15 Oct John Kerry talks technology
In the summer of 2001, I had the honor of moderating a town hall meeting between Senator John Kerry and technology executives in Silicon Valley. At the time, the Senator was testing the waters of the presidential campaign, and I had no particular interest in an election that was more than three years away.
Six months later, I had the opportunity to interview the Senator for the January 2002 issue of DEMOletter. His comments then about the technology industry, the economy and entrepreneurship remain relevant today as Kerry seeks the nation’s highest office. I dug out that issue and share some excerpts below. In the spirit of full disclosure, I am supporting Kerry this November. And in the spirit of fairness, I promise that I will attempt to find a transcript of George W. Bush’s remarks at a pre-2000 Agenda conference and share those, too, in the weeks ahead.
Chris Shipley: In light of the Internet boom and bust . . . do you believe the government now has a role in regulating venture capital markets?
John Kerry: … Because more Americans than ever before have 401(K)’s, we need to insist on an appropriate level of diversification to protect employees from waste, fraud, and abuse – and we need an even greater level of transparency. The SEC needs the teeth to deal with fraud and mismanagement while they’re happening, not just after the damage is done.
CS: Does the government (particularly the SBA) have a role in re-invigorating technology entrepreneurship and, if so, what is that role?
JK: Absolutely! We need more federal research dollars guaranteeing access to capital, attracting innovation and investment, and leveraging private investment at a much greater pace. Making permanent the research and development tax credit would be a nice start, but I emphasize the word “start.” Where government does help spur research, it is very successful. But today it’s done at the margins, with far too much bureaucracy in between. The SBA itself needs to become much more entrepreneurial and business friendly.
CS: Do you support making the Internet sales tax ban permanent?
JK: I was an original co-sponsor of the Internet tax moratorium. … I have been working to create a common sense, long-term compromise to the sales tax issue so that the online sales industry has the freedom it needs to grow without excessive burdens, while allowing states to do what they need to do. … That compromise has not yet been reached, and until it is we’ll leave the tax moratorium in place.
CS: How do you square your vote on [The USA Patriot Act] with your generally liberal view on privacy?
JK: Very simply. We’re at war and we need to find our enemies, who hide and blend into our population here and around the world. And frankly, we were able to vote for the legislation because we’re confident it does not represent a broad or long-term threat to civil liberties for law-abiding Americans. Is the bill broader than I might have written? Yes. Does it particularly install authority in an attorney general whose record on protecting rights is suspect? Yes. But I can assure you that we made it clear that if there’s an overreach or an abuse of that authority, if the law is not used appropriately with respect to the war on terrorism, we’re going to raise very serious, loud questions.
CS: What is the importance of the technology community, generally, in national politics? What is your “technology agenda”?
Chris Shipley is the executive producer of NetworkWorld’s DEMO Conferences, Editor of DEMOletter and a technology industry analyst for nearly 20 years. She can be reached at email@example.com. Shipley, has covered the personal technology business since 1984 and is regarded as one of the top analysts covering the technology industry today. Shipley has worked as a writer and editor for variety of technology consumer magazines, including PC Week, PC Magazine, PC/Computing, and InfoWorld, US Magazine and Working Woman. She has written two books on communications and Internet technology, has won numerous awards for journalistic excellence, and was named the #1 newsletter editor by Marketing Computers for two years in a row. To subscribe to DEMOletter please visit: http://www.idgexecforums.com/demoletter/index.html.
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