You Do Know That’s an Anchor – the Lie of Supply-Side Economics

I was raised by people born before The Great Depression. Their parents were part of the great migration from Europe at the turn of the 20th century. They rose from hardscrabble and meager beginnings to become the prototypical hard-working, high school educated, American middle class suburbanites who made the Golden Age of America post-World War II so Golden.

All things being equal, their lives followed an arc that worked out to be just about as good as any middle class citizen anywhere could hope to have.

They were not “makers”, nor were they “takers.” Make no mistake, though, it was they who built this country, not the rich, and it will be the middle class who rescues it and rebuilds it again.

Our chances go way up and our recovery will come much faster if some of us in the middle class stop buying into the lie of supply-side economics.

It is not just some failed economic theory. It is a lie perpetrated on Americans by those who stand to benefit from it – the rich and powerful who run our corporations and our government.

Robert Reich spells out again – for the umpteenth time – in his blog, “Why The Three Biggest Economic Lessons Were Forgotten.”

But don’t let the title mislead you. The lessons have not been forgotten, at least not by everyone. Not to put too fine a point on it, the only people who might be fairly accused of having forgotten these lessons are those allowing themselves to be duped by the precious few who benefit by having us forget important economic lessons.

The “precious few” to whom I refer are, of course, the oligarchs in both the private and public sectors. They have duped some of us into believing that trickle-down economics is anything but one incredibly big lie.

To those of you in the 99% who continue to buy into and to perpetuate the lie of supply-side economics, I’d like to ask you a few questions:

Why do you insist on selling yourselves and all of the rest of us in the 99% short by not acknowledging that it is we, not the rich, who are the true engines of capitalism?

Is it not our prosperity and our wealth that improves our economy and allows it to work to everyone’s benefit?

Is it not our purchasing power and our demand for goods and services that makes us and not the rich the true job creators?

Why do you persist in insulting yourselves and the rest of us by believing that all that we deserve in a capitalist economy is what trickles down as overflow from the rich?

It was 33 years ago last month when Ronald Reagan used his inaugural address to vilify the very government he had just been elected to lead. Are three decades not enough time to learn a lesson? Can we not yet conclude that he was wrong? Isn’t it time to abandon supply-side economics and go back in some ways to what we know has worked before?

What’s needed now and more than ever is for the private and public sectors to be brought back into balance in ways that resemble 1946 to 1974 more than 1980 to 2014.

It cannot be denied. The rich have gotten richer while most of us have either stagnated or fallen backward thanks to trickle-down economic theory. We have endured it long enough. If it actually worked, we would now be absolutely swimming in an ocean of opportunities buoyed up for everyone as the economic tide rose.

Anchor-submergedExcept for the very well off, all of our boats have remained tied to the dock while the water has risen up and over our heads. It’s time we all realized that those folks above us on their yachts are not concerned about us. We won’t be floating to the surface to join them if we don’t work together.

Some of you need to stop defending them and understand that the line they’ve thrown you has an anchor attached to it.

Remember when we were kids and we were taught that when we made a mistake the right thing to do was to admit it and to learn from it? Well, here’s your chance. Besides, what do you have to lose? The economic theory you like just hasn’t worked. It was a mistake, and now it’s time for you to admit that and learn from it. It’s time for you to join us Keynesians. History proves that approach works. Supply-side never has and it never will.

The first thing we do is work together on a common goal – getting money out of politics.

When (not if) we get the big and secret money out of our politics, our elected officials in both parties will actually have no choice but to represent us instead of their wealthy donors. Think about it. We still have a voice in our politics. It’s a voice that can be much, much louder in government than any voice most of us will ever hope to have at any corporate shareholder meeting, right?

Once we take back control of government from the rich, then we’ll have representatives with real power to control and contain the corporatists and to end crony capitalism. No, this is NOT Socialism in the scary-red-menace-under-the-bed sense. It’s about doing away with corruption and bringing fairness and balance that benefits all of society.

How and where to begin?

There are lots of grass-roots groups working hard out there to #GetMoneyOut of politics. Pick a few, or pick just one, but do something.

As Kathleen, a Coffee Party friend, advises us, “Get Engaged!”

Check out Coffee Party USA.

http://www.coffeepartyusa.com/

I no longer support or advocate for Coffee Party USA. Click here to read why, and please Comment if you find posts on this site that I missed with this update. Thanks.

They’re a bunch of volunteers keeping Americans informed, and they’re doing a better job of it than the 1% media channels. They are also focused on getting Americans to engage in civil, fact-based dialog meant to find solutions to our social and political challenges. You can find them and join the conversation at their web site, Facebook page, Twitter, and Scoop.it pages. They pride themselves on being inclusive, so you’ll find lots of voices with lots of different perspectives.

https://represent.us/
https://represent.us/
http://anticorruptionact.org/
http://anticorruptionact.org/

There’s also Represent.Us. They are led by some really, really smart people who are working to reform campaign finance laws and to put elections back in our hands instead of in the hands of wealthy donors and super PACs. Their work is focused on the American Anti-Corruption Act which would make reform possible tomorrow if more of us demanded it from our elected leaders.

https://movetoamend.org/
https://movetoamend.org/

Wolf PACThere’s also Move To Amend and WolfPAC who are calling ordinary citizens to actions in their state capitols and all around the country. Their work is directed toward ultimately amending the Constitution in order to overturn the Citizens United Supreme Court ruling that opened the money floodgates into our elections.

History doesn’t lie. It might get written by the victors, but we live in an age now where it’s easy to vet it and to discover and understand the truth. The truth is that supply-side economics does not work.

It’s time some of us let go of the anchor.

UncleSamWantsYou

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“I’m capable of it, so why wouldn’t I do it?” – One Engaged Citizen Who’s a Model for Us All


I’m extremely proud to report that Coffee Party USA posted this essay and invited Kathleen as a guest to speak about her experiences on one of their BlogTalkRadio shows, Lunch With Louden.

keep-calm-and-get-engaged-18Kathleen’s laughter is contagious as she happily explains her use of the word, “chatty,” as part of her email ID.  She’s one of the most genuinely engaging people I’ve had the pleasure to talk with thanks to CoffeePartyUSA and the Coffee Party BlogTalkRadio shows, and it’s my privilege to tell her story about her visits to her state legislators’ offices.

Kathleen is too modest to say this, but I will. She’s a model citizen. She shows us all how powerful we as citizens can be. And without intending to (and without wanting any fanfare for it), she offers lessons on how we all can have an impact and more influence in our government.

Kathleen (yes, she’s too modest to let me use her last name) emphasizes throughout our conversation that she’s not some Constitutional expert. She says, “I’m just following my conscience.”

She loves animals, volunteers at an animal shelter and, not surprisingly, has adopted a few! She hosts an annual cleanup of a local beach, and is so genuinely modest that when she bakes desserts around the holidays and delivers them to the local firehouse “just because it’s the right the thing to do,” she won’t even give the fire chief her name.

You can tell by talking with her that Kathleen stays well-informed. She talked about always voting in elections, but says that that was the extent of her involvement with government until recently. Like many of us, she, too, had begun to lose faith in politics, politicians, and in our government.

That was until Facebook and her discovery of groups like Coffee Party USA and Wolf PAC. In fact, she credits a Coffee Party BlogTalkRadio show interview with Michael Monetta, Director of Organizing for Wolf PAC, a grass roots organization intent on reversing the 2010 Citizens United decision by the Supreme Court, for changing her perspective about what needs to change and how she could be part of that change.

That show awoke in Kathleen the possibilities for how she and the rest of us can help to fix our broken political system. The energy and enthusiasm in her voice is electrifying as she says, “He [Monetta] gave me hope that I had lost. He moved me so much that I looked him up on the Internet, and I jumped in with both feet!”

It’s people like Kathleen, Michael Monetta, Harvard Law professor and respected activist, Lawrence Lessig, and thousands of other ordinary Americans across the country who are working to make a difference. They are visiting their elected officials and state houses to encourage them to call for an Article V Convention to amend the Constitution to end corporate personhood and to publicly finance all elections in this country – essentially a reversal of the Citizens United decision.

So what did Kathleen do?

She started out by attending her first-ever public hearing on resolutions in the Massachusetts state house and senate. You hear genuine excitement when she talks about it. “I didn’t know they had hearings! I didn’t know you could just show up and speak!”

So she and some of her new Wolf PAC friends went to the hearings in Boston. Kathleen wasn’t ready to speak, but she sat and she listened to people like Lessig and Monetta and others. She learned, and she became inspired and confident in her newfound knowledge and understanding of what an Article V Convention was all about, and why it’s being proposed as the solution for fixing our broken campaign finance and political systems.

After that, the next step was easy. Kathleen called her state representative and her state senator and asked for a meeting to talk about the resolutions calling for the Article V State Convention.

Literally days later, she was in their offices.

Kathleen started by calling the office of her state representative, James Cantwell. She simply told the aide that she lived in the district and that she, “…had something I wanted to discuss with him.” She was pleasantly surprised when the aide then asked if she preferred coming into the state office or the district office.

Kathleen said, “I was shocked! I had no idea it was that easy!” She said it was easier and less painful than getting an appointment with her dentist, and she’ll emphatically tell you, “It was a lot less stressful than going to the dentist, too!”

Just two days after her call, there she was shaking hands with Representative Cantwell.

“I know you,” he said as they met. Kathleen was pleasantly surprised that he did. You see, she remembered him, but didn’t expect him to remember her. Mr. Cantwell was one of Kathleen’s customers at the bank where she used to work, and she had voted for him early in his political career when he ran for Selectman in the town where they both had lived at the time. Kathleen had also prepared by reviewing Mr. Cantwell’s biography at the state web site where she was able to educate herself on his voting record and even learn about his volunteer work.

This really does reinforce the point that we are our government, doesn’t it? The people we elect to state capitols and to DC to represent us really are our neighbors. It’s something worth remembering when we interact with them, and that we hope they’ll remember, too. It sure turned out that way for Kathleen and James Cantwell.

“It was good to make a personal connection with him,” Kathleen said. “It made the quality of the meeting better. He knew I had taken an interest in him, his history, and his voting record.”

Kathleen also talked about how it was her preparation that really put her at ease.

In addition to his biography, Kathleen spent the night before and that morning reviewing what an Article V Convention is and how it works. She also read up on the Supreme Court’s Buckley v Valeo and Citizens United v Federal Elections Commission decisions. She reviewed the now eviscerated Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act (often referred to as McCain-Fiengold), and the notes that she took with her included the House and Senate resolution numbers and who sponsored them.

She spent 45 minutes talking with Mr. Cantwell. Kathleen described it as a pleasant and even personal conversation, and says it would have been easy given the shared history of volunteerism and community to just have a casual discussion.

But, Kathleen was on a mission, and she kept her focus.

She was careful to describe her concern as, “An Article V Convention of the States,” instead of as a “Constitutional Convention.” Why? Because as Kathleen describes it so aptly and with a tone of good humor, “That can scare the hell out of people. The thought of amending the Constitution terrifies government officials.”

She gave Mr. Cantwell a general overview of what she knew about amending the Constitution, what she wanted in terms of an Article V Convention, and then asked him for his support. She’s happy to report that she has it.

The resolution in Massachusetts, however, is in Joint Committees now. Kathleen knows that Mr. Cantwell, not being on the committee, can’t have an immediate impact until it comes out of committee.

Ah, but Kathleen also knows this. “People talk. They go out to lunch together. They pass each other in the hall. Hopefully, he’ll be an advocate and get into conversations with other reps or senators to move the resolution forward.”

She also made a point of telling Mr. Cantwell that she believes that there are good people in Congress who want to do the right things, but that too many of them are too beholden to money. He agreed with her that Congress is broken, and that something must be done about it.

It might surprise you to learn that Kathleen’s political party affiliation was never brought up. Neither Mr. Cantwell nor his aides ever asked her about it. To her credit, Kathleen stayed focused on her concerns. It wasn’t about ideology for her (even though she and her rep share a party affiliation) and she didn’t take an ideologue’s approach. It’s undoubtedly a big part of the reason why Mr. Cantwell allowed Kathleen to do most of the talking, and why she reports him as listening attentively to her.

It was a little different story with her state Senator’s office.

When she called Senator Hedlund’s office, she got an appointment just five days later but it was with the senator’s aide and not the senator.

She resisted the temptation to demand a meeting with the senator. She felt that wouldn’t get her very far. She accepted the aide’s invitation, and they met for an hour.

As opposed to her meeting with Mr. Cantwell, Senator Hedlund’s aide interjected things into the discussion that had nothing to do with Kathleen’s agenda.

Kathleen kept her cool. She said she kept telling herself, “It’s not what I’m here for. It’s not what I’m here for.” She stayed calm. She stayed focused. She kept trying to steer the conversation back to her agenda without being rude. She was there to determine whether or not the senator would support the resolution for an Article V Convention.

Despite admitting having to bite her tongue a little, she still felt a sense of accomplishment afterwards.

“I still felt good,” she says. “The one thing that I took away was that he [the aide] stated unequivocally that the senator takes amendments to the Constitution seriously. In my mind, I said, ‘You don’t think I do?’ I kind of knew that I couldn’t push it, but in the follow-up I would offer him sources and more information about an Article V Convention.”

The more I listened to Kathleen, the more convinced I became that she behaved like a model constituent. She prepared, she stayed focused, and she remained respectful in both offices knowing that was how she would be taken seriously. She could have allowed herself to be distracted by the things the senator’s aide wanted to talk about but with which she disagrees. Instead, she picked out the things they do agree on, and she made sure to even express her gratitude for the senator’s service as she left the meeting.

In addition to meeting with their representatives, Kathleen and other Wolf PAC citizens all over the country make calls every week to their legislators asking them to support resolutions in their states for an Article V Convention. She also supports the American Anti-Corruption Act, a proposal for reforming campaign finance laws that does not require an amendment to the Constitution. “Essentially, whatever fixes the mess we’re in,” she says, “and gets us to the goal of a true democratic government; restoring the power to where it belongs, with the people! Whatever the solution, we cannot rely on Congress. Congress will not self-reform the system.”

Kathleen then quotes what she considers to be one of John McCain’s best comments about money in politics. He said, “Corruption is the impairment of integrity, virtue or moral principle…Unlimited amounts of money given to political campaigns have impaired our integrity…Who is corrupted by this system?  All of us are corrupted by it because money buys access and access is influence. I am attacking a system that has to be fixed. This system makes good people do bad things.”

Kathleen agrees, and there are two words of advice that she wants to share with all of us. “Get engaged!”

She explains it this way. “Do something instead of complaining and do something tangible! I read a quote somewhere that, in effect, said…Since political speech equals speech, it follows naturally that more money equals more political speech and less money equals less political speech. Well, we are sending a message that we will make sure politicians hear loud and clear.  We’re drawing a line in the sand and intend on taking our government back and changing the way it functions.”

These are the words of a courageous and committed citizen. It comes as no surprise that the words of other courageous people such as our Founders also resonate with her. “It’s a Government for the People, by the People,” she says as our conversation begins to draw to a close.

There’s a pause before she makes the point all of us really need to understand and remember.

“It’s our government,” she states emphatically. “We’re their bosses. We hired them to do a job, and if they’re not doing their job it’s up to we the people to tell them, ‘Listen. You’re not doing what we hired you to do.’”

Kathleen wants us all to pay attention and do something. To help us, she pointed out another absolutely salient truth that ought to be another rallying cry for citizens everywhere.

“Proposed legislation that comes with a majority of support throughout the country and it doesn’t get enacted? How’s that possible? That’s a clear indication that they are being bought and paid for by special interests. Unless people step up and do something, the status quo will continue and continue and continue.”

“There’s power in numbers,” she reminds us, and then adds, “The Supreme Court declared that money is free speech. Well, I have a voice and that’s free speech. I’m going to use it. If enough people do the same, do we have a chance to drown out the money? I believe we do!”

When asked about her transition from frustrated citizen to more activist citizen, Kathleen offered this simple two-step advice. “First, I found I have power. Second is how easy it is.”

“I was blown away!” she exclaimed.

“I was pleasantly surprised and happy that my state government was responsive. That thrilled me! It gives me hope that maybe things will be ok. This is the first step in fixing what’s broken, and getting our government to respond to the will of the people. This is where we have to start, and I hope it will have a ripple effect. I think we all share similar concerns about what’s happening in the country, but I don’t think anything’s going to happen until we end the influence that the wealthy and corporations have over our democracy.”

Kathleen assures us that it’s not as hard as we all might think. She will tell you that she’s “…not an expert. I’m just a layperson and am just going with my conscience. There are a lot of people like us.”

And, that should be encouraging to us all.

Kathleen doesn’t really consider herself to be an activist. What she says is this. “I’m an American. I’m a proud American, and I don’t want to leave this mess for the next generation. In all good conscience, I can’t. I couldn’t live with myself if I didn’t try.”

The Civil Rights Movement also gives Kathleen inspiration. The question she asks herself is, “Why wouldn’t I do this? It’s not going to require the level of bravery those people showed. It’s like donating blood. I’m capable of it, so why wouldn’t I do it?”

These are questions we should all be asking ourselves.

A Plea to Ordinary Republicans

Here’s a peek into how our elected officials were working for us last week…….or not.

Toomey Email 2

We all know now how Toomey and the rest of the Senate voted. The Republican junior senator from Pennsylvania voted to send our government into default.

We all know now that 144 House members – all Republicans – did the same.

For those of you who were – and who still are – cheering the ideas of government shutdowns and defaults, perhaps it would be useful to bring the discussion down to a more local and personal level. Perhaps you should consider this reality: Even the staffers who were furloughed by Mr. Toomey are people.

They are people just like you, and your vote for people like Toomey and the 144 House Republicans is, for all practical purposes, a vote to put more Americans out of work. Americans who have chosen to work FOR YOU as civil servants.

Yes, there’s waste, fraud, and abuse in government just as there is in every large organization. Attacking the problem with broad cleaves like sequestration and the abject lunacy of shutdowns and defaults is not how to address those challenges. That’s simplistic and, frankly, juvenile thinking.

My plea to ordinary Republicans is this. Is there any hope that you will rise up and take your party back from the extremists in the tea party who claim to be patriots but who really are corporatists?

UncleSamWantsYouIs there any hope that ordinary Republicans will finally wake up to the fact that a vote for people like Toomey, Tom Corbett, Paul Ryan, Ted Cruz, and any so-called tea party Republican is actually a vote to DESTROY OUR DEMOCRACY and to PUT MORE OF OUR FAMILY, FRIENDS, NEIGHBORS, and FELLOW AMERICANS OUT OF WORK?

Joe Scarborough makes a very telling observation along these lines in a Politico Opinion Column on Oct 18:

…Republicans were licking their wounds around this time last year after being blindsided by a presidential election whose outcome they should have seen coming a mile away. But ignorance was bliss as conservative politicians and talkers pushed bogus polls and political fairy tales to angry voters who were once again on the losing side of history. Media outlets that released polls showing President Obama winning were attacked as biased and conservatives who warned of Romney’s weaknesses were rhetorically burned at the stake as heretics.

So, to ordinary Republicans – my fellow Americans – I ask these questions:

Are you going to allow your fellow Republicans to continue to go unchallenged in their insistence that reality is something different for Republicans?

Are you going to keep believing and perpetuating the false and failed ideology (it doesn’t deserve the moniker of ‘policy’) of trickle down economics?

Are you going to stop watching, listening, and repeating the lies from fraudulent news sources that operate based on agendas that work against you and America?

Are you going to accept the truth that the Tea Party is a corporatist movement, NOT a grass roots movements?

This is on you, Republicans. Independents and Democrats can’t change your party. Only you can do that.

When you ordinary Republicans stay home during primaries, when you stay all too silent at times like this while people like Cruz try to turn our system of governance into a sham, and when you allow your Grand Old Party to be usurped by big money masquerading as a grass roots movement, well, this is on you.

I hope that you ordinary Republicans will work to end the support – yours and your fellow Republicans’ – for the dangerous ideology of Tea Party corporatists. They are the real Tea Party; groups like The Heritage Foundation, the Senate Conservatives Fund, the Club For Growth, and their ilk. They don’t care about you or ordinary Americans. Their only mission is to lie to enough Americans to get them to vote for people who, once in elected office, will pass legislation to further corporatize America.

I believe that the Republican Party is populated by a majority of intelligent, well-meaning people. I hope that this majority will seize this opportunity to start pushing back against the extremists in their party now, in a big way, and in big numbers.

I’d like to offer a few nonpartisan ways you can do precisely that right now.

I truly hope that you will, and that you will spread the word to your fellow Republicans.

Move To Amend
You can sign the petition to overturn Citizens United because money is not speech and corporations are not people.
https://movetoamend.org/ and http://movetoamend.nationbuilder.com/petition

American Anti-Corruption Act
Citizen-sponsored nonpartisan legislation that transforms how elections are financed, how lobbyists influence politics, and how political money is disclosed
Details at http://anticorruptionact.org/ and here to become a Citizen Co-Sponsor http://unitedrepublic.actionkit.com/event/cosponsor/9815/

Coffee Party USA
A grass roots, nonpartisan group that encourages inclusive, civil, fact-based, solution-oriented dialogue, online and in public places.
Coffee Party USA no longer has my support or endorsement. Click here if you’re curious as to why that is, and please drop me a Comment if you see any links to them on this site I may have missed.

Now We’re Angry About Spying?

Image

None of the revelations so far surrounding PRISM strike me as all that newsworthy. Our country’s leaders have had a long love affair with spying.

The real question is why the sudden outrage and worry about the government abusing this power? Even better, where was the outrage from the right when Bush was doing it illegally?

It is understood that NSA spying didn’t originate with Obama, right?

And by the way, Obama was not the president who duped us into believing we needed to amp up the federal government’s powers with something so deceptively labeled and expertly marketed to us as The Patriot Act.

Besides, isn’t it those of us on the left who ought to be the most outraged with Obama over his willingness to walk a trail blazed mostly, but not exclusively, by his immediate predecessor? Instead, it seems mostly to be the right’s latest excuse to label something as an “Obamanation.” (Cute, huh?)

Well, here’s my take on this outrage du jour.

To anyone who thought they weren’t being monitored until now – until Obama! – it’s only because, and with all due respect, you either,
a) know better and are just being hyper-partisan while choosing to ignore Bush’s record in this matter,
b) don’t have a complete understanding about Big Data, the technology of networks and computers, and how they’re used by organizations, both private and public or,
c) you’ve convinced yourself that you’re somehow special or immune from the realities of living a digital life and all that entails in terms of bits, bytes, packets, and microprocessors.

It’s not called Big Data for no reason.

If you think the government looking at metadata of daily cell phone calls is disturbing, you ain’t seen nothing until you look at what corporations know about you.

No, I don’t like any of it, either. I do understand, however, that corporations and government both already know a lot about us, and technology is making that easier all the time. That’s reality, and that genie is never going back into the bottle. Data is the new coin of the realm, and the people who stand to benefit from it are far, far, FAR more likely to be gainfully employed in the private sector than they are to be government officials.

This isn’t an indictment of corporations. I’ve spent my entire career in technology. It’s simply a matter of fact that corporations are the ones who are creating and who are much more motivated to develop more and better ways of knowing everything about you. Anyone who doubts this should Google or search YouTube with phrases like, “how digital ads work”, “behavioral advertising”, “Big Data”, and “deep packet inspection.”

I’m also not minimizing the threat and concerns about a government knowing too much about its citizens. The issue here is where the balance is between privacy and security.

In the private sector and, like it or not, we agree to give up our privacy every time we choose to accept the user agreements. Those are the endless documents of fine print you never read but agree to by checking off a box when you sign up for a service. It comes with living a part of our lives online.

Why aren’t we just as incensed by the fact that profit-driven corporations collect tremendous amounts of data about us?  Am I just not hearing about that outrage? At least when it comes to the government we have some say in who gets elected, right? That’s not true in the private sector. Even with publicly traded companies the individual voices of average shareholders mean nothing compared to institutional investors.

Privacy is mostly a fantasy in the 21st century. You might even call it a quaint notion. It has very nearly no basis in reality in a modern world. Ted Kaczynski didn’t leave digital bread crumbs. He might have been the last person not to do so. I suspect that that’s not a lifestyle most of us would find appealing.

On the other hand, lots of people now seem to be in love with cameras in public spaces, a la Boston, and what it might mean for safety and security. Is that what we want, to be captured more and more in our public lives, both in the real world and online, all in the name of safety and security?

So why all this outrage now? Why now over the renewal – not the creation, the renewal – of the NSA’s spying authorization?

Could it be for political gain?

What can be done about it?

Well, for starters and unlike with the private sector, we have some say in the matter when it comes to our government.

The question about what the government can and can’t do when it comes to privacy comes down to the choices we make. Call me naive, but I still believe in democracy. On a very regular and predictable schedule we Americans get to exercise a very valuable right to choose our leaders for ourselves. What the government does from there is, in part, a result of those choices we make as citizens. 

We need to decide.

Are we going to demand more and better safety and security from our government? Then we need to get used to the idea of domestic “spying.” We’ll suffer much less angst and anxiety if we stop agonizing and complaining about government spying (and profiling). How else do we expect the government to keep us safe?

We’ll also be well-served if we stop deluding ourselves into thinking that the NSA gives a shit about our cell phone calls. Sorry, John and Jane Q. Public, but you’re just not that important or that interesting. Get over yourselves. All we can hope for is that government officials will learn how to spy in a digital world really, really well from the real experts at Google, Facebook, et. al. We don’t want to inadvertently be caught up in any plans to foil terrorism, the Tsarnaevs notwithstanding. Either way, keep reminding yourself that Minority Report was just a movie. There will be crime and terrorism in the future, and no amount of surveillance can prevent all of it.

Now, if you prefer privacy – absolute, unequivocal, Rand Paul Libertarian-type privacy – then I think you need to be prepared to sacrifice some of that (false?) sense of safety and security. Just don’t be too surprised when “bullshit” is called on your complaints when (not if) the next heinous crime is committed. If security requires advanced knowledge and that knowledge comes from data and you don’t want the government to have that data, then you don’t get as much security and you really don’t have much of a leg to stand on to complain about less security.

We’ve been told in the past, and we’re told still today, that all this data surveillance helps to foil terrorist plots. I hope that’s true, but how do we know? We’re not privy to the details. If we’re going to take the government’s word for it when the GOP is in the majority and in the White House then we have to take the word of the Democrats on that, too, don’t we?

So, if privacy is your stronger desire then my advice is to start by cutting up your credit cards. Follow that with deleting all your online accounts. Next, close all of your bank accounts and use the cash to secure a one-room shack in the middle of the woods. I hear there’s a vacancy without running water or electricity in Montana.

Better yet, get involved. Make your concerns known to your elected officials. Vote in primaries and elections for people like the Senators and  Representatives who voted No to extend the Patriot Act.

If we’re really concerned about what the government knows about us and how they learn it, we at least have elections where we get to vote for our fellow citizens who ostensibly will represent us and our interests.

Who knows? If we elect candidates who actually care more about the rights of people than they do the big money special interests and corporations then we might even end up with a government that gives us back a little of our privacy without sacrificing too much security.

If you want to help get money out politics, check out Coffee Party USA’s 535 Campaign at http://www.coffeepartyusa.com/ask_your_representative_to_be_a_leader

Coffee Party USA no longer has my support or endorsement. Click here if you’re curious as to why that is, and please drop me a Comment if you see any links to them on this site I may have missed.

Sources:

“Timeline of NSA Domestic Spying”, Electronic Frontier Foundation. https://www.eff.org/nsa-spying/timeline

“Bush Let’s U.S. Spy On Callers Without Courts”, New York Times. http://www.nytimes.com/2005/12/16/politics/16program.html?pagewanted=print&_r=0

“Speak Softly and Carry a Big Data”, The New Yorker. http://www.newyorker.com/online/blogs/elements/2013/06/nsa-prism-big-data-national-security.html

“Surveillance Cameras Sought by Cities After Boston Bombing”, Bloomberg. http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-04-29/surveillance-cameras-sought-by-cities-after-boston-bombs.html

“Inside Congress” The New York Times. http://politics.nytimes.com/congress/votes/112/senate/1/84 and http://politics.nytimes.com/congress/votes/112/house/1/376