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Congressional Elections - Who's Good for IT Folks? 117

Posted by Cliff
from the techies-as-a-voting-bloc dept.
rlp asks: "Most of the articles appearing in Slashdot's new political section pertain to the U.S. Presidential election. However, most of the political issues facing American IT people are issues that are dealt with (or more often caused by) Congress. Therefore, my question is: who are the heroes and villains (for U.S. IT people) in Congress that are running for office this year? How does your local Congresscritter (or the person running against them) feel about copyrights, privacy, data security, H1-B, outsourcing, software patents, Open Source, tech education, R&D funding, anti-trust, etc?"
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Congressional Elections - Who's Good for IT Folks?

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  • Don't laugh (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward
    But Carol Mosley Braun and Sheila Jackson Lee have been great promoters of software freedom as well as the rolling back of property rights.

    Dancin Santa
    • property rights? (Score:3, Interesting)

      by crow (16139)
      Do you mean intellectual property rights? Or just property rights? (Or both?)

      Liberals tend to value the needs of society above those of the individual, and hence, sacrifice property rights for environmental protection. (Often this is good; sometimes it goes too far without compensation for property owners, but that's another debate.) Perhaps that's an angle that we can use in lobbying our Congressmen on the Democratic side--emphasize the societal benefit of looser IP laws.
      • Liberals tend to value the needs of society above those of the individual, and hence, sacrifice property rights for environmental protection.

        I think it has more to do with greed.

        You can set aside and manage natural resources for many things including making money on them. Problem comes when a small group or an individual wants to use them and exploits them to the point of destroying them.

        I have no problem with mining, logging, whatever, but to do it to the point of completely destroying it for that use
      • Re:property rights? (Score:3, Interesting)

        by max born (739948)
        Liberals tend to value the needs of society above those of the individual.

        Apparently not when it comes to pushing legislation in exchange for campaign contributions.

        It was senior Democrats like Diane Feinstein who helped pass the DMCA. During the period the DMCA was up for debate, the Democtrats actually received more financial contributions from the entertainment industry than the Republicans. Checkout open secrets [opensecrets.org] for details.

        I think it mostly comes down to who contributes the gratest amount gets
  • by DesScorp (410532) <DesScorp.Gmail@com> on Tuesday September 28, 2004 @11:00AM (#10373661) Homepage Journal
    Doesn't really matter, because IT has become such a neccessity, and such a commodity, that it's silly to say "who should I vote for? who will support IT the most?". It's a non-issue. It's like saying "gee, which party will support accountants more?" or "which party supports telephone use?". It just isn't one of those economic sectors thats on one side of the spectrum politically, like trial lawyers.
    • Thats not true, accountants lobby heavily to get certain laws pass. Either way some congresscitters support laws that regulate and hinder the IT industry adversly, while some support laws in the other direct. It is an issue.
    • by orthogonal (588627) on Tuesday September 28, 2004 @11:36AM (#10374127) Journal
      Doesn't really matter, because IT has become such a neccessity [sic], and such a commodity, that it's silly to say "who should I vote for? who will support IT the most?". It's a non-issue. It's like saying "gee, which party will support accountants more?" or "which party supports telephone use?". It just isn't one of those economic sectors that[']s on one side of the spectrum politically, like trial lawyers.

      Oh, so much I am agreeing with you sir!

      Very truly, do not be bothering yourself about your politicians' votes, sir!

      IT is being a necessity, yes, indeed, as necessary as a bowl of curry when you are hungry!

      Please to keep ignoring it and calling it to be a non-issue, sir, and I will be being happy to do your job for ten percent of your pay!

      So much I thank you for ensuring my economic future by throwing away your heritage as a citizen of a democracy!

      Soon you will not have to worry about the IT sector at all sir! And I would be glad to teach the rudiments of selling apples on the street for five cents each, or begging for alms in the hot Calcutta slums!

      --Yours most sincerely,
      Apu Babu Singh Mahadressi
      Mumbai, India
      • by Otter (3800) on Tuesday September 28, 2004 @01:11PM (#10375188) Journal
        It's not news that the "outsourcing" issue draws heavily on thinly-veiled racial scapegoating. But I'm not sure who is making less of an attempt to conceal it: you or this idiot [slashdot.org].
        • by orthogonal (588627) on Tuesday September 28, 2004 @01:37PM (#10375454) Journal
          It's not news that the "outsourcing" issue draws heavily on thinly-veiled racial scapegoating. But I'm not sure who is making less of an attempt to conceal it: you or this idiot.

          I think you missed my point, friend.

          I'm not scapegoating the Indian worker: he's making a rational decision to take a better job so he can better feed his family, and you or I would do the same in his place.

          My point was to demonstrate that -- whether the issue is outsourcing of the IT sector, or John Ashcroft's cavalier (roundhead?) attitude toward civil liberties, or the DMCA, or anything else -- those who blithely ignore politics quickly sooner or later find themselves at the mercy of those who do pay attention.

          Many of us in the "tech sector" pretend to disdain politics -- it's a luxury when can just barely afford to get away with as the "American Century" draws to a close.

          But one way or another, the butcher's bill comes due, either at Omaha Beach or at Tarawa or Concord or Lexington, or to mix metaphors, in a bread line.
      • You gotta love it. In any other context, this example of blatant racism would be moderated into the ground and rightfully ignored. But it's a jab at outsourcing, so it gets modded +5. Hooray!
        • I don't know why people like yourself are so happy to racebait everyone. If they were lily-white blonde Indians taking the jobs from us, it would hurt every bit as much. Mentioning that they're from India is a reference to which country is benefiting from outsourcing, that they have a different skin-color is incidental.

          Duh.
          • So comments like this are just "incidental"?

            And I would be glad to teach the rudiments of selling apples on the street for five cents each, or begging for alms in the hot Calcutta slums!

            Not to mention the crappy English, which is obviously saying "Indians speak funny English".

            I don't hear anybody complaining when they lose their job because somebody in Alabama is willing to do it cheaper. But as soon as they leave the country, all of the racist foreigner stereotypes get trotted out.

            If they were lily-w
            • When I got halfway through your post I was going to respond to say how ridiculuous it is, but by the time I got to the end I realized that you just have no idea what racism is.

              If they were lily-white blonde Indians taking the jobs from us, you can bet there would be just as much racism.

              No it wouldn't. In that case, race would be a complete non-factor. It would have absolutely nothing to do with racism.

              Just look at all the fun people are having with France. That might not strictly qualify as "racism",

              It

              • Ok, so making fun of French people by using vulgar stereotypes is not racist, I agree with that. (I merely said it was the same kind of thing, not that it was actually racism.) But then you go on to say that because doing it to the French isn't racist, doing it to the Indians isn't either? You can bet your ass that a post like this would get called racist:

                You got dat right, massuh.

                Don't you worry yoself none about these votes, massuh.

                IT be needed like a bowl of gumbo when a brotha be hungry. ...

                Some Bl
                • So anyway, if beating up on Indians by using racial stereotypes is not racism, what is?

                  Is beating up on someone because of cultural/national differences necessarily racist? You say no for the French, but you say yes for Indians.
            • I don't hear anybody complaining when they lose their job because somebody in Alabama is willing to do it cheaper
              Maybe it's because people can follow their jobs to Alabama, but not India. Chew on that for a bit....
      • It's hilarious to see the free-software, free-love types on Slashdot go all protectionist when it's their livelyhood at stake.
        "Microsoft is evil for protecting it's marketshare against cheaper and better alternatives."
        "The US government is evil for NOT protecting my job from cheaper and better developers overseas."
  • Three things (Score:2, Offtopic)

    by Otter (3800)
    1) Like a lot of people, I live in a heavily gerrymandered district. My Congressional election is essentially over, with the Democratic incumbent (who didn't bother campaigning in the primary) running against some no-name Republican and whatever Randroid has decided to take the Libertarian plunge this year. What I'd really like to see is some Iowa-style restrictions on districting that make House races meaningful.

    2) While there are heroes and villains in government, routinely talking about elections in tho
    • Gerrymandering (Score:2, Interesting)

      by dpilot (134227)
      I'd really love to see some sort of mathematics applied to Gerrymandering. Something to the tune of limiting the perimeter of a district to 3 or 4 times the square root of its area. Some sort of allowances would need to be made for irregular state borders and natural features like rivers or mountains. For that matter, I'm not that hung up over the number 3 or 4, just some reasonable limit.

      It would be really fun to look at some Congressional districts and find their Gerrymander-Factor=perimeter/sqrt(area).
      • Re:Gerrymandering (Score:2, Informative)

        by Otter (3800)
        Here's the Iowa policy [state.ia.us], which tries to limit perimeter and to encourage existing borders rather than arbitrary ones. I'm sure there are arguments to be made against some of it, but the overall thrust seems very sensible. I used to live in the 33rd District in California [calvoter.org] in that little neck connecting the main, heavily-black part in the west with the Latino region on the east, and know what it's like to have your neighborhood simply not count.
        • The way we do it in Iowa makes sense, but it still can be used to gerrymander a bit. I think that the legislature rejected the first two attempts at redrawing the districts this year because they (not sure if it was the "independent board" drawing the districts or the legislature) were trying to get a bit creative.

          This basically forces nicely shaped districts. Of course the large tracts of rural areas with a few population centers helps too.

          • "I think that the legislature rejected the first two attempts at redrawing the districts this year because they (not sure if it was the "independent board" drawing the districts or the legislature) were trying to get a bit creative."

            Considering that they only did it twice, I suspect Iowa voters took them to task on that and the legislators learned their lesson.
            • I think the "committee" that draws the maps present a primary and an alternate - both of which were rejected this go around. The third option was accepted. The legislature had the go/no go say, but didn't actually draw the maps.

              Also, like I said, having vast tracts of rural areas makes it easy to draw nice districts.

    • "Congresscritter" takes up less space than "congressman/congresswoman" or "member of Congress," and actually looks less silly than "congressperson."
  • I have the honor (Score:3, Interesting)

    by captnitro (160231) * on Tuesday September 28, 2004 @11:07AM (#10373755)
    I have the honor of living in the district of Rep. [cdfreaks.com] Rick [slashdot.org] Boucher [house.gov]

    It feels odd to have to feel "lucky" that my congressional representative's The Real Thing. Frankly, I don't like guys that run for congress because they think it's a good gig.
    • I too live in Boucher's district.

      Unfortunatly he may have some competition this year. You are aware that his opponent, I don't remember his name, used to work for NASCAR. That seems to be the only thing that what's his name seems to be promoting. I saw a commercial for his opponent the other day. He was inanely babbling something while images of NASCAR were on the screen.

      I just hope that the NASCAR fans in this district aren't the mindless sheep he seems to think they are.
  • Rick Boucher (Score:5, Informative)

    by waldoj (8229) <waldo@jaquit[ ]rg ['h.o' in gap]> on Tuesday September 28, 2004 @11:08AM (#10373760) Homepage Journal
    There is no bigger geek rockstar in the House than my representative, Rep. Rick Boucher (VA-09). The guy advocates the protection of Fair Use, a Digital Milennium Consumers' Rights Act, opposes the DOJ's anti-P2P work, proposed a great anti-spam act in 2003 (it didn't pass; that crappy CAN-SPAM did, instead), he sponsored the Digital Media Consumers' Rights Act, and he testifies before various House committees all the time, representing, effectively, Slashdot. :) See the Internet section of his House site [house.gov] for more information. Alternately, you could see any of the Slashdot stories about him from over the years, including Slashdot | Rep. Boucher Outlines 'Fair Use' Fight [slashdot.org], Boucher's Anti-DMCA Bill Gets High Profile Allies [slashdot.org], Anti Spamming Act 2001 Proposed [slashdot.org], and Webcasting and the DMCA [slashdot.org].

    Hell, Boucher guest blogged for Larry Lessig [lessig.org] a few weeks ago, and the stuff that he wrote about is like a Slashdotter's wet dream. :)

    He doesn't talk about these things in his campaign literature -- much of the very-rural, poor population of southwest Virginia just wouldn't care. Read over his campaign website [boucherforcongress.com] and you'll find more about the tobacco buyout, healthcare and tourism than technology. :)

    And everybody else in the House sucks. ;)

    -Waldo Jaquith
  • There is a democratic representative who has consistently supported similar positions to the average /.er. I cannot remember his name, but he has been featured on /. YRO articles before. I really cannot think of any presidential candidate who has a real position on IT.
  • It doesn't matter (Score:3, Interesting)

    by solman (121604) on Tuesday September 28, 2004 @11:20AM (#10373905)
    There are only about 30 seats with even a remote chance of changing hands. Realistically, there are about 15 competitive races, and five of these were created by the retaliatory Republican gerrymandering of Texas.

    Thanks to a combination of Gerrymandering, Entrenched incumbents, and the McCain-Feingold legislation (which prevents parties from using soft money to neutralize the advantage of entrenched incumbents) congressional races are entirely uncompetitive. Charlie Cook today says that there is virtually no chance of the house changing hands.

    So who cares where the candidates stand on the issues when only a very few people actually have the oppotunity to cast a meaningful vote.
    • McCain-Feingold legislation (which prevents parties from using soft money to neutralize the advantage of entrenched incumbents)

      I thought we were supposed to be against money affecting campaigns. Oh, that's right, it's Tuesday...

      -Brent
  • Russ Feingold for WI (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Joe Tennies (564856) on Tuesday September 28, 2004 @11:21AM (#10373914) Homepage
    Let's just say he's the only guy in Congress to vote AGAINST the Patriot Act. From his website (russfeingold.org): Senator Feingold supported 90% of the provisions of the PATRIOT Act, but too many provisions were deeply troubling. Certain provisions may infringe on the rights of law-abiding citizens, while doing little protect our country against terrorists. If he ever runs for President, he's got my vote.
  • by ubiquitin (28396) * on Tuesday September 28, 2004 @11:24AM (#10373958) Homepage Journal
    But it might help get an idea of where people stand:

    www.vote-smart.org [vote-smart.org] lets you look up the voting records of Concresscritters.

  • The best politician for information technology or the rest of the economy is a politician who supports genuine free markets. A free market is one where market forces are allowed to operate normally except for certain caveats: government intervention to protect the environment, worker's rights, etc.

    Note that when we combine a free market like the USA and a non-free market like Mexico, we damage the free market in the USA. For example, the influx of illegal aliens is created by horrible intervention by t

  • I've heard all the typical rhetoric from the DNC and Kerry campaign about "stopping the tax incentives for companies who outsource jobs." The message, if not the proposal, seems to indicate targeting those who were spurned by the dot-com bust and who are struggling in the current state of the high tech industry.

    But a vote for Kerry can't be considered a vote to stop outsourcing, can it? Can we really reverse the trend of high-paying jobs outsourced to India, etc, and will that translate to better, high-pay
    • Can we really reverse the trend of high-paying jobs outsourced to India, etc,

      Yes.

      and will that translate to better, high-paying jobs in the US?

      No.

      Most respected economists believe that outsourcing has the net effect of creating jobs. You might lose your particular job, but two more opportunities will pop up. Protectionism usually has opposite the intended effect. You might save a couple of specific jobs, but at the cost of not creating more jobs. The people who already have jobs thank you, b
    • "stopping the tax incentives for companies who outsource jobs."

      Can any candidate deliver on a promise like that?

      Sure. But remember, the promise was to stop "tax incentives", not to stop outsourcing... That part was only implied.

      Will stopping these unspecified tax incentives keep jobs from being outsourced? Of course not. Let's say the tax incentives are huge. That would mean companies that outsource are now getting huge tax breaks and cheap labor. If the tax breaks go away do you think they're going t
      • Assuming you're willing to continually expand your skill set, that means outsourcing is a good thing. If you're lazy and you want to continue to pull an above average paycheck for what was high-tech yesterday, you're out of luck.

        Tell me, what is the new "high-tech" of today, that we are supposed to be expanding our skillset into?

        Since many of the jobs being outsourced are in IT, what new skills are supposed to be aquired? Where do we go from here, and how do we do it if we don't have a job (we'll have plen

        • For startes you're so caught up in buzzwords it's no wonder you can't see where you're going.

          Since many of the jobs being outsourced are in IT, what new skills are supposed to be aquired?

          Whenever you're tempted to use "IT", stop for a moment and think about what you really mean. The problem with "IT" is that if a computer is involved it's called "IT". It's just like the "Intellectual Property" problem. Once you're free from the brainwashing affect of the "IT" acronym you're free to realize that the guy
          • I am not particularly worried about where I am going, but I do know that no job is secure (though I have been at my current employer for almost 8 years now). I understand that I must have "critical thinking skills", and that I must keep my knowledge evolving. However, none of this (or little of it) can be put on a resume for someone to hire me. Some of the knowledge may be so specialized that it is only possible to gain it from educational institutions (ie, University), or employer training.

            For instance, sa

        • There's something else I wanted to say there, but didn't....

          if I am out of work, with a family, a house payment, a car payment, numerous bills, etc - where do I find the time

          What business does anybody have getting into a situation where they have a house payment and a car payment without having a signifigant safety net of funds saved up? This debt mentality is fairly recent. It didn't used to be possible to owe so much money... Now people find themselves in debt to three or even five times their annual
          • Well, personally for me I only have two main debts - a credit card debt (that isn't very big), and my mortgage. I have no car payments anymore, and that money I was spending on car payments will go toward paying down my credit card debt.

            As far as the mortgage is concerned, do you honestly think that barring some major windfall that any normal person can come up with the money in a fairly short time period to purchase a home outright for cash? If you are renting, with other bills, you probably don't have muc

  • Depends.... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by sfjoe (470510) on Tuesday September 28, 2004 @11:51AM (#10374313)
    Depends on your definition of "IT folks". If you mean shareholders and senior management of technology-related companies, then anyone in their wholly-owned subsidiary known as the US Congress is good for IT folks.
    If, on the other hand, you mean people who work for a living, I can't think of a single person who supports us.

  • by Kevin Burtch (13372) on Tuesday September 28, 2004 @12:59PM (#10375060)

    http://www.opensecrets.org/ [opensecrets.org] is a great place to find out what organizations and industries are giving the most $$ to each candidate.

    There's a lot more content than that there, check it out.
  • -- instead of asking readers to anecdotally/idiosyncratically characterize the positions of various candidates, for the story to PROVIDE references where readers could FIND this info, to help their voting decisions.
  • Pork for IT (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Brandybuck (704397) on Tuesday September 28, 2004 @02:06PM (#10375791) Homepage Journal
    This shouldn't be about Pork for IT. It should be about common sense. Stop whining about what your congressman is going to do for your iPod, and start looking at what he or she stands for as a WHOLE. Yes, we probably all want our jobs back from Bangalore. But at any cost?

    I want my congressmen to be operating under the premise that government exists solely to protect the lives, liberties and properties of its citizens, that government is the servant of the people and not its master, and that honest (and genuine) free trade is the best foreign policy. I don't expect any candidate to be perfect, but one who made the previous the foundation of his platform and could demonstrate he was serious about it, would have vote.
    • Who the hell asked for pork for IT?

      I want someone who is going to vote against laws that legally mandate crippled products (from TV's to walkmen to computers). Someone who will vote for the DMCRA or BALANCE act. Someone who isn't going to vote for the fourth incarnations of the same fscking UNCONSTITIONAL law to sensor the internet that has already been struck down in court THREE FSCKING TIMES BEFORE. Someone who doesn't want to retroactively extend copyright yet another 20 years. Someone who realizes that
      • You know as well as I do that single-issue voters not only exist, but might well be the most common kind of voter. There are people in the tech community who would vote for Hitler if he only promised to abolish the DMCA. Bonus points if his website ran Linux. They would even overlook Treblinka and Dachau if only who would promise to use OpenOffice and Firefox in government offices.

        It doesn't matter if a candidate agrees with you on one or two of your pet bills, if his entire ideology is opposed to yours.
        • You know as well as I do that single-issue voters not only exist

          I never claimed they didn't.

          Everything you said is perfectly true. My reply was just countering your original suggestion that this was about pork for IT.

          It doesn't matter if a candidate agrees with you on one or two of your pet bills, if his entire ideology is opposed to yours.

          True, voting based on more information is always better. However even if someone votes solely on the basis of the DMCA, that candidate is still no more likely to b
  • Hello?!?!? McFly??? (Score:3, Informative)

    by Lobo (10944) on Tuesday September 28, 2004 @03:47PM (#10376866) Homepage
    Why not vote for Badnarik [badnarik.org] for President?
    Sounds like a tech person to me!

    Became a Computer Programmer in 1977 for Commonwealth Edison at their nuclear power plant in Zion, Illinois; taught control room operators about computers. Was promoted to Senior Software Engineer for their Braidwood Nuclear Simulator project, which he managed from '82-'85 (his favorite job assignment, basically a $6-million "computer game" for which he was totally responsible). Moved to Montebello, CA, and held a "secret security" clearance at Northrop to work on the Stealth Bomber simulator, '85-'87. Relocated to San Luis Obispo, CA, in 1987 as a System Administrator and computer trainer at PG&E's Diablo Canyon nuclear plant; spent 10 years as a member of the Applied Technology Services Team writing software and traveling the state installing real-time data-collection servers to their remote power stations; was an instructor for hundreds of employees teaching state-of-the-art systems being installed. Moved to Austin, TX, in 1997 where he was a programmer and a trainer for Evolutionary Technologies International. He quickly became the Senior Trainer and began traveling across the U.S., and to Canada, England and Australia, as instructor, consultant and "high-tech diplomat." Became an independent computer consultant in 2001, but began to turn his attention (and talents as an instructor and communicator) to teaching his 8-hour "Introduction to the Constitution" class.
  • Better Immigration [betterimmigration.com] has ratings of congress critters on immigration and "Worker Replacement" programs like H-1b. It should be noted that even Tancredo's Immigration Reform Caucus [outlander.com] mostly voted for the expansion of L-1 visas last year--there is no real, steadfast voice on tech issues as far as I can see. I intend to vote for Nader [votenader.org] this fall--at least he stood up in a small way for tech folks. I will also vote against _any_ incumbent that voted for H-1b/L-1 expansion.

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