Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Microsoft Draws Fire for Shift on Gay Rights Bill

I don't think corporations should be involved in legislative issues, whether I agree with them or not. It is bad for democracy when corporations use their money to influence legislators. Individual citizens should be more involved in the legislative process by being in regular contact with their elected officials. Ask my elected officials and they will tell you that they hear from me. So, the shareholders of every corporation should make their feelings known to their elected representatives. That is their right as citizens.

A problem with allowing corporations access to legislators is not just that wealthy business owners can use company funds to influence law and policy, but that non-citizens can use corporate wealth to influence law and policy.

I am a fan of money and I hope everybody gets lots of it. I am a fan of the democratic process and I accept that those with the most money have the most access to elected officials; but, I think they should do it in their capacity as individual citizens, not as owners of businesses.

Microsoft is under fire from liberals for back-peddling on the passage of a gay rights law in its home state of Washington. The law failed to pass by one vote. This should not be a controversy because Microsoft should not have been involved from the start.

If individual shareholders of Microsoft are citizens of Washington, and they want to express their views to their elected officials, they should do so. If their status as wealthy citizens of Washington provides them better access to their elected officials, then all the power to them. Their company, Microsoft, should not be involved in the legislative process at all.

Bill Gates and Steve Ballmer should have withdrawn Microsoft's support of the legislation; but, they should have taken action personally to make-up for their cave-in. If they had the courage of their convictions, they could have pulled corporate support one day, awoken the next and used their incredible power to voice unwavering personal support for the bill's passage. They could have contacted elected officials all over the state, and in their position as billionaire citizens, influenced, threatened and cajoled the officials to pass the law. That's what the wrong-wing does, and that's where liberals fail: they haven't got the courage of their convictions!

Microsoft has been a good employer (if a bad competitor). Their staff receives good benefits and they have hiring policies that prohibit discrimination on religious, ethnic, racial, sex, gender and sexual orientation grounds. Many Microsoft employees are surprised, some disappointed, and some happy that Microsoft has switched its position on the gay-rights legislation from supportive to neutral; but, Microsoft is simply doing what every company should do: butt-out!

I hope all corporations will follow Microsoft's lead and withdraw from legislative battles. If a corporation wants to fund social, religious, or community movements, so be it; but, they should stay out of our legislative and electoral processes!

Remember, the civil rights laws of the early sixties were passed without corporate support, so America can do great things without corporate interference!

I believed that Bill Gates and Steve Ballmer have good personal politics. I applaud them for the hard work and big bucks they spend making the world a better place. I hope they will redouble their personal efforts as they withdraw their corporate efforts from the legislative process.

The other side of this issue is that Microsoft has caved-in to pressure from an extremist group posing as Christians, who think that God actually told somebody 5,000 years ago that homosexuals should not be treated with dignity and respect and do not deserve equal protection under the law. That is the sin of Microsoft's capitulation: that they have not withdrawn their legislative meddling based on some civic moral footing, but on the threats of a whacko fundamentalist who told them they would start a boycott if Microsoft didn't butt-out.

I hope Microsoft will apply the same standard of corporate neutrality when it comes to tax-breaks for gazillionaires and forcing non-Christian children to pray in schools and using tax-dollars to build sport stadia.

Unlikely, I know, because the wrong-wing will remain silent about Microsoft as long as Microsoft supports their causes. The wrong-wing expects everybody to play their way while the left-wing defends everybody's right to live freely and openly (including wrong-wingers). That's the way the wrong-wing is: there is only their way and nobody else can be free to lead a dignified life that varies in the slightest way from some oddly contrived fundamentalist philosophy.

Today's prayer is that Bill Gates and Steve Ballmer will grow a testicle between them and become half the man a panty-waist like Ken Hutcherson has proven to be!

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karen said...

Also, Microsoft hired Ralph Reed as a consultant for $20K a MONTH; he's been there for a couple of years.

DM said...

OMG! I didn't know that! No wonder they have had a shift. Soon they will add a crucifix to their logo!