Note the NRA’s tactics — does the tech industry have someone looking out for us?

Hey, maybe we should think about how the tech industry could work the political system to protect its interests. Just like the NRA does, according to this Washington Post article.
For instance, my brother-in-law told me why so many semiconductor companies moved fabs up to Portland, Oregon: water. That means lots of jobs for Portland. Politics decides on who gets the cheap water.

Google moved nearby for both water and good access to low-cost power (a nearby trainline brings coal, and Columbia river brings hydro-electric power). We’re worried that network neutrality is going to be thrown out the window.

In America lots of high tech types are worried that jobs are going overseas.

Note how the NRA gets its way: they pick one political party to back. They make noise even when there’s no reason to make noise. They raise lots of money and hand it out to the right folks who’ll vote their way. And even when they lose they look for a way to get their way.

Who is looking out for US in Washington D.C.? Microsoft? Google? Yahoo? I know Microsoft and other big tech companies have political action committees and lobbyists, but really, are they thinking about the industry at large? I doubt it.

Is there a good place for a geek to get politically involved?

68 thoughts on “Note the NRA’s tactics — does the tech industry have someone looking out for us?

  1. I can think of many off the top of my head, EFF, Scientist and Engineers for America, Center for Democracy and Technology, IPAC, SaveTheInternet.com, Public Knowledge, Technology Liberation Front, SaveYourSpace.org, Irrepressible.info, and finally Free Software Foundation (in the past year they have become more and more proactive politically). All of these have places where you can either donate at the very least and many of these organizations have places where you can either start conversations or organize actions or just about anything else you want to do. Hope this helps to give you some places to look at.

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  2. I can think of many off the top of my head, EFF, Scientist and Engineers for America, Center for Democracy and Technology, IPAC, SaveTheInternet.com, Public Knowledge, Technology Liberation Front, SaveYourSpace.org, Irrepressible.info, and finally Free Software Foundation (in the past year they have become more and more proactive politically). All of these have places where you can either donate at the very least and many of these organizations have places where you can either start conversations or organize actions or just about anything else you want to do. Hope this helps to give you some places to look at.

    Like

  3. Realisticly, in order for any of those organizations to have a fighting chance in the the political realm is for them to unite and develop a common agenda. None of them will be able to be effective if they are all competing for resources from the tech community.

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  4. Realisticly, in order for any of those organizations to have a fighting chance in the the political realm is for them to unite and develop a common agenda. None of them will be able to be effective if they are all competing for resources from the tech community.

    Like

  5. Jeff: I agree. EFF is pretty good, but I know Microsofties often had a problem with its views.

    It sure is easier to garner support when you’re a single-issue organization like the NRA is.

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  6. Jeff: I agree. EFF is pretty good, but I know Microsofties often had a problem with its views.

    It sure is easier to garner support when you’re a single-issue organization like the NRA is.

    Like

  7. NRA backs people on a single issue not a single party. Good Democrats get money and support from NRA all the time. Issue over party is a good way to be.
    BTW the Brady Campaign is a hate group and I always wonder about news article that have quotes from them. Would they quote the KKK taking about the NAACP I wonder?

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  8. NRA backs people on a single issue not a single party. Good Democrats get money and support from NRA all the time. Issue over party is a good way to be.
    BTW the Brady Campaign is a hate group and I always wonder about news article that have quotes from them. Would they quote the KKK taking about the NAACP I wonder?

    Like

  9. As you mentioned, the tech industry needs abundant electric power. Tech workers need a clean environment. Coal is the worst fuel with regard to sulfur dioxide, particulates, and greenhouse gases.

    Hydroelectric and nuclear energy are the way to have lots of electricity with low emissions. As an example, Vermont gets over 70% of its electricity from the Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant. Vermont also has the nation’s lowest sulfur dioxide and CO2 emissions of any state.

    One thing that people in the tech industry can do to watch out for their own interests is to learn the arithmetic of electrical generation and then support license renewals and new build of nuclear energy facilities.

    Like

  10. As you mentioned, the tech industry needs abundant electric power. Tech workers need a clean environment. Coal is the worst fuel with regard to sulfur dioxide, particulates, and greenhouse gases.

    Hydroelectric and nuclear energy are the way to have lots of electricity with low emissions. As an example, Vermont gets over 70% of its electricity from the Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant. Vermont also has the nation’s lowest sulfur dioxide and CO2 emissions of any state.

    One thing that people in the tech industry can do to watch out for their own interests is to learn the arithmetic of electrical generation and then support license renewals and new build of nuclear energy facilities.

    Like

  11. A lot of the tech groups in Washington come across as amateurs when compared to organizations like RIAA or the MPAA. They’ll send in a couple of lawyers or wild-eyed activists to talk about ‘freeing the information’ and then the MPAA will send in two or three a-list movie stars to get their pictures taken with a Congressman along with a full donation for the maximum campaign contribution per election cycle. Guess who triumphs?

    (side note: I worked in Congress nearly a decade before coming to the tech industry)

    Tech groups really need to start to use whatever ‘star power’ they can muster. Have Bill Gates meet some Senators, or Steve Jobs, or anyone else who might be recognizable. Tech pundits / bloggers also need to focus, tightly, on the technology issues at hand, and not go all ‘over the world’ on things that are not directly relevant to the tech industry (abortion, guns, Iraq, etc). Does RIAA have a position on Iraq? Does the MPAA believe in a right to bear arms?

    And, above all, they should avoid, at any cost, becoming the darling of one political party or another or supporting one candidate over another due to non-technology related issues. That’s the fastest way to a slammed door in your face.

    I think for the ‘tech lobby’ to become effective, it will have to portrary technology as an essential thing to the day-to-day life of the average American. These are things that each and every American needs to continue to be productive and informed. The NRA has massive grass roots who believe, very strongly, in their individual right to bear firearms. The abortion groups believe very strong in an individuals ‘right to life’ or an individuals ‘right to choice.’ Technology is part of our everyday life, and competitive access, net neutrality, etc is part of our ‘rights’.

    It should not be perceived as “these are the things the telcos need to be wealthy” or “these are the things the computer companies need to turn a profit.” It has to be more neutral, and more across the spectrum than a benefit to any one person.

    But that’s just my two cents…

    Like

  12. A lot of the tech groups in Washington come across as amateurs when compared to organizations like RIAA or the MPAA. They’ll send in a couple of lawyers or wild-eyed activists to talk about ‘freeing the information’ and then the MPAA will send in two or three a-list movie stars to get their pictures taken with a Congressman along with a full donation for the maximum campaign contribution per election cycle. Guess who triumphs?

    (side note: I worked in Congress nearly a decade before coming to the tech industry)

    Tech groups really need to start to use whatever ‘star power’ they can muster. Have Bill Gates meet some Senators, or Steve Jobs, or anyone else who might be recognizable. Tech pundits / bloggers also need to focus, tightly, on the technology issues at hand, and not go all ‘over the world’ on things that are not directly relevant to the tech industry (abortion, guns, Iraq, etc). Does RIAA have a position on Iraq? Does the MPAA believe in a right to bear arms?

    And, above all, they should avoid, at any cost, becoming the darling of one political party or another or supporting one candidate over another due to non-technology related issues. That’s the fastest way to a slammed door in your face.

    I think for the ‘tech lobby’ to become effective, it will have to portrary technology as an essential thing to the day-to-day life of the average American. These are things that each and every American needs to continue to be productive and informed. The NRA has massive grass roots who believe, very strongly, in their individual right to bear firearms. The abortion groups believe very strong in an individuals ‘right to life’ or an individuals ‘right to choice.’ Technology is part of our everyday life, and competitive access, net neutrality, etc is part of our ‘rights’.

    It should not be perceived as “these are the things the telcos need to be wealthy” or “these are the things the computer companies need to turn a profit.” It has to be more neutral, and more across the spectrum than a benefit to any one person.

    But that’s just my two cents…

    Like

  13. I concur that the NRA backs people, not Party. Look at folks like Sen. Webb (D), who unseated George “Macaca” Allen, Rep. Dingel (D), and other Dems. That’s why the NRA IS so effective–it puts the interest of the movement above those of political association. And that is NOT something that allot of folks in high-tech have gotten, with the exception of Microsoft.

    The NRA makes those who buck it pay a steep price. Oh, you may get reelected, but it will cost you allot and does not mean you will repeat that performance.

    How to do this in high-tech? First, you need an issue that enpassions your audience. Next, you need to get your audience to regularly donate money and commit to doing so. You need to start state-level efforts too, like Texans for Net Neutrality just as the NRA has the Texas NRA. You must have a way of tracking the votes of members of Congress, score them annually, and let your members know what their Rep’s and Senator’s score is. Lastly, you have to start working to defeat you movement’s political enemies. And as a necessity you must reward your friends so that they can stand up to their political enemies.

    Like

  14. I concur that the NRA backs people, not Party. Look at folks like Sen. Webb (D), who unseated George “Macaca” Allen, Rep. Dingel (D), and other Dems. That’s why the NRA IS so effective–it puts the interest of the movement above those of political association. And that is NOT something that allot of folks in high-tech have gotten, with the exception of Microsoft.

    The NRA makes those who buck it pay a steep price. Oh, you may get reelected, but it will cost you allot and does not mean you will repeat that performance.

    How to do this in high-tech? First, you need an issue that enpassions your audience. Next, you need to get your audience to regularly donate money and commit to doing so. You need to start state-level efforts too, like Texans for Net Neutrality just as the NRA has the Texas NRA. You must have a way of tracking the votes of members of Congress, score them annually, and let your members know what their Rep’s and Senator’s score is. Lastly, you have to start working to defeat you movement’s political enemies. And as a necessity you must reward your friends so that they can stand up to their political enemies.

    Like

  15. The NRA picks a party? God!, are you ever naive. A good lobbying organization covers all their bets. I would think that would have been one of the first things you observed in your travels with Edwards.

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  16. The NRA picks a party? God!, are you ever naive. A good lobbying organization covers all their bets. I would think that would have been one of the first things you observed in your travels with Edwards.

    Like

  17. @8 I think Gates’ recent experience in dealing with the govt has likely left a bad taste in his mouth. I rather doubt he has any interesting in leading any lobbying efforts. Now, I’m sure he would likely gladly be involved in any efforts that would further the work of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

    Like

  18. @8 I think Gates’ recent experience in dealing with the govt has likely left a bad taste in his mouth. I rather doubt he has any interesting in leading any lobbying efforts. Now, I’m sure he would likely gladly be involved in any efforts that would further the work of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

    Like

  19. @12. Just because it was in the Post doesn’t mean it was accurate. Read the Post with a critical eye at all? The NRA will lobby any party that is in power. That’s how lobbying works. They’ve supported mostly one party because that’s the one party that has been in power since 1994. Duh!

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  20. @12. Just because it was in the Post doesn’t mean it was accurate. Read the Post with a critical eye at all? The NRA will lobby any party that is in power. That’s how lobbying works. They’ve supported mostly one party because that’s the one party that has been in power since 1994. Duh!

    Like

  21. Not to get too far off point (but it looks it is going that way)….but take all that you read in the Post with a grain of salt. They have an agenda that is pretty obvious sometimes. It is worth noting that the Dem leadership is very anti-gun but that is not quite the same as the Democrat rank and file, especially many of the more ‘conservative’ freshman who were swept to power in 2006.

    http://www.nraila.org/Issues/FactSheets/Read.aspx?id=207

    “In House of Representatives elections this year, the NRA Political Victory Fund endorsed 259 candidates, and our candidates won 228, or 88% of those races. The 110th Congress will convene with 24 pro-gun freshmen – 11 Democrats and 13 Republicans – in the House, and 227 A-rated members (eight less than after the 2004 elections). For the record, there will be 150 members we rate as Fs.

    Of the 17 candidates NRA endorsed for the U.S. Senate, eight won their races. What really matters, however, was that there was a net loss of only one pro-gun seat – our good friend Jim Talent was defeated in Missouri. Four pro-gun freshmen in the Senate include: Democrats Jon Tester of Montana, Bob Casey of Pennsylvania and Jim Webb of Virginia, along with Republican Bob Corker of Tennessee.”

    Like

  22. Not to get too far off point (but it looks it is going that way)….but take all that you read in the Post with a grain of salt. They have an agenda that is pretty obvious sometimes. It is worth noting that the Dem leadership is very anti-gun but that is not quite the same as the Democrat rank and file, especially many of the more ‘conservative’ freshman who were swept to power in 2006.

    http://www.nraila.org/Issues/FactSheets/Read.aspx?id=207

    “In House of Representatives elections this year, the NRA Political Victory Fund endorsed 259 candidates, and our candidates won 228, or 88% of those races. The 110th Congress will convene with 24 pro-gun freshmen – 11 Democrats and 13 Republicans – in the House, and 227 A-rated members (eight less than after the 2004 elections). For the record, there will be 150 members we rate as Fs.

    Of the 17 candidates NRA endorsed for the U.S. Senate, eight won their races. What really matters, however, was that there was a net loss of only one pro-gun seat – our good friend Jim Talent was defeated in Missouri. Four pro-gun freshmen in the Senate include: Democrats Jon Tester of Montana, Bob Casey of Pennsylvania and Jim Webb of Virginia, along with Republican Bob Corker of Tennessee.”

    Like

  23. Interesting Idea, Robert. A couple of reasons spring to mind. One, mentioned above, is that the NRA is basically a one-issue effort.

    Another, more important, is that it claims to represent something deeply embedded in American history – and it has an original amendment to back that claim up. (I’ll lay aside whether their arguments stack up or not for someone else to wage war over) That gives them tremendous clout with lots of *ordinary people.* I’m not talking about “Valley ordinary,” but blue-collar ordinary, like my step-dad, the Vietnam vet union electrician who rarely ever uses a computer (or, if you prefer, banana pudding ordinary).

    As much as the tech industry wants to have the clout of the NRA as a lobbying organization, they don’t have that connection to regular folk yet. You’re representing an industry. The NRA purports to be representing a part of the fabric of American life.

    Of course, I find it hard to believe any lobbying effort could get the entire tech industry to agree enough to become that powerful.

    Like

  24. Interesting Idea, Robert. A couple of reasons spring to mind. One, mentioned above, is that the NRA is basically a one-issue effort.

    Another, more important, is that it claims to represent something deeply embedded in American history – and it has an original amendment to back that claim up. (I’ll lay aside whether their arguments stack up or not for someone else to wage war over) That gives them tremendous clout with lots of *ordinary people.* I’m not talking about “Valley ordinary,” but blue-collar ordinary, like my step-dad, the Vietnam vet union electrician who rarely ever uses a computer (or, if you prefer, banana pudding ordinary).

    As much as the tech industry wants to have the clout of the NRA as a lobbying organization, they don’t have that connection to regular folk yet. You’re representing an industry. The NRA purports to be representing a part of the fabric of American life.

    Of course, I find it hard to believe any lobbying effort could get the entire tech industry to agree enough to become that powerful.

    Like

  25. Check out TechNet.org . Not sure how influential they are, but here’s how they describe themselves:

    “TechNet is the bipartisan, political network of CEOs and Senior Executives that promotes the growth of technology and the innovation economy. TechNet focuses on politics and policy by bringing its members together with our nation’s policy makers to sustain and advance America’s global leadership in innovation. In addition to its offices in Washington, DC and Silicon Valley, TechNet has a presence in the high-tech centers of Southern California, New England, Texas and the Pacific Northwest. TechNet’s members represent more than one million employees in the fields of information technology, biotechnology, ecommerce and finance.”

    Like

  26. Check out TechNet.org . Not sure how influential they are, but here’s how they describe themselves:

    “TechNet is the bipartisan, political network of CEOs and Senior Executives that promotes the growth of technology and the innovation economy. TechNet focuses on politics and policy by bringing its members together with our nation’s policy makers to sustain and advance America’s global leadership in innovation. In addition to its offices in Washington, DC and Silicon Valley, TechNet has a presence in the high-tech centers of Southern California, New England, Texas and the Pacific Northwest. TechNet’s members represent more than one million employees in the fields of information technology, biotechnology, ecommerce and finance.”

    Like

  27. One can not help but wonder if politics of any kind would end up harming the tech industry more than helping it in the long run.

    The current tech industry is a modern classic example of the survival of the fittest. Social Darwinsm at its finest.

    It is not far fetch to wonder if the ultimate good will always win over out of necessity.

    Like

  28. One can not help but wonder if politics of any kind would end up harming the tech industry more than helping it in the long run.

    The current tech industry is a modern classic example of the survival of the fittest. Social Darwinsm at its finest.

    It is not far fetch to wonder if the ultimate good will always win over out of necessity.

    Like

  29. There is also a (relatively) new non-partisan grassroots project called the League of Technical Voters which I’ve seen best described as a non-profit aimed at enhancing the conversation between technologists and legislators (at all levels). They’ve been methodically putting together a plan, tools and initial funding. Personally, I’d rather get involved with something like that because it’s a hands-on effort that I can contribute more than money to. They recently held a code lock-in to build out some custom Drupal modules (legislative tracking, etc).

    One of the founders of LOTV, Silona Bonewald, and Nancy Scola, a member of Gov. Mark Warner’s internet team that helped develop his tech policy, are hosting a session at SXSW 07 titled “The Technologist Agenda: Political Activism for Geeks”.

    @8 You’re right on Andrew about star power *and* making it any every American issue. A few of us ‘wild-eyed activists’ in Austin, TX managed to defeat some bad municipal wireless legislation from SBC/AT&T in the state house. We brought constituents to the legislators in the capitol offices to explain how their everyday lives would be effected. But, Michael Dell also got involved and acted as an effective closer. That combo beat 200+ corporate lobbyists.

    Like

  30. There is also a (relatively) new non-partisan grassroots project called the League of Technical Voters which I’ve seen best described as a non-profit aimed at enhancing the conversation between technologists and legislators (at all levels). They’ve been methodically putting together a plan, tools and initial funding. Personally, I’d rather get involved with something like that because it’s a hands-on effort that I can contribute more than money to. They recently held a code lock-in to build out some custom Drupal modules (legislative tracking, etc).

    One of the founders of LOTV, Silona Bonewald, and Nancy Scola, a member of Gov. Mark Warner’s internet team that helped develop his tech policy, are hosting a session at SXSW 07 titled “The Technologist Agenda: Political Activism for Geeks”.

    @8 You’re right on Andrew about star power *and* making it any every American issue. A few of us ‘wild-eyed activists’ in Austin, TX managed to defeat some bad municipal wireless legislation from SBC/AT&T in the state house. We brought constituents to the legislators in the capitol offices to explain how their everyday lives would be effected. But, Michael Dell also got involved and acted as an effective closer. That combo beat 200+ corporate lobbyists.

    Like

  31. As a progressive blogger since 2002, and one who focuses entirely on politics, here’s an answer. You don’t have to respect it, but it’s an opinion derived from fighting the moronic right-wing for several years, often on behalf of issues that you care about (like net neutrality).

    First of all, organize yourselves, and don’t try to be inclusive, just try to bring in social leaders who others will follow. Don’t try to organize ‘the tech community’, since it’s not a monolith. Top executives at companies like Dell are very well-represented, for instance, but they care about taxes and trade, and not in the way that you do. Gaming companies have representation as well, but it’s all very corporate. It’s engineers and creative types that are not represented. There are also very strong cultural differences between hardware and software companies. Anyway, based on what I know about your politics you are progressives. Not all of you, but most of you don’t want to kill gay people, and most of you believe in, well, science, and stuff like global warming. The other side doesn’t so the differences are pretty stark, and this leads to the Democratic Party being the natural home for people who want a good environment for innovation and creativity. And no, libertarianism doesn’t exist, that’s just silly marketing that has convinced people that they don’t use publicly funded roads. In most issues it’s really a choice between massive corporate control and public control – there is no libertarian natural state unfortunately. Think of yourselves as being on the side of the public, in fact, you are the public.

    There are groups that sort of do this. EFF is one, though it’s a law firm and tends to eschew politics more than necessary. Public Knowledge is great, though it’s not directly involved in politics. I would also recommend Free Press, which does good work on media reform and technology issues (disclosure: I may do some consulting with them). Moveon does great work as well, direct political action on issues that are usually of concern to you.

    Second of all, build alliances with the group most like you in the poltical process – the liberal blogosphere. Many of us came from the tech industry, or are still in it and suffer from a lot of its structural problems. You can do this in one of two ways – (1) link to posts from blogs like DailyKos, MyDD, or Talkingpointsmemo (2) or send your political posts to political blogs so we can link back. There’s much less cross-over than there should be, even though we care about your issues and we are a nascent power center in the political process.

    Three, capture the institutions that exist around you and make sure they channel their money and effort towards progressives. For instance, many of you work in companies that push money to the right-wing through vehicles such at the Cato Foundation or other right-wing think tanks that ostensibly support ‘tech-friendly’ policies (that are in effect just tax cuts for the wealthy). Lobbying shops are another big one. You should encourage your companies to channel their lobbying and political money (they send lots of cash to c(3) ‘charities’ that are think tanks and other politicalish groups) to progressive groups instead of hard-core right-wing ones.

    What you guys have is money and expertise, and what you want is power. You are progressive, but there’s a certain fear of parties because your natural home – the Democratic Party – kind of sucks. This is an organizing problem not a structural one. The NRA cleaned out the GOP first and took it over. Only when they had a fully captured Republican Party did they move into the Democratic Party. If they have two candidates with equal records on guns the NRA still chooses the Republican. You should pursue the same strategies, since they are effective. Work outside the parties but with the Democratic Party as your natural base.

    Politics is a dirty, nasty business built on unwieldy coalitions. It can also be really fun and fascinating for a lot of the same reasons that creating art or technology is. The key for the tech community (yeah I’m generalizing) is get over the fear of parties and embrace the progressive movement proudly as your movement. If you organize yourselves, build alliances and make good arguments, you’ll succeed over the long-haul.

    Like

  32. As a progressive blogger since 2002, and one who focuses entirely on politics, here’s an answer. You don’t have to respect it, but it’s an opinion derived from fighting the moronic right-wing for several years, often on behalf of issues that you care about (like net neutrality).

    First of all, organize yourselves, and don’t try to be inclusive, just try to bring in social leaders who others will follow. Don’t try to organize ‘the tech community’, since it’s not a monolith. Top executives at companies like Dell are very well-represented, for instance, but they care about taxes and trade, and not in the way that you do. Gaming companies have representation as well, but it’s all very corporate. It’s engineers and creative types that are not represented. There are also very strong cultural differences between hardware and software companies. Anyway, based on what I know about your politics you are progressives. Not all of you, but most of you don’t want to kill gay people, and most of you believe in, well, science, and stuff like global warming. The other side doesn’t so the differences are pretty stark, and this leads to the Democratic Party being the natural home for people who want a good environment for innovation and creativity. And no, libertarianism doesn’t exist, that’s just silly marketing that has convinced people that they don’t use publicly funded roads. In most issues it’s really a choice between massive corporate control and public control – there is no libertarian natural state unfortunately. Think of yourselves as being on the side of the public, in fact, you are the public.

    There are groups that sort of do this. EFF is one, though it’s a law firm and tends to eschew politics more than necessary. Public Knowledge is great, though it’s not directly involved in politics. I would also recommend Free Press, which does good work on media reform and technology issues (disclosure: I may do some consulting with them). Moveon does great work as well, direct political action on issues that are usually of concern to you.

    Second of all, build alliances with the group most like you in the poltical process – the liberal blogosphere. Many of us came from the tech industry, or are still in it and suffer from a lot of its structural problems. You can do this in one of two ways – (1) link to posts from blogs like DailyKos, MyDD, or Talkingpointsmemo (2) or send your political posts to political blogs so we can link back. There’s much less cross-over than there should be, even though we care about your issues and we are a nascent power center in the political process.

    Three, capture the institutions that exist around you and make sure they channel their money and effort towards progressives. For instance, many of you work in companies that push money to the right-wing through vehicles such at the Cato Foundation or other right-wing think tanks that ostensibly support ‘tech-friendly’ policies (that are in effect just tax cuts for the wealthy). Lobbying shops are another big one. You should encourage your companies to channel their lobbying and political money (they send lots of cash to c(3) ‘charities’ that are think tanks and other politicalish groups) to progressive groups instead of hard-core right-wing ones.

    What you guys have is money and expertise, and what you want is power. You are progressive, but there’s a certain fear of parties because your natural home – the Democratic Party – kind of sucks. This is an organizing problem not a structural one. The NRA cleaned out the GOP first and took it over. Only when they had a fully captured Republican Party did they move into the Democratic Party. If they have two candidates with equal records on guns the NRA still chooses the Republican. You should pursue the same strategies, since they are effective. Work outside the parties but with the Democratic Party as your natural base.

    Politics is a dirty, nasty business built on unwieldy coalitions. It can also be really fun and fascinating for a lot of the same reasons that creating art or technology is. The key for the tech community (yeah I’m generalizing) is get over the fear of parties and embrace the progressive movement proudly as your movement. If you organize yourselves, build alliances and make good arguments, you’ll succeed over the long-haul.

    Like

  33. I agree with issue over party. First, there are just as many conservative conversations that could be quashed by anti-neutrality legislation. Secondly, former Clinton press secretary Mike McCurry is out there shilling for the big phone companies!!

    Let’s get this ball rolling Robert!

    Like

  34. I agree with issue over party. First, there are just as many conservative conversations that could be quashed by anti-neutrality legislation. Secondly, former Clinton press secretary Mike McCurry is out there shilling for the big phone companies!!

    Let’s get this ball rolling Robert!

    Like

  35. How about a union?

    I’ve been talking to one of our organizers at Teamsters Local 4 in Minnesota. Back in the 90s they tried organizing tech workers but in the boom times, not too many workers were interested. They represent a few shops in the state — mainly progressive web firms. The effort fizzled because techies didn’t know
    much about unions and they were more interested options, profit sharing, etc. Then came the 2000/01 bust. Now a lot of tech workers are working long hours with minimal pay raises and increasingly expensive benefits. And, like you said, are sidelined as more jobs move overseas.

    Anyway, this organizer was saying that they are now in a chicken-and-egg position. They can’t really get out there and make a big push to organize because they don’t have much leverage in the industry and they can’t achieve that influence until they get a larger concentration of workers.

    The answer, of course, is for tech workers to work with our organizers at the grassroots level to create the kind of representation they want.

    The Teamsters have the infrastructure, the benefits, the experience in collective bargaining and lobbyists to stand up for you in Washington. All we —
    Teamsters and tech workers — need are leaders in the tech community who could stand up and help develop a national technology labor movement.

    For more information, see Local 4’s web site.

    Like

  36. How about a union?

    I’ve been talking to one of our organizers at Teamsters Local 4 in Minnesota. Back in the 90s they tried organizing tech workers but in the boom times, not too many workers were interested. They represent a few shops in the state — mainly progressive web firms. The effort fizzled because techies didn’t know
    much about unions and they were more interested options, profit sharing, etc. Then came the 2000/01 bust. Now a lot of tech workers are working long hours with minimal pay raises and increasingly expensive benefits. And, like you said, are sidelined as more jobs move overseas.

    Anyway, this organizer was saying that they are now in a chicken-and-egg position. They can’t really get out there and make a big push to organize because they don’t have much leverage in the industry and they can’t achieve that influence until they get a larger concentration of workers.

    The answer, of course, is for tech workers to work with our organizers at the grassroots level to create the kind of representation they want.

    The Teamsters have the infrastructure, the benefits, the experience in collective bargaining and lobbyists to stand up for you in Washington. All we —
    Teamsters and tech workers — need are leaders in the tech community who could stand up and help develop a national technology labor movement.

    For more information, see Local 4’s web site.

    Like

  37. I agree with issue over party. First, there are just as many conservative conversations that could be quashed by anti-neutrality legislation. Secondly, former Clinton press secretary Mike McCurry is out there shilling for the big phone companies!!

    Jim, conservatives are just not particularly interested in protecting net neutrality. That’s why they all voted against it. And McCurry was attacked and discredited by progressives in this argument.

    Like

  38. I agree with issue over party. First, there are just as many conservative conversations that could be quashed by anti-neutrality legislation. Secondly, former Clinton press secretary Mike McCurry is out there shilling for the big phone companies!!

    Jim, conservatives are just not particularly interested in protecting net neutrality. That’s why they all voted against it. And McCurry was attacked and discredited by progressives in this argument.

    Like

  39. And ‘progressive’ John Conyers, chairman of the Judiciary committee, and a Democrat (for those wondering about parties) is bought and paid for by the recording industry as their main shill.

    The effectiveness of the RIAA and MPAA is that they haven’t gone one party or the other–they’ve made progress under both, they have friends in both and they will continue to be effective no matter who is control. MPAA President–former Congressman Glickman (D-KS). RIAA Chairman, former Republican operative in the Reagan White House and on Capitol Hill. Their assistants come from both sides of the aisle, and you can be sure they don’t argue about silly things like “which party is better for us’ but instead work on “which votes can we get, regardless of party.”

    Like

  40. And ‘progressive’ John Conyers, chairman of the Judiciary committee, and a Democrat (for those wondering about parties) is bought and paid for by the recording industry as their main shill.

    The effectiveness of the RIAA and MPAA is that they haven’t gone one party or the other–they’ve made progress under both, they have friends in both and they will continue to be effective no matter who is control. MPAA President–former Congressman Glickman (D-KS). RIAA Chairman, former Republican operative in the Reagan White House and on Capitol Hill. Their assistants come from both sides of the aisle, and you can be sure they don’t argue about silly things like “which party is better for us’ but instead work on “which votes can we get, regardless of party.”

    Like

  41. How many fabs are in Portland, do you know? I think I do. I can only think of one company that currently has active fabs in the greater Portland area. The main drivers for them were economic, due to inexpensive power, water, and tax breaks.

    Like

  42. How many fabs are in Portland, do you know? I think I do. I can only think of one company that currently has active fabs in the greater Portland area. The main drivers for them were economic, due to inexpensive power, water, and tax breaks.

    Like

  43. Industry support is essential but it takes
    something else in order to secure future
    access to resources… Right now, there is
    a water war beginning to develop along the
    Utah Nevada Border over access to water.
    Las Vegas with it desperate water shortages
    is wanting to deprive ranchers, farmers,
    environmentalists and sportsmen of their
    future water needs in order to support
    the massively expanding Southern Nevada
    population.

    There is also in Utah a very minor party
    that is in a position to speed along the
    process of finding a functional solution
    to the problem, if that party should have
    some money available and was able to hire
    some good negotiators it might be that a
    very useful precedent can be established
    that would be instrumental in finding
    solutions for future resource conflicts.

    Like

  44. Industry support is essential but it takes
    something else in order to secure future
    access to resources… Right now, there is
    a water war beginning to develop along the
    Utah Nevada Border over access to water.
    Las Vegas with it desperate water shortages
    is wanting to deprive ranchers, farmers,
    environmentalists and sportsmen of their
    future water needs in order to support
    the massively expanding Southern Nevada
    population.

    There is also in Utah a very minor party
    that is in a position to speed along the
    process of finding a functional solution
    to the problem, if that party should have
    some money available and was able to hire
    some good negotiators it might be that a
    very useful precedent can be established
    that would be instrumental in finding
    solutions for future resource conflicts.

    Like

  45. Andrew,

    IP is a very difficult problem because there is almost no organization going on with regards to our side. I helped found IPac before going on to strict progressive politics, and the situation is bad. It’s not however hopeless and it can be turned around with smart organizing. A primary challenge to Howard Berman would be one model, for instance.

    The natural home for techies is the Democratic Party. But politics isn’t soft, you have to go in and grab the power you want, and make the Democrats the party of your policies. Guns were going to be eliminated in the 1970s, or at least that was the conventional wisdom, until the NRA began to organize through the GOP.

    The RIAA and MPAA work through both parties, but you’ll see them move to the GOP in the next five years.

    Like

  46. Andrew,

    IP is a very difficult problem because there is almost no organization going on with regards to our side. I helped found IPac before going on to strict progressive politics, and the situation is bad. It’s not however hopeless and it can be turned around with smart organizing. A primary challenge to Howard Berman would be one model, for instance.

    The natural home for techies is the Democratic Party. But politics isn’t soft, you have to go in and grab the power you want, and make the Democrats the party of your policies. Guns were going to be eliminated in the 1970s, or at least that was the conventional wisdom, until the NRA began to organize through the GOP.

    The RIAA and MPAA work through both parties, but you’ll see them move to the GOP in the next five years.

    Like

  47. What we need in this country is IT unions. Unions would prevent people from ignoring the tech industry. Unions could be used as leverage to prevent jobs from going overseas. Yes, there are problems with unions, but they could be ironed out.

    If enough people pushed it, there could be tech unions with socialized medicine, family benefits like free education, etc. It could be done if people wanted it.

    I miss the populist ideals this country used to hold. Americans have largely sold themselves out to foreign ideals and products and look where it has gotten us. We are largely surrounding now by populist nations. South America is completely populist with one exception. Mexico, while being led by a so-called righty, is actually very left in operation.

    The US is the only country of its size and economic clout that does NOT offer socialized medicine and some form of free higher education.

    This country doesn’t even take care of its own people. What makes anyone think anyone cares about tech industry. I have no respect for the vast majority of companies out there that would possibly make up some kind of tech industry leadership or whatever else you may want to call it. People just want to think about profits without taking into account anything else. What about the workers and their families that make these ultra-successful companies ultra-successful?

    Like

  48. What we need in this country is IT unions. Unions would prevent people from ignoring the tech industry. Unions could be used as leverage to prevent jobs from going overseas. Yes, there are problems with unions, but they could be ironed out.

    If enough people pushed it, there could be tech unions with socialized medicine, family benefits like free education, etc. It could be done if people wanted it.

    I miss the populist ideals this country used to hold. Americans have largely sold themselves out to foreign ideals and products and look where it has gotten us. We are largely surrounding now by populist nations. South America is completely populist with one exception. Mexico, while being led by a so-called righty, is actually very left in operation.

    The US is the only country of its size and economic clout that does NOT offer socialized medicine and some form of free higher education.

    This country doesn’t even take care of its own people. What makes anyone think anyone cares about tech industry. I have no respect for the vast majority of companies out there that would possibly make up some kind of tech industry leadership or whatever else you may want to call it. People just want to think about profits without taking into account anything else. What about the workers and their families that make these ultra-successful companies ultra-successful?

    Like

  49. A few responses to previous comments:

    • The ‘progressive’ blogosphere is often a bastion of hypocrites. To depend on those people guarantees failure. (And, yes, my opinion of the conservative blogosphere is even lower.)

    • I don’t think most college educated people have gotten over the belief that unions are for lesser beings, ie. blue collar folks. A former reporter, I have watched newspaper strikes fail because the editorial employees did not feel much solidarity with the longshoremen and truckers who provided most of the protesters. (The Newspaper Guild is part of the AFL-CIO.) In addition, many of them felt that walking a picket line was beneath them. I suspect the same class issue exists with IT employees.

    • The EFF is more about finding issues it can somehow exploit for legal fees than serving the tech community or consumers. Its leadership is also out of touch with reality as proven by their anti-DRM stance.

    As for the current crop of presidential wannabes, their grasp of tech issues is shallow at best. I really don’t think tech has arrived in that sense.

    Like

  50. A few responses to previous comments:

    • The ‘progressive’ blogosphere is often a bastion of hypocrites. To depend on those people guarantees failure. (And, yes, my opinion of the conservative blogosphere is even lower.)

    • I don’t think most college educated people have gotten over the belief that unions are for lesser beings, ie. blue collar folks. A former reporter, I have watched newspaper strikes fail because the editorial employees did not feel much solidarity with the longshoremen and truckers who provided most of the protesters. (The Newspaper Guild is part of the AFL-CIO.) In addition, many of them felt that walking a picket line was beneath them. I suspect the same class issue exists with IT employees.

    • The EFF is more about finding issues it can somehow exploit for legal fees than serving the tech community or consumers. Its leadership is also out of touch with reality as proven by their anti-DRM stance.

    As for the current crop of presidential wannabes, their grasp of tech issues is shallow at best. I really don’t think tech has arrived in that sense.

    Like

  51. “The natural home for techies is the Democratic Party. …The RIAA and MPAA work through both parties, but you’ll see them move to the GOP in the next five years.”

    Huh?

    This doesn’t jive with reality, and is the type of thinking that will DOOM tech political lobbying. DOOM.

    Like

  52. “The natural home for techies is the Democratic Party. …The RIAA and MPAA work through both parties, but you’ll see them move to the GOP in the next five years.”

    Huh?

    This doesn’t jive with reality, and is the type of thinking that will DOOM tech political lobbying. DOOM.

    Like

  53. Podesta,

    Well said. I was trying to say that…. 🙂

    You’re right. Techies, like some other workers, see themselves above the everyday man, as somehow NOT blue collar. We’re all humans in the end, just some of us THINK we are smarter because we have a degree. Educated, usually. Smarter, no.

    Unionization is what will save IT.

    I loved the comment “the natural home for techies is the Democrtatic party”… Yeah, really? What makes anyone think that? High taxes are the enemy of capitalist companies, and that is just what Democrats are good at — high taxes. Look around you — companies are worried about the new Democrats in office and really worried about a possible Democrat president AND congress. That bids ill for big business.

    Unionize IT and it matters not who’s in power. The power of unions goes a long way if implemented correctly.

    Like

  54. Podesta,

    Well said. I was trying to say that…. 🙂

    You’re right. Techies, like some other workers, see themselves above the everyday man, as somehow NOT blue collar. We’re all humans in the end, just some of us THINK we are smarter because we have a degree. Educated, usually. Smarter, no.

    Unionization is what will save IT.

    I loved the comment “the natural home for techies is the Democrtatic party”… Yeah, really? What makes anyone think that? High taxes are the enemy of capitalist companies, and that is just what Democrats are good at — high taxes. Look around you — companies are worried about the new Democrats in office and really worried about a possible Democrat president AND congress. That bids ill for big business.

    Unionize IT and it matters not who’s in power. The power of unions goes a long way if implemented correctly.

    Like

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