White Paper

Why Silicon Valley Should Not Normalize Relations With Washington, D.C.

By T.J. Rodgers
September 4, 2000

The media and political pundits want Silicon Valley to become more engaged in the politics of Washington, D.C. We CEOs are constantly told to stop sitting on the political sidelines; recognize the value of “industry-government partnerships”; and become donors, lobbyists, and recipients of subsidies.

We could make no bigger mistake than to “normalize relations with Congress and the White House.” The political scene in Washington is antithetical to the core values that drive our success in the international marketplace and risks converting entrepreneurs into statist businessmen. The collectivist notion that drives policymaking in Washington is the irrevocable enemy of high-technology capitalism and the wealth creation process. Silicon Valley CEOs should withdraw from Technet, the hightech lobbying association; oppose corporate welfare programs; and stand together to vigorously defend companies like Microsoft, Intel, and other high-tech firms when they are under assault by the government.

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T. J. Rodgers is president and CEO of Cypress Semiconductor. This is an edited version of his remarks at the Annual Cato Institute-Forbes ASAP Conference on Technology and Society, “Washington, D. C., versus Silicon Valley,” November 19, 1998.