I went to Washington DC this week to pick up an award for my work on Advertising and Piracy from the Global Intellectual Property Center, which is a part of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. The irony will not escape many long time readers of this blog, as I have been critical of the Chamber, especially around the issues of transparency in corporate campaign finance. But I believe strongly that our country is committing financial and cultural suicide when it comes to protecting the rights of artists, so you take your allies where you can get them. I couldn’t resist in my acceptance speech noting the irony.
I want to finish with one thought. As I said this is primarily an issue of transparency and I’m glad the Chamber is for transparency in the advertising business. At the risk of biting the hand that has fed me well today, I would ask that the Chamber also support transparency in corporate donations to politicians. Once again, thank you very much for your support.
When it was all over a man who works for Homeland Security on IP issues thanked me for my work and then we got into a discussion about his job. It turns out he hasn’t had a permanent boss in four years, because the Senate held up the appointment of Obama’s first nominee and now the vetting process for a second nominee is taking months because of an excess of caution. The story seemed so indicative of the mood in Washington I felt in the two days I was there. Everyone seems resigned to paralysis being the new normal. The Republican minority sees it’s task as just gumming up the works to make sure Obama can’t accomplish anything. And the Democrats sometimes display a kind of Stockholm Syndrome: knowing they are being held hostage, they display cordiality towards their captors.
Meanwhile the news media continues to hunt for disaster stories that will increase the citizens sense of fear and dependency. This little item from the Wall Street Journal, showing a dramatic improvement in the deficit went unnoticed and uncommented on Capitol Hill or other organs of the MSM. It is almost impossible to create an optimistic narrative in Washington, so the best option for me is to return my focus to the Golden State. In California, progressives control both the legislature and the executive branch. Remarkable changes are beginning to happen. The state’s finances are coming into balance after the recent tax rise and money is being spent improving our infrastructure and supporting education. The very idea that Los Angeles could be come a walkable community with a great public transportation system seemed impossible five years ago and yet in a year I will be able to ride the light rail from Santa Monica to USC.
I figure if California can once again assume its role as the architect of America’s future, then many states will follow. If we work on the pillars of the new strategy that Patrick Doherty and Mark Mykleby have been advocating: affordable college, walkable cities, low carbon transportation, regenerative agriculture and resource productivity, we will forge an example for both the nation and the world. Let’s ignore Washington and get on with our own optimistic future.