Data Shows Democrats Bought and Paid for by Surveillance Industry

Obama started looking more stressed than usual around the time of the Snowden revelations. This Real News Network interview with political scientist Tom Ferguson helps explain why. The surveillance industry, broadly defined, gave proportionately much more to Obama than other industries in the 2012 election.

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  1. Hugh

    Aren’t the Democrats and Obama pretty much bought and paid for by the rich and powerful in general? And isn’t this the exact opposite of the Republicans who are owned by the powerful and rich?

    1. Bob Swern

      I’m going to reproduce this comment, frame it and hang it on the wall behind my desk. (For real!)

      Thank you, Hugh! (The reproduced version of it will include attribution to YOU.)


  2. Max Behring

    So his point is that Apple, Google and Facebook, who are “a lot of the folks discussed in the Guardian”, are surveillance firms?

    Basically the IT Sector = the Surveillance Industry? That appears to be his hypothesis.

    While it appears to be true that these firms have been forced to cooperate with the NSA’s data gathering, it’s not really their business model, is it? In fact, these things becoming public are a threat to their business model.

    So how exactly do their campaign contributions figure into the constantly expanding surveillance state?

    I’m sorry, but that makes no sense whatsoever.

    1. from Mexico

      No, what we saw beginning under Reagan is an increasingly privatized permanent war economy, which was conceived and implemented in the immediate aftermath of WWII. The product of this type of economy, of course, is permanent war, and it matters little to its beneficiaries if its designated enemies are internal or foreign. This documentary, featuring Philip Agee and Noam Chomsky, discusses who the intellectual fathers of the permanent war economy were and how it came about:

      Privatization was urged as a solution to the “threat of interest-group liberalism” which a trio of economists from the Chicago School of Economists — George Stigler, Milton Friedman and James Buchanan — claimed posed grave threats to America.

      The interest group the Chicago school economists were most concerned with was the “welfare-state clientele.” Their concerns, however, did not extend to the permanent war economy, and they asserted that “the federal government would still need large revenues for national defense.” They did, however, urge the privatization of the provisioning of what goods and services they deemed it appropriate, such as national security, for the government to continue providing. Here’s how Robert H. Nelson describes it in Economics as Religion:

      In a number of areas government might have to provide goods and services to the citizenry. Rather than employing direct government efforts, it would be more efficient, Friedman suggested, to leave this provision to private suppliers….

      The President’s Commission on Privatization would report in 1988 that “contracting out…represents a reviaval in a new form of the old Progressive distinction between politics and administration, with the private contractor now taking the former place of the expert government administrator” in the earlier progressive thinking. As Friedman was proposing, the role of democratic decision making should be limited to the tasks of setting overall contract objectives and the selection of a suitable private contractor, exclding day-to-day politics from the actual private performance of the service delivery. Privatization was a new and superior way of achieving the old progressive goal of separating the politics from the administration.”

      All of this of course was part and parcel of Free Market fundamentalism, a 19th century secular religion which experienced a spectacular revival beginning in the 1960s. According to this quasi-religous faith, markets are not vulnerable to the types of interest-group interventions that governments are, and private industry is always more efficent than government. And of course any mention of the fact that powerful economic actors from the private sector might attempt to influence government is a heresy worthy of being burned at the stake.

      1. gepay

        Yeah privatization – Look how well TEPCO has handled the catastrophe at Fukushima compared to the poor job the Soviet Union did at Chernobyl.

    2. pero no

      With Google and Facebook, their business model is surveillance. Normally, they sell their surveillance to advertisers, but they sell to governments too.

      To the end user of google/facebook services, they must pretend they are doing what they do for the benefit of mankind, and that the advertisers are none the wiser about the users. Their business model therefore required that users deceive themselves. Google and Facebook only pretend not to cooperate with the government for the sake of perpetuating this deception.

    3. Vedicculture

      Smith mistakes Democrats getting money from the people inside the “twitter, facebook, google” industry and who actually benefits from it.

      The actual “Surveillance” industry itself is bought and paid for by libertarians big time. They were hugely behind its financing. Peter Theil takes a bow……….(Facebook and more importantly, paypal, which is financial spying).

      Smith, you need to stop thinking the nation state exists.

  3. middle seaman

    Claiming that Web software, Wed equipment and even the telecommunications companies are surveillance industries is claiming that Capitol Hill is the Everest. My phone and Internet come from telecommunications. True, Verizon and its infrastructure are involved in surveillance, but Verizon does way more than that.

    Claiming the Web software industries are surveillance industries is downright making a mountain out of a molehill.

    1. pero no

      To the government, cell phones are tracking devices, and the internet is a stealth method for psychological profiling.

      1. Vedicculture

        It ain’t the government doing the bulk of the “tracking”. The Nation State is being abolished. There will be no “government” left in 100 years.

        1. Snake Arbusto

          Well, there sure as hell won’t be government in the sense of organizing resources for the common good. But in the sense of organizing resources for the good of an elite – yeah, there’ll be that, and I don’t think it’ll look or feel like anarchy to me and you, or Montana in the 1880s. What will it look like? Well, probably a lot like corporate organization, which is a very efficient form of organization. But – to extend the metaphor – you and I won’t even be on the payroll.

  4. RoboCommenter

    Did you know that you can book a reservation to a future internment camp just by visiting this site?

  5. Vedicculture

    Ron Paul in terms of overall 2012 gross, was financed by social media more than any other Republican candidate.

    The market state controls all.

  6. sue

    DLC (Democratic Leadership Council), corporate bought and sold dems-which is reason (one sister accompanied Hillary on International Ed. tour of China) we voted FOR Obama-we knew Hillary was DLC dem…

    1. different clue

      Well, Obama was DLC 2.0, so what was the difference? Actually, there is an interesting case to be made for the proposition that Obama was more DLC in practice than Senator Clinton was.
      A blog called The Confluence by Riverdaughter went into this in some detail. It is worth reading her posts on Clinton, Obama, DemCon 2008, etc. Especially her post about how Clinton wrote a detailed little guest editorial for the Wall Street Journal (I think it was) about how a latter day version of the New Deal Era HOLC should be resurrected and used to reduce the rate of foreclosures and defaults. When the Lords of FIRE Sector read that, they vastly up-ramped their donations to Obama. The post is worth searching for.

  7. psychoanalystus


    Lately I haven’t posted much here (or anywhere), but I wanted to say I enjoyed seeing you on DemocracyNow! today. It was great to see you and Glenn Greenwald both on the same show.

    Keep up the good work!

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