Friday, November 22, 2013

Why Facebook and Google joined ALEC

Facebook and Google want us to think they're 'progressive' organizations, but then they go ahead and join ALEC.

Readers of this blog know that ALEC (the American legislative Exchange Council) is a corporate dating group for state lawmakers. It offers lawmakers thinly disguised vacations at posh resorts in exchange for legislation that empowers corporations, enriches billionaires, eradicates public education, destroys workers' rights, undermines health and safety, weakens democracy and lowers the standard of living for the 99 percent. 

So why would Facebook and Google want to join ALEC?

Tim Worstall at Forbes magazine has a great explanation: It's the way the system works. 
...the tech companies have all learned their lesson from Microsoft. A decade or more ago the company did almost no lobbying. It sat there out in Redmond and carried on its plans for world domination without worrying overmuch about politics or politicians. It was rudely disabused of this notion when it got sued, investigated, charged with abuse of a monopoly and much, much, more. It found that you needed friends in politics at this point and they way to get such friends is to join the various lobbies, spread a little cash around the city of DC and in general, make the political classes feel happy that you’re paying attention to them. 
Thus what Facebook and Google are doing. Making sure that the political classes, all sides and flavours of them, know and like them. That way there will be much less trouble from said political classes over the years. No, it’s not quite the Mafia extorting: but there’s a definite flavour of “nice company you’ve got here, would be a shame if the law changed, wouldn’t it?”. A few millions in the lobby budgets, a few millions spread around every electoral cycle is the cure for this potential problem. 
And it is just a few millions: for whatever else politicians are they are undoubtedly cheap.
Best explanation we've heard.