I’ve been involved in the internet boom ever since my 14k baud modem days back in college in the 90s. Back in the 20th century I saw the internet’s promise to centralize information and present it easily to anyone authorized to view it.
But as someone who’s been involved in the private sector I’ve seen how lacking in competence and wisdom the public sector is. I would like to usher in some refreshing changes on several fronts:
- Maintain business friendly practices to allow Silicon Beach to fully develop
- Push for new global opportunities in tech
- Hold the public sector to the same accountability that the private sector has
- No company is too big to fail or too small to matter
- Use the internet to increase public participation
A further explanation of each issue:
- Silicon Beach – it seemed like the benefits of the internet economy would stay limited to Silicon Valley, but in retrospect it had its limits. A combination of rent control and strict development limits have set housing costs so high in the Bay Area, tech could only realistically grow by moving south. Here in Los Angeles, we have a liberal growth environment and market based housing. If we maintain an approach of enlightened growth in our district, Los Angeles will continue to be a hub of new business and opportunity in tech.
- Seeking new global opportunities for tech – Trump’s presidency brought a lot of worry that he’d close off the US economy with protectionism. This doesn’t need to be the case. The 37th district benefits immensely from global trade, not just from our port but from the influence of the internet economy. People worry about jobs, businesses worry about opportunities for growth. I will make sure world trade continues to expand and give us ever newer opportunities for fresh business and growth.
- An accountable public sector. Los Angeles quoted citywide free wifi at $5 billion. There’s no way it should be that high, by orders of magnitude. My experience is the public sector just hands out tech contracts to their friends with no oversight, or clue. This is also how someone like Hillary could get away with a private email server for years, or Obama thought a bomb hoax was an actual science project. As congressman I will make sure A) that the public sector has compliance standards similar to the private sector B) that the public sector adopts internet tech at some level comparable to the private sector
- No company is too big to fail, too small to matter. Google/YouTube, Twitter, and Facebook all have a strong presence in Silicon Beach. They also have been in the news lately for their alleged censorship of conservative voices. This is a dilemma. The internet is now undeniably a part of the public sphere, and as such, is no different from a mall in first amendment protections. Be it Google’s maldirection of searches, or Twitter’s endorsing or banning anyone who follows or contradicts their politics, this is bad for Democracy. And these companies should be held to account. We need to see this accountability as good for their long term health. Companies that succeed or fail based on their political affiliations undermine both our democracy and their long term business plan. Because when it comes down to it, politicians and social movements come and go. We don’t want our economy to fluctuate with them.
Meanwhile, the internet has also drastically reduced the barriers to entry. This means that more and more independent voices are getting their say, more and more business are getting more easily heard by their customers. As custodians of capitalism we should be nurturing this very environment. Not regarding it with suspicion. This leads to:
- Increasing public participation through the internet. Ultimately a neutral internet environment will be a place where all people have a platform and the marketplace of ideas can truly flourish. This also means more people can have a voice in government. I created ronfor37.org myself in a few hours. There’s no reason all politicians shouldn’t have some kind of online interaction with their constituents. And yet few do. As Obama said, the Internet is a disruptive technology. But in its disruption it yearns to create a new order, one where people will again truly have a say in their government and no ideas, people, or institutions will be above question.