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Member since: Fri Jul 4, 2008, 02:39 PM
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One Small Step. Should Scare the Hell Out of You.

(This is a repost from four years ago, when Democrats generally agreed that ubiquitous spying was a bad thing. The article is even more relevant today.)

From observation to restriction. Your every move, your every purchase, your every email can be and is being tracked. Sometimes by the government, sometimes by a corporation; and the line between the two entities becomes less distinct every day. The potential for abuse is tempting to those who want power, and the tendency toward apathy is great for those who want a false sense of security. But the problem isnít with the technology; itís with the laws. The technology is here and improving every day, to rail against the inevitable would be as futile as using a bucket to hold back the tide. There has always been the possibility and even a propensity for abuse, (in some) even in the pre-industrial world. But we can thank those like Jefferson and Madison who insisted that individuals have a right to remain unmolested, as long as they were innocent of any crime, and for the fact that we were not spied upon at all hours of the day in the past. Itís time to stop taking those rights for granted while letting them slip away.

We already have the PATRIOT ACT, National Security Letters, and AT&T turning over our records with no warrant. Now the Justice Department wants to be able to track anyoneís movements with no warrant. Why are these things so important when the system put in place in 1978 already favored law enforcement? Why are they necessary if they wonít really be used? When set against economic injustice, environmental devastation and wars, the assault on civil liberties may seem to pale in comparison. But without true civil liberties, our ability to address those other problems is non-existent. Once it is accepted by the citizens that itís okay for the government to watch us all the time, as long as ďI have nothing to hideĒ we will have set ourselves up to have a society where the word Ďfreedomí will have no real meaning.

There are many people rightly upset by the continued assault on unions and the middle class in general, myself included. At a time when our insurance companies should have been permanently reined in, they are swelling their profits and their power. Legal bribery of our politicians has been expanded at a time when it needed to be eliminated. Legal raiding of our treasury is obvious enough to sicken any who care, and we have a massive portion of our country fighting against their own interests. And to me these things are linked to potential future abuses that are possible by limiting long established rights. And with wealth being held by a smaller and smaller portion of the population, there will naturally be some who will insist on tighter controls. (The Stasi and the KGB didnít need to spy on all people at all times, just enough of the population to let people know it was dangerous to step out of line. With advances in technology, almost total surveillance is possible.)

We have all seen first hand how quickly circumstances can change and how easily people can be manipulated. That alone should prod people into action. Some of the same people who ridiculed the burning of the Beatles albums in the 60ís, participated in the burning of the Dixie Chicks CDís in 2003. In a matter of months, the media was able to convince about half the nation of a complete falsehood - that Iraq was involved in the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Support for torture increased, just by changing its name. Many people were, and still are, ready to cede the power of the Legislative and Judicial branches to the President, and were/are claiming, against all evidence, that doing so is the Most American position.

By ignoring the slow encroachment of government and corporations melding, and ignoring the erosion of the need for probable cause before surveillance, we risk losing the most important thing there is about being American.

Years ago someone explained to me that he thought society was analogous to a rock suspended over the ground by a rope. The ground represented authoritarianism and that was where society had a natural predisposition to fall. But there were people who were on the other end of that rope that made it there job to keep society as just as possible. The more people on that rope, the better.

We need to heed the warnings from years ago, from Orwell, Huxley and others and realize the future is already here.






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