If there’s one thing that makes US Politics amusing, it’s the sheer effort that is put into legislation, or at least the legislation’s name. Wrap a bill in a catchy backronym, even if it is the opposite of the bill, and it is almost certain to pass!
US politics is filled with acronyms. From positions – POTUS, FLOTUS, SCOTUS (President, First Lady, and Supreme Court of the United States respectively) – to bills, USA PATRIOT Act being the most famous (standing for Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism Act, possibly the LEAST patriotic act in 50 years). Currently, SOPA and PROTECT IP are the two hot bills in Congress (Stopping Online Piracy Act, and Preventing Real Online Threats to Economic Creativity and Theft of Intellectual Property Act) and in the spirit, it’s time to christen the supporters of that act with their own moniker.
They are… A WIMP
It stands for Advocating Welfare for Influential Media People.
That is what SOPA, and ProtectIP and their ilk are, after all, Welfare. A benefit given to a group in exchange for doing very little.
It’s not the first time they’ve tried for welfare, but recent years, with cherry picking of stats and the ease by which their exclusiveness has been undermined, they’ve been able to play the facts (that they’re doing well, but starting to lose out thanks to a lack of effort and innovation) into some kind of fiction (that they’re trying their hardest, but everyone’s against them!)
We can even turn this into a little story, based on the tortoise and the hare. In media terms, the ‘industry’ hare tore off ahead, years ago. We, the consumer-tortoise, have plodded along ever since. We’ve not stopped, though, while the hare has taken a nap. Now the tortoise has started to pass the hare, the hare is in a quandary. It COULD get up and get back in the race, and win. That’s too much like work for the hare though, so instead, it’s called in an eagle, to try and swoop down the the tortoise, take it away and dash it on some rocks so it can feast on it. All because hare really needs help, and will promise to do nice things for the eagle in the future.
The hare could still win, without the eagles help, but the hare is A WIMP, and would prefer not to do anything itself. And let’s face it, the tortoise is the much easier target for the eagle, despite the fact that the hare would be a better meal for it. But the eagle is A WIMP too.
The need to focus on short-term things, rather than long-term goals, is a major problem. It means you’re always bouncing from one crisis to the next, as each poorly thought out solution causes more problems. All because it’s easier to be A WIMP, focused only on the here and now, rather than stand up and look at long-term solutions.
And I am not alone in pleading for members of the US Congress not to be A WIMP, everyone from lawyers, academics, activists, technology companies (even sleazy ones like Zynga), politicians all around the world, and even the Vice President has spoken out against it. Yes, it can be hard to say no to that easy money, and publicity, and associated fame, but it’s a short term benefit, and destroys any competent long term goal. Let’s just hope Congress takes heed, and does its best to avoid being A WIMP.
But here’s a list of co-sponsors, just so we know who is A WIMP
- Rep. Lamar Smith [R-TX21] (who introduced the bill)
- Mark Amodei [R-NV2]
- John Barrow [D-GA12]
- Karen Bass [D-CA33]
- Howard Berman [D-CA28] (aka “The gentleman from Hollywood”)
- Marsha Blackburn [R-TN7]
- Mary Bono Mack [R-CA45] (Wife of Copyright Term extending Sonny Bono)
- John Carter [R-TX31]
- Steven Chabot [R-OH1]
- John Conyers [D-MI14]
- Ted Deutch [D-FL19]
- Elton Gallegly [R-CA24]
- Robert Goodlatte [R-VA6]
- Tim Griffin [R-AR2]
- Peter King [R-NY3]
- Ben Luján [D-NM3]
- Thomas Marino [R-PA10]
- Alan Nunnelee [R-MS1]
- William Owens [D-NY23]
- Dennis Ross [R-FL12]
- Steve Scalise [R-LA1]
- Adam Schiff [D-CA29]
- Lee Terry [R-NE2]
- Debbie Wasserman Schultz [D-FL20]