32 posts tagged government

Thinking Ahead

We’ve turned politics into a career, which means it’s a career focused on getting re-elected…

I’m not sure I’m as optimistic about the voting public, as a whole, but I do agree that—outside of dogma—the average, informed citizen is thinking further down the road than the average politician. And that saddens me. Our system essentially necessitates it. We’ve turned politics into a career, which means it’s a career focused on getting re-elected (short-term) rather than doing hard, good things for the country (long-term).

Flat Tax

I don’t understand at all why it has taken so long to get to this point. A flat tax seems so painfully obvious as the best way to manage income tax. The only thing I can think is that, for the most part, the people who benefit most from the current tax system are the ones in charge of managing said system. Surprise, surprise.

I hope Fred’s right. I too would be excited to see a true simplification of the tax system.


We get what others lobby for…

Interesting take by Mat Honan. I can’t say I disagree.

I think the main feeling I have walking away from today is shame.

Today was interesting. I don’t usually find myself caught up in the sorts of protest-type “movements” that we saw today, but this one got me. I’m still not sure how I feel about it. Whether Mat is 100% correct or not, I think the main feeling I have walking away from today is shame. Shame that it got to this point. As a country, how do we continue to put people in power who are so ready to listen to special interest groups? Is it simply because sometimes our special interests get listened to and we feel like we got a win?

The very existence of SOPA/PIPA (and the lobbying efforts that birthed them) underscore a deeper problem in our current political system. It’s deeper than money in politics, corporate lobbies, or congressmen who don’t understand the internet. I think we’re facing the result of making politics a lifelong-career of the privileged and attention-seeking. How different would Washington be if everyone knew they only had—at the most—a few years to do the work they were elected to do?

We gave you the Internet…

…and no, there’s no time machine.

Nat Torkington, in response to the president’s request of ideas and help from the tech community to stop and prevent piracy.

I don’t like piracy. I wouldn’t want my work stolen and I certainly don’t like seeing the work of friends stolen. But what the president is asking for doesn’t exist. I think future generations will look back on the invention of the Internet and—if it’s mentioned at all—see a footnote about how it made it hard for some industries to continue operating under their pre-Internet status quo. That is, unless we screw this up. Then the footnote will talk about the Internet Dark Ages where we allowed government and lobbyists to try to turn back the clock. I bet there was proposed legislation that required cars to artificially restrained to the speed of a horse too.

(via @timbray)


This video is three months old, and even the addendum at the end hasn’t quite kept up with these bills, but it’s still one of the best plain-language explanations I’ve seen on what the SOPA and PIPA acts are all about.

I know, I know, yesterday everyone on Twitter was celebrating the SOPA is dead (technically it has only been shelved and could come back up for vote at any time), but PIPA is still alive and furthermore, you owe it to yourself to understand these topics and be able to speak eloquently about them to your friends. Watch this video.

(via Swiss Miss)

Uncomfortable Question

Are people simply buying and consuming less traditional media?

Tim O’Reilly nails it. This is the entertainment industry’s most uncomfortable question:

Is the problem piracy, or are people simply buying less?

It’s anecdotal, but among my peers and myself, I know it to be true that we are buying less. Streaming media services, crappier movies, more expensive ticket prices, and significantly more entertainment alternatives might just mean that people are buying less:

While people have access to more traditional types of entertainment media they also have exponential access to alternatives.

  • Music: I buy a decent amount of music, but most of my friends simply use Pandora, Spotify or Rdio in place of purchasing or listening to terrestrial radio. Napster is a thing of the past and I don’t hear many peers talk about stealing music. So they’re either procuring it legally through services that are significantly cheaper than purchasing albums, or they’re putting their time and money elsewhere.
  • News: I don’t know anyone my age who subscribes to physical newspapers, and online, publishers like the New York Times have made it clear that they’re clueless when it comes to worthwhile online paid subscriptions.
  • Movies: I also don’t know anyone that buys DVDs anymore and Hollywood seems to be in a contest to see how much lower they can set the bar with each movie release while adding expensive gimmicks like 3D. Maybe I’m just bullshitting myself, but I feel like I’d see more movies if they were cheaper and I didn’t have to wear stupid glasses.

I’d suspect that the double-edged sword of the internet has meant that while people have access to more traditional types of entertainment media they also have exponential access to more alternative types of entertainment, games, news, writing, media, etc. that Hollywood can’t even find on its radar screen, let alone make money off of.

(via Daring Fireball)


…An Aside

Forget politics for a moment. That’s not what I’m curious about. Obama is one of our youngest and most forward-thinking presidents in recent history. After almost 4 years in office, I’d love to hear him debrief what he’s learned about government bureaucracy that he did not know going into his presidency, and what he would change if he could wave a magic wand. Now that would be an interesting conversation.

Seeing the truth when it might be invisible

The day after Osama Bin Laden was killed I happened to be at a coffee shop, sitting next to a small group of otherwise very bright college students who were absolutely convinced that his death was faked. It was too politically convenient, they told their one friend who was skeptical of their skepticism. They wanted to see photos, they told her. She asked a direct question of them: “Would a photo make you believe it?” One guy spoke up, “No, I guess. I wouldn’t believe it either way.”

The American Wireless Galapagos Syndrome: How the industry set itself up for a rout

He’s talking about the US wireless market, but he might as well be talking about our wired broadband internet market. We’ve backed ourselves into a corner in both industries, and while I’m usually a fan of free market forces, there’s a role for government here. In fact, we’re in the situation we are in because of government intervation and regulation that has simply been short-sighted and not focused on the long-term utility and public good that these services provide.

A Frightening Week

I find the tech industry on the whole to be very idealistic. In so many ways, this is a good thing, but it can warp our perspective of “the way things are” in the world. Having a government shut down the entire Internet in a country is a good reminder to be vigilant and to pop our heads up out of our idealism once-in-a-while and confirm that things really are headed in the right direction. For example, I had no idea that proposed legislation like the Internet Kill Switch existed. It seems so counterintuitive to everything our country stands for, yet there it is. Now, what are we going to do about it, both as an industry and as citizens?