The Problem of Corruption in IT Matches That in US Politics

Executive Summary

  • This video explains the problems with the US political system.
  • With some slight adjustments, it can be used to explain a similar problem in the IT industry.

Introduction

The Problem With the US Political System

In shorthand, the US political system has been hacked by monied interests who have succeeded in converting a government that was supposed to have a degree to participation to where the participation is facia. The fascia of participation is maintained because, without a facia, the system would lose its legitimacy, which is, of course, a major part of its power.

The video does a superb job of showing that the percentage of the electorate that favors a law being passed has no correlation with whether it is passed. This is because legislation is passed based upon financial power.

The Corrolary with IT

The state of IT is very similar, all that is necessary is to move around the primary interest groups, and the video could just as easily be applied to IT.

Voters = Business Users

We need to convert voters to business users. Business users ultimately have to use the software that is purchased but has close to no control over what software is purchased. This is because the decision making has been delegated to a specializes group called IT.

Representatives = IT

The US was never a democracy and the term democracy is not used in either the US Constitution or the Bill of Rights. It is a representative system of government or a republic.

The founders of the US opposed democracy on the grounds that it would lead to the masses being able to be lead by a demagogue to execute policies that were popular, but ultimately bad for the system. The only democratic aspect of the US political system are referendums that have direct voting. But these are rare compared to the decisions that are made through the representative process.

  • A representative is someone who is elected to execute the will of the electorate. That is in theory.
  • Similarly, the business has IT make decisions for technology under the idea that IT has specialized knowledge. In the US political system, the problem is that the representatives are responsive to money rather than to the electorate. A representative system only works if that system cannot be gamed by non-electorate based forces — which is unfortunately exactly what has happened.

Lobbyists = Sales People

Lobbyists are instruments of corruption. In a system that was about the representation of the electorate, lobbyists would not exist. There is already a system for influencing representatives, it is called voting. However, lobbyists and lobbyist money is designed to minimize the influence of voters on their representatives.

They bring the interests of the elite to bear on the representatives, pivoting the representatives away from representing the electorate to representing whoever is paying the lobbyists. Lobbyists don’t care what is true, they push any message in return for money.

In the IT space, lobbyists are salespeople. Salespeople are hired to get customers to buy things that are bad for the company, but good for the people that work in the IT department. Their role is to corrupt the IT decision makers by any means necessary. Salespeople frequently talk about how they are the voice of the customers. However, having worked with them, this is clearly false. Salespeople are expert at highlighting areas that are strong and hiding areas that are weak in applications from customers. Like lobbyists salespeople will laud their relationship with their customers, but these relationships have a specific purpose — to sell software, and the stronger the relationship, the less appropriate the software needs to be to get purchased.

As a lobbyist, it is virtually impossible to keep one’s job without lying, and then lying about lying, and the same is true of sales people. Their job is to get the sale, by any means necessary. Both lobbyists and salespeople see their roles as essential and normally have a blind spot about lying, preferring to adopt the idea that either “everyone is doing it,” or “there is no objective truth.”

However, the end result of their activities is that the entire system is pivoted away from the representatives (IT or political) from representing the interests of either the voters or the business users. Like lobbyists, those salespeople that are most successful in turning IT decision makers against the interests of their companies are paid the most.

Conclusion

A final end state of corruption is attained through decades of small incremental degradation of the system. After enough decades pass, eventually, the system becomes so obviously corrupt that it requires reform. This is where both the US political system and IT is currently. Those inside of the system is so used to corruption that they barely question it. Those looking inward toward the system can’t believe how the people on the inside who benefit can’t see how dysfunctional the system has become.

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