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All the Perl that's Practical to Extract and Report

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  • The laws occur because of these factors:

    • 98% of the population makes statements like: "Oh, computers are so hard! I couldn't possibly understand such complicated things. I can't learn this! Hold my hand and teach me a few tasks I'll never deviate from so I can get work done with my computer!" (It should be noted that 99% of people say the same about their VCRs.)
    • Congress is elected from the general population.
    • Due to public pressure, and industry pressure, the current line in government is: "We've got
    J. David works really hard, has a passion for writing good software, and knows many of the world's best Perl programmers
    • I agree with some of that, but I think there's more to it. That is, you put most of the blame on the electorate, whereas I think most of it goes on the part about "industry pressure".

      All laws are passed due to pressure of some kind. Usually that pressure comes from a special interest group. If the law is important, usually you'll have people on both sides give the pros and cons and arguments about it, and the representatives can decide (in theory) based on those. If the law is not so important, it might just pass or fail without discussion.

      But laws about complex issue where the lobbyists are primarily on one side of the issue, and the electorate doesn't know anything about it, and the elect don't know anything about it ... and essentially you get laws written by the lobbyists. Sure, there's the EFF, and sometimes the ACLU. But they can't compete with the money behind the BSA, RIAA, and MPAA. The corporations behind these organizations write the laws -- these draconian provisions could not possibly be the idea of any representative -- and for the most part the representatives who vote don't have much opposing pressure to balance it out. You don't have much debate, you have corporations saying we need it, and representatives believing it, and the public not caring.

      Of course, some politicians may be bought off, but honestly, in this case it wouldn't really be necessary. Why buy what you can get for free?

      I suppose maybe I am saying that yes, the electorate is to blame, but not so much for being ignorant about the issues involved here -- that is necessarily the case -- but for allowing this type of system to continue, where our laws are written by lobbyists instead of elected representatives. I have no direct solution to the problem, though anything that forces the government to seek out and heed opposition is a Good Thing. Our private donations to the EFF will never be enough, though it's not a bad place to start.

      The first to plead his case seems right,
        Until another comes and examines him.

      -- Proverbs 18:17
      • Very true. But I still think any congressman who's ever voted for a law "because we need to get tough on computer crime" after ever having made the statement, "Oh, computers are just too complicated for me," ought to be ashamed.

        Actually, I tend to feel that anyone under the age of 70 who's ever made that statement should take it back. In other areas of life, we call that "giving up," and it's not looked upon with respect.

        J. David works really hard, has a passion for writing good software, and knows many of the world's best Perl programmers
        • Ashamed of being ignorant, or ashamed of legislating while being ignorant? Neither is a shamable offense. Most legislators are ignorant about many things, as most people are, as you and I are. They can't not make laws just because they are ignorant; they need to trust various people to give them opinions and facts. And in many cases -- such as this one -- the balance is lopsided.

          As to saying "computers are too complicated," it is not that computers are, but these issues certainly are. You could study