Beyond the Cusp

March 18, 2017

Freedom is a Wonderful Thing to Have and a Horrible Waste When Lost

 

Let us start our discussion today with some information directly from another article titled The Pelosi Principle by Terry Jeffrey written for Townhall. The article was about the Republican replacement for Obamacare which while not being everything many of us would want, was still a better deal for much of America. This quote though tells a lot about what has gone terribly wrong with American society and paints a dim view that this can ever change as both sides of the aisle agree that the old way must die and government prevail. The article states, “Both Republicans and Democrats have rejected the principle of subsidiarity that once governed American health care: Individuals who could not pay for their own care were covered by private, particularly religious, charities and local governments.” Despite everything else, at the base of the opposition to Obamacare was the opposition to the Nanny State and its insistence on being all things to all people. Forced government insurance was just the latest outrage where government demanded they be given the responsibility for our care and as usual their ideas left much to be desired.

 

This problem has been a long time coming and is not about to wane any time in the future without a near revolution by the American public. Not a real, grab the gun off the mantle, revolution but one where the American people take the power back from the government by selecting a whole new type of political representation, regular, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (or watch at end of article) representation. This would have to be an all-encompassing movement which will only arise when things reach an intolerable level and when failure means the end of the democratic process because the government has even assumed making the choices as to who will lead and who is subjugated. One can only hope that such a time is not quite yet upon us, though with some of what has occurred there have been claims and fears from both sides that the other is attempting to take control of the governing processes and end any true freedom of choice. History has proven that one side’s claims are merely an excuse for them to enact just such fascist governance and the other side’s claims are actually valid fears. But this article is to tell the story of how we reached this point.

 

This all started with something everybody would know from history if such was still taught in the public and private school systems. Not all schools are delinquent of such but far too many are which has made ask the average person in the street history and civics questions something which makes for great laughs while others of us just shake our heads and fear for the future. We know that a people who do not know from whence they arrived at this day will have no idea where they will be going as the tomorrows pass. The beginning of our story is the Revolutionary War, the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, especially the Bill of Rights. One should read the Declaration of Independence as it is a litany of things in a governance which should be feared and the people should ever be watchful against their reoccurrence. There is a political theory which describes the cycle of governance from bondage to freedom and back to bondage called the Tytler Cycle of Power in Governance (see below). There have been many debates in universities back in our day and hopefully these debates continue as they raise awareness and strengthen societal awareness in the upcoming generation. The debate in my day over where in the circle we stood was over which it might be; Selfishness, Complacency, Apathy or Dependence. Nobody ever claimed Abundance and a few would claim we were on the verge of Bondage and the others were completely beyond consideration. One can only wonder where the debate would go today.

 

Tytler Cycle of Power in Governance

Tytler Cycle of Power in Governance

 

We got to wherever in the cycle we actually stand from a time when faith was high and courage was felt by a strong and steady leadership and their following and from that they struck forth and gained liberty. The American Revolution was led in many communities by their religious leaders who were men of sword and musket as well as the Bible. These men made up the Black Robe Regiments and were why the British often burned churches and would hang clergy on sight if they were at all suspect of preaching about freedom from bondage and King. The Revolutionary War was fought by people of faith and courage who gained freedom and a new nation. There were few large cities and nothing even approaching a modern city with London being amongst the largest in that day and Boston, New York and Philadelphia being amongst the largest cities but still the denizens were largely self-reliant. This was the way of life in early America and this was how it remained until sometime into the mid-1800’s. The problems began in the largest of cities which would be found on the eastern seaboard, west coast and along the Mississippi and Ohio Rivers. Within the largest cities people began to depend on certain public services. There was the water systems replacing the need to draw one’s own water, sewage replacing digging your own outbuilding, trash pick-up, and public transportation which was often bartered out to a private service whose owner often became quite wealthy as did the private purveyor of any other service which the cities licensed.

 

The services provided through public/private contract or by the government directly such as police forces, judicial systems, street maintenance, street lighting, gas lines, fire departments and as time went more and more provided by the cities. Then there were the specialty services which cared for services which many of the people either found distasteful or were simply incapable of doing for themselves. Some of these services had always required a professional but many had also been performed by the average person before the advent of large cities with a professional core of providers whose prices were controlled by demand and number of people providing such services. Examples include the obvious such as shoeing horses, blacksmithing, locksmith and others and then ones we have forgotten in our modern world such as chimneysweeps, milkman, ice deliveries and other such services. Some still exist in smaller towns or rural areas or as specialty service in cities. What these specialty and general services started was the first stages of dependence which as long as it is kept to essential services is fine, but it did not remain this way. There used to be a safety net which provided for those people who were down on their luck or simply had fallen from the normal routines of the society and were dependent on the good graces of others for their sustenance and other needs. These people were served by religious groups, the churches, synagogues and other religious congregations and charitable organizations. This was the way of things for over a century until the onset of the initial takeover by the government which began with unemployment insurance which was not any form of insurance as much as it was a tax and spend means for government to reduce the power of people and increase the power of the government. This was followed by Social Security and soon thereafter adoption services were slowly subsumed by the government.

 

This continued with the government granting college scholarships first through grants for veterans through the G I Bill and then loans and Pell Grants. The largest expansion of the government came under Lyndon Baines Johnson and his Great Society which enlarged or created such programs as Welfare, Medicare, Medicaid, Food Stamps, National Endowments for Arts and Humanities, Public Broadcasting, Cultural Centers, Homeless Shelters and a plethora of other programs all based on a simple principle, the government was going to save people from being preached to just to receive help as the religious institutions were forcing people to suffer. They were saving the world from religion. In time the governments also provided the cities with transportation funds to assist public transportation in an attempt to replace the personal vehicle, environmental assistance and codes, consumer protection because people were incapable of not buying substandard goods, public housing so those on welfare could live without shame in any neighborhood where section eight housing was declared which was anywhere except the most exclusive neighborhoods, labor regulations and it continued into every realm of life even eventually to include the water permitted to be flushed by a toilet.

 

The government did not stop there and they are currently working on the next and near final stage of their plans to completely control all of society, the replacement of the children from parenting by amateurs. That is the theory behind the plan proposed by Hillary Clinton with her claim that “it takes a village to raise a child.” She made an entire book from the idea, It Takes a Village: And Other Lessons Children Teach Us in which she gave examples of such as African villages and spent most of the book encouraging new programs and government controls over ever more of people’s lives. Some of the programs and ideas coming out from her writings include Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993, the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act, Community Policing, the Brady Bill, Amber Alerts, immunizations, State Children’s Health Insurance Program, financial regulation, expanded Child Tax Credits, Minimum Wage increases, and the one making so much of the news of late, Universal health care. Government appears targeting even more of our lives and taking from us every choice as to how we live our lives, what we teach our children, what we are allowed to drive, where we are allowed to drive and how we can raise our children. Some schools have told their students that their parents do not have the power to deny them use of a telephone, forbid them access to a computer, refuse them their rights to watch what they want on television or other means of punishment including spanking, grounding or forcing them to eat foods they dislike and told students as early as first grade that they can report any violations of these rights by their parents to the school and then the school will report their parents to the government and the problem will be taken care of and they will have their rights respected. That is true, the child has inalienable rights which a parent may not infringe and amongst these rights is anything they desire. Of course once the parent has been duly punished for ignoring these rules, the child will just love the foster home and the parenting they will receive there.

 

One can only wonder where this will end and many will tell you it will not end, or at least not end well. There is actually no limit any longer as to how far into your life government can impose. Already the wild stories that the government can turn on the camera attached to your computers, the camera attached to your phone (always keep them camera facing the table), turn on the microphone to your computers or phones, and have microphones and cameras spread all over your town or city and can also monitor any cameras which are electronically monitored despite what you have been told by the security company, every keystroke made on your computer and a log of every web location you have visited, and darn near anything else with soon coming to any electronic device bought new will also be able to report the amounts of electricity used as well as your electric, water, gas or other meters reporting your use and any notable changes such as a guest visiting (additional use especially during times you are not usually home) but all this only if you reside in the United States or are under suspicions by the NSA, CIA, FBI or any other intelligence agency including allies of the United States as the intelligence services of the Western World are capable of collecting every electronic piece of information on virtually every person within the United States, its protectorates, any ten nations the United States chooses with the exceptions of India and China (really way too many people) all with some abilities to spare. The problem is calling up the data on any one person unless specified in advance is a bit tiresome but then there are numerous government employees whose tiresome job it is to extract exactly just such data on demand, lucky them, or on their own whim if they can cover their tracks. The claims by President Trump that his phones were being listened to are true but then so were probably mine and yours and your best friend, worst enemy, and the past five-thousand people you have passed on the street because everybody has had their information gathered because it is far more simple to gather all the information than to choose whose you actually need. With the NSA’s new data center in Nevada outside Reno (pictured below) that is a simple deed and they can store all of it to be retrieved as required at any time. It simply requires the personnel to do so and that they also have.

 

National Security Agency NSA Utah Data Center

National Security Agency NSA Utah Data Center

That is where freedom now stands in the United States and much of the world today and that is the real problem we all face. But do not worry; most of us are of little concern so as long as we behave as expected we are safe. We hope that reading Beyond the Cusp is not a triggering exercise for which your data would be pulled up, but why worry as too many things likely will do the trick anyways.

 

Beyond the Cusp

 

 

 

 

April 17, 2013

Another Visit to the Liberty vs. Security Debate

No article on this subject can avoid quoting one of the numerous variations on the Benjamin Franklin quote where he said something close to these reputed words, “People willing to trade their freedom for temporary security deserve neither and will lose both.” Often simply quoting Ben Franklin is enough to consider the discussion closed, but where does one draw the line allowing for the most amounts of freedoms and liberties while also ensuring comfortable levels of security. This is where the normal discussion debates the different segments which governments utilize in order to provide security and in this information and computerized age the line can be crucial and must not be drawn with any lack of clarity. The advent of miniaturization, high powered optics, computerized facial recognition software, super-sensitive microphones, spy satellites capable of reading newsprint from orbit, thermal imaging which can “see” through walls, laser sound detectors which can monitor conversations in a room by measuring the slightest vibrations of the glass in a window, abilities to activate cell phones in order to use the camera and microphone to monitor the room were the phone sits, electronic data surveillance capabilities and processing with untold capabilities, universal electronic monitoring capabilities, and other items which easily have the ability to make privacy a quaint old idea whose time has long passed. The majority of the capabilities mentioned above have existed and been utilized by the majority of governments in the industrial world since the middle 1980s or the early 1990s at the latest. The capabilities available to current government agencies leave the citizenry absolutely no place to hide and their lack of knowledge of any person of interest that is being monitored could only be explained by human error. For those who might propose that there are limits on the government spying on their own citizens, I am happy to report that you are correct in your belief that laws guard the individual against unofficial warrantless searches and data gathering. Unfortunately, for quite a while now there has been a treaty between the English speaking nations of Canada, Britain, United States and Australia concerning this problem. By this treaty a list of persons of interest from each country is presented to the other nations who in turn request surveillance on these individuals of their home country by one or more of the other countries. Often each of the member countries would request different set of requests thus should one request be discovered the rest of the investigation would remain undisturbed. The home country then collects the information and passes the raw data which is processed by the foreign nation. Once the data has been organized and processed it is returned to the home country which wished to observe one of their citizens.

The one reassuring item is the ability that governments have displayed for incompetence and missing the forest for the trees. I would not want my privacy or worse to depend on the government’s incompetence but with the investigatory powers available to the government with all the modern data processing and state of the art sensors, no individual is beyond the government’s ability to be able to tell you all of your most guarded secrets and even the smallest of facts no matter how mundane and inconsequential. With all the technical abilities available to law enforcement and intelligence agencies it is remarkable that any crime is able to be committed without the authorities lying in wait before the crime has been committed and nabbing the lawbreaker in the midst of the crime. About the only thing lacking for the government to attempt to emulate the movie “Minority Report” are the psychics wired up to a computer in the basement of the FBI future crimes division. The government is currently gathering agreements with credit card companies, banks, credit unions, communications companies, utility providers and so much more to get them to allow the government to splice into their data banks and use all the data they have gathered on anybody without any need to bother any officials for permission. This includes the coming smart meters measuring electricity and in the near future smart grid appliances which will be capable of reporting each individual appliance and its use of power. This will also allow remote control of these appliances, remote setting of thermostats on heating and airconditioning units, even recording the number of times the power to the refrigerator increased by the small amount that turning on the light causes when you open the door. So many items which were purely science fiction a few decades ago are now or soon to be possible to government in order to inspect every tiny bit of minutia concerning your life.

Benjamin Franklin would become apoplectic if he was transported to our modern world. Once he realized the powers to intrude into the citizens’ private life by government he would likely turn hermit and remove all electronic devices from his residence. Paranoid delusions would be the likely psychological diagnosis of Ben Franklin’s mental breakdown as he was taken away babbling something about liberty has died in his dear loved country of America. The debate of how much liberty or freedoms we might compromise upon to grant government the necessary powers to make us more safe is mute and no longer necessary. We no longer have any liberties or freedoms against government interference and monitoring of every iota of our existences to trade away for security. The real problem is that even with total knowledge at their fingertips the government is still incapable of providing us with absolute security. Yesterday’s bombing in Boston stands as a case in point. About the only power the government does not possess is to be able to read your mind and know your intent, though there is a partnership between the government and Google working on understanding how the mind thinks and developing AI (Artificial Intelligence) where the government will permit Google complete access to the vast majority of their collected data collected by government agencies such as the IRS, Census Bureau, and many others at all levels of government, Federal, State, County, Township and City. They are gaining permission from all levels of governments around the nation with promises of providing better services and other benefits from this research. The amounts of data mining being accomplished by government at all levels is beyond imagination and the lack of security in our persons, houses, papers, and effects has dwindled out of existence and with it our rights as guaranteed by the Fourth Amendment which reads;

“The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.”

Liberties and Freedoms as envisioned by the Founding Fathers have evaporated before the heat of advancing technologies. There is virtually nothing which can be considered beyond the government’s ability to know if they are persistent and bring all of their capabilities to bear. The only hopes we have is to retain our protections against having such information from being used against us in a court of law. Beyond that we are likely fighting a losing battle. Our hopes for security of our privacy are now relegated to the whims of government bureaucrats and the officers of the government. Should this make you feel uneasy and raise your levels of concern then you probably have a desire to some level of privacy from the encroaching eyes, ears and sensors of government. It is not so much that we the people have surrendered our liberties, freedoms, and privacies as much as it is the government’s power to compromise these rights have become overtly formidable. How we regain the upper hand in this struggle is beyond me but that does not mean it is not an effort worth taking. If we can rescue even the slightest measure of our eviscerated privacies then any effort expended was worth the struggle.

Beyond the Cusp

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