So Hollywood's finally figuring out their representatives can't be trusted to act in their interests? Shame, that. Must be tough. They have my sympathy. No, really, I mean it. Can't imagine what they're going through.
I am still thankful to Reddit, Jimbo, even Google who forced through their blackouts traditional media to report about it and therefore not allowing to push it off as some "resistance by stealing pirates from the internets".
Yeah, because it threatens theirs. Strangely enough, they had no problems putting up a bunch of billboards and commercials right after that, which amounts to the same thing.
The answer isn't to kick these specific bums out. It is to change campaign finance laws to make contributions illegal. I'm not sure what people here would agree to that doesn't amount to censorship though. Should the MPAA be disallowed to make a political commercial and pay for its broadcast?
From what I gather, direct campaign contributions and the way corporations are funneling money into elections are not connected. Corporations are NOT making direct contributions to campaigns. They are making indirect and anonymous contributions to superpacs.
We don't need to "make contributions illegal." Nor do we _need_ publicly financed campaigns. That would be very hard to get.
We can start by having superpacs disclose their donors. Or by setting a limit on individual, and by extension corporate, contribution to said superpacs.
The loophole is that you can't make a large contribution directly to a campaign, yet you can make a contribution of any size, anonymously, indirectly to the corresponding superpac. This is why money = voice.
In answer to your question: "Should the MPAA be disallowed to make a political commercial and pay for its broadcast?" They should be allowed to make a political statement by contributing to a superpac that runs the commercial, but the contribution should not be unlimited nor anonymous. In effect, they'll need other companies in the pool to get enough money for that commercial. Now we can say corporations are people, problem solved.
If so, do you favor removing Paul Krugman or Glenn Beck's bully pulpit? If not, why not?
If we are to have freedom of speech, then Beck should be able to have his show. That's the easy part.
Beck converts money into public opinion. Arguably, SuperPACs do the same. Hence the Citizens United decision. In practice, SuperPAC donors just tell the legislator why the check was written, or in which case it will be. Nothing wrong with the premise (free speech), plenty wrong with the outcome (money = voice, or rather money = ear?)
Now that I ran this circle, I can see how publicly financed campaigns might be the only answer. Thank you for asking a difficult question to answer. I'll definitely think about this more.
If it were not a check, but merely using influence, would things be better? I.e., if Krugman were to offer to endorse Romney only on the condition that Romney expands Obama/Romneycare, would that be acceptable?
Or how about if some rich person stated he would buy a newspaper and use the newspaper to push Romney?
The vote is equal in a democracy, but donations aren't, and in a way donations are like a parallel vote, which huge discrepancies between each donation. Obviously the politician will listen to his biggest donors first, even if 10,000 of his normal supporters want the opposite thing.
The MPAA has been known to make Dem-friendly movies. How do you distinguish between that and a commercial?
Note that Citizens United was about a movie, not a commercial.
Money flows into politics because of the power of government. One of the only ways I see to limit that money without limiting speech is to limit the power of government.
I'd set my sights on the somewhat easier "limit the ability to bribe government".
I guess my question comes down to what is the difference between contributing to whichever campaign forwards a platform and bribery (the assumption that Dodd was engaging in the latter being what caused the furor)?
Dodd's implication is that the politicians should not have listened to their constituents. Or at least that's how I pick up on it. The tone says to me that his money should have solidified or shaped the opinions of those his industry donated to.
That's very different from trying to get someone elected because you believe their view of how to best serve their constituents aligns with your platform. Now, I'm sure you will find many people here who will argue that that, too, is corrupt. But it's not so blatant.
However, there's one more piece to the puzzle: None of the politicians have said they are going to give up on passing legislation that fights copyright infringement. They've shelved two bills, that's it. They haven't announced any bad intentions toward his platform, and they haven't established a pattern of ignoring his platform. So to claim that they aren't supporting his platform would be a gross overreaction. It more like Dodd feels his industry is entitled to these particular bills, and he is whining that they didn't get them.
It's not that people are upset that he is freely admitting to bribery or lobbying (depending on your viewpoint), but that is should be wrong for him to be admitting it. You are totally right. If I stand behind a congressman or woman because I agree with their actions and values, then one day I notice that they are supporting things that I am against, no one should be upset if I move my donations and support elsewhere. The problem comes from how he openly admits to the influence everyone already knows the media industry has over our legislative body.
If the media industry is as massive as they claim it to be, then every single one of those people employed in that industry has a right to support and back congressmen and women that support the values that help them strengthen their industry. The fact that the industry itself can, in parallel to those that work in the industry, also donate and support congressmen and women is the problem, as it creates exponential power with linear growth (if everyone was hypothetically contributing equally to the industry).
The same idea applies to any industry, really. No one ideally wants to reduce the size of any industry, but to limit the power any single industry has over the direction the country drafts it's laws to help and protect to be fair to everyone.
"Bribery, a form of corruption, is an act implying money or gift given that alters the behavior of the recipient. Bribery constitutes a crime and is defined by Black's Law Dictionary as the offering, giving, receiving, or soliciting of any item of value to influence the actions of an official or other person in charge of a public or legal duty."
"Extortion (also called shakedown, outwresting, and exaction) is a criminal offence which occurs when a person unlawfully obtains either money, property or services from a person(s), entity, or institution, through coercion. Refraining from doing harm is sometimes euphemistically called protection. Extortion is commonly practiced by organized crime groups."
$5000000 = lobby
My cat would be a better lobbyist.
As Greenwald points out in his latest hit piece, Dodd also denounced the revolving door and said he would never be a lobbyist.
However, it does raise questions about lobbies in general. I'm not american, so when I arrived here, I was surprised by how widespread the phenomenon was, and I've been trying to understand the reasons behind it. From what I read, lobbies basically give money to politicians for their campaigns is that right?
My first question is: why do they need that money? I mean, where I'm from (France), politicians don't spend a tenth of what their american counterparts spend for there campaign. So how did the US arrive to a point where so much money is needed to win an election?
My only guess is that they noticed that the probability of being elected was proportional to their media visibility. Meaning that some people vote for the guy they see the most on tv. And when I say "some people", I mean a lot of people. So my second question is: "Is our voting behavior not responsible for the phenomenon of lobbying"?
Again, this is an external point of view. Please do tell me if I'm missing something.
I don't know if anyone remembers 2000, but Nader wasn't even allowed in to watch the debates, let alone participate.
In my view, the only answer to all of this is 100% publicly funded elections.
And what are you going to do about newspapers that promote candidates?
How about movies that promote a candidate or party?
Can I make a sign and put it in my front yard with my money? How about if my neighbor and I decide to put up a bigger sign across the border between our lawns?
Yes, I know, to make an omelet, you've got to break a few eggs. However, breaking eggs doesn't mean that there's going to be an omelet.
"Congress shall make no law...abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press..."
1. This is the entirety of what I know about French campaign finance as of five minutes ago: http://www.loc.gov/law/help/campaign-finance/france.php
There, I said it!
That statement is neither proof that I am a corrupt insider, nor is it sufficient evidence that I have control over Barack Obama.
There is a bit of a difference, though. When you supported Obama, I assume it was to elect someone that you believed would do a good job as Chief Executive, overall. It wasn't in order to pass one piece of self-serving legislation. The fact that you weren't acting purely in your own interest, and that the interest was broader than one single issue, makes it somewhat different. But different enough to overcome your objection? I'm not sure.
Many folks think that there is already way too much money in politics, particularly to those politicians who are incumbent. Consequently, if the MPAA/RIAA stop buying our politicians out from under us, maybe we'll get them to pay attention to us again.
That's really where the MPAA should be spending its money anyhow: convincing individual voters that piracy is hurting their business and what the effects will be. Honestly, I do think we need some modifications to the copyright regime in this country (US). I just want the MPAA/RIAA to stop bypassing the voters and appealing to the folks we elected to represent our interests.
If the MPAA/RIAA stop funding elections, that means victory for the rest of us.
While the electorate are apathetic, moneyed interests will get their way.
What I disagree with is the conveyance of funds to front groups that obscure WHO is doing the speaking. There is a distinct flavor to the PACs && SuperPACs that connecting the message to the author would allow the public to gauge WHY they are taking a particular position. Given the government's/industry's attempts to limit the anonymity of individuals, I find the corporate attempts to enhance and leverage that anonymity troubling.
I don't think we'll get the money out, but I do think we need transparency in the process for all or for none.
Running for office, of course, will not address the critical short-term, but do consider that the intersect between Technology and Governance will become even more critical in the upcoming years. To sum: we shouldn't complain about public servants being servants of moneyed interests, if none of us danes to ever even think of serving our nation as public servants. Run for office.
One problem is that people with lots of money can afford to pay others to work full time in their interests, while those of us actually doing stuff with our time can't afford to spend eight hours a day in caucuses, party delegate meetings, city halls, legislators' offices, etc. trying to fight for an issue and/or get elected.
Running for office is a good thing, but I'm not sure it's "the far more effective option." For most people, running for office - unless they are already rich, well known, and/or politically connected - isn't going to accomplish much.
Not that I'm saying not to run for office. Hell, I did it myself (Libertarian Party candidate for Lieutenant Governor of NC in 2008), but I'm just being realistic in saying that running for office is no silver bullet. All of "us" could run until we're blue in the face and probably none of us would get elected. OTOH, getting elected isn't the only goal. For example, I did appear in a statewide, televised debate, which gave me a small platform to promote the principles and ideals I believe in, and presumably some number of people were exposed to those ideas (and to the LP) who had not been before. In my own case, I got right about 125,000 votes, which was good for about 3%. So somebody was paying attention, but still a minority by far.
It wasn't a waste of time to run, but I never had a snowball's chance in hell of getting elected and most of the people here probably have about the same chance. So for us to effect change by running for office is going to be a slow, difficult, painstaking process. Now to be fair, I ran as a 3rd party candidate which hurt my chances a lot, but it would have been dishonest to do otherwise. And I'm guessing that out of the crowd of HN people who would hypothetically run, a lot of us would also be 3rd party or independent candidates.
Obviously it's difficult to measure, but I would be surprised if the EFF weren't critically instrumental in the earliest stages of awareness about the implications of these bills, which led to people taking action.
How would you propose they could have made a more significant contribution?
How is this not corruption?
Actually let us hope he makes a few more comments like this one so that even more people can see what the MPAA are really about.
I fully agree with the hope that he continues to do this. I honestly can't believe that this battle is devolving this quickly.
However, from the footage I watched, it does not look like a spin at all. Nothing is taken out of context. The guy is basically saying that they are unhappy with the current actions of the administration and they will stop giving money. Where is the spin?
It goes to show how apathetic the general population is, how representative democracy really hinges on funding from corrupt corporations, and how the entire government structure of the United States needs reworking. It might be the people who vote, but right now, every politician knows that money buys more votes (campaigning, etc) than doing the right thing.
1) I don't think the public was apathetic on this issue, just unaware. And that's YOUR fault (okay our fault), not the fault of the media or corporate interests.
2) the blackouts were an appeal to the voters, making them aware of the issue and urging them to call their congress-critters; in the end it was effective communication uniting people that killed these bills: democracy won over corporate money.
3) A longer response to "the entire government structure of the United States needs reworking":
this is simply false. The system we have is the result of the incentives in place. For all the obvious, bipartisan agreement that corporate money is corrupting politics, there hasn't been a movement formed to unite people behind reform, probably because people don't realize that changing the system and changing the incentives are easy, not hard.
You change the incentives and politicians will come around overnight. And it doesn't have to start with a constitutional amendment; there are creative finance reform ideas that can be implemented immediately that would have huge effect: http://republic.lessig.org/
And out of the many shocked, only a couple of people seem to have the audacity to point to the root causes of this problem and talk reforming campaign financing and lobby laws, and even less talk about reforming the way the democratic process now works.
You hint that changing the system via the incentives in place could be very easy.
But this begs the question, why isn't this done yet? Is it not that big an issue actually? Is there a majority with a vested interest in the current system? Surely the thea party has shown that a well organized vocal group can gain influence, so a starting minority doesn't have to be a problem to further political ideas.
Seriously, I actually liked Dodd. He was a friendly, sanely leftist Senator. Where did the MPAA bit even come from?
What worries me is the unpredictability here. Haven't researched this (downvotes incoming, I suppose) but Connecticut has few ties to Hollywood...how can we know which Senators will leap from a reasonable voting record to outright offensive actions within months?
Most of the congresspeople the MPAA buys are "sanely leftist", for whatever reasons.
There are some local rootstriker groups starting up in SF and what not trying to come up with a sane solution.