I am happy that the U.S. House finally was able to extend the payroll tax cut, even if it is just for 2 months. I understand and even agree with what the holdout house Republicans were saying. 2 months is a stopgap solution and it's potentially confusing for businesses who have to calculate those taxes. But like every politician (or at least it seems that way these days) there was a difference between what they were "saying" and their actual intentions. The holdout was a grandstanding maneuver that didn't go well for them. Logically it was a fairly weak idea anyway. They basically said "We are willing to raise your taxes, in an effort to take credit for wanting to lower your taxes." Really? Oversimplified, I know, but... in what twisted reality does that make any sense at all?
Plus, it was obviously a bluff. With an election coming up there was no way in the world any of those Congressmen would dare stick to their guns. It was just toothless posturing, but if it stood even a little chance of a year long rollback then it was the right words even if for the wrong reason at the wrong time. So they gave in and they pouted calling it "kicking the can down the road." But that brings me to another point...
They ALWAYS kick several HUNDRED cans down the road. They do it every single time they recess for a vacation, holiday, or check out to do some campaigning. At any given recess there are always bills in committee, tabled, being re-written, awaiting introduction... hundreds of them. If they were required to "clear the inbox" before recessing, they would never get to leave. And I'm not saying that they should have to, but implying that "kicking the can" is a bad thing... well, they should be more grateful they are ALLOWED to "kick the can." Unless that "can" is SOPA... then it needs to be STOMPED on. And used as toilet paper. Then burned. Then scattered to the winds. Then those scattered ashes need to be run over by a truck, a steamroller, and the USC Marching Band playing "Louie, Louie."
Yeah, I don't like SOPA.
The "Stop Online Piracy Act" is legislation that is awaiting committee consideration in Congress, who will take another look at it in 2012. It was sponsored and introduced by Rep. Lamar Smith R-TX and is currently co-sponsored by 15 Republicans and 16 Democrats, so it has bi-partisan support. If you want to know in detail what it is you can find out all about it here. But I can sum it up pretty well. Basically, it is a bill that would allow the government to block public access to any website that HAS THE ABILITY to illegally distribute copyrighted material. That's a little too much power the Government is trying to give itself. I've only been using the internet for most of my life, but as I understand it... all websites COULD potentially display or distribute (amongst other things) music, video, text, and images. Since copyrighted material includes (amongst other things) video, text, music, and images; this bill would give the government the ability to block access to ANY WEBSITE for WHATEVER REASON THEY WANTED TO.
Yeah, thaaaaaats Constitutional.
So we don't need to worry about it passing. Even if it did, the Supreme Court would strike it down with great vengeance and furious anger. But It should not even get that far. It should not have ever gotten the support is currently has. It's illegally Unconstitutional, far too vague (it doesn't really define when it would be invoked and for what reasons,) it could potentially kill a business or corporation, and would make any internet business consider moving offshore to a country that COULDN'T arbitrarily shut their business down. It's bad for freedom and the economy. It makes one wonder why anyone would WANT to sponsor or vote for it.
Well there are a few businesses throwing around a lot of money to get this thing passed. And we know that votes can be bought in Washington D.C. Media distributors, record labels, publishing companies, TV networks, major league sports, police organizations, and trial lawyers are all throwing money at legislators to pass this thing. Ultra-conservative lobby Americans for Tax Reform have joined hand-in-hand with the Liberal trade unions (like the Teamsters) to buy as many votes as they can for SOPA. But their arguments have been heard before.
Digital rights of intellectual property DO deserve to be protected. I agree that online piracy is nothing less than theft and needs to be punished as such. But the supporters of SOPA are protesting a threat to their bottom line that IS NOT COMING. We've seen the arguments before. In 1982 Motion Picture Association of America president Jack Valenti said before a House Committee, "I say to you that the VCR is to the American film producer and the American public as the Boston strangler is to the woman home alone." And he was right, Hollywood crumbled and never made a single cent after the VCR went into most American homes.
Oh wait, that's not how it happened. Movie studios used VCR's to make billions in profits over the next decade or so. Similar arguments have been made after the advent of the cassette tape, the CD-R, the DVD-R, DVR's, TiVo... and so on. And yet the entertainment industry makes... WOW more and more money, year after year. The big record labels hailed the MP3 computer file format for music as "the end of the music industry." And yet Steve Jobs used the MP3 and the i-Pod to resurrect Apple and turn it into one of the biggest and most successful corporations in the world. And the record labels reaped gigantic profits in his wake.
So things will work out. Digital rights need to be protected, but we have laws that do that now. We just need to enforce them. SOPA's supporters are just fighting against a changing technology that they should be embracing. Because if they did they would make Billions. YouTube, Google, Amazon, Facebook, ARE all already raking in billions. And it's sites like these that SOPA targets. Does congress really want these companies to abandon the U.S.?
This is NOT a partisan struggle. SOPA's backers have bought Republican and Democrat alike. This ISN'T a "republican bill" or a "democrat bill." This is just a stupid bill. It has bi-partisan opposition as well. Nanci Pelosi AND Ron Paul are against this thing. I know... look it up, I'm not kidding. The only thing separating House SOPA supporters and it's opposition is who took money to vote for it and who didn't. No Kansas Representatives are co-sponsors. That's good, let's just hope their vote isn't paid for. Where ever you are, do the research for yourself. Then let your district's Congressman know how bad you think this bill is.
And don't let Senators off the hook. SOPA's little brother the PROTECT IP Act is making it's way thru the Senate. It's too vague even to be dangerous or make any real difference, (it's just a do-nothing, unenforceable bill that refuses to define violation or punishment) but it's has the same kind of lobby-backed bought and paid for bi-partisan support that SOPA has. It has 40 co-sponsors, it used to have 41 but Senator Jerry Moran R-KS withdrew his sponsorship.
Thank you for making the right decision on that one Sen. Moran. Now crush this idiocy in committee or on the floor.
Back to SOPA, supporting it makes a person look like a totally decrepit, old dinosaur. Because the measure is totally toothless. They achieve the punishment of a website "in violation" thru a process called DNS blocking. Without getting too technical I'll just say "aww, they think they can stop the internet. That's sooooo cute." There are several ways around a DNS block. And sites that allow you to do so or teach someone how to get around the block will crop up so fast that the Government couldn't stay ahead of them by banning them.
So I'll say to Congress, you have plenty of IMPORTANT work to do in 2012. Don't waste your time on SOPA or PROTECT IP.
Have a Happy New Year