Jeff Bezos announced today that Amazon will be opening a new service in Washington D.C. called Kindle Direct Government (KDG), and the system promises to revolutionize the lobbying industry. Instead of lobbyists spending thousands of man hours and tens of millions of dollars courting and targeting senators and representatives in Congress, lobbyists will be able to directly influence government procedures via aggregate donations through the KDG from other lobbyists working for similar causes. Here’s how it works:
1. Lobbyists create a profile on kdg.amazon.com and search for their current interests. If no existing donation fund exists, a lobbyist can create their own for free.
2. To allow for regular citizens to also take part in the process, Amazon favors donations between $2.99 and $9.99. For donations less than $2.99 and greater than $9.99, Amazon only uses 30% of the donation toward the cause’s spending fund with the rest going to Amazon. However, donations between $2.99 and $9.99 will see 70% of their money donated directly to funds that Amazon will use to court congressmen to the targeted cause.
3. Whenever a cause is created, a competing cause is also created so a plurality vote through donations can be facilitated. At the end of 30 days, the winning cause of the KDG donation drive will have the full might of Amazon’s marketing machine behind it. All money from the losing cause will be transferred to Amazon.
Here’s what Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon and inventor of the KDG concept, had to say about the Kindle Direct Government system:
“We think this is a valuable service that will finally allow every U.S. citizen to participate in the daily operation of the U.S. Congress. Just imagine: the U.S. House of Representatives could be influenced just like a Yahoo Poll! During our Beta testing, my niece Beatriz donated over 37 million dollars in individual 2.99 increments to her cause ‘A Pony in every Backyard,’ which raised over 130 million dollars–completely legit thanks to recent campaign refinance laws and decisions like Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, which allow for corporations to influence the process. And what better corporation than Amazon to represent your own interests in Washington, D.C.?”
Senator Harry Reid from Nevada had this to say about the proposed program.
“Thank God! Do you have any idea how much time we have to spend in chambers and on the phone lines trying to figure out what exactly the people want? If Amazon can digest every major issue that has public focus into a single lobbying fund, this will make everything easier. By the way, I’m assuming the whole fund will be divided amongst all representatives in Congress, correct?”
But the free KDG service isn’t without its detractors. Mark Coker of the company Smashwords had this to say about the program.
“I don’t want a [expletive] pony in my backyard! Why would I want Amazon lobbying for anything–much less ponies in everyone’s backyard?”
When we confronted an Amazon spokesmen about this critical analysis, the spokesman only laughed before hanging up the phone.
Opinions are divided on the new KDG program. Some agencies are critical of not only the ability of Amazon to influence individual senators and representatives but also on whether or not a popularity vote is appropriate for all issues. A spokesman from the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) had this to say about the KDG program:
“Many of the issues being voted on have non-intuitive consequences that don’t map well to the common population’s biases. For instance, voting down contraception availability will cause a marked increase in the national birthrate and consequently crime and spending on medicare and social welfare programs will increase proportionally. Also, if experts only have 30 days to convince the internet voting population, that may not be enough time. And aren’t we essentially charging the American citizen to vote now? Where’s the common sense in that? We have free elections.”
But Jeff Bezos fired back in an email that also included the Kindle Daily Deal with the following retort:
“What’s more non-intuitive than the current system that allows lobbyists to trample the voting process and influence Congress behind-the-scenes? What’s more common sense than giving the people the right to influence the system transparently?”
What do you think about the new Amazon KDG program?
1 April 2012
One of the grandest things about the net is what you can steal with impunity. The above copyright © piece from the pen of Rex Jameson, for instance, appeared on Kindleboards, and saves me thinking up my own little surprise for today.