Internet

Geek Bucks in Politics

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Reason contributor Declan McCullagh wades into the data to find out who techies are giving their money to in the presidential contest so far. Overall, Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) seems to have a slight lead among Democrats, with Mitt Romney ahead on the Republican side.

Some of the more interesting findings:

Contributions listing Google as employer:
Clinton (D): 13
Obama (D): 22
Giuliani (R): 1
Romney (R): 0

Contributions listing Microsoft as employer:
Clinton (D): 10
Obama (D): 18
Giuliani (R): 1
Romney (R): 5

Contributions listing occupation as "entrepreneur":
Clinton (D): 11
Obama (D): 27
Giuliani (R): 9
Romney (R): 42

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  1. What? No Ron Paul?

  2. Well, at least nobody is admitting to have donated to Fred Thompson’s campaign yet. Though Pajamas Media still shows him topping the straw poll.

  3. What? No Ron Paul?

    Yeah! Screw you Declan McCullagh! [flips bird]

  4. Amazing article on Obama’s fund-raising, and how it contrasts with Hillary’s.

    http://nymag.com/news/politics/30634/

  5. Romney is taking some categories, baby. The “entrepreneur” and “homemaker” category.

    The snowball has started, folks.

  6. Geeks are an interesting breed (I am one of them). Most pretend to be libertarian, but it’s only a ruse. They want to be different, so they adopt the libertarian label. They are certainly for liberty when it comes to their own freedoms and that of their friends. But when it comes time to give freedom to others, they balk. “Freedom for me but not for thee.” They’re not much unlike the rest of humanity in this regard.

    I think part of this is their intense focus on software. Their field is a very deterministic domain that leads to technocratic thinking. Their political attitudes seem to be, “If only society’s variables had the right values, and the government operated using the correct algorithms, then we could have utopia.”

    While it’s true that there is a probably a higher percentage of real libertarians among them, that’s balanced by a higher percentage of progressives and socialists. As a whole, they are very introverted narcisistic statists.

    IMHO

  7. I work in the tech field and most of my fellow geeks are incredibly big government. as brandybuck sais it probably comes from an uncommon fiath in technology and that they are very elitest since they’re supposedly smarter than the average guy so they have a “I can handle freedom, but other people are dumbasses so they can’t.” mentality.

  8. Compared to those who post here, what industry is not full of big-government statists?

  9. I work in science and technology and most of my coworkers have never even heard of libertarianism. In fact, they’re almost apolitical.

    Although they’re quite keen on NASA.

    I wonder what percentage of people at Google and Microsoft are actually eligible to vote.

  10. Wow, it’s disheartening to see so many entrepreneurs still believe the Rs are gonna save them from big government. Not that the Ds will either though, so where you gonna go?

  11. Many tech workers probably understand that government is a good thing and that their nice paying jobs would not be around if not for the government creation known as the “internet”, which I might add irony-deficient libertarians are fond of using to bash the government daily.

  12. Who’s got the coveted non-tech freelance telecommunting consultant demo?

  13. ktc2 – Go to L

    CB

  14. “Many tech workers probably understand that government is a good thing…”

    Hmm, I’m gonna guess $400 haircut=Edward=Edward Supporter.

    If I feed you will you go away?

  15. I think that engineers that lean toward big government policies put too much faith in the regulatory process and fail to not recognize the corruption and impediments to development it creates.

    How will we know if the numbers are right if nobody checks them?


  16. f not for the government creation known as the “internet”, which I might add irony-deficient libertarians are fond of using to bash the government daily.

    since my tax dollars* helped fund the project, why the hell wouldn’t I take advantage of it?

    *not literally, as I am not that old.

  17. While it’s true that there is a probably a higher percentage of real libertarians among them, that’s balanced by a higher percentage of progressives and socialists. As a whole, they are very introverted narcisistic statists.

    I recently had a discussion online with someone and had the need to look up Vint Cerf’s political contributions. Every dime went to Democratic groups and candidates, that is when he wasn’t donating to the Google slush fund.

  18. i tend to notice that tech workers (particularly engineering folks) land on the side of big government because so many of them make their living off of government contracting – military, civil engineering, etc.

    if not for financial reasons, they just love technology and government buys some of the coolest/most expensive tech around – so i understand why they lean that way.

  19. How can someone who works for a company whose mission statement is “Don’t be evil” donate to Hilary?

    Also, we have no idea how much money is being donated to each candidate. If a Google executive donates $2600 to Hilary while a Google mail room attendant donates $20 to Obama, they show up equally in this study.

  20. After the dotcom bust, all the geeks became socialists.

    When the dotcom companies were throwing around cash and stock options like beads at Mardi Gras (sp?), all the geeks were free agents hopping from job to job and taking their hiring bonuses and laughing all the way to the bank. Now that the boom is over, they bitch like public school teachers.

  21. Maybe it’s just that the bruises from April 17th haven’t faded yet, but why would anyone willingly contribute money to a political campaign?

  22. if not for the government creation known as the “internet”,

    Right, just like there never would have been an electronic computer if it hadn’t been for the Army needing one to figure out artillery trajectories in WW2.

    Perhaps the Internet wouldn’t have developed as quickly as it did without govt subsidy, but it would have developed nonetheless.

  23. Hugh,

    Heh, I bet Bill Gates used to ask the same question before the antitrust revival. Now he knows better.

  24. crimethink writes: “Perhaps the Internet wouldn’t have developed as quickly as it did without govt subsidy, but it would have developed nonetheless.”

    Maybe, but then again it might have continued as closed fiefdoms like Compuserve, AOL and the original AOL-style conception of MSN before the web clocked Gates on the head with a clue stick.

  25. From this we learn:

    a) Microsoft must hire a fair number of Mormons.

    b) A fair number of Mormons are entrepreneurs.

  26. The direction that the Internet took in the 90s had virtually nothing to do with government planning or action. The real utility and excitement associated with the web was almost entirely driven by the private sector (businesses and individuals), which built more on university uses of the earlier Internet than on some master template established by the government.

  27. The internet sucked until there was the Web, and the Web was not a creation of the US government. Thank TBL, an English independent contractor for CERN at the time.

  28. Oh, robo-hottie Katherine? Are those little numbers in percentages, dollars, pennies or some secret amount?

    Note: linked pic is nothing like her real hottieness.

  29. linked pic is nothing like her real hottieness.

    They seldom are, Guy, they seldom are.

  30. “Wow, it’s disheartening to see so many entrepreneurs still believe the Rs are gonna save them from big government. Not that the Ds will either though, so where you gonna go?”

    entrepreneurs = Amway “small business owners”

    One of my first jobs out of college was with an Amway distributor (the warehouse, I’m not crazy) and they all described themselves as entrepreneurs. They are strongly encouraged to vote faith-based R, hence Romney. That’s my take, anyway.

  31. “The direction that the Internet took in the 90s had virtually nothing to do with government planning or action. The real utility and excitement associated with the web was almost entirely driven by the private sector (businesses and individuals), which built more on university uses of the earlier Internet than on some master template established by the government.”

    Right, there was no master template, but a very important lack of the very strong impulse among commercial entities: the desire to have proprietary lock-in, to build an exclusive hermit kingdom.

    Online information services were nothing new in the 1990s. Closed, expensive fiefdom services like CompuServe, the Source existed in the early 80s (possibly the 70s), but were proprietary and run on a business model closer to something like pricey databases like Lexis/Nexis or newfeeds like Bloomberg.

    Put it this way: even in the 1980s, Compuserve had chatrooms, email, online games, online trading, and online shopping. But they charged $6 an hour for their basic services; many functions carried hefty surcharges on top of that. I think they may have even had a higher price at one point if you used a faster modem.

    And, naturally, the barrier to entry was very high. New services and features couldn’t easily be added by entrepreneurs, because that would have required software running on CompuServe’s mainframes. The nature of the business model encouraged the blessing of single retailers and service providers (florist, stockbroker, etc) by the company that ran the mainframes. There could be no flourishing of competition.

    AOL started in the same way, and only added access to the Internet (and thus access to things uncontrolled by AOL) relatively late. In the mid-90s, Microsoft was going to going to set up a closed, proprietary, non-HTML, AOL-like service of their own, before they finally dumped it in 1996.

    The difference between the internet, the web, and these closed services is that the internet and the web were created by people more interested in solving communication problems in the pursuit of other goals, than in setting up a profit-spinning fiefdom by coming up with solutions and keeping them to themselves (and their customers).

  32. The direction that the Internet took in the 90s had virtually nothing to do with government planning or action.

    Along with little or no transaction oversight. You know, that bit of government that even a Libertarian will accept?

    The result was a bunch of hucksters took a lot of money from investors with oa bunch of “idea guys” in the middle.

  33. crimethink wrote: “If a Google executive donates $2600 to Hilary while a Google mail room attendant donates $20 to Obama, they show up equally in this study.”

    Google has mail room attendants???

  34. I lived in Idaho for about 15 years. Romney may be onto something here. Every Mormon entrepeneur I met had more than one business.

  35. Google has mail room attendants???

    They are called “administrators”, or even “engineers”.

  36. As an engineer myself, I find that most “real” engineers (ones that deal with real-world equipment and processes rather than software) *ducks* are more libertarian to conservative.

    My girlfriend is a software/science type and works with software engineers. They tend to be more liberal. I think it has mainly to do with the fact that most software jobs are in metropolitan areas and the higher concentration of people with money (as discussed in another thread a couple of days ago) leads to people with more liberal thoughts (frequently the guilt of the well-off seems to be the theme).

    As was mentioned earlier by someone, it really does seem to be a “me, not thee” situation. Most of the software people I meet love the chance to play with cool guns but quail when the suggestion is made that if they can own them, then any other non-felon should have that freedom too.

    They also seem to have a reflexive support of big-government meddling built in, due to the tweaking nature of things.

    ALL THAT SAID, I can’t believe that an honest, competent engineer could ever support the meddling big government solutions to every social problem that seem to be forced on us more and more. Engineers should understand the danger of trying to control very complex systems that are poorly understood. I can’t think of a worse or more complex system than human society. Too many damn variables, and it’s just simply not deterministic.

  37. Compared to those who post here, what industry is not full of big-government statists?

    Prostitution, drug distribution, off-book gambling–

    Oh. Legal industries. The firearms industry springs to mind. Haven’t heard a gun store owner say “if only we had more regulation” recently.

    Software engineers? Ninety percent of their work involves controlling variables. Any political system, like libertarianism, that relies on variables controlling themselves is going to give them hives.

  38. I’ll rephrase to clarify: Why would small-sum donors, who are not trying to buy legislation or regulatory lenience, voluntarily contribute to political campaigns?

    Perhaps their toilets can’t handle that much cash.

  39. I’d like to point out that while central planning was certainly the order of the day in software project management from the 1960s through the 1990s this have since lost significant ground to more self-directed and much more effective systems such as open source and agile methods. To the extent that these have become part of big IT organizations, it has typically been from the bottom up. Nerds may often be natural technocrats, but they are equally often individualistic anarchists.

  40. Thanks, db.

    I knew I wasn’t the only “real” engineer who knew we were different (in a good way) from the software engineers.

    I’ve found that “real” engineers who work in non-regulated industries tend to be somewhat conservative/libertarian. Those who work in highly regulated (but private) industries (pharma/biotech) tend to be either VERY liberal (“we survive with all this regulation, why shouldn’t everyone else?”) or VERY libertarian (“all these rules prevent sweet, sweet efficiency!”)

  41. “I’ll rephrase to clarify: Why would small-sum donors, who are not trying to buy legislation or regulatory lenience, voluntarily contribute to political campaigns?

    Perhaps their toilets can’t handle that much cash.”

    Beats me. I don’t know why people vote either. I think it makes them “feel” more in control. Or at least feel like they were a part of the process.

  42. I’ll rephrase to clarify: Why would small-sum donors, who are not trying to buy legislation or regulatory lenience, voluntarily contribute to political campaigns?

    It almost makes you think that people might support campaigns for some reason other than getting a quid pro quo, doesn’t it?

    Like, because they want their preferred candidate to win enough to write a check to help make it happen.

    I know, its crazy, but just try to keep an open mind . . .

  43. Following up John H’s comment, the bill directing DARPA to turn DARPAnet into the internet – the one Al Gore wrote, that led to the creation of the internet – required that it be set up as a universally-accessible, public entity, like a right-of-way or a public utility.

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