Hangin With the Not
-So-Technical Crowd"> Congress may go on fact-finding missions around the world at the drop of a hat but when it comes to doing its job, its members are like most folksthey rely on people they know and trust. Just like everyone else. And many of those trusted sources are lobbyists from large, established companies who understand that politics is vital to their businesses. Outside of Washington this is seen as corrupt and, certainly, it has its less-than-attractive aspects. But it isfor better or worsethe way business is conducted in Washington. More importantly, the folks who have been doing business this way see little reason to change. First of all, these large companies arent just monolithic entities that abuse their customers. They are businesses. They employ people. They add to the nations gross national product. They contribute to our prosperity as a nation.Now none of this strikes tech folks as fair. But the change that many in Silicon Valley are calling forimmediate adoption of laws that enable the new networked lifestrikes many in Congress as both foolhardy and unrealistic. Who can afford all this new stuff? And what exactly is it good for? Do you really need to get phone calls all the time? And just look at all that porn and trash talk on the Internet. Thats not good. If Congress cant understand what tech folks are proposing, how are voters and constituents going to get it? In many respects, the attitude comes down to this simple difference: Change, in Washington, is not always for the better. Because change brings risk. The moderate compromise, and stability, is the preferred state of affairs. Thats why the long viewif you dont like the law, come back and show us why we made a mistakeis the one that almost always triumphs. Next week, well talk about the other side of this equation: Techs loveindeed, its ability to thrivewith change. eWEEK.com technology and politics columnist Chris Nolan spent years chronicling the excesses of the dot-com era with incisive analysis leavened with a dash of humor. Before that, she covered politics and technology in D.C. You can read her musings on politics and technology every day in her Politics from Left to Right Weblog. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Check out eWEEK.coms for the latest news, views and analysis of technologys impact on government and politics.
So when they make arguments about how their businessessometimes their multibillion-dollar businessescan be harmed, politicians listen. Carefully. After all, making sure the national economy thrives is part of their job. Hollywood has been making a variation on this argumentprotection from piracy via copyrightfor many years. The phone companies will make it when it comes to telecom legislation in a variety of ways: to combat the spread of free wireless for instance or to argue that voice over IP should be better regulated. And, only recently, has the tech industry, as a whole, been giving Congress a choice.