Google Latches on to Political Society

Tuesday, January 22nd, 2008

Apropos of my last Fox column, we get news of Google’s fancy soiree this past weekend. Unfortunately, it wasn’t to announce a new service, the company’s much-anticipated foray into cell phone service, or to demonstrate some other bit of newly-minted Google genius. It was, regrettably, to celebrate the opening of Google’s first D.C. lobbying office.

The Cato institute’s David Boaz has a standard op-ed he writes on each sad occasion that an upstart company setting the world on fire has to take the unfortunate step of protecting its interests from predation by hiring a cadre of lobbyists, consultants, and lawyers to fight in Washington—money the company could otherwise be giving to engineers and developers instead of pissing away into the parasitic Beltway economy.

You can’t blame Google for protecting itself, though I’d guess it’s only a matter of time before even don’t-be-evil Google begins to play the rent-seeking game, too.

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5 Responses to “Google Latches on to Political Society”

  1. #1 |  Thomas | 

    I think it’s more the Microsoft case, you can ignore the government as a modern company at your shareholders expense. Stick your head in the sand and get bit in the ass.

  2. #2 |  Nick | 

    I’d also say it’s reactive, but more geared towards preventing other companies from gaining a competitive advantage by having the government pass laws favorable to the other companies.

    You have to remember, Google is going to be going up against the telcos for the upcoming spectrum auction, and wiill be directly competing against them if they win the auction. Ma Bell is well known for her willingness and ability to take advantage of state and federal lawmakers for their benefit.

  3. #3 |  Marc | 

    Corporate lobbying of the overpaid whores in Washington is done for a number of reasons. Sometimes it’s carried out for strictly defensive reasons, to insure that new regulations and taxes won’t be imposed which could adversely effect growth and profits, or to repeal others that already have. At other times, however, it’s done to acquire favorable regulations/legislation and subsidies which will benefit their positions while ignoring or even harming less politically connected competitors. The latter is a blend of modern warfare and parasitism in which the taxpayers and consumers always take in on the chin. Need I mention ethanol subsidies?

    Unfortunately, in our pragmatic and opportunistic political world some corporate lobbyists will engage in both defensive lobbying and warfare/parasitism. I personally think that Google has established a Washington office for defensive reasons, but remain forever leery of any entity that cozies up to brute force.

  4. #4 |  Ochressandro | 

    Having seen what happened to Microsoft after they didn’t pay off the right people in D.C., I’d say Google is just exercising due diligence.

  5. #5 |  Mike Schneider | 

    Yeah: Google needs someone to run blocker for them the next time they’re caught helping the Chinese government run down some annoying dissident journalist it wants shut up in a permanent way.