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Google and Facebook: Unelected Superpowers? 243

Posted by timothy
from the but-if-by-elect-you-mean-choose dept.
theodp (442580) writes "'The government is not the only American power whose motivations need to be rigourously examined,' writes The Telegraph's Katherine Rushton. 'Some 2,400 miles away from Washington, in Silicon Valley, Google is aggressively gaining power with little to keep it in check. It has cosied up to governments around the world so effectively that its chairman, Eric Schmidt, is a White House advisor. In Britain, its executives meet with ministers more than almost any other corporation. Google can't be blamed for this: one of its jobs is to lobby for laws that benefit its shareholders, but it is up to governments to push back. As things stand, Google — and to a lesser extent, Facebook — are in danger of becoming the architects of the law.' Schmidt, by the way, is apparently interested in influencing at least two current hot-button White House issues. Joined by execs from Apple, Oracle, and Facebook, the Google Chairman asserted in a March letter to Secretary of State John Kerry that the proposed Keystone XL pipeline is not in the economic interests of the U.S.; the Obama administration on Friday extended the review period on the pipeline, perhaps until after the Nov. 4 congressional elections. And as a 'Major Contributor' to Mark Zuckerberg's PAC, Schmidt is also helping to shape public opinion on the White House's call for immigration reform; just launched new attack ads (videos) and a petition aimed at immigration reform opponent Rep. Steve King. In Dave Eggers' The Circle, politicians who impede the company execs' agenda are immediately brought down. But that's fiction, right?"
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Google and Facebook: Unelected Superpowers?

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  • by Shakrai (717556) * on Sunday April 20, 2014 @12:41PM (#46799873) Journal

    They are all for big liberal government programs as long as some else pays for them.

    You've just described 100% of the American electorate.

  • by A nonymous Coward (7548) on Sunday April 20, 2014 @01:57PM (#46800339)

    Civil rights for Black People in the Southern American States only happened because the Federal Government stepped in with the National Guard.

    BULLSHIT. Slavery and Jim Crow were both the RESULT of government laws. Neither can exist in the absence of government. Jim Crow in particular owes its existence to a Louiana law requiring a railroad to segregate its railroad cars against its own wishes, said law being approved by the US Supreme Court.

    You need to learn a lot of history before opening your yap next time.

  • by Shakrai (717556) * on Sunday April 20, 2014 @03:11PM (#46800787) Journal

    The 17th Amendment began the process of destroying the Federal structure of the United States, empowering the Federal Government to expand into areas that were previously the sole province of the States, expansions that would have been resisted if the State Legislatures still had direct representation in Washington. Centralization of power comes with all manner of negative consequences, ranging from the ease with which well monied interests can exploit the process to the tyranny of the majority over the minority.

  • by AthanasiusKircher (1333179) on Monday April 21, 2014 @09:19AM (#46804681)

    Let's try this, shall we?


    This thread would be hilarious, if all of the people on both sides weren't taking it so seriously.

    You can't quote to have an argument about what Ben Franklin (or whoever else) might have meant 200+ years ago. Language changes, but more importantly, the detailed connotations of words change.

    I'm not AT ALL on the side of the Tea Party lunatics, nor do I want to repeal the 17th amendment. But people claiming that "It's supposed to be a Republic, not a Democracy" is meaningless or misguided are being a little ignorant of history.

    What this statement really means -- to those who actually know something about history and what those terms meant in the 18th century -- is that the U.S. was founded as something closer to the Roman Republic, and less like direct democracy (a la Athens or something). Those were the models the Founders were often discussing.

    It does NOT mean that a republic can't be a democracy or whatever -- it means that the terms had (and still have, to some extent) default connotations that put them at somewhat different places on the government spectrum of where power lies. You can see this if you actually spend time reading what the Founders wrote, where they often tend to qualify the word "democracy" with "representative democracy." They did this because saying the word "democracy" by itself had connotations more connected with direct democracy.

    It's kind of like the word "bachelor." Does it just mean "an unmarried man"? Well, is a divorced man a "bachelor"? Some people say no, others say "sometimes." The word "bachelor" also has historical connections to eligibility for marriage, not just marital status (hence "eligible bachelor"), and historically divorced men were uncommon. Now divorced men are common, and they are often considered eligible for marriage. So, can they be "bachelors"? Certainly they can have a "bachelor pad" or behave in ways that are "bachelor-like" (yet another connotation of the word, having to do with certain behaviors, rather than marital status).

    All-in-all, language is complicated. Words have default connotations, and when we start arguing about word meanings over time or boundary cases, we're bound to have disagreements. For example, in the 18th century, a "republic" couldn't mean a communist republic, since communism didn't yet exist in the form we talk about today. Acting like that has something to do with the 18th century meaning is a little bizarre.

    By the mid-1800s or so, language had evolved to the point that "democracy" and "republic" had enough default connotations in common that they could often be used interchangably in the U.S. But that doesn't mean we can't still mean something by saying that the Founders intended to have [something closer to their stereotypical version of] a Republic rather than [something closer to their stereotypical version of] a Democracy.

    There has been a gradual shift over the past centuries in the U.S. moving closer toward a direct democracy, which is not in-line with the (pseudo-Roman) Republican tendencies of the Founders. For a few examples:

    "Roman Republican" Founders: suffrage should generally be limited to people entitled to make decisions because of their positions and assets, i.e., free male landowners.
    Modern-day "more Democratic" ideal: suffrage should be nearly universal, excepting only minors and maybe felons.

    "Roman Republican" Founders: many offices should be filled by indirect elections or appointments, isolated from direct democratic interventions -- such as having senators elected by state governments or presidents by an "electoral college."
    Modern-day "more Democratic" ideal: senators are elected by direct popular vote; the electoral college is viewed with great suspicion, along with other indirect election or appointment methods.

    "Roman Rep

To thine own self be true. (If not that, at least make some money.)