Celebrating the 4th of July, and Participating in our Democratic Processes

I spent the 4th of July watching the fireworks in DC next to the Lincoln Memorial. It's always a wonderful experience to do that beyond the basic joy of watching cool explosions. Sitting by the reflecting pool with friends and family let us reflect on what a wonderful nation and concepts our founding fathers created by prioritizing the freedom of the individual.

Over the past few months, I've had the fortune of participating in our democratic system much more than usual. 

I was recently appointed to the Fairfax County Information Technology Policy Advisory Committee (ITPAC) on behalf of the school board, which is giving me insight into the challenges our county and all local municipalities face with providing services to its citizens. Some of the problems are quite fascinating and complex. I've only been to one meeting and we won't meet until after the summer, so we'll see what comes of it.

Late last month, I was invited to participate in a lobbying effort on Capitol Hill as part of the Association for Competitive Technology. I did this twice almost 10 years ago, so it's been quite a while. ACT gives small technology businesses a voice amid the battle among the large players, and brought in participants from across the country for a one day blitz. It turns out that we as a group are very under-represented on the Hill and were warmly received at all the offices we visited. All elected officials want to support small business owners in their districts, but don't seem to meet them too often on the hill. I was very pleased to participate in small group meetings and had a chance to meet my Senator Mark Warner (D-VA, very impressive as he really understands the technology industry) and Congressman Moran (D-VA). We also met the legislative aides for Sen. Hatch (R-UT), Congressman Connolly (D-VA) and Wittman (R-VA), and Speaker Pelosi (D-CA). Unlike the others, the speaker's office is in the Capitol building and was an interesting maze to get to both physically and through security.

The general message was to make sure they considered the impact of their decisions on small businesses and how unintended consequences of their decisions may impact us. Whether it's regulating the internet, net neutrality, cloud computing, privacy, international laws, taxation, patents, etc., a lot of issues affect small technology businesses. Considering the impact of small business on employment in this country, it's critical that they don't create more problems than they solve.

I don't know how much of an impact we had, but it was gratifying to walk the halls of Congress and see how they operate. There are a lot of challenges facing our country and world. Technology holds the promise that it can help us increase our productivity and ability to address those needs in a meaningful way at a reasonable cost. I hope they continue to foster an environment that allows technology, innovation, and entrepreneurship to prosper for the common good.