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As someone who has done a fair amount of activism and advocacy work, I'll say this:

Over the last 6 months, I've seen a number of people make comments on relevant HN posts to the effect of "This sucks, but how do we actually change anything" This is what you've been waiting for - here's a chance to actually do something about it.

Don't be discouraged when things seem to be standing still. Because of the way our minds work, single-point events stand out more than continual progress, and we get discouraged when the former seem to have less effect that we'd like.

My work was related to drug policy specifically[0]. During the years that I was actively involved in this, there was very little visible progress on the issues I worked on. We managed to pass a Good Samaritan law[1] in New York state (which I was involved with), but that was the only major success that I can remember, amid a long stream of what seemed to be failures.

On the other hand, when it rains, it pours. We've see a number of major successes very recently on this front (not just with marijuana policy, thought that's what gets the most attention). Looking back, the state of drug policy in 2014 is in many areas much brighter than it was in 2006, even though it certainly didn't seem like we were making any progress at the time.

It's easy to get cynical about large-scale, long-term efforts. As an individual, you're right, it's tough to do much on your own, since no individual has the same stamina as the forces that we're fighting. But showing support for groups that are fighting these longer battles is the best way to see some real action, even if it takes a while to incubate.

[0] On HN, that's oftentimes synonymous with "marijuana policy" - while that was certainly a part of it, my work focused more on the effects of drug laws on students (such as the Higher Education Act) and the socioeconomic impact of an incarceration model.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Good_samaritan_law




I feel like the more we talk about it, the more everyone becomes desensitized to the U.S. surveillance problem. Then we get the public at large just rolling their eyes and saying "Oh, another paranoid lunatic wants to take over the government".

I want to do more than just like stuff on facebook... hopefully this will present something more tangible. I signed up for the "Add a banner to your site" list. I can tell ~15k visitors about this over the next month at least.


>U.S. surveillance problem

As long as people are willing to pretend that the problem is only the US and not the entire West colluding then the easier it is for these governments to continue.


Case in point, the Canadian government is currently building "the most expensive government building ever constructed in Canada" for CSEC (our version of the NSA) and vastly expanding their headcount:

http://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/inside-canada-s-top-secret-b...

And GCHQ has less significantly legal restrictions than most other SIGINT agencies.


I feel like the cost is always overblown about this building if you consider the fact that they are currently housed in a building originally designed for the CBC in the '60s and not for actual security work. Given the expansion of their operations and personnel, it only makes sense to create a new building (not coincidentally beside CSIS). And generally speaking, it's going to cost what it's going to cost. Yes it's a government building. Yes they've spent money on particular luxury items (identified as being used to increase social interaction). But if you want people working more effectively and efficiently, you're going to spend money to increase morale (just look at all the lavish spending at startups or ones that are even IPOing, they're all expenses that, at the end of the day, may not be good in the eyes of the shareholders. But they help employee morale).


> As long as people are willing to pretend that the problem is only the US and not the entire West colluding then the easier it is for these governments to continue.

This may be true to some extent. But let me provide an anti-thesis to the statement.

For nearly a century (or more) everyone has looked at the US to lead in reforms and at times reversing reforms. What happens in the US is often used as a model by world governments as a blueprint.

If the US citizens, corporations and the tech community in general could get the US to positively change the distopian outlook/direction we (the world) seems to be heading in, this change would trickle down to the other countries beginning with the Western countries that you aptly state are colluding together.


> For nearly a century (or more) everyone has looked at the US to lead in reforms and at times reversing reforms. What happens in the US is often used as a model by world governments as a blueprint.

In what respects? I can think of far more cases over the last century of the US lagging behind in reforms than taking the lead. In European politics, the US is more often channelled as the big regressive bogeyman (e.g. "we don't want US conditions, do we?") than somewhere to look to for reforms.

To the extent governments looks to the US, it is more often out of necessity due to the balance of power.

It's be fantastic if that changed and the US became a beacon of progress, but that will still take a lot.

In terms of surveillance, though, just getting the US pressure lifted would make local progress vastly easier.


You're defining the "last century" pretty narrowly. There have been a number of times when Europe has looked to the U.S. The U.S. rendered aid and assistance during its post-WWII reconstruction. It served as the sword and shield of NATO against the Soviet Union. U.S. economic liberalization and deregulation in the 1970's and 1980's was a model that Europe followed in the 1980's and 1990's.


I for one would like to include the other players,Corporate & private industry, with their collusion/lobbying/takeover of lawmaking added to the discussion. Don't forget, when the [Pick-An-Acronym &/or Pick-A-Branch] wasn't doing their own spying, [MaBell, AT&T, Axciom, MS, Dunn&B, Google, etc] were selling the data to them.

More relevant today than when it aired almost a decade ago...

http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/persuaders/


Maybe Hacker News should get its own lobby group, in all seriousness. Politics in DC is about money - it's about legally bribing politicians - until that changes lobbying is the best way to fight back.


Any Good Samaritan law that comes with an obligation is absolutely horrible and dangerous to free societies.


Can you elaborate on why you said this? Searching for "new york drug good samaritan law" brought me to this bill:

http://assembly.state.ny.us/leg/?default_fld=&bn=A02063&term...

Which appears to say that

2. Someone seeking health care for themselves related to a drug or alcohol overdose cannot be prosecuted for drug or alcohol use (based on evidence obtained as a result of seeking care),

1. In recognition that a person experiencing drug overdose may not be in a state to seek health care for themselves, and people sometimes engage in drug use in groups of two, someone seeking health care for a third party experiencing drug overdose cannot be prosecuted for their own drug use (based on evidence obtained as a result of seeking care),

and 5. In recognition that no one would ever engage in drug use in groups of three or more, any evidence obtained as a result of someone seeking health care may be freely used against anyone who neither made the request for health care nor experienced the overdose themselves.

(There is also some text about class A-I and A-II felonies being exempt from the good samaritan provisions.)

I don't see any obligation mentioned in the bill, although point 5 does seem a little ill-advised to me.




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