I’m not much of a libertarian really, or librarian for that matter. I believe in freedom though – the freedom to assemble (although I don’t like crowds), to read what I want, speak my mind, blog, twitter, facebook, instagram and all that. And with freedom, comes responsibility – some people forget about that part and make mistakes, which are sometimes costly. And though our freedoms are many, we are a nation of laws and as much as I believe that some laws are stupid and even bad in some cases, I still follow them, and always have, for the most part. You could say that I am a law abiding citizen, although I confess to speeding on occasion which is actually quite hard to do in my Honda Fit Sport equipped with paddle shifters that don’t boost performance. I wear my seat belt and order my passengers to buckle up, not because of the law, but that it is the sensible thing to do in a small car that is no match for all the aggressive, gas guzzling SUV’s out there.
And you know something, I don’t mind if the government monitors our activity, and in fact I would hope continue to – it’s in our best interests. Cops watch for reckless drivers who are a public menace on the roads, the IRS looks for tax cheats, the TSA screens for dangerous items at airports, Air Traffic Controllers have passenger jets on the radar and flight attendants watch over us; the wait staff keep an eye on customers, as do bouncers at clubs and bars. Security guards keep a constant. Once thing is sure, we live in a country with very little privacy. The government knows everything about us. Birth Certificates, Death Certificates, Social Security, Tax Filings, Driver’s License, Plate Numbers, Visas, Passports, Transcripts. And not just the government, but corporate America too. How many times have you given out your social security number, address, zip code, account number or cell phone number to someone you don’t know? And how many times have you failed to set up a password on your computer or phone because you can’t be bothered – or halfheartedly set one that a 1st grader could guess. And it’s not just written information – cameras are everywhere. You can’t go out in public without being videotaped by some security camera. There are a lot of big brothers out there.
Look, I like my “privacy” as much as the next person, but I don’t mind being searched at the airport, or going through a “meddle” detector. I have nothing to hide. If someone at the NSA were to eavesdrop on my phone conversations, I think they’d be so bored that they might quit their job. Probably the most interesting phone call I’ve made recently was to my car dealer asking why an 18 minute software upgrade to address a safety recall would take half a day to complete. I suspect the word dealer in this blog post will get me on some sort of MUST READ list. To be safe, we have to give up a little freedom. The Patriot Act that I am not too wild about was adopted by Congress after 9/11 and it gave the government broad powers to wire tap and collect data that was supposed to be used to thwart terrorist plots or other criminal activity. If data is being collected and monitored for any other reason, that would be a serious violation and I would have a problem with that. I have no problem with big brother keeping us safe. And so what if the FBI knows I like M*A*S*H or if the NSA knows that one of the books I am reading now is The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America’s Great Migration? What value to anyone would my tweet be that read: “Chained-CPI sounds like an alternative rock band.”
For all of the folks yelling about privacy and the slippery slope, I have some suggestions for you: just stay at home under the bed or move to Montana and live off the grid. For those who demand complete privacy, who hate the government, are outraged to have to pay taxes and want nothing to do with society, folks who are self-absorbed and detest the idea of a social contract should do this: FORM A NEW COUNTRY and call it Frackland or something. Frackland would have a constitution with just one amendment (the second) and a set a principles based on one word: NO – no government, no taxes, no regulations, no insurance of any kind (because that smacks of socialism), no immigrants, no non-christians, no liberals, no reproductive rights, no gays, no unions (because that smacks of Marxism), no organic farming, no clean energy or fuel efficient cars, no yoga, no reading (except the bible), no hippies (because they’re all “commies”), no diplomacy, and no services – unless you pay a fee.
- In the battle between privacy and security, security always wins. (washingtonpost.com)
- NSA data-gathering deja vu for privacy hawks (cbsnews.com)