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Silicon Valley Stays Quiet As Washington Implodes 299

Posted by timothy
from the power-to-tax-is-power-to-destroy dept.
dcblogs writes "In a better time, circa 1998, Cypress Semiconductor founder and CEO T.J. Rodgers gave a provocative speech, titled 'Why Silicon Valley Should Not Normalize Relations with Washington D.C.' This speech is still important to understanding the conflict that tech leaders have with Congress, and their relative silence during the shutdown. 'The metric that differentiates Silicon Valley from Washington does not fall along conventional political lines: Republican versus Democrat, conservative versus liberal, right versus left,' Rogers said. 'It falls between freedom and control. It is a metric that separates individual freedom to speak from tap-ready telephones; local reinvestment of profit from taxes that go to Washington; encryption to protect privacy from government eavesdropping; success in the marketplace from government subsidies; and a free, untaxed Internet from a regulated, overtaxed Internet.'"
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Silicon Valley Stays Quiet As Washington Implodes

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  • Bah ... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday October 15, 2013 @12:57PM (#45133653)

    The only difference is which rich assholes get richer.

    The tech companies want to be given the ability to do anything to make a profit. The government wants to be given the ability to do anything to spy on us.

    It's douchebags on both sides fighting for their piece of the pie -- we all get fucked over in the end.

    • Re:Bah ... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Austrian Anarchy (3010653) on Tuesday October 15, 2013 @01:27PM (#45134067) Homepage Journal

      The only difference is which rich assholes get richer.

      The tech companies want to be given the ability to do anything to make a profit. The government wants to be given the ability to do anything to spy on us.

      It's douchebags on both sides fighting for their piece of the pie -- we all get fucked over in the end.

      Without a government that is forcing you to give your money to someone, those "assholes" have to compete with others for the privilege of serving you.

      • Re:Bah ... (Score:5, Insightful)

        by TWiTfan (2887093) on Tuesday October 15, 2013 @01:46PM (#45134281)

        What "competition"? Maybe in your libertarian fantasy world. But here in the real-world, powerful corporations collude, buy monopolies, crush any smaller competitors--and generally do everything to ensure that there is no real competition, and never will be. The "free market" is a bunch of horseshit shoveled to gullible suckers.

        • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

          by operagost (62405)

          You forgot Somalia.

          The "free market" is a bunch of horseshit shoveled to gullible suckers.

          You're right, we don't have a free market. But pessimism isn't going to fix that, and inaction isn't going to result in a better situation. We're not going to end up in a socialist utopia, but state-run capitalism that rewards the elite, yet treats the worker as mere chattel.

          • by sjames (1099)

            Already there.

        • Re:Bah ... (Score:4, Informative)

          by smoot123 (1027084) on Tuesday October 15, 2013 @03:14PM (#45135279)

          No competition? Tell that to the old AT&T, which got crushed by it's children. Or Yahoo as it watches Goggle zoom ahead. Or Google, as it watches Facebook grow its mobile ad revenue like there's no tomorrow. Or Microsoft as even microsofties use iPads. Or PanAm as Southwest ate their lunch. In my company, I get a win/loss email every week about how we won a customer from our rivals and they beat us at another.

          It's a mixed bag. Some markets are more open to competition than others. But competition is alive and well in many, many places.

        • But here in the real-world, powerful corporations collude, buy monopolies, crush any smaller competitors--and generally do everything to ensure that there is no real competition

          Here in the real-world, powerful corporations get limited legal liability from the government, buy monopolies from the government, and generally do anything to make sure the government doesn't allow any competition.

          Note that there are some things that SHOULD be run by government. Which is not synonymous with "the government should

        • What "competition"? Maybe in your libertarian fantasy world. But here in the real-world, powerful corporations collude, buy monopolies, crush any smaller competitors--and generally do everything to ensure that there is no real competition, and never will be. The "free market" is a bunch of horseshit shoveled to gullible suckers.

          The competition that is possible when the police power of government is not playing favorites on who gets to do business. THAT competition. The only time monopolies persist is when governments protect them. When they are at the mercy of consumers and competition they are fleeting at best. One positive outcome of the persistent monopoly when government is not shoring them up is decreasing prices, increased quality, and increased efficiency of production. You cannot show one example of a business to supp

      • by sjames (1099)

        Here in the real world they use lock-in or back room agreements to divide the territory and keep newcomers out.

        The power of the free market was provided by unicorns but they caught those and sold them off as a cheap spam substitute.

    • real dichotomy (Score:5, Insightful)

      by globaljustin (574257) <justinglobal@gm[ ].com ['ail' in gap]> on Tuesday October 15, 2013 @01:42PM (#45134237) Homepage Journal

      The only difference is which rich assholes get richer....It's douchebags on both sides fighting for their piece of the pie -- we all get fucked over in the end.

      I sympathize with your frustration but, no you're wrong.

      Look at *policy*...Dem's and Repub's are very, very different. One party has a coordinated effort to end all abortion (including fertitlity tests in Louisiana) and teach young-earth creationism.

      That's Repbublicans, that's "libertarians"...don't kid yourself....you want to criticize money in politics? welcome to the fucking club...the rich get richer **in any situation** fact is, even the best case scenario, with two functional, representative parties, money in politics will still be just as much of a problem...

      no....the fact that humans can be corrupt does not validate your argument

      In the end, the defeatist "Bah...it's all bullshit...meh" is immature and reductive. It's not an intellectual conclusion....it's the opposite...the refusal to engage a complex situation...something that requires mental effort to dig below the rhetoric.

      Your position reminds me of Dr. Zeus in Planet of the Apes...covering his ears and screaming so he doesn't hear the human speak.

      Democrats are the only people trying to do anything resembling professional governance right now. **accept and deal with that fact** if you think about it, the Chinese idea of 'crisis/opportunity' applies...

      I'm surprised at Republicans...for 'free market' people their party is remarkable bereft of any new ideas.

      trolls: if you want to express your hate for what I've said, please use blockquote to specify which part of my post you are criticizing

      • Re:real dichotomy (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Quila (201335) on Tuesday October 15, 2013 @02:05PM (#45134485)

        I'm surprised at Republicans...for 'free market' people their party is remarkable bereft of any new ideas.

        The point of a free market is that the politicians don't have the ideas. They keep government from interfering with others who do have the good ideas. Of course the Republicans aren't very good at that either. They're just as meddling as the Democrats.

        • grumble-grumble (Score:4, Insightful)

          by globaljustin (574257) <justinglobal@gm[ ].com ['ail' in gap]> on Tuesday October 15, 2013 @02:17PM (#45134623) Homepage Journal

          Of course the Republicans aren't very good at that either. They're just as meddling as the Democrats.

          trying not to freak out here...but you *did* make a coherent point and used blockquotes as requested...so here goes:

          The point of a free market is that the politicians don't have the ideas. They keep government from interfering with others who do have the good ideas

          this is Ayn Rand revisionism...Paul Ryan type stuff...people who understand economic theory through the lense of **ONE** theorist only...that's your mistake.

          the 'free market' is a heuristic of human behavior....it is independent of political/social systems (ex: the huge black market in Soviet Russia, street vendors, etc)

          the 'free market' applied to government means a competition of ideas...

          **competition of ideas**

          my point was/is, that of the two, the Repubs and their supporters talk often and loudly about their love of the 'free market'

          if you apply 'free market' ideas to politics, logically you would expect a lively debate of new ideas and old ideas adapted in interesting ways...

          also, what is the difference if Robert Oppenheimer makes the A-bomb for Boening or for the DoD? does it really matter who signed his paycheck? he went in and did his work...

          the 'free market' isn't any better or worse than the 'government' at doing any one project...that's comparing apples and oranges...b/c the 'free market' isn't an economic system its a heuristic of human behavior

          They keep government from interfering with others who do have the good ideas

          that is a drastically reductive idea of what government does...based on Ayn Rand...a bad reading of Rand even...

          The US Constitution spells out why our government exists, and it makes alot of sense.

          I certainly agree that **YES** you are right, one function of government (of many, many functions) is to protect the 'idea people' from unfair competition!!!

          I really want you to know that you're right on there...but I think your premise is wrong...

      • In the end, the defeatist "Bah...it's all bullshit...meh" is immature and reductive. It's not an intellectual conclusion....it's the opposite...the refusal to engage a complex situation...something that requires mental effort to dig below the rhetoric.

        Unless by "mental effort" you mean "advancing technology to the singularity and welcoming our new AI overlords," human nature is what it is, and you're just pissing into the wind.

    • Well sure. That's one way to look at the world and for the moment, let us suppose it is just which assholes get richer.

      I'd much rather some asshole get rich providing me with a service/product that I actually want to use.

      Yes, I'd rather some asshole get rich providing me with good transportation, communication, housing, shelter, food... you know all the things you want/need in your life.

      Better still, a rich asshole who interferes the least with my life.

      It absolutely matters who that rich asshole is and wha

    • by coaxial (28297)

      The tech companies want to be given the ability to do anything to make a profit. The government wants to be given the ability to do anything to spy on us.

      I smell a market opportunity [bloomberg.com]!

  • If only... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by RobertM1968 (951074) on Tuesday October 15, 2013 @12:58PM (#45133669) Homepage Journal

    It's an interesting attitude that I wish more companies would take. I think many of our laws would be better designed to protect "we the people".

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      It's an interesting attitude that I wish more companies would take. I think many of our laws would be better designed to protect "we the people".

      At least SOMEBODY is on the proper side of the line here.

      But make no mistake: other parts of California, like Hollywood and the music studios, have been staunchly behind Obama and the others who have been attempting to take our freedoms.

      Still, it's glad to see businesses -- especially big businesses -- supporting the good causes too.

      • Re:If only... (Score:4, Interesting)

        by PaddyM (45763) on Tuesday October 15, 2013 @01:10PM (#45133813) Homepage

        The Anti-SOPA stance was a good day.

        But by and large, I think these organizations have been too quiet. If they have not normalized relationships with Washington, then why did it take a leak by someone from Washington for some of these organizations to admit what vast information has been shared?

        And it's ludicrous to not-normalize relationships with Washington. That's where the laws are defined. There should be pro-privacy politicians with the backing of these companies. With Citizens United, shouldn't tech organizations have the strong advantage of getting the word out about what kind of society we want to create?

        The stance of burying heads in the sand is no better than those fools who talk of secession, or try to create their own militia societies. The brain drain occurring today in Russia, is likely to reoccur here in the United States due to gerrymandering if we stay disengaged.

      • Sadly, they've been staunchly behind BOTH parties to try to pressure them into such things. This "latest battle" started with the DMCA - which would have been a lot worse if it weren't for some CongressCritters who actually stood up for us - and those were largely Democrats, btw.

        While BOTH parties are doing a horrendous job with such things, one party is entirely ignoring the public on this matter - the corporate donations to that particular party are coincidentally a lot higher.

        • This "latest battle" started with the DMCA - which would have been a lot worse if it weren't for some CongressCritters who actually stood up for us - and those were largely Democrats, btw.

          Not very damned many. Speech before the House, Rep. John Conyers [D MI], 1998, before passage (Conyers, by the way -- a Democrat -- was chairman of the committee and pushed very hard for passage):

          "I think everyone has heard that we finally reached a conclusion that I think may satisfy nearly every Member in the House of Representatives...

          I am proud of the product, and like all the speakers before me, I urge its favorable confirmation."

          About as many Democrats spoke in favor as Republicans. There were few if any naysayers.

          It passed overwhelmingly in the House, and unanimously in the Senate. EVERY Democrat in the Senate voted in favor. (Not to give the GOP a pass... they did too.)

          I'm not trying to say the Republicans were any better. But stop

  • Bullshit (Score:5, Insightful)

    by TheRaven64 (641858) on Tuesday October 15, 2013 @01:06PM (#45133773) Journal
    You know why the NSA was able to search social graphs and emails so easily? Because all of those pro-freedom Silicon Valley companies (Google, Facebook, Yahoo, Microsoft, and so on) had already built infrastructure for doing so for the purpose of selling adverts. The NSA just piggybacked on existing system to look for other information. If Silicon Valley had really cared about individual freedom, Google would have been pushing federated, decentralised services with no single point where you can insert a tap. Instead, what has happened since we've learned about the NSA's involvement? Google has replaced federated XMPP in GTalk with non-federated XMPP in Google Hangouts.
    • While that may be the case (sans the drama), the simple fact is that in order for much of the web to work in a decent fashion, such "infrastructure" had to be built in one form or another.
      • Bullshit. Plenty of decentralized services (including, but not limited to HTTP, email, IRC, etc.) work just fine and centralizing them like Google attempted with XMPP has no conceivable benefit (except to the likes of advertisers and the NSA).

    • Re:Bullshit (Score:5, Insightful)

      by plopez (54068) on Tuesday October 15, 2013 @01:22PM (#45133983) Journal

      Let look at the rest of the statement in the write up:
      1) Freedom vs. control. How do we reconcile this with patent trolls, DRM, and de facto unlimited copy rights?
      2) Local reinvestment of profit from taxes that go to Washington. Yeah right, reinvestment. If reinvestment means CEOs line their pockets. What I see is a bunch of freeloaders not paying taxes to support the educational system that benefits them. And also such basic research institutes such as DARPA, NASA, and a host of others.
      3) A free untaxed unregulated internet. It is regulation which prevents the internet from becoming a captured, by business interests, internet.
      4) Success in the marketplace from government subsidies. LMAO, see point 2 above as well as how many tech companies have their snouts in the government trough.

      That's probably just a start.

      • by sjames (1099)

        Agreed. I'll enlarge it by pointing out that without the evil government, there would BE no internet at all. Just a handful of walled gardens on dialup mailing us worthless CDs every month and charging by the hour.

        The closest thing to an actual internet before that was Fido and UUCP. Neither of which were created by these 'benevolent' masters of Silicon Valley.

    • Your post doesnt really make much sense. A webmail provider (like Google) has to be able to see what your email is, even if only because they are sending you the HTML containing your emails. Everything Ive seen suggests that the Google et al taps were done via tapping at the ISP level or else sending NSLs, neither of which a company can really do much about so long as they are based in the US.

      You could sell adverts on a webmail even if it werent tappable (say, they require the use of VPN)-- the server cou

  • But the folks in Silicon Valley have the means to at least complain about how bad things are. The rest of the country can't or won't speak up.

  • by ScottCooperDotNet (929575) on Tuesday October 15, 2013 @01:13PM (#45133847)

    They'll stay silent until America's reputation, and the NSA spying specifically, starts to impact sales. Until then, Silicon Valley's lobbying policy seems to be "pray they don't affect us".

    Since TFS doesn't list it, here's Why Silicon Valley Should Not Normalize Relations With Washington, D.C. [cato.org] from the libertarian think tank Cato Institute.

  • by clarkkent09 (1104833) on Tuesday October 15, 2013 @01:18PM (#45133921)

    There is no such thing as what "silicon valley wants". It's not even a valley and it is definitely not made of silicon. But, that's beside the point. He basically makes it sound as if everybody there is libertarian without mentioning the word, but it is far from the truth. People who matter are involved with the government up to their necks, including all the things he says silicon valley is against: eavesdropping, subsidies, protectionism, non-free internet. All major tech companies maintain nice and expensive lobbyists in Washington. Not that I blame them, they have to live in real world and deal with the biggest and most powerful gorilla in the jungle and that is the government. And it's getting bigger.

    • It's not even a valley and it is definitely not made of silicon.

      Actually, I'm sure that silicon makes up about 30% of the land in Silicon Valley (just like it does everywhere else), and San Francisco Bay was a valley until the end of the last ice age (when it filled up with ocean).

    • by unixisc (2429386) on Tuesday October 15, 2013 @01:38PM (#45134199)
      Given how overwhelmingly the entire counties of San Mateo, Alameda, Santa Cruz, Santa Clara - not just San Francisco - vote Democrat in every election, thereby making the entire state of CA a 'blue' state, it's ridiculous to claim that Silicon Valley wants the sort of things that Libertarians or even Conservatives champion. TJ, Scott McNealy, John Chambers are really exceptions in an industry that leans overwhelmingly LEFT.
    • by stevew (4845)

      A few points.

      1) It was written 15 years ago. Since then we've had 9/11, the Patriot Act, Wikileaks and the NSA invasion of privacy just to mention a few interesting events. So many actors have changed their stripes (Google seems to be a prime example) since this was written. Yet his points are still relevant! If we had paid attention to Dr. Rodgers points then maybe we wouldn't be in the mess we are today.
      2) It IS a valley idiot. I stand outside and see two mountain ranges, one on either side... a valley!
      3

  • We've seen it over and over again. Once a few large successful companies develop an entrenched market position, they drop all of their pretenses of ideals and form a sort of symbiosis with the government.

    The difference between now and 1998 is probably that internet companies at the time saw government control of the net as an impediment to their growth, where now they see it as an opportunity to make more money and protect their position from competitors.

  • by the eric conspiracy (20178) on Tuesday October 15, 2013 @01:22PM (#45133987)

    There are those who have fallen for the false, artificially created dichotomy of Republican-Democrat and those who have realized that the real problem is politics as an industry.

    What really needs to be done is to wipe out the concept of two parties both of which are so ossified in untenable positions that the combination is destroying the Republic.

    1. Term limits for Congress. 12 years.
    2. Campaign Finance Limits. 100 dollars per candidate/person.
    3. Eliminate Gerrymandering. Districts must be drawn that are representative of the state's demographics.
    4. Eliminate the electoral college.

    • While I agree that there needs to be a great deal of ballot access and redistricting reform (indeed I think districts should be generated by an algorithm that is developed and overseen by a nonpartisan agency/office), it's premature to talk of eliminating the electoral college. Not because its time hasn't come, it has, but the current national context wouldn't bear it. It's currently the main institution that's balancing the power between the broad expanse of rural America and the dense urban areas. If it w
    • 3. Eliminate Gerrymandering. Districts must be drawn that are representative of the state's demographics.

      There's no way to eliminate gerrymandering. There will always be someone who draws the boundaries, and whoever draws them, no matter what rules he follows, will be able to find some way to make some districts lean more than they should.

    • by dbc (135354)

      You need to study the effects of what you propose and try to post again.

      We have term limits in California. They have empowered the permanent staff and the public employee unions. They have made things worse, not better.

      Campaign finance limits always run up against First Amendment challenges. Sort that out coherently, then let's talk. Until then, it's a pipe dream. You don't get to ingore the parts of the consitution you find inconvenient in the moment.

      What do you mean by "representative of the state's d

      • by TheSync (5291)

        We have term limits in California. They have empowered the permanent staff and the public employee unions. They have made things worse, not better.

        Indeed, I used to believe in term limits. The truth is that in practice they seem to "distort the market of politics" the same way price controls distort the market. They force the real economy of power away from elected officials competing in the marketplace of the voting booth and push real power into the darker "deep state" of bureaucracies.

        By the way, the s

      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        The reasons I want to eliminate the electoral college are:

        1. Past history of Presidents elected despite not having a plurality of votes.
        2. Proposal by Rance Priebus describing a method to corrupt the election process by tying electoral college votes to gerrymandered congressional districts.

        http://www.thenation.com/blog/172191/rncs-priebus-proposes-rig-electoral-college-so-losing-republicans-can-win# [thenation.com]

        There are huge problems with the current gerrymandering system. For example, we have a Republican majority in

        • by Obfuscant (592200)

          1. Past history of Presidents elected despite not having a plurality of votes.

          This ignores the fact that there is no national election for President. There are a lot of smaller elections in which the States decide who wins the State electors. You cannot have a "plurality" in a vote unless there is a real total to count. Just taking the results of fifty or more individual elections and summing them up isn't how the system was designed to work, and it doesn't accomplish the goals that drove that design.

          2. Proposal by Rance Priebus describing a method to corrupt the election process by tying electoral college votes to gerrymandered congressional districts.

          I could come up with a lot of dreamscape systems for corrupting the existing syste

    • 3. Eliminate Gerrymandering. Districts must be drawn that are representative of the state's demographics.

      How? Who determines that? Who gathers and manages the data? Who draws the lines? It would be far easier and less manipulable to just do a single transferable vote [wikipedia.org] ballot and elect representatives at large.

    • by mlts (1038732) *

      I wonder about modifying a few of those:

      2: 100 dollars per US citizen with documentation that this was done. No, corporations are not citizens. If a court wants to dispute that, then allow people to take their LLC incorporation articles in a passenger seat while driving the HOV lane.

      And adding a few:

      5: David Chaum has a way to verify voting. Use it. No e-Voting machines which have been shown to be hacked by a monkey (as per a Free Republic article in 2004.) The venerable voting machines which used le

      • by Obfuscant (592200)

        2: 100 dollars per US citizen with documentation that this was done.

        And we abolish the first amendment at the same time? Isn't telling someone how much speech they can have an infringement on the right to free speech itself?

        No, corporations are not citizens. If a court wants to dispute that, then allow people to take their LLC incorporation articles

        "Papers" are not people. D'oh. But the people who formed that corporation are still people and still have rights. Your analogy would be more correct if you said "corporations are not people. .... then allow people to take the four members of the board of directors in a car and drive in the HOV lane." That makes the issue a bit more obvious. Of course t

      • by sjames (1099)

        No, corporations are not citizens. If a court wants to dispute that, then allow people to take their LLC incorporation articles in a passenger seat while driving the HOV lane.

        Even better, if a corporate citizen commits a felony, it goes to jail just like everyone else. Buy nothing, sell nothing, do nothing but sit in jail. Once out of jail, report to parole officer weekly, all books open for inspection, all major decisions subject to approval or back to jail.

        If that can't be made to work, then nobody goes to jail, just issue fines in proportion to income.

  • by benjfowler (239527) on Tuesday October 15, 2013 @01:27PM (#45134071)

    I see the Ayn Rand science fiction book club are quite busy today.

    Yawn. As always. Nothing to see here. Move on.
    .

    • by TheSync (5291) on Tuesday October 15, 2013 @02:09PM (#45134515) Journal

      We are glad your non-libertarian Democrats and Republicans in Congress and the White House are doing such a great job!

  • You just need lotsa untraceable lobby money to hear them.
    -Congress

  • Apparently Steve Jobs [go.com] , HP and Microsoft [accountingtoday.com] didn't get the memo.

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