As Joe noted on my “guest voice” post bio last week, I am a former state and federal lobbyist who currently teaches at the University of Washington in the Master’s in Digital Media program, where I research the impact blogging and other forms of social media (e.g., wikis, YouTube) are having on political institutions and discourse. I was a political commentator for Northwest Cable News in 2008, and I’m involved in Seattle’s newspaper mess. I also write the U.S. Politics blog at About.com.

As I told Joe, I’m interested in writing at TMV because I don’t really have a political home. My libertarian friends are too idealistic. Democrats and Republicans, at least at the federal level, are almost indistinguishable after being elected. Add that: I’m fiscally conservative and socially liberal. On The World’s Smallest Political Quiz, I score as a “liberal libertarian” – that should be worth a chuckle!

A Little About Me
I grew up in rural southwest Georgia before the Reagan revolution; my first political mentor was Ayn Rand; I was an intern for U.S. Sen. Herman Talmadge (D-GA). No big surprise, I was a southern Democrat in my early adult years. Translated: fiscal conservative; limited government; important social issues included agriculture, education and poverty (which I could have seen every day while growing up, had I opened my eyes). I was never a hawk, moderate or otherwise, although I admire Sam Nunn.

Over time (education + experience + reflection), I became skeptical of “free market” arguments because, generally, they discount the unequal power between market actors. This is a fancy way to say that they ignore the fact that market structure is not “competitive” in the Adam Smith “invisible hand” sense.

Regarding agriculture, I believed (and still believe) that there is a national security role that the federal government can and should play in food policy. Frankly, in many ways I prefer the European approach, which has enabled small towns and small farms to flourish, in direct contrast to the ever-more-concentrated structure of farming in America. I think the government should stay out of the bedroom; that the federal government is subservient to the states, not the other way around; that prohibition doesn’t work (thus we should legalize and tax “drugs”); that infrastructure (a public good) is a key responsibility of government; and that we cannot continue to spend money we don’t have — the piper will change his tune, probably before I retire.

When I’m not typing or teaching, I might be riding one of my three motorcycles or teaching newbies the MSF course. I share my life with a Microsoft tester (Mike), a Cairn Terrier (Katie) and a Manx (Rocko). You can follow me on Twitter or at About.com. Or check me out on Facebook or LinkedIn.

I’m looking forward to getting to know y’all, too!

KATHY GILL, Technology Policy Analyst
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