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How Corruption Is Strangling US Innovation 391

hype7 writes "The Harvard Business Review is running a very interesting piece on how money in politics is having a deleterious effect on U.S. innovation. From the article: 'Somehow, it seems that every time that [Mickey Mouse] is about to enter the public domain, Congress has passed a bill to extend the length of copyright. Congress has paid no heed to research or calls for reform; the only thing that matters to determining the appropriate length of copyright is how old Mickey is. Rather than create an incentive to innovate and develop new characters, the present system has created the perverse situation where it makes more sense for Big Content to make campaign contributions to extend protection for their old work.if you were in any doubt how deep inside the political system the system of contributions have allowed incumbents to insert their hands, take a look at what happened when the Republican Study Committee released a paper pointing out some of the problems with current copyright regime. The debate was stifled within 24 hours. And just for good measure, Rep Marsha Blackburn, whose district abuts Nashville and who received more money from the music industry than any other Republican congressional candidate, apparently had the author of the study, Derek Khanna, fired. Sure, debate around policy is important, but it's clearly not as important as raising campaign funds.'"
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How Corruption Is Strangling US Innovation

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  • Re:oh boy ! (Score:5, Interesting)

    by pwizard2 ( 920421 ) on Saturday December 08, 2012 @03:01PM (#42226705)
    Sad but true. The USA has more wealth inequality than it had in the last 75 years (or more) , mostly thanks to the GOP's plan to destroy the middle class these past 30+ years. Social mobility is getting to be impossible and the only way people can go is down. It's really fucking bleak and there's no end in sight.
  • Re:water is wet (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Blue Stone ( 582566 ) on Saturday December 08, 2012 @03:12PM (#42226807) Homepage Journal

    "The money powers prey upon the nation in times of peace and conspire against it in times of adversity. It is more despotic than a monarchy, more insolent than autocracy, and more selfish than bureaucracy. It denounces as public enemies, all who question its methods or throw light upon its crimes. I have two great enemies, the Southern Army in front of me and the Bankers in the rear. Of the two, the one at my rear is my greatest foe.. corporations have been enthroned and an era of corruption in high places will follow, and the money powers of the country will endeavor to prolong its reign by working upon the prejudices of the people until the wealth is aggregated in the hands of a few, and the Republic is destroyed." - Abraham Lincoln

    The more things change, the more they stay the same.

  • by rsilvergun ( 571051 ) on Saturday December 08, 2012 @03:12PM (#42226809)
    you get laughed at for being a tin foil hatted conspiracy theorist. The trouble is this stuff is so horrible people can't believe it's happening. It's too far removed from reality. Plus their taught from day one that America is the greatest country on earth, and it's hard to get away from a belief that's been ingrained in you since childhood.

    Ever notice how little time Obama spent attacking Romney's policies? The Obama campaign did focus groups and found they couldn't attack Romney on policy because nobody believed he was going to implement them for real. The massive cuts to medicare, social security, tax cuts for the rich, etc. Maybe Romney wasn't really gonna do those things, we'll never know. But either way Obama couldn't convince anyone that he might...
  • by DNS-and-BIND ( 461968 ) on Saturday December 08, 2012 @03:15PM (#42226831) Homepage
    We all know the typical way of presenting news - whenever an (R) does something bad, the party affiliation is right up there, and whenever a (D) does something even more despicable, the party affiliation is omitted and both parties are said to be equally bad. We all know this already. What's interesting about this story is how Blackburn is conspicuously identified an an (R) while Khanna's party affiliation is left blank - even though Khanna is a Republican through and through. An ignorant or negligent observer might conclude that (R) are uniquely and despicably evil while (D) never seem to be attached to anything bad.
  • Re:corruption? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday December 08, 2012 @03:15PM (#42226835)

    I'm not sure it's corruption. It's more like taking advantage of a system that is optimized for helping the Haves get more.

    That's the textbook definition of corruption. Using your public position for personal gain.

    Politicians should be like Nascar drivers and be required by law to wear a vest that has patches of all the corporations (and any individuals that donate more than a set amount per year) that own their votes. The size of the patch directly relating to the amount of ownership. When the amount of ownership gets above 50% that politician can no longer run for public office as it is obvious that he no longer represents his constituency.

  • by rsilvergun ( 571051 ) on Saturday December 08, 2012 @03:16PM (#42226841)
    this was pointed out during the recent storms (Sandy), and there were several pundits that pointed out that Democrats tended to staff FEMA with professional disaster management folks while the Republicans tended to give those positions out to friends, family and donors. That was why the disaster was as well handled as it was and didn't turn into New Orleans II: The Squeal.

    The hard part about this is even though it's demonstrably true (it's easy to trace the reasons for the FEMA appointments under the two administrations) it's so outlandish to think that a man would appoint someone to such an important position for political points that people just don't believe you when you point it out. Even if you've got the evidence (google it) to back it up...
  • The Magic Number 435 (Score:5, Interesting)

    by grumling ( 94709 ) on Saturday December 08, 2012 @03:31PM (#42226963) Homepage

    We haven't increased the size of the House of Representatives since the 1930s, but the size of the population has grown 3X since then. The House is supposed to grow (and shrink) with population, yet it has not for nearly 100 years. Are we to believe we have the same level of representation as our great grandparents? Just try to get your Representative on the phone, for example. You might be able to reach him if you have a campaign check, but even that's doubtful these days.

    Why is this relevant to the conversation? Because $435 million is a drop in the bucket for most companies, while you'll likely never see your Representative in person, let alone sit down with him/her and voice your opinion. The corporations don't care about who or which party gets elected, just so they remember who cut them the million dollar donation.

    But imagine if there were 1000 or more Representatives. Now how easy would it be for corps to buy the Congress? Yes, a lot of the activity would just switch over to the Senate, but both houses have to agree to get legislation passed.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday December 08, 2012 @03:53PM (#42227157)

    Well said! It's come to the point where you don't even have to be creative to be labeled a conspiracy theorist; all you have to do is cite an article in the New York Times to be considered a loon.

    "Huh, yea right, our government has a list of US Civilians to kill without due process; who told you that the Illuminati???"
    "...no, the New York Times did and here are their sources."
    "Sure sure, tell me when you see Bigfoot next."

  • by stenvar ( 2789879 ) on Saturday December 08, 2012 @04:01PM (#42227239)

    this was pointed out during the recent storms (Sandy), and there were several pundits that pointed out that Democrats tended to staff FEMA with professional disaster management folks while the Republicans tended to give those positions out to friends, family and donors

    You're missing the real "corruption" here, namely that people choose to live in areas predictably endangered by hurricanes, can't get insurance or don't bother to pay for it, and then decade after decade rely on the federal government to pay for the damage that invariably occurs.

    Obama just requested $60bn of handouts to these people. Why should someone living in a safe and boring place trying to make ends meet pay so that people in The Hamptons have their beach front properties taken care of by the federal government?

  • by nbauman ( 624611 ) on Saturday December 08, 2012 @04:50PM (#42227673) Homepage Journal

    Back in the 1950s, there was a publisher called Dover, that reprinted out-of-print classics, mostly math and science orphan books that science students had to read an hour at a time on reserve in the university library. (There were professors who owned a rare book that nobody else could get, and could give an entire course by paraphrasing from the book.)

    Dover was very successful, because there was a great need for these books that the free market wasn't otherwise filling. I read many of their books. I thought that was pretty innovative.

    You couldn't do that today. There are important math and science books that are out of print, and nobody can legally reprint them. You might find them in a big academic library, you might be able to buy them on the rare books market for $200, you might be able to find pirated editions, but you can't legally get them when you need them under these copyright laws.

    Similarly with the music industry. There was a record publisher called Nonsuch that used to put out cheap records of public domain or uncopyrighted music. (For most of its existence the Soviet Union didn't believe in copyright, and they had some of the best musicians in the world.)

    Probably the most innovative thing you could do with out-of-copyright works is to compile them into an anthology. Under the old copyright laws, you could put together a pretty good poetry collection of works that were only 14 or 28 years old without royalties. Now you can't do that. You'd have to wait until 100 years after the death of the author.

  • by 140Mandak262Jamuna ( 970587 ) on Saturday December 08, 2012 @05:26PM (#42227971) Journal
    Fact1 : Any change will create winners and losers. Be it changes in law, changes in technology, changes in business practices, population, demographics, generally accepted social norms... all changes will create winners and losers.

    Fact 2: Most winners will not know they are going to be winners. Most losers can see they are going to be getting the short end of the stick

    Fact 3: The losing side will fight tooth and nail to avert it.

    When the side that is going to lose is rich and powerful, they employ very powerful techniques to avoid it or postpone it. They will buy out the competitors, engage in collusion, pay the legislators (legally or illegally), spread misinformation, doubt and feat, anything. It is very instructive to read the book by the University of Chicago professor, Dr Raghuram Rajan, Saving Capitalism from the Capitalists [amazon.com]

    Copyright is one place where we can see the dynamics playing out very clearly and use it as an opportunity to educate the public.

  • by hairyfeet ( 841228 ) <bassbeast1968@@@gmail...com> on Saturday December 08, 2012 @07:15PM (#42228819) Journal

    The reason they joke is because short of violent revolution there isn't a thing you can do about it. The majority of the media outlets are owned by a handful of rich old insiders that are gonna make damned sure anybody that doesn't "play ball" never gets heard, look up the John Stewart video on Ron Paul where when it looked like people might actually vote for him he became "he who shall not be named" with reporters even listing who came in first, second, FOURTH and fifth, while making sure the name Ron Paul was never spoken. At the end of the clip Stewart shows a reporter who points this out, saying "We are talking about Christie and Palin who aren't even running, and nobody is talking about Paul who is doing good in the polls" to which the anchor got a douchebag smirk and said "Well if you get footage of Palin or Christie let us know, you can just keep the Paul stuff".

    You can't fix a corrupt system by following the rules of that system, because they will simply change the rules to insure you can't win. This video on voting says it better than I can [youtube.com] but the simple fact is at the end of the day they own the media, they control what the populace knows and is told, and they write the big fat checks to get the laws they want passed. To quote the late great George Carlin "Know why things never change? Because the owners of this country don't want change! They own you, they own everything worth having in this country and they do NOT want things to get better because its not good for business." and that is the truth.

    You can protest in your little free speech zone that is far away from anybody that could be bothered, you can occupy until your hair turns grey and you look like just another one of the growing homeless, it just doesn't matter as the top 1% control the government, the money with both the Fed and Wall Street, and they control the media. Short of a full on violent revolution there is simply nothing you can do, all voting does is replace one puppet with another and the one you kicked out gets a cushy job with a lobbying firm so those you elect can see first hand the cushy position waiting for them if they play ball. Your vote means nothing, and unless your last name is Rothschild or Rockefeller your opinion means less than nothing.

I am more bored than you could ever possibly be. Go back to work.