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Rand Paul and Silicon Valley's Shifting Political Climate 533

Posted by Soulskill
from the businesses-going-into-protection-mode dept.
SonicSpike sends this story from NY Magazine: Rand Paul appears to be making a full-court press for the affections of Silicon Valley, and there are some signs that his efforts are paying off. At last week's Sun Valley conference, Paul had one-on-one meetings with Thiel and Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg. ... Next weekend, Paul will get to make his case yet again as the keynote speaker at Reboot, a San Francisco conference put on by a group called Lincoln Labs, which self-defines as "techies and politicos who believe in promoting liberty with technology." He'll likely say a version of what he's said before: that Silicon Valley's innovative potential can be best unlocked in an environment with minimal government intrusion in the forms of surveillance, corporate taxes, and regulation. “I see almost unlimited potential for us in Silicon Valley,” Paul has said, with "us" meaning libertarians.

Today's Silicon Valley is still exceedingly liberal on social issues. But it seems more skeptical about taxes and business regulation than at any point in its recent history. Part of this is due to the rise of companies like Uber and Tesla Motors, blazing-hot start-ups that have been opposed at every turn by protectionist regulators and trade unions, in confrontations that are being used by small-government conservatives as case studies in government control run amok.
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Rand Paul and Silicon Valley's Shifting Political Climate

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  • How you see the world depends on where you are in it.

  • More Like Subsidized (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 16, 2014 @04:32AM (#47464941)

    > Uber and Tesla Motors, blazing-hot start-ups that have been opposed at every turn by protectionist regulators

    Every Tesla vehicle comes with a minimum of $7,500 subsidy [teslamotors.com] from the federal government plus a bunch of state government subsidies like $2,500 and single-driver privileges in HOV lanes in California. They are the last company that should be laying claim to libertarian ideals.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Do you really think that article is believable when it said Rand Paul is libertarian and not Republican?

      The author threw in some tech companies and lied about their persecution. Tesla's had a lot of help from the government. They're fighting the dealerships mainly, and Tesla's winning.

      Uber's legal in almost all of the cities it operates in, and the only thing they are fighting is the fees to pick-up and drop-off at certain airports, something even the regular cabbies have to pay. Uber is basically fighting

    • by serviscope_minor (664417) on Wednesday July 16, 2014 @05:03AM (#47465001) Journal

      Every Tesla vehicle comes with a minimum of $7,500 subsidy from the federal government plus a bunch of state government subsidies like $2,500 and single-driver privileges in HOV lanes in California. They are the last company that should be laying claim to libertarian ideals.

      What about the pollution caused by internal combustion engines? Just because the subsidy on their operation isn't on a ledger, doesn't mean it doesn't exist. Ultimately externalities have to be paid for.

      • by Kjella (173770) on Wednesday July 16, 2014 @07:41AM (#47465671) Homepage

        In libertarian world negative externalities are paid by those who are stuck with them, even if they're an unwilling third party to someone else's actions because nobody has any responsibility for the common good. If a river flows through your land to someone else's land where they sell drinking water, you can dump your sewage in the river and sell your own clean upstream water. If you're a drug pusher and a junkie wants drugs it's a voluntary transaction, that the junkie robs and steals to feed his crack habit is none of your concern. If you come across a man dying of thirst, you don't have to give him a drink of water even if you have plenty. In short, libertarianism doesn't require you to do anything for anyone else's well-being.

        The counter-arguments typically are that charity and compassion will kick in and libertarians will give him a drink of water, but not because they're compelled to by law. People will form voluntary agreements and shared resources like a town well out of mutual benefit. In short, their solution to the "tragedy of the commons" is basically to pretend it won't happen even though history shows it quickly devolves into a few rulers/gangs/companies with power and many regular people at their mercy. If you get to play with every dirty trick in the book then competition will quickly cease and one monopolist or an oligarchy will control the market and smother any start-up in its infancy.

        • by jythie (914043) on Wednesday July 16, 2014 @08:20AM (#47465927)
          Or the counterargument is that communities will form their own police for and system of rules that anyone living in the community has to abide by, with local groups of people picking representatives to get together and bring each communities' interests to a governing body, but it won't be a state damn it!
        • by drinkypoo (153816) <martin.espinoza@gmail.com> on Wednesday July 16, 2014 @08:23AM (#47465933) Homepage Journal

          If a river flows through your land to someone else's land where they sell drinking water, you can dump your sewage in the river and sell your own clean upstream water.

          The Libertarians all believe that they are supermen (or -women) and that they will naturally win any competition as a result. Thus they believe that they will win the inevitable battles to the death when they shit in someone else's water, or someone shits in theirs. After all, if someone deprives you of a basic requirement for life, are you just going to roll over and die? Hell no, especially if you're one of these who believes that every man is a nation or a king. You're going to take up arms and go to war.

          In short, their solution to the "tragedy of the commons" is basically to pretend it won't happen

          Yep. And also to pretend that they will come out on the winning side, when history shows us that virtually everyone doesn't. Such a system always spawns a more structured system which supersedes it.

          • by stdarg (456557)

            What makes you think libertarians don't want clean water? That's just ignorant.

            Here's one example of a libertarian response: http://www.ruwart.com/environ2... [ruwart.com]

            Basically it involves having private property rights to water, and suing people who damage your property.

            • by drinkypoo (153816)

              Basically it involves having private property rights to water, and suing people who damage your property.

              Which either requires a tax-maintained court system, or that you have enough money to pay to have your case heard in court before you can have "justice".

        • At its heart libertarianism is just about minimizing the threat and use of force by the government to just those things which are truly essential government functions. However, Laws which protect people from the use of force by others are one of those essential government functions.

          Real libertarians don't believe you can pollute your neighbors land or your neighbors air without legal consequences. A person depriving another of the use of their property (such as by polluting it) or violating their right

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by polar red (215081)

      what about the subsidy for oil ? $$$trillions on foreign oil wars mean a lot of subisdies.

  • bullshit (Score:5, Insightful)

    by meglon (1001833) on Wednesday July 16, 2014 @05:06AM (#47465013)

    Part of this is due to the rise of companies like Uber and Tesla Motors, blazing-hot start-ups that have been opposed at every turn by protectionist regulators and trade unions, in confrontations that are being used by small-government conservatives as case studies in government control run amok.

    ....except....

    http://insideevs.com/uaw-looks... [insideevs.com]

    CEO Elon Musk says Tesla is union neutral, so that’s the automaker’s stance.

    Then there's the whole "government run amok" thing... where it should really say "state government run amok." The protectionist policies adopted haven't been federal, they've been state level. Texas, Arizona, Virginia, Maryland, and New Jersey have outright bans; Georgia and Colorado have severe restrictions on selling; and Ohio and New York have legislation pending. Musk has said, if the states keep fucking with him, he will use the federal courts to deal with the issue.... so again, the problem isn't the federal government, it's the states.

    With Uber, again the problem isn't unions, and it's not the federal government.. it's city governments.

    Perhaps this should be a case study on smaller governments causing more problems than they should, and those that promote "small government" lying and trying to blame "big government" and unions.

    • Re:bullshit (Score:4, Insightful)

      by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Wednesday July 16, 2014 @05:38AM (#47465103) Journal
      As with so many political labels, there are at least two distinct schools of thought that use the term 'small-government conservative'; plus a large swath of opportunists who adopt the label if they suspect that it will poll well with their target audience.

      You've got the 'small-government' segment primarily worried about the feds doing things without constitutional basis. Then you have the ones who are 'small-government' in that they want as little as possible (and think that 'as little as possible' is very, very, little).

      The former flavor would likely prefer to avoid really embarrassing exercises of 'state's rights', like protecting car dealers; because fuck those guys; but would theoretically be obliged to be hostile to any federal intrusion on the matter. The latter flavor doesn't care nearly as much about the origin of the laws, so they'll oscillate between using and attacking federal power as the situation dictates. If a bunch of state legislation is bothering them and looks like it will be difficult to cut through, bring on federal supremacy to supersede all state regulations with federal equivalents that are as toothless as possible. If the feds look like they might regulate something that at least some states have hitherto ignored, it's all aboard for state's rights and reigning in federal abuses of the interstate commerce clause and similar.

      Once you get into the realm of the pure opportunists, of course, absolutely anything goes, without the slightest requirements for honesty, internal consistency, or even coherence.
    • Perhaps this should be a case study on smaller governments causing more problems than they should, and those that promote "small government" lying and trying to blame "big government" and unions.

      For what it's worth, "small government" is not synonymous with "local/State government", nor is "big government synonymous with "Federal government".

      A city government, within the bounds of the city, can quite easily be "big government" when it tries to micromanage everything in the city.

      Likewise, the Federal gover

  • by swb (14022) on Wednesday July 16, 2014 @05:36AM (#47465093)

    ...longer, better patents and copyrights, more EULAs.

    This is really what we need, aspiring politicians appealing to plutocrats.

    • by KiloByte (825081)

      longer, better patents and copyrights

      Isn't "longer" and "better" a contradiction here?

    • Silicon valley doesn't care about longer copyrights - their industry hasn't existed long enough to benefit. That's more a music/movie industry thing.

  • The idea that economic policy and social policy are tied at the hip in the two mainstream parties is ridiculous. Someone who supports conservative economic policy but liberal social policies, in any other country, has a mainstream party to get behind. In the US, they're essentially an outcast who has to decide which is more important to them, their personal values or what they think is the best direction for the economy, because voting for third parties is viewed as a lost vote.

    Politics in the US needs drastic reform away from the two party system.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      How does Rand Paul have a liberal social policy? He's perfectly happy with letting states bar gays from marrying, eliminating abortion and birth control, making it difficult for minorities to vote, and allowing businesses to discriminate.

      What part of that is liberal social policy?

      Where the hell are people getting their news on Rand Paul?

    • by swb (14022) on Wednesday July 16, 2014 @06:22AM (#47465247)

      I think its due to the nature of the voting system (winner take all, even if you don't poll a majority). But it also seems to be endemic to many democracies, they tend to gravitate to two party systems. The UK has Labor and the Conservatives, the Germans have Christian Democrats and the Social Democrats.

      But even in countries with larger third parties, they're seldom major parts of government. I think the current coalition government in the UK is one of the few times the Liberal Democrats have been in government. In Germany the FDP has mostly been a kingmaker rather than a majority party capable of forming its own government.

      We just started using ranked choice voting for elections in Minneapolis, which in theory eliminates the "lost vote" problem by allowing you to make third parties your first choice but still vote "defensively" by making some other candidate a secondary choice.

      So far it doesn't seem to have led to a lot of radical change in outcomes other than making the election results take a couple of extra days due to the calculations involved when there's a dozen candidates.

    • Someone who supports conservative economic policy but liberal social policies, in any other country, has a mainstream party to get behind.

      In some kind of relative sense, yes, but there is no mainstream party in most of the west that supports policies like Rand Paul's. In most of Europe, the "economically conservative but socially liberal" parties have economic policies to he left of the Democrats, including support for national healthcare.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 16, 2014 @06:14AM (#47465215)

    "That's libertarians for you - anarchists who want police protection from their slaves."

    And given the overwhelming historical association between "liber"tarian ideology and slavery, it's probably more accurate to just call it according to its real preoccupation: Moneytarianism.

    No doubt such a viewpoint would find a receptive audience in some of the shallower minds and uglier spirits of Silicon Valley.

    But the philosophical core of the region and the tech industry remains fundamentally progressive. That's why it remains the king despite decades of conservative "small government" states desperately trying and failing to replicate it on any remotely competitive scale.

  • It's coming to Congress.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    T-shirts that got their wearers in trouble at conference.

    Draper Labs: When you really want it there on time

    Draper labs specializes in missile guidance systems, and the shirt had a picture of a launching missile. Some of their work as been space program supportive, but it would have been a lot cheaper without the military angle, and we'd have actually gotten to see the results in industry, not hidden away as Top Secret.

    Lincoln Labs: When you care enough to send the

  • The Valley has long had a handful of superrich libertarian types. Thiel is one of the better known, and is really more of a Wall Street type who now makes investments in the Valley. He made his money in hedge funds, not in technology. He's been involved with various Republican and Libertarian causes since the '80s.

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