistically. Even the founders of the Constitution understood this, which is why there is a natural check and balance between the judicial, executive, and legislative branches. However, no Constitution will ever be capable of staving off the lust for power forever. Lobbying is merely the newest form of the harsh reality that money equals power. Ultimately all these desires within men shine towards a want of something beyond themselves. Men see the potential to be remembered and to make a lasting effect beyond their own life through government.

Reply Score: 4

Comment by Luminair
by Luminair on Tue 24th Apr 2012 05:10 UTC
Luminair
Member since:
2007-03-30

if government had to be monitored as much as government wants to monitor regular people, lobbying would lose some power. can you imagine government on the tv set of "Big Brother"?

Reply Score: 2

Hate to break this
by lucas_maximus on Tue 24th Apr 2012 08:51 UTC
lucas_maximus
Member since:
2009-08-18

How is Google lobbying any different than someone independent calling or emailing their representative?

Please explain?

PS: Lobbying via joining consumer groups is fast becoming the only way for the average Joe to influence politicians ... since Politics is pretty much a career.

Edited 2012-04-24 08:52 UTC

Reply Score: 1

cyrilleberger
Member since:
2006-02-01

"Currently around 15,000 Brussels-based lobbyists (consultants, lawyers, associations, corporations, NGOs etc.) seek to influence the EU’s legislative process."

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lobbying#European_Union

The main difference is that street protest is much more commonly accepted and practised in Europe than in the US. And it does act as an efficient balancing of powers, see how ACTA was almost shot down by protests. While in the US, protests are perceived negatively, see the reaction to the "occupy wall-street" movement. And there is effectively no balance.

An other difference, and problem, is the lack of political offer. US is essentially a two-party systems, and often, the laws are supported and opposed by people in different party. EU is a multi party system, increasing the competition, meaning that MP are careful to not vote anything that would displease voters. Also, at the European State level, even in countries dominated by two parties (such as France, UK or Spain), the smaller party get enough vote to influence the main parties.

All in all, it contributes to reduce the influence of lobbying organisations. Also, in Europe, since lobbying is often not strictly legalized (like in France), it is also not done as openly. Not counting that there is limited coverage of what happen at the EU-level, hence we hear little of the lobbying activities.

Reply Score: 3

Misleading article title
by anevilyak on Tue 24th Apr 2012 14:07 UTC
anevilyak
Member since:
2005-09-14

While I hate lobbying as much as anyone else, it should be pointed out that a huge chunk of the spending by Google highlighted in that article was actually spent on anti-SOPA efforts, and thus had nothing to do with DOJ scrutiny.

Reply Score: 5

RE: Misleading article title
by nej_simon on Tue 24th Apr 2012 16:42 UTC in reply to "Misleading article title"
nej_simon Member since:
2011-02-11

Exactly. Google spent some $4 million on lobbying to stop SOPA/PIPA.

Ars technica concludes:
If the company chooses not to continue the fight against CISPA and other bills similar to SOPA and PIPA that rise in their wake, its spending may drop off for the rest of the year.

http://arstechnica.com/gadgets/news/2012/04/google-on-track-to-outs...

Reply Score: 2

zoinksbob
Member since:
2010-06-11

Q for Thom and any other Europeans who feel like answering: I know a lot of US shows get exported overseas, but do any Europeans watch things like 'The Daily Show' or 'The Colber Report'? I'm guessing it's too American for most foreign audiences.

But that's my answer to Thom's "Do the Americans among you just accept this? Is this normal?"

'The Daily Show' and 'The Colbert Report' are how we as a society cope with the sorts of things you're talking about. If you have the ability to watch these shows where you are, they may be educational. These sorts of ironic satire shows are how a big chunk of us Americans stay sane.

Edited 2012-04-25 06:37 UTC

Reply Score: 1

Lobbying
by jhodapp on Thu 26th Apr 2012 16:44 UTC
jhodapp
Member since:
2009-11-24

My quick comment on this is, lobbying is perhaps the largest in the U.S. because here, there is the most power and influence to be bought. No other government spends more money than the U.S. No other government has more authority and control in the world. That's worth a lot of money and many people want a stake in it. The solution, shrink the U.S. government so that there is less incentive and things to be bought.

Reply Score: 1