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DC Revolving Door: Ex-FCC Commissioner Is Now Head CTIA Lobbyist

timothy posted about 5 months ago | from the but-they're-so-well-versed-in-it dept.

Government 170

jfruh (300774) writes "Up until three years ago, Meredith Attwell Baker was an Obama-appointed FCC commissioner. Now she's the newly minted CEO of the CTIA, the nation's largest lobbying group for the mobile phone industry. How can we expect regulators to keep a careful watch over industries when high-paying jobs in those industries await them after retirement? One of the most damning sentences in that article: 'More than 80 percent of FCC commissioners since 1980 have gone on to work for companies or groups in the industries they used to regulate.'"

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80% of people working in a field (-1, Troll)

maliqua (1316471) | about 5 months ago | (#46833619)

when they leave the place they work for, move to companies in a similar field?

wow

people with a knowledge of telecom/rf going on to work at telco's unpossible

Re:80% of people working in a field (2, Insightful)

MickyTheIdiot (1032226) | about 5 months ago | (#46833637)

wow. being purposefully ignorant is twice as blissful.

Re:80% of people working in a field (5, Informative)

Jeremiah Cornelius (137) | about 5 months ago | (#46834143)

wow. being purposefully ignorant is twice as blissful.

Yeah, ignorant - and only HALF of the story in this headline.

Tom Wheeler, the new incoming FCC Chairman is a leading industry lobbyist. GIGO.

"Wheeler has been around telecommunications policy circles for years and has served as a lobbyist for the cable industry's trade group, the National Cable and Telecommunications Association, and the wireless industry's trade association, CTIA-The Wireless Association. He spent 12 years as the head of the CTIA."
http://www.cnet.com/news/senate-confirms-tom-wheeler-as-fccs-new-chairman/ [cnet.com]

Re:80% of people working in a field (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46833673)

It's still a conflict of interest and ripe for quid pro quo job opportunities. Essentially, don't make our company suffer and we'll land you a lucrative job you'll be able to retire on once you leave government.

Re:80% of people working in a field (4, Insightful)

ZahrGnosis (66741) | about 5 months ago | (#46834067)

I see that there's the potential for abuse there, and I'm sure it is abused this way sometimes, but I don't see the job offers as proof that it's happening. It DOES make good sense for these companies to hire people with inside, high profile jobs from the governing organizations, whether or not the policies they enacted hurt the company (in some ways probably more so). These are very strong job candidates even without bribery being a consideration. Even if we were omnisciently certain that no quid-pro-quo existed, these are people who would get (and arguably deserve) great job offers.

The questions then become how do we identify actual abuse (vs normal labor market forces) and how do we stop it?

In non-government positions, if this were a concern (not to the public, but to the original employer), there would be a non-compete clause of some sort. I'm not aware of government jobs ever having non-compete clauses, but it would probably be prohibitively difficult to do (not that it shouldn't be done, but it's so difficult to fire most US government employees that I can't imagine it being easy to implement even more labor restrictions). We could perhaps lobby for that, but it's doubtful to happen. I'm open to suggestions, but without other options this just seems like unconstructive complaining.

Re:80% of people working in a field (5, Insightful)

postbigbang (761081) | about 5 months ago | (#46834359)

You're naive.

Often, such abuse only surfaces after the damage is done, and after fabulous sums in attorney's fees are paid, with a likely outcome of plea deal-- if it gets that far.

The ethics problem here is huge. These were insiders, and party to all of the internal sausage that makes decisions work, and know intimately, the vulnerabilities. Fueled with the grease of lobbying money, they arrive again with seemingly wonderful arguments, except that instead of representing the people of the United States, they now represent shareholders looking for revenue, two completely and potentially opposite ideals.

This very constructive complaining, as net neutrality is the egalitarian backbone principal of Internet access. It's being destroyed with a "more equal than other equals" sort of Orwellian lie perpetrated by the telecoms strictly for favor of their shareholders. Open your eyes to what's happening in front of you: a new privileged Internet, where privilege comes directly out of your wallet.

Re:80% of people working in a field (5, Insightful)

CmdrEdem (2229572) | about 5 months ago | (#46833683)

That is not the issue. The issue is if the regulator, instead of stopping abuse, let it slide for the promise of a future high paying job. In my book that is bribery, and I'm sure many people agrees with me.

Re:80% of people working in a field (3, Insightful)

MickyTheIdiot (1032226) | about 5 months ago | (#46833703)

What I can't put my finger on is exactly when this behavior and conflict of interest in general because fine. It's rife throughout government. We see it in a big way in the SCOTUS, and the state governments are even worse than the federal government. But *NO ONE* seems to care. This wasn't the same in the 70s and 80s, or perhaps it was and the difference is that these idiots aren't even embarrassed by it any more.

The iron fist (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46833809)

The iron fist has been revealed slowly. We're not sure when the fat lady went from humming a few bars to singing a mournful tune. The frog? Its dead, Jim. Gradually boiled by a thousand conspiracies...none of which exist, apparently.

Re:80% of people working in a field (3, Insightful)

usuallylost (2468686) | about 5 months ago | (#46833905)

This was going on in the 70's and 80's and before that. The difference now is we have the Internet and the 24x7 news cycle so you are actually hearing about it. It also isn't just the regulatory agencies that are in on this scam. Look how many former members of congress land at suspiciously cushy jobs after they retire. My fear is that what we have here is effectively a bribe laundering scheme. Oh yeah you do what we want and you get a nice office, important sounding title, generous salary and a big benefits package for your post Government life.

That isn't the only such scheme in place in government either. Look at politicans setting up various not for profits, charities and think tanks. That looks like outright bribe laundering. Also some of the members of congress have really suspicous investment dealings that look like outright money laundering.

Re:80% of people working in a field (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46833973)

What I can't put my finger on is exactly when this behavior and conflict of interest in general because fine. It's rife throughout government. We see it in a big way in the SCOTUS, and the state governments are even worse than the federal government. But *NO ONE* seems to care. This wasn't the same in the 70s and 80s, or perhaps it was and the difference is that these idiots aren't even embarrassed by it any more.

What changed? The size of the federal government.

Federal, State, Local Spending in 20th Century [usgovernmentspending.com]

At the start of the 20th century, government spending was principally local government spending. Out of a total of 7 percent of GDP, a full 4 percent was spent at the local level. Federal spending spiked in World War I, but in the 1920s, local government still represented about half of all government spending. In the 1930s this changed, and federal spending surged to about half of all government spending. After the spike of World War II the federal share increased again and state government spending also began to increase as a percent of GDP, so that by the 2010s federal spending checked in at over 20 percent of GDP, state spending amounted to 8 to 9 percent of GDP and local spending exceeded 10 percent of GDP.

Spending equals power. Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.

So why the hell do people think we can solve our problems by giving this government MORE power?

Giving this out-of-control power-mad government more money and more power will make things BETTER? For WHO?

Millions of people care... (1)

PortHaven (242123) | about 5 months ago | (#46834405)

But what difference does that make. People have realized that voting, if you even still believe your votes are valid, doesn't make a difference.

People basically feel that a) this is wrong b) no one listens c) there is nothing they can do

And if you think this is going to go on forever, look at BLM and Nevada. People are starting to feel their only means of stopping such corrupt government beauracracy is the use of arms.

That is sad...we should never be at that point.

Re:80% of people working in a field (1)

fustakrakich (1673220) | about 5 months ago | (#46834435)

This wasn't the same in the 70s and 80s...

Actually, it is. Reelection rates were pretty much the same back then as they are now, about 90%. Despite all our fancy internet, we are making very little, if any, progress in governance.

About the only thing that has changed dramatically since then is airline safety. So, at least the government is doing something worthwhile

Re:80% of people working in a field (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46833713)

They have an incentive not just to 'let it slide' but to actively help the telcos just to ensure any kind of job security.

Re:80% of people working in a field (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46833959)

careful, push hard and someone will decide it's a brilliant idea to give outgoing regulators a lifetime stipend so they won't be tempted by this sort of thing... then we'll be paying for them forever... And they will still make decisions based on the hope that they will be hired on as well afterwards. Doesn't have to be an agreement, it could just be person after person making calculated decisions for their own future and hoping it works out...

Regulatory capture (5, Informative)

PapayaSF (721268) | about 5 months ago | (#46834223)

The issue is if the regulator, instead of stopping abuse, let it slide for the promise of a future high paying job. In my book that is bribery, and I'm sure many people agrees with me.

That's part of it, but there's more. The topic is called regulatory capture [wikipedia.org] . An inherent problem in all regulation is that those being regulated have a vested interest in "capturing" the regulators and influencing them for their own interests. It's often not as simple as bribery or a promise of a future job. It can be (and often is) things like convincing regulators that certain kinds of regulation are great ideas, regulations that 1) make the regulators think they are doing something, 2) can be easily implemented by that regulated entity, and (entirely coincidentally!) 3) hinder the competitors of the regulated entity. Whenever you read about bankers being in favor of Dodd-Frank, or health insurers being pro-Obamacare, or a large company that supports raising the minimum wage, look for something like #3. Such support does not usually come from the goodness of their hearts.

As pointed out in this thread, who knows the complexity of a set of regulations better than someone who used to be in charge of them? So too much separation between regulators and regulated would be dysfunctional: you don't want carpenters regulating doctors, or vice versa. But the whole field shows some of the inherent problems of all regulations, especially complex ones.

Re:80% of people working in a field (4, Insightful)

Kohath (38547) | about 5 months ago | (#46834245)

So... can we have less government power over everything in everyone's life then? Since it ends up being used against us by Washington insiders...?

Re:80% of people working in a field (2)

rezme (1677208) | about 5 months ago | (#46834401)

I doubt that would solve anything... "There is substantial academic literature suggesting that smaller government units are easier for small, concentrated industries to capture than large ones. For example a group of states or provinces with a large timber industry might have their legislature and/or their delegation to the national legislature captured by lumber companies. These states or provinces then becomes the voice of the industry, even to the point of blocking national policies that would be preferred by the majority across the whole federation. Moore and Giovinazzo (2012) call this "distortion". - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/R... [wikipedia.org]

Re:80% of people working in a field (2)

Kohath (38547) | about 5 months ago | (#46834459)

So instead of choosing smaller government overlords or bigger government overlords, let's just not have any level of government control most of the things in our lives.

But if there has to be government control, then it should be as local as possible so it's easier to escape by just moving away.

Re:80% of people working in a field (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46833691)

So how much did you send to the Obama campaign?

Re:80% of people working in a field (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46834041)

The same one that said they'd have no lobbyists working for them? Sadly, nothing...

Re:80% of people working in a field (4, Insightful)

jythie (914043) | about 5 months ago | (#46833711)

Regulator and lobbyists do not have a 'field', their skills are not related to any particular domain or technology. They could leave the FCC and go work for the farm industry and have pretty much the same transferability.

This is rewarding regulators with well paying jobs.

Re:80% of people working in a field (1, Troll)

QuantumPion (805098) | about 5 months ago | (#46833793)

Regulator and lobbyists do not have a 'field', their skills are not related to any particular domain or technology.

Yes we must purge the FDA of all doctors, the NRC of all engineers, FWS of all biologists, etc because clearly they are all beholden to their special interests and thus can't be trusted.

Re:80% of people working in a field (4, Informative)

MickyTheIdiot (1032226) | about 5 months ago | (#46833887)

That's a poor-ass strawman and you know it.

This isn't about fields of expertise. This is about being beholden to specific economic interests. You can get doctors in the FDA that aren't beholden to Pfiser or Eli Lilly.

The "oh, but they are experts" is a very weak defense of corporate behavior that captures regulatory organizations.

Re:80% of people working in a field (2)

Gareth Iwan Fairclough (2831535) | about 5 months ago | (#46834055)

Regulator and lobbyists do not have a 'field', their skills are not related to any particular domain or technology.

Yes we must purge the FDA of all doctors, the NRC of all engineers, FWS of all biologists, etc because clearly they are all beholden to their special interests and thus can't be trusted.

You mean they haven't done that already?!

Purge the FDA (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46834155)

Have you bothered to look up Meredith Attwell Baker's history? She Is a Lawyer & Lobbyist by profession with connections to various politically families (Bushes, Bakers, etc). Her education is in Spanish & journalism, what about this would make her a good fit for the mobile phone industry. She is a career lobbyist, nothing more, nothing less. Why she was ever the FCC commissioner is beyond my comprehension.

We pretty much did that... (0)

PortHaven (242123) | about 5 months ago | (#46834441)

Most of the FDA are lawyers and beauracrats and would have a tough time telling a cow apart from an ass, without looking in a mirror.

Re:80% of people working in a field (1)

alen (225700) | about 5 months ago | (#46833799)

yes, but knowing all the relevant laws and regulations and the workflow of the agencies you will work with is a big help

Re:80% of people working in a field (1)

danheskett (178529) | about 5 months ago | (#46833863)

Come now, let's not leave out the most important thing. THE PEOPLE.

Re:80% of people working in a field (5, Insightful)

Kohath (38547) | about 5 months ago | (#46834121)

Government agencies regard the people as a rancher regards his cattle.

Re:80% of people working in a field (3, Interesting)

idontgno (624372) | about 5 months ago | (#46833951)

In theory, true.

Just like a good manager can manage anything. [dilbert.com]

In practice, however, a lobbyist is much more valuable if he or she has cultivated contacts and inside access to a particular regulatory bureaucracy. They guy pestering the Assistant Deputy Undersecretary in the lobby is vastly less effective, and commands much less money, than the guy who can dial the private phone number of the department head's own secretary and schedule a couple hours with his immediate successor in the job of department head.

And that's where the conflict of interest lives: a person gained access and personal trust in the context of public service. He cashes in on that asset, originally conferred for the benefit of the public, for his own personal benefit (bigtime lobbying contracts) and the benefit of his private clients (in the regulated field). Plus, you know, regulatory capture. [wikipedia.org]

Re:80% of people working in a field (1)

tommeke100 (755660) | about 5 months ago | (#46833789)

That's exactly the excuse they use when they appoint cushy top public administration jobs to members of the current ministers cabinet in Belgium. "Well hey, they happen to have the credentials, know the business and have the network!".

Re:80% of people working in a field (2)

spire3661 (1038968) | about 5 months ago | (#46833825)

Allowing only business people to sit on these boards means they inevitably ignore the commons in favor of business. We need someone to chair the FCC that understands that internet connectivity should be regulated as a utility and the only way to make more profit is to offer faster service. The bare minimum of service is 1 GB/sec (just like 240v/120v standard electric service). If you cant provide that level of service, you dont get right-of-way. Further, this person needs to re-instate the rules of old where is you transmitted media you couldn't own the media you were transmitting. NO business person is ever going to do that. We need the heads of our nation to represent the people, not represent them with progress through profit.

Re:80% of people working in a field (2)

danheskett (178529) | about 5 months ago | (#46833883)

The problem with what you want is that it's not in the purview of the FCC. Those are actions that only Congress can take.

You can't solve some problems through the Executive. That's exactly where we are at with Net Neutrality. You can't solve that problem through the FCC.

Re:80% of people working in a field (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46833949)

"Up until three years ago, Meredith Attwell Baker(D) was an Obama(D)-appointed FCC commissioner. Now she's the newly minted CEO of the CTIA, the nation's largest lobbying group for the mobile phone industry."

TFTFY

Oh, so this is the new spin? (1)

rabbin (2700077) | about 5 months ago | (#46834097)

Right, an individual passing through the revolving door does not represent a conflict of interest, but rather just the hiring of experienced/knowledgeable individuals. Here are some cherry picked statistics to prove my point /s

Please tell me this isn't where the PR spin is headed, because I fully believe people will buy it (if it's repeated often enough and made tribal). I mean, the spindoctors have already convinced too many people that bribery is "free speech" and 99% of climate scientists are frauds.

Re:80% of people working in a field (1)

Charliemopps (1157495) | about 5 months ago | (#46834347)

when they leave the place they work for, move to companies in a similar field?

wow

people with a knowledge of telecom/rf going on to work at telco's unpossible

No, its far more sinister than that. It isn't even really a job, it is basically just a cushy retirement package. They get paid for doing nothing. They offer this AFTER the person has already plaid ball for years. Everyone in government knows this, and knows if policy offends too many in the industry, their retirement is screwed. Why do you think presidents because millionaires after they leave office? They get hundreds of thousands of dollars for what amounts to giving 30min inspirational speeches. Bill Clinton is a great example and G.W. Bush is quickly catching him. Obama will do the same. You think those speeches are really worth that kind of money to industry execs?

Re:80% of people working in a field (1)

NotDrWho (3543773) | about 5 months ago | (#46834397)

It's not an innocent employment move. It's retroactive bribery.

What's the problem? (1)

fustakrakich (1673220) | about 5 months ago | (#46833663)

98% of the voters approve... You gotta give them what they ask for, or they might end up voting for somebody else, right?

Re:What's the problem? (1)

bobbied (2522392) | about 5 months ago | (#46834053)

98% of the voters approve... You gotta give them what they ask for, or they might end up voting for somebody else, right?

Where are you getting the 98% number?

Re:What's the problem? (2)

fustakrakich (1673220) | about 5 months ago | (#46834287)

2012 election... 51.1% democrat + 47.2% republican = 98.3%

I'm off by 0.3%. Sue me...

Congressional reelection rate around 91%

Yes, the voters most definitely approve, despite all their whining.

Re:What's the problem? (1)

PortHaven (242123) | about 5 months ago | (#46834479)

Well, when they have passes laws preventing any alternatives. What choice do you have?

And you're doing your math wrong. You are saying 98% of voters support it. But you're forgetting that the percentage of voters is rather low, around 50% of eligible voters. And lower than 2004 and 2008. So in that regards, at least half the population has voted NO to the Democrats and Republicans.

http://www.abc15.com/news/nati... [abc15.com]

Re:What's the problem? (2)

fustakrakich (1673220) | about 5 months ago | (#46834563)

I only counted the ballots. If the people who don't vote disapprove, then they need to raise their voices, otherwise they get written off, rightly or wrongly, as lazy and apathetic.

where else is she supposed to work (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46833715)

if all she knows is telecom, then it makes sense that she would go work at a telecom lobby. She was a top dog in the FCC, dozens of companies probably tried to hire her for name recognition.

The cream rises to the top. In charge here, switch jobs, go be in charge there.

Should she have to start at the bottom everywhere she goes to work?

STUPID ARTICLE

Re:where else is she supposed to work (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46833749)

You Winner!

CORPORATE WHORE

Re:where else is she supposed to work (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46833837)

agreed, it may seem sinister but the issue should not be what they do afterwards it should be what they do while in charge. Would the hiring company really want to hire them if they were aware of this person being corrupt and accepting bribes? seems to me if they did their job with integrity and represented the interests of their employer that may make them more desirable to the company interested in them i mean really who says "hey remember that government guy that we gave cookies too so that he would allow us to build a factory that runs on ground up babies lets put him in charge and hope he doesn't sell us out for something shinny"

Re:where else is she supposed to work (1)

mr_mischief (456295) | about 5 months ago | (#46833977)

If they accepted bribes in the form of a well-paying job after leaving the regulatory position ,and if that new job has no access or authority sufficient to harm the new employer, then yes. The whole issue here is the perception if not the actual action of the job being the bribe.

The cream? SOUR MILK = more like it (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46833843)

Shitbags that go in & out of industry into areas of gov't. that regulate it (paid off with bribes (cut the "lobbying" bullshit term that's meant to desensitize you to the REAL CRIME occurring here, bribery))? No thank you. They go in, change the rules or lay off of the company that's going to hire them after their political term (or that put them into the job in the 1st place - since let's face it. that IS how it REALLY works in that case too)) - that's utter outright insane bullshit, & yet it keeps on happening. We're fucked.

Re:where else is she supposed to work (1)

hypergreatthing (254983) | about 5 months ago | (#46834255)

She should be barred for life for working at any companies that were affected by the regulatory body she was in charge of for at least 5 years.
It's a conflict of interest otherwise. You cannot regulate an industry for the best interest of citizens while being in bed with the same people you plan on regulating.

Lets not forget Tom Wheeler (4, Informative)

bleh-of-the-huns (17740) | about 5 months ago | (#46833717)

The current FCC Chairman was a paid lobbyist for the Telecommunications industry before he became the FCC chair....

As long as our politicians are bought and paid for, things will never change for the better.

I mean the recent issue with Verizon and the state of NJ, NJ let them off the hook for not building out the infrastructure promised in the early 90's by a mere technicality by considering heavily capped LTE as an alternative to wiring the entire state. Then stating that they would wire areas that do not have wireless service, only if 35 or more people request it.. except they know that wireless reaches every spot in NJ where there is no VZ service, so it is a cop out, they know, the PUC knows it, and how anyone in their right mind could possibly think that this is good for consumers. This only benefits the telecoms.

This is what we have in stall for our FCC chairs of the future.. not exactly this scenario, but people that would vote in a similar vein under the pretense it is good for the consumer.

Re:Lets not forget Tom Wheeler (1)

bobbied (2522392) | about 5 months ago | (#46834081)

Crony Politics as usual.. Actually, worse than usual for DC, unless you are from Chicago, in which case it looks like the wind driven snow...

Inevitable (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46834265)

As long as our politicians are bought and paid for, things will never change for the better

"When the buying and selling is controlled by legislation, the first things to be bought and sold are the legislators."

Re:Lets not forget Tom Wheeler (1)

yuhong (1378501) | about 5 months ago | (#46834555)

Seems like he left the CTIA in 2004. IMO, he should be at the bottom of the list, if at all.

Lobbyists will not run my White House (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46833739)

Anyone remember who said that?

I seem to remember a President saying that.

Who could it have been?

Re:Lobbyists will not run my White House (1)

bobbied (2522392) | about 5 months ago | (#46834091)

Hey now.. They don't RUN the place... Yet.... At least that's the story.

This is Crony politics as usual...

Democracy (5, Insightful)

asmkm22 (1902712) | about 5 months ago | (#46833751)

And this is one of the many reasons why the US really isn't a democracy.

Re:Democracy (1, Informative)

kwiqsilver (585008) | about 5 months ago | (#46833915)

The US isn't supposed to be a democracy, it's a republic.

In a democracy, majorities can impose their will on minorities, no matter how stupid, or evil their ideas. In a republic, the constitution is supposed to limit the power of the government.

Unfortunately though, this is exactly what a representative democracy turns into: as long as the corrupt politician can convince 51% of his buddies to vote for his boondoggle (usually by promising to vote for theirs in return), it passes.

Re:Democracy (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46834009)

In a democracy, majorities can impose their will on minorities, no matter how stupid, or evil their ideas. In a republic, the constitution is supposed to limit the power of the government.

Three words: Gay. Marriage. Bans.

Three more: Creationism. Science. Class.

Four more: Abstinence. Only. Sex. Education.

Sorry bub, but it's happening anyway. Because, quite frankly, your government is ignoring your constitution anyway. And the Christian right has no problem imposing their will on the rest of society.

You are neither a democracy nor a republic, you are an oligarchy, you just don't seem to know it yet.

majorities can impose their will on minorities (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46834381)

No more so than currently, and there are simply fixes for preventing such situations even in pure democracies (require 2/3 or more vote to pass basic laws, 85% or more to modify constitution, etc). A few years ago you could have made the claim that "well reps have more time to analyze the issues" but I think that myth has been pretty much debunked. Most congressman/woman don't actually read the legislation they are passing & can't even answer basic questions in regards to it. At bare minimum I think we need a "third branch" of congress, a group of randomly selected citizens that would act as a buffer against the current engrained culture in Washington. Say 100 randomly selected citizens from all states, after legislation is passed by the senate & house it goes to them. If even 1/3 vote in favor it goes on to the president, if 65% vote against its kicked back to congress, if 90% vote against it the sponsors of the bill get permanently ejected from federal government work.

Re:Democracy (1)

tomhath (637240) | about 5 months ago | (#46834045)

Not sure what you mean by that. But compromises have to be made in any form of government, especially in a Democracy. Allowing people to move back and forth from government to private industry is one of the compromises needed to make both work reasonably well. Would it be this way in a perfect society? Perhaps, perhaps not. We'll never know because there will never be one.

Re:Democracy (2)

bobbied (2522392) | about 5 months ago | (#46834127)

And this is one of the many reasons why the US really isn't a democracy.

Being nit picky... The USA is not and it's never been a democracy. We where founded as a constitutional representative republic, which is decidedly NOT a democracy.

What are they teaching in school these days? We tried democracy, determined it didn't work very well for large groups. So the founders went with a representative republic instead. Kids...

Re:Democracy (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46834291)

so the original comment should have said "... why the US doesnt have representation from representatives" . It is an oligarchy, which is only representative to a highly select few.

we need to pay gov employees like CEOs (4, Interesting)

alen (225700) | about 5 months ago | (#46833821)

if you don't want any conflict of interest. pay the agency heads $20 million a year and stipulate they are not allowed to work for any private entity for 5 years after they leave government

Re:we need to pay gov employees like CEOs (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46833945)

never underestimate greed, $20mil is not enough. I doubt there is enough to stop this crap.

"I'm not working for them, I'm just an unpaid adviser." (With some perks of courst, have to travel. Then after 5 years they get hired at some obscene salary)

This is fixed by appointing people that believe in the policies you want enacted. Want net neutrality, appoint someone from the EFF not a telcom lobbyist.

Re:we need to pay gov employees like CEOs (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46834521)

I'd actually be ok with that.

Conflict of Interest vs Right to Work (1)

Ronin Developer (67677) | about 5 months ago | (#46833823)

No, I am not a big proponent of this action as it "smells" funny. That being said...

Did anybody else notice she held the position from 2009-2011 in a two year appointment? She didn't jump right from the FCC to the CTIA.

She hasn't been working for the FCC as a regulator in three years. My guess is her contract or appointment included a clause restricting her from working for the CTIA or other groups she regulated for at least 1-2 years.

Naturally, the CTIA wants her as they hope she has the connections to make things move more smoothly in their direction. But, has she done anything unethical or otherwise illegal?

Re:Conflict of Interest vs Right to Work (3, Interesting)

bleh-of-the-huns (17740) | about 5 months ago | (#46833935)

You are correct, she did not go directly to the CTA..

Even worse, she jumped to Comcast 3 months after pushing for the Comcast NBC merger. Bought and paid for by your tax dollars.

This was the restriction placed on her (came from wikipedia, so take with a grain of salt.)

"While Baker may immediately lobby Congress and supervise employees who directly lobby the FCC, to comply with President Barack Obama's ethics pledge, she may not personally lobby any executive branch political appointee (including the FCC) while Obama is in office. However after two years, she may lobby non-political appointees at the FCC. Additionally she may never personally lobby anyone on the Comcast/NBC merger agreement"

Conflict... or just good business? (3, Informative)

zarmanto (884704) | about 5 months ago | (#46833831)

The conflict of interest is pretty unmistakable, here... but we have to keep in mind that even absent that conflict, this would still be the most obvious choice for both the former FCC commissioners and for the lobbying groups. The commissioners obviously have an interest in the field, and the lobbying groups would want to hire someone who knows more then a little bit about the inner workings of their "arch nemesis."

I mean... sure, moves like this will always have that sort'a greasy slimy feel to them, no matter how you cut it. But where else are they going to go?

(Plus, there's some pretty darned good scratch in going all turncoat!)

Let's all remember (2)

argStyopa (232550) | about 5 months ago | (#46833833)

"Hope"

"Change"

And please don't ASSume that we live in some sort of binary world where criticizing Obama means I think Bush 2 was any less of a piece of crap. However, I don't recall Bush 2's election(s) being accompanied with the sort of priapic panegyrics about how "everything was going to be different" and the administration was going to be "lobbyist-free", either.

Re:Let's all remember (2)

bobbied (2522392) | about 5 months ago | (#46834151)

Crony politics at it's best... (Or worst, depending on how you want to look at it.)

Easy (2)

danheskett (178529) | about 5 months ago | (#46833835)

Government employees pay a 100% surtax on any income over their previous government pay for 5 years after leaving government service. For Representatives it must move to 10 years. For Senators it's life.

Problem solved.

Running the show (2)

Carnivore24 (467239) | about 5 months ago | (#46833847)

Interest groups and lobbyists run the country. Voters enable it.

Re:Running the show (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46834177)

Voters have nothing to do with running the country either way. They are like lifestock picking the head butcher.

Money rules (2)

jmd (14060) | about 5 months ago | (#46833851)

Votes do not.

Welcome to the new world order. The age of enlightenment seems to be over.

The Beatles had it right (1)

jacobsm (661831) | about 5 months ago | (#46833853)

Money can't buy you love, but can and does buy influence.

Not unusual (3, Insightful)

kwiqsilver (585008) | about 5 months ago | (#46833861)

This isn't unusual, nor should it be unexpected. Regulatory agencies are there to provide advantages for the established companies over upstart competitors and their customers. The stories about working for the interests of the consumer are just what the politicians tell voters, as they take money from politically connected companies, to create bureaucracies that further the interests of those companies.
It's how a fascist (a.k.a. mercantilist, cronyist) economy works.

Re:Not unusual (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46834269)

Bullshit laws paid for by tax dollars.

Just so much wrong here.... (1)

NormHome (99305) | about 5 months ago | (#46833895)

Like the other article yesterday about net neutrality, this just goes to show people that in the end big company's like Verizon can just buy anything they want and make the regulators and politicians dance to their tune and it's the general public that gets the short end at every turn and the regulators who are supposed to protect the interests of the people are not doing their jobs.

Re:Just so much wrong here.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46834337)

Interesting more and more countries are adding net neutrality rules to their laws.

One large reason for writing laws like this because governments are requiring their citizens to use the Internet to communicate with the government (example you are required to file taxes through the Internet in the Netherlands). When a government requires a citizen to have Internet access it means that the Internet is a primary living need. Primary living needs must be strongly regulated for fairness.

I wonder what will happen when the U.S.A Internet stands alone with its non-neutrality laws. Will European companies pay off all US ISPs to carry their traffic, or will they simply drop the US customer base.

US customers are also in a unique position to put their own packet shaper and send every internet service company a bill for carrying their traffic into your home. For example:
- Setup a packet shaper.
- Subscribe to World of Warcraft.
- Complain at customer service that the game is not working while your other internet access works fine.
- Then when they finally figure out you are running a packet shaper you can make a deal with them to add a rule to the shaper's configuration.

Another offense (0)

MitchDev (2526834) | about 5 months ago | (#46833899)

That should be considered a form of treason...

Simple answer: (3, Interesting)

MikeRT (947531) | about 5 months ago | (#46833931)

How can we expect regulators to keep a careful watch over industries when high-paying jobs in those industries await them after retirement?

The post government employment surtax by libertarian Glenn Reynolds:

SO OBAMA’S PEOPLE ARE TALKING TAX INCREASES AGAIN. Here’s my proposal: A 50% surtax on anything earned within five years after leaving the federal government, above whatever the federal salary was. Leave a $150K job at the White House, take a $1M job with Goldman, Sachs, pay a $425K surtax. Some House Republican should add this to a bill and watch the Dems react.

50%, no deductions, no credits, just outright confiscation to ensure less profit from leveaging any potential leads from the government to win insider deals.

Re:Simple answer: (1)

Amtrak (2430376) | about 5 months ago | (#46834203)

I'd vote for that since I never plan on working for the feds. However, how would this work for someone who works as a "contractor". What about retired military personnel. What's keeping congress from writing themselves out of the law. What about income from investments (i.e. dividends or capital gains.) vs earned income? Do benefits count for gross income in this law?

I feel like by the time congress is done "debating" such a law it will be toothless and full of pork. Why not just be blatant about this and let our elected representatives sack everyone and hire there own cronies at least they could set policy it would be obvious to everyone how corrupt everything really is. Just saying.

Re:Simple answer: (1)

danheskett (178529) | about 5 months ago | (#46834259)

What about retired military personnel.

The Ex-General bridgade is a huge problem. They influence the military from contract positions with weapon's makers, go on the media and tout their stars, and generally bend the political process. They should not be excluded.

Re:Simple answer: (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46834581)

Hah, I called one Mr. and told him I wasn't interested in the bullshit he was peddling. I got a talking to for using the phrases "bullshit" and "retarded".

For the record, he is a real VP at Ratheon, not just a titled lobbyist, and he is technically aware of the bullshit he was trying to peddle.

Re:Simple answer: (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46834227)

Libertarians suggesting taxes? Surely a sign of the end times.

We need some new Constitutional Admendments (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46833979)

If we don't fight for new protections, we will lose our rights forever.

Marvel > DC (2)

sproketboy (608031) | about 5 months ago | (#46833983)

Oh you mean DC.....

Slowly revolving door (1)

tomhath (637240) | about 5 months ago | (#46833987)

In general a person who makes contracting or regulatory decisions must wait a year after leaving government before working for a company related to their government work in the US. Other countries have different waiting periods (e.g. France is three years).

That's not perfect, but I don't see anyone suggesting a better alternative. A permanent ban on working in the industry after government service is unrealistic; Ms. Baker is 45 years old and has spent her entire career in telecom, I doubt you could get anyone with telecom experience if it meant their career was over when they left the government job.

I suppose you could eliminate political appointees altogether and fill those positions from career civil servants, but that has its own problems.

How? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46833995)

> How can we expect regulators to keep a careful watch over industries when high-paying jobs in those industries await them after retirement?

We can't.

And yet, no calls for less Washington power (1)

Kohath (38547) | about 5 months ago | (#46834101)

People are told to hate corporations and give the government more power. That power gets co-opted by corporate interests to be used against the people.

Will anyone ever learn that power should not be concentrated in government hands?

Re:And yet, no calls for less Washington power (1)

Amtrak (2430376) | about 5 months ago | (#46834285)

Exactly it's a lot harder and more expensive to "bribe" 50 different regulators. It's why things like this should be left to the States. But business and Washington bureaucrats would hate that. However, while there are departments that could be decentralized such as Education, or maybe to lesser extent FCC (Radio travels a good distance and the Military has a want to regulate it.) there are other regulators that you can't really do that with. I mean can you imagine how pissed Tennessee would be if we broke up the Nuclear Regulatory committee and then say Arkansas decides that it's OK to build a nuclear power plant with lax safety standards across the Mississippi from Memphis. Think about that one for a second, it sounds to me like it might clearly fall into the purview of the federal government at that point.

Re:And yet, no calls for less Washington power (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46834415)

But.... but.... but... Obama is the best President Ebah!!11!!!!
 
Clinton/Biden 2016!!!!

What is the alternative? (2)

dirk (87083) | about 5 months ago | (#46834173)

I can easily see why this would cause problems, but the one thing no one seems to address is what is the alternative? If we want someone to head the regulatory body for telecommunications (for instance) we need someone who has a vast knowledge of the telecommunications field. That means pretty exclusively someone who has worked for years in telecommunications businesses. You can't pull someone from another field because they don't know anything about what they are meant to be regulating. When these people leave the government regulation jobs, they are obviously going to go back to the telecommunications field (with the other option being lobbying for the telecommunications field since they now have telecommunications experience and government experience).

So what are our options? We can't ban them from going back and working in the field, since that is what their expertise is in no one would take the job. We can't the hiring to people not in the field, since that is just silly. We could try to limit hiring of industry insiders but that severely limits your hiring pool and potentially swings the pendulum too far the other way. The only thing I can think of that is reasonable and doable is to try and regulate the quid pro quo going on, but that is all but impossible. So what exactly is the fix?

Re:What is the alternative? (2)

danheskett (178529) | about 5 months ago | (#46834273)

"a vast knowledge of the telecommunications field."

This is not true.

So what are our options

The option is that Congress starts passing laws like they used to. The problem this is a problem is that Congress has delegated almost all of it's rule making authority to the Executive, because it's too hard for them to function otherwise.

Welcome to the real world (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46834195)

Silly activist! You've never heard of "regulatory capture" before? It didn't occur to you that big bad media corps rely on "compliance" rent seeking behavior by the FCC to flush out the little guys and FCC hacks rely on big bad media for upward mobility in the so-called private sector? Sheesh, you'd think that we'd be able to appoint a Moses to head the FCC to implement social justice just the way Cmdr Taco and similar self-appointed experts would expect them to do.

Innovation, not regulation, folks. Regulators are self-interested bureaucrats, and bureaucracy gives you the status quo.

It's a subtle political problem (1)

Beeftopia (1846720) | about 5 months ago | (#46834213)

We keep voting for these politicians - BUT - the politicians who make it through the primary process are the only ones we are allowed to vote for, and they are already beholden to those special interests which facilitate their victory. 3rd parties are aggressively suppressed.

Very interesting TED talk by Lawrence Lessig on the issue: "There is a corruption at the heart of American politics, caused by the dependence of Congressional candidates on funding from the tiniest percentage of citizens. That's the argument at the core of this blistering talk by legal scholar Lawrence Lessig." [ted.com]

There are many countries in the world where a de facto "Supreme Council" determines which candidates are allowed to stand at election. They are sham democracies. We are falling into that model more and more.

Re:It's a subtle political problem (1)

PortHaven (242123) | about 5 months ago | (#46834497)

We don't vote for these people. Heck, half the times the exit polls are in total conflict with the results. Districts show no or less votes than people who actually cast their ballots.

What we need is a national election website. Where every candidate basically has a page. Can discuss their views on specific issues. Post videos. Etc.

And then we can elect the one we actually like. Instead of getting selected politicians.

Pay them more (1)

jratcliffe (208809) | about 5 months ago | (#46834249)

If we want to get top-quality people for a job like FCC Commissioner, which doesn't last that long and doesn't pay well, but don't want them to take industry jobs when they leave, we need to pay them more. Pay the Commissioners $2 million a year each, plus $1 million per year for the ten years after they leave the FCC, but make a condition of taking the job that they can't take outside employment in the industry during that ten year period. The incremental cost to the budget would be trivial, and it would remove the revolving door.

Pass a law (1)

bl968 (190792) | about 5 months ago | (#46834553)

The law would state that government employees with regulation powers are prohibited from working in the industry they regulated for a period of 10 years after they leave their government position. This would apply to commissioners as well as congressmen.

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