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Mr. Schmidt Goes To Washington: A Look Inside Google's Lobbying Behemoth 128

Posted by samzenpus
from the mr.-president-we-seem-to-be-alone dept.
barlevg (2111272) writes "In May 2012, in the midst of an FTC investigation into Google's search practices, the law school at George Mason University in Northern Virginia hosted a conference attended by congressmen, regulators and staffers. The topic: competition, search and social media. What none of the attendees of the conference knew was that Google was pulling many of the strings behind the event, even going so far as to suggest invited speakers. This event, as documented in The Washington Post is just a snapshot of the operations of one of the largest and highest spending lobbying entities in DC, a far cry from the one-man shop it started out as nine years ago, from a company "disdainful" of Washington's "pay-to-play" culture."
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Mr. Schmidt Goes To Washington: A Look Inside Google's Lobbying Behemoth

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  • by Anonymous Coward

    Oh, Wait....

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday April 13, 2014 @07:50PM (#46743185)

    Just because you don't take an interest in politics, it doesn't mean that politics won't take an interest in you.

    • Everything is ok if Google does it, right?
  • Investments in lobbyists always suggest a belief (though they don't tell us whether it's true or false) that the ROI on regulatory meddling is greater than that of other purposes to which the money could be put. What could possibly go wrong?
    • What could go wrong?

      Why nothing if it's a corporatocracy you seek to replace our failing Republic with.

      We need to increase the pool of Lesters with a coupon system for contributions awarded to everyone who votes and does jury duty.

      • by MrBigInThePants (624986) on Sunday April 13, 2014 @08:19PM (#46743335)
        You already have a corporatocracy. Remember that there needs to be a PR/Marketing layer above this to hide this from the plebs - they would not like to overtly toil under such a system.

        But as long as the common livestock never catch wind of it they will happy continue to graze, chew their cud and pick on of the two "different" options presented for their approval every 4 years and things will continue as they have done for decades now. While there ARE differences between the two options, as there must be to maintain the charade, the common ground is vast and contains the very corporatocracy you speak of.

        You see my dear fellow, fascism does not work because even cattle can stampede and it is VERY expensive to maintain and not all that motivating.
        Far better to create the illusion of choice and achieve exactly the same ends (amassing as much of the wealth as possible) without having to pay a large overhead.

        In this regard the US stands as the mjost efficient example of a corporatocracy the world has ever seen.
        • But as long as the common livestock never catch wind of it they will happy continue to graze, chew their cud and pick on of the two "different" options presented for their approval every 4 years and things will continue as they have done for decades now.

          People do not have much of a chance against a system which forces them to operate by its rules. The system is dysfunctional, a failure of process has occurred. It does not matter if people are engaged in politics, the "sheeple" you disdain, or apathetic cyn

          • "People do not have much of a chance against a system which forces them to operate by its rules."

            They did, but that time is past. "They" dropped the ball and now it is in the corporate neighbours yard and they have a very big and mean dog guarding it. Its still their fault its there.

            Also many of the PR techniques are transparent and the levels of ignorance display often times is rather wilful.

            So I will not lay off them at all thank you very much.

            And I have proposed countless ideas but this is not the forum
    • by symbolset (646467) *
      Others are engaging in political activism. For Google to get a word in the discussion is the responsible thing to do.
    • by FudRucker (866063)
      thats just a nice way of saying "FASCISM"

      the US Federal Government has fascist relationships with lots of corporate entities, they would make Hitler and Mussolini proud
    • by alvinrod (889928)
      To some degree it may become a requirement if your competition is willing to spend money lobbying. At that point it may become the case where not investing a certain amount of money to represent your interests will result in the government passing laws that will hurt your business at the expense of a competitor or another industry.

      As an analogy, if there are no criminals it is not necessary to spend much money on security. However, if security is generally weak, it may encourage criminal activity. At som
  • ...a one-man shop.
  • blame Washington (Score:5, Insightful)

    by stenvar (2789879) on Sunday April 13, 2014 @08:26PM (#46743365)

    Washington has set the rules such that companies need to spend vast amounts on lobbying; if they don't, they go out of business, either killed by regulators or torn apart by their competitors using rigged rules in Washington. I'm sure Google is still "disdainful" of how this works, but it doesn't have a choice about whether to participate.

    The way to get companies to spend less money in Washington is to take power away from Washington: fewer laws, fewer regulations, lower federal taxes, less federal spending. But, of course, some of the most vocal critics of lobbying promote just the kinds of policies that lead to the necessity for lobbying.problems.

    • power honeypot (Score:5, Insightful)

      by bussdriver (620565) on Sunday April 13, 2014 @09:54PM (#46743747)

      No, removing power from the democracy is only empowering the same anti-democratic forces that always seek greater power. They will seek power by any means available to them; take away law and order and they'll become war lords. Anything that limits their means to power is going to have to be more powerful than they are; therefore, it'll become a target for acquisition or undermining. Minimal regulations still require a government powerful enough to enforce them and therefore an equally tempting target for the power mad. You CANT avoid the problem by weakening government; any functioning government will be powerful enough to be the primary target for corrupting forces.

      The only solution is to separate powers and limit them to the extent they are stuck in a permanent battle that is evenly matched. This is the basic concept upon which the constitution of the US was created as well as most other constitutions. The flaws and failures come from not properly balancing and separating the powers at play. The obvious flaw in the US system is that it only has 3 branches it limits and it was outside factors that overpowered and functionally destroyed the democracy. Sure, it will be just fine as a republic all the way into oligarchy, plutocracy, fascism and/or dictatorship... but the democracy aspect; the most important part, is dying off.

      • Re:power honeypot (Score:5, Insightful)

        by stenvar (2789879) on Sunday April 13, 2014 @10:37PM (#46743893)

        You CANT avoid the problem by weakening government;

        I don't want to "weaken government", I want to weaken the federal government.

        The only solution is to separate powers and limit them to the extent they are stuck in a permanent battle that is evenly matched. This is the basic concept upon which the constitution of the US was created

        The US Constitution was also created on the concept of a limited federal government, states rights, and local self-determination.

        Sure, it will be just fine as a republic all the way into oligarchy, plutocracy, fascism and/or dictatorship... but the democracy aspect; the most important part, is dying off.

        Yes, it is, and it's people like you who are killing it by arguing that we should give Washington ever more power, knowing full well that it's going to be abused and that Washington is, for practical purposes, unaccountable to voters.

        • "I don't want to "weaken government", I want to weaken the federal government."

          In theory, I agree with you. The feds have gotten far to fat and powerful, in all aspects. Transportation, communication, education, commerce, intelligence, first amendment and second amendment rights, every thing.

          Got any ideas, though? Let's set aside any utopian views. Let's pretty much ignore how things "should have been". Right now, today, in the real world, how do we go about limiting any aspect of government control in

          • by Anonymous Coward

            Got any ideas, though?

            Let's vote in a monarchy and declare me king. I could hardly do worse and it would be more fun.

            • by Anonymous Coward

              Got any ideas, though?

              Let's vote in a monarchy and declare me king. I could hardly do worse and it would be more fun.

              So, I live in a monarchy, and all though I'm against it on principle, it does seem to have some advantages vs countries with president instead. It seems the president often becomes a politically divisive figure for the population, while a king is almost the opposite. He goes across political boundaries and groups, and even if people is against having a king on principle, or because they think he is a fool, it creates nowhere near the same heated argument. And it seems to lower the level of rage-level divisi

              • by q4Fry (1322209)

                I also lived in a monarchy [wikipedia.org] for quite some time, and despite the efforts of [wikipedia.org] and the respect for said monarch*, the country has all sorts of "rage-level divisiveness" these days.

                * The lese majeste laws [wikipedia.org] that reddit/4chan got wound up about are an unfortunate sideshow. The laws were established to demonstrate respect for the institution of the dynasty when the constitution was written, but are not enforced appropriately. The king himself says [nationmultimedia.com] he is worthy of criticism.

          • by stenvar (2789879)

            Got any ideas, though? Let's set aside any utopian views. Let's pretty much ignore how things "should have been". Right now, today, in the real world, how do we go about limiting any aspect of government control in our lives?

            The big federal government was built incrementally, scaling it back incrementally and gradually is natural and feasible. Spread the word for smaller federal government and more local control. Support politicians at all levels that promote gradual and sensible reductions in the federal g

        • The US Constitution was also created on the concept of a limited federal government, states rights, and local self-determination.

          The US Constitution was written by Google's ancestors. They had the same motivation to limit the federal government then as Google does now: The federal government is a competitor. Geographically connected states can be spanned, with little cost, by any company with enough resources, so a company can grow big enough to go toe-to-toe with a state government. Federal government, on the other hand, is harder to fight with.

          • by stenvar (2789879)

            I agree completely. Is that supposed to be an argument for or against limiting the federal government?

            • It's interesting to look at this discussion from outside the US. For example, the manifest difference between the federal government and state government. They're both governments. And states vary hugely in size and population and any number of factors. The narrative seems to talk about the federal government as this monster that has to be controlled, while state governments are mostly left out of that narrative, and I've yet to see an explanation for why they are cast so differently. I can't see what the a
              • by stenvar (2789879)

                And states vary hugely in size and population and any number of factors.

                A common principle of government is that decisions should be as local as possible.

                You're right that states vary hugely in population size and monster states like California were never envisioned by the Founders. California probably needs more levels of government than Wyoming. But the large variance in size between states, as well as population growth, is another reason why federal power should be limited, because political power become

                • There is a fundamental difference between how the UK relates to the EU and how US states relate to the US government: The UK issues it's own currency. Those are all very good reasons for why your federal government should be limited, and I agree... but I never argued that there is no valid reason to limit federal government. So you listing some reasons is good but... so what? You didn't actually respond to the central point, relating back to the start of this: the proposition that the constitution was writ
                  • by stenvar (2789879)

                    There is a fundamental difference between how the UK relates to the EU and how US states relate to the US government: The UK issues it's own currency.

                    I'm sorry, are you serious? Do you actually believe that federal/state distinctions are determined by who issues currency? Does that mean that Germany is part of a "European nation" because it uses the Euro while the UK is not? The current identification of currency with nations is a novel economic phenomenon, and one that probably isn't even going to last.

                    So

                    • I'm sorry, are you serious? Do you actually believe that federal/state distinctions are determined by who issues currency? Does that mean that Germany is part of a "European nation" because it uses the Euro while the UK is not? The current identification of currency with nations is a novel economic phenomenon, and one that probably isn't even going to last.

                      What formally delineates state versus federal systems is another matter. The fact that you don't understand the mechanics of modern money systems isn't my problem.

                      So what? The people who wrote the Constitution also wore wigs and smelled bad. What does that have to do with anything? What exactly are you trying to get at here?

                      You can't give out pompous indignation about ignorance of history, with credibility, while not understanding the significance of a constitution being written "by land owners for land owners" while the common modern interpretation is that it is "by the people for the people".

                    • by stenvar (2789879)

                      Since you failed to grasp why Americans resist federal power so much, I gave you an analogy: originally, it was intended like the relationship between the EU member states and the EU, mostly a free trade zone with independent local control.

                      In response, you write:

                      There is a fundamental difference between how the UK relates to the EU and how US states relate to the US government: The UK issues it's own currency.

                      And what do you know, even if that mattered, for about a century, individual states did issue their

                    • by stenvar (2789879)

                      FYI:

                      George Washington, one of the richest Americans, was no more than a wealthy squire in British terms." Phillips says that it wasn't until the 1790' s - a generation after the War of Independence - that the first American accumulated a fortune that would be worth one million of today's dollars. The Founders and Framers were, at best, what today would be called the upper-middle-class in terms of lifestyle, assets, and disposable income.

                      Kevin Philips, Wealth and Democracy

                    • one of the richest Americans

                    • FYI:

                      The people who own the country ought to govern it.

                      John Jay

                      [The Elections of England] were open to all classes of people, the property of landed proprietors would be insecure. An agrarian law would soon take place

                      James Madison explaining why the US government shouldn't be like England's.

                    • by stenvar (2789879)

                      That was Madison's view, expressed in one of his speeches. Where is that view represented in the modern US Constitution? The US ended up protecting property rights by other means than restricting voting to land owners.

                      The comparison with England makes little sense, because England simply gave wealthy land owners power through non-democratic means until the 20th century. More classes could vote, but it didn't make any difference.

                      You seem to think that a society or a "democracy" should allow the majority to t

                    • by stenvar (2789879)

                      one of the richest Americans

                      Yes, and upper middle class at that. "Stick it to the upper middle class, but protect the rich and powerful" ought the be the rallying cry of socialists and fascists everywhere, because that's what you people do.

                      All the super-rich crooks were actually still living it up in England, their own property safely protected from democracy through the House of Lords. And the British voter himself? He generally approved of and participating in the raping and pillaging of the world as part

                    • because that's what you people do.

                      Which people? Europeans? People from the 17th Century? People who disagree with you? Over and over you have jumped to conclusions based on knowing nothing significant about me. All you know is I disagree with you on 1 specific subject. In fact, I'm not sure you even know what it is you disagree with. You just assume things based on, what? Race? You have assumed that you can legitimately assume things about 'Europeans', while assuming that 'Europeans' must think about the Americans the way you do about Europ

        • I don't want to "weaken government", I want to weaken the federal government.

          Acckhh! No true Scotsman would ever drink cherry... port...I mean... eat Walkers.... no Taytos... ; More Haggis Agatha, I'veana'other swoon kim 'pon mea.

          • by stenvar (2789879)

            How does the "no true Scotsman" fallacy apply here?

            I want decentralized, local government. I want "devolution", like some places in Europe have been trying to implement.

            What's so hard to understand about that?

        • Until you realize the error of your beliefs, you will just be another tool. Do some thinking and stop adhering to a simplistic religious world view (unsurprisingly one which is promoted by the power elite.)

          A functional democracy will reflect the flaws of it's people; as Franklin said, all democracies fall into despotism. It is not an eternal system, it is bound to fail and have to be rebuilt because it runs on humans. Nothing you do can create a perfect system as long as it runs on humans. Sure, someday

          • by stenvar (2789879)

            What I thought was the obvious conclusion to my statement is that we need a salary cap and severe limits on corporate power

            A wealthy elite competing with each other for the attention of politicians and voters is nothing compared to the corruption and oppression that the creation of a political and intellectual elite brings to a nation. Take it from someone who has experienced it first hand.

            The 4th branch, the press, was publicly funded with 3% of the GDP and afforded a semi-non profit status up to the civil

            • I only have local gov experience. It doesn't take much money before the game is all about power. I don't assume that all the wealthy are distracted by the money game; some realize it's just a means to power and power is what they really are addicted to. Luckily, it seems that many are stuck on their money addiction or things would be so much worse than they are. Bigger government isn't much different than little government; similar organizational problems and human nature - I doubt you have significantl

              • by stenvar (2789879)

                Walmart - my city didn't want one; it was our right to not want them.

                Walmart wouldn't be opening a store in your city if there weren't lots of people who want to shop there. The "we" you are talking about are rent seeking businesses who want their markets protected, corrupt politicians who are in bed with them, and deluded ideologues like you.

                I am a participant, an active responsible citizen and any civil society has a government by which the citizens' collective power is manifest.

                No, what you are is a too

                • There are these things called cars, they let people travel between cities and this is especially easy in a metro area made up of suburbs. Walmart can do just fine with no citizens in my town supporting them. Frankly, I think the majority were against Walmart because it is trashy and while they may go there they don't want one in their backyard. Not that the reason matters-- most people didn't want it and their liberty (government in this case) was taken from them. Sadly, most people will not think beyond

                  • by stenvar (2789879)

                    Crony capitalism happens when citizens neglect their civic duty.

                    No, "crony capitalism" happens when politicians enact policies to help their buddies enrich themselves. Walmart would have undercut local businessmen and driven them out of business. The local businesses went to their politicians and used FUD to keep Walmart out, FUD that you repeat. The result is that people in your town pay much more for good than they would otherwise: you've all become poorer.

                    YOU can move to another country. It is not much w

        • by Anonymous Coward

          Huh, I thought the goal was to eliminate corporatism.

          States and towns are horrifyingly ill-qualified to compete with multinationals. It's like labor laws that tell joe sixpack he has to personally negotiate his job details with a professional negotiator. If only one of the people at the table does this a thousand times a year; who's likely to win?

      • "No, removing power from the democracy ..."
        Did you just call the US federal government "the democracy"? Wow. Just wow. Obama's pen would like to have a word with you.

        At the local level, I can vote for certain laws in my city. So locally, we have some democracy. There is a reason that the Constitution says all powers other than those listed powers specifically delegated to the federal government are reserved to the states and the people.

      • by khallow (566160)

        No, removing power from the democracy

        I agree with raymorris. You failed from the start. The federal government is not "the democracy". In fact, taking power away from the federal government is giving it to "the democracy".

      • by Tokolosh (1256448)

        The only solution is to separate powers and limit them to the extent they are stuck in a permanent battle that is evenly matched. This is the basic concept upon which the constitution of the US was created as well as most other constitutions. The flaws and failures come from not properly balancing and separating the powers at play.

        The system is designed correctly. However, the judicial branch has abdicated its responsibility to rein in the inevitable excesses and power grabs of the other two branches. Everyone deplores the unconstitutional outcomes, unless they coincide with their particular hobby-horse (war declaration, social security, drugs, health care, marriage, etc.). It is these entrenched vested interests that have to be dispatched.

    • Washington has set the rules such that companies need to spend vast amounts on lobbying; if they don't, they go out of business, either killed by regulators or torn apart by their competitors using rigged rules in Washington. I'm sure Google is still "disdainful" of how this works, but it doesn't have a choice about whether to participate.

      That sounds about right.

      The way to get companies to spend less money in Washington is to take power away from Washington: fewer laws, fewer regulations, lower federal taxes, less federal spending. But, of course, some of the most vocal critics of lobbying promote just the kinds of policies that lead to the necessity for lobbying.problems.

      So you're arguing that the only way to reduce lobbying in Washington is to, well, reduce Washington entirely. I honestly don't know if it's too late, given Citizens United and McCutcheon, but it's probably wise to double check. Wouldn't want to throw away the child with the bathwater, as we say in Dutch. I think the English equivalent might be curing the disease by killing the patient.

      • by stenvar (2789879)

        So you're arguing that the only way to reduce lobbying in Washington is to, well, reduce Washington entirely.

        Yes, I'm arguing that. Of course, reducing the size of the US federal government has many other advantages.

        Wouldn't want to throw away the child with the bathwater, as we say in Dutch. I think the English equivalent might be curing the disease by killing the patient.

        Why don't we talk about the Dutch equivalent of what you favor for the US? Your entire nation has about the size of the NYC metropolitan

        • You probably believe you have very effectively stung my national pride, or something. I'll get back to you when I have one. The only thing I could possibly take offense on, which is our country being "too politically ignorant" to make decisions for itself, but I'm just not sure what even means.

          Really: why don't you stop giving advice to Americans and worry about your own country and continent? Between Wilders and the EU, it seems to me you have more than enough on your plate.

          No argument there, we have enough on our plate (though the influence of Wilders, thankfully, seems to be finally diminishing somewhat).

          I understand that my "advice" (really it's not even that, just anecdotal observati

          • by stenvar (2789879)

            You probably believe you have very effectively stung my national pride, or something. I'll get back to you when I have one.

            Your pretenses of open-mindedness really don't matter here (and likely wouldn't hold up if people actually started demanding your bicycle). There are simply several things inconsistent and self-defeating with your position.

            The difference is, though, that I as a Dutchman am affected by some US policies, much more so than the other way around, obviously.

            Quite the opposite. What you call "

            • Your pretenses of open-mindedness really don't matter here (and likely wouldn't hold up if people actually started demanding your bicycle).

              I wasn't aware that lack of chauvinism counted toward open-mindedness. At any rate, believe it or not, I was hardly pretending. More likely there's been a misunderstanding, why would anyone demand my bicycle?

              There are simply several things inconsistent and self-defeating with your position.

              Odd, in this context I can't remember having taken much of a position, other than a general remark that it is occasionally possible to fix a headache short of decapitation.

              Unless you mean my attempt at answering to your "why don't you mind your own business" question -- which is a legitimate one, of co

              • by stenvar (2789879)

                In response to my argument for reducing the power of the US federal government and more decentralization, you responded:

                Wouldn't want to throw away the child with the bathwater, as we say in Dutch. I think the English equivalent might be curing the disease by killing the patient.

                I'm pointing out that if you think the current level of centralization in the US is good and should be maintained, you should adopt it for your own country, which would mean to eliminating the Netherlands entirely and joining one of

  • by careysub (976506) on Sunday April 13, 2014 @08:27PM (#46743375)

    We knew the "Don't Be Evil" motto was an ideal that could not withstand the rigors of the modern international marketplace. But how large a portion of "evil" is Google now comfortable with?

    • "Don't Be Evil" motto ... But how large a portion of "evil" is Google now comfortable with?

      You know the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists' Doomsday Clock [thebulletin.org]? Let's do something similar with Google.

      Let's have Google change their homepage so that the more evil they get, the more UPPER CASE LETTERS [google.com] appear on their search page [google.com].

      And the best thing is: it's hosted by GOOGLE so we KNOW that it's accurate! (...or was that too subtle?)

      • We'll know the moment when their servers become self-aware, realise the extent and in some cases twistedness of all the pr0n online and decide to morph into SkyNet.

    • Okay - you think Google is evil. I'm less happy with Google than I was in years past, but I'm still willing to argue that assessment.

      Which entity would you choose to replace Google today? You may choose any government, corporate, or nonprofit entity you wish. Look around, and choose carefully. You may pick that entity, you may strip Google of all it's resources, and hand those resources over to that entity. Which one is going to do better than Google? If you should bother to post back with a reply, PL

      • by careysub (976506)

        Okay - you think Google is evil. I'm less happy with Google than I was in years past, but I'm still willing to argue that assessment.

        Which entity would you choose to replace Google today?

        Wrong question. What should a socially responsible megacorp that has overwhelming dominance in the primary communication system of the 21st Century do when confronted by a corrupt political process? Just quietly do business-as-usual, supporting the corrupt process, further entrenching it?

        Google cannot avoid engaging with the pay-to-play system, but should it actively support it, or use its wealth, power, influence and access to challenge and expose it?

        Voters have negligible power to make any change in the i

  • Pay to play.

    Isnt bribery supposed to be illegal in the US?

    Why does their government get a "get out of Jail free" card with respect to bribery laws?

    • by Anonymous Coward

      It isn't bribery if money doesn't directly change hands. The Foreign Corrupt Practices Act defines bribery with a far more broad definition for overseas activities than the standard we hold our own politicians to at home.

    • From an article on a new shell organization, the JFC, enabled by a recent Supreme Court decision, McCutcheon vs. FEC:

      "Backer added that the biggest reason he thinks super JFCs won't take off is that, while they may be an efficient way to extract money from a single donor, from the donor's perspective, they are impersonal and don't offer any advantages -- an assertion that has many skeptics.

      "For the donors, they really prefer to cut the vast number of checks," he said. "For them, it's not about giving money,

      • FYI, Mr. Backer's background:

        "Does Backer know what he's talking about? Besides being the lead attorney for Shaun McCutcheon, over the last three election cycles he has overseen a proliferation of new PACs and helped organize what may be the largest-ever joint fundraising committee, in terms of the number of participants. " -- ibid [opensecrets.org]

    • It's not bribery, it's a "campaign contribution"

      It should be no surprise that a system run by corrupt politicians passes laws that makes corruption legal..

  • by xxxJonBoyxxx (565205) on Sunday April 13, 2014 @09:40PM (#46743669)

    >> What none of the attendees of the conference knew was that Google was pulling many of the strings behind the event

    I doubt/hope that "no one knew." Conference agendas, like news stories, should always be read for brand-name frequency. (The brand name that appears most frequently or in the most positive manner is usually the one that hired the PR agency to plant the story in the first place. Same thing goes for a conference agenda.) What's the number one name on this conference agenda? Google.

    So...if the academics attending the conference didn't guess it was Google sponsored...then they're probably not as bright as their titles suggest.

    • by Sarten-X (1102295)

      Bribery and deceit are fairly ineffective at effecting long-term policies. Nobody wants to be the politician caught taking handouts.

      On the other hand, one of the best ways to convince someone to go along with your requests is to make a clear statement of why your goals align with the decision-makers' goals. If the politician wants more jobs in his district, you explain how your technology helps make jobs. If the politician wants to improve schools' performance, you highlight the educational opportunities su

      • "Bribery and deceit are fairly ineffective at effecting long-term policies."

        Do the railroads in the United States still possess the land that they stole for pennies on the hundreds of dollars when the iron horse was proposed?

  • by tomhath (637240) on Sunday April 13, 2014 @10:23PM (#46743847)

    Eric Schmidt is a regular visitor to the White House thanks to his generous campaign contributions.

    I suppose Google also needs to influence Congress though, since Obama isn't taking the lead in much of anything these days.

  • by steveha (103154) on Monday April 14, 2014 @01:27AM (#46744543) Homepage

    Consider the history of Microsoft. In the past, Microsoft didn't expend any significant money or effort on lobbying in Washington, D.C. Then during President Clinton's time in office, Microsoft faced serious threats from the Federal government... the worst being that a Federal judge actually ordered that Microsoft be split up. This order was voided by a higher court, so it didn't happen... but you had better believe that Microsoft took it as a hard lesson.

    Microsoft now spends a great deal of money and effort on lobbying in D.C. I don't blame them for self-defense via lobbying. (I do blame them for attacking other companies via lobbying, if they do. See below for allegations that they do.)

    Google isn't waiting for D.C. to turn on them; they are lobbying to "manage their relationship" with the Federal government. So is Facebook.

    http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0411/52483.html [politico.com]

    Here's an article from 2008 about Google learning the importance of lobbying. It includes allegations that Microsoft was using its lobbying infrastructure to try to prevent a deal Google was trying to make with Yahoo.

    http://dealbook.nytimes.com/2008/10/20/google-learns-lessons-in-the-ways-of-washington/?_php=true&_type=blogs&_r=0 [nytimes.com]

    Now I'm picturing Google using its leverage to attack Microsoft, and Eric Schmidt saying "The circle is now complete. In 2008, Google was just a student... now I am the master. [imdb.com]"

    • Being in the industry myself (technology that is, not politics), it is absolutely true that every one of the current tech companies learned a hard lesson from Microsoft. Apple, Google, Facebook, Amazon...they all have lobbying efforts.

      This is all probably inevitable given the central position that technology has taken in our society. For decades technology was below the radar, more or less unregulated, and us geeks could be blissfully uninvolved in national politics. Now tech is like every other successful

    • Google isn't waiting for D.C. to turn on them; they are lobbying to "manage their relationship" with the Federal government. So is Facebook.

      where do you all think these valley companies are getting their funding from? Investments from Wall Street--and that screams shady in itself where gov't loves to inject itself to either skim cash on the deal, fee-by-death, or there's my next job!

      You'll need those lobbyists day one once you take Wall Street cash.

The opposite of a correct statement is a false statement. But the opposite of a profound truth may well be another profound truth. -- Niels Bohr

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