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Security v freedom in the United States: Liberty’s lost decade | The Economist

What has made America special and stronger than most nations in the world has not so much been how we see ourselves. It has been how other nations have looked at us.  Today as other world powers reach some semblance of parity with us in the global reach arena, we are now dangerously starting to look like we are loosing our grip on lady liberty.  Our young and confused generation next, is getting caught in the crosshairs of an exploding information management and technology revolution that is causing government to overreach in what it looks at and keeps records of and what young technocrats look at, copy and disseminate themselves.  Perhaps in an important way, laws, mores and regulations are more easily understood when one is holding a tangible piece of paper and not when one is clicking a send button.  An action that today, like in the NSA Snowden scandal, can create political ramifications that seem to rival setting off a small nuclear weapon.

The government policy state functionaries seem to be increasingly leaning on an old malevolent stick of crime and punishment–with serious consequences for those who disagree or stand up against government power.  If we allow government bureaucrats and corporations to scare us into believing that they must keep so much in secrete, than we will compromise our desire that our government be more transparent. After all, isn’t it our government!  If only the few and the privileged get to sit behind doors and exempt powerful groups from the rule of law and public scrutiny, how will we be able to remain America? 

There is a delicate balance here we seem to be loosing site of as a polity.  It’s government by and for the people.  Today you have to be a millionaire to be a Senator, or at least have a powerful few provide you with the wherewithal.  Those powerful few then become a proxy for the entire population that is being “represented” which is in turn manipulated with millions of campaign media, pundits, gerrymandering, and now even restrictions on access to the vote.

Wars have become so expensive and global that our leaders have been convinced to allow the corporate sector to lend a hand and share in the business of war.  How can we differentiate our government from its privatization partners?  When information is shared across economies and business partners, how will our government assure us that it is not being stored, shared and used by others we don’t, or perhaps shouldn’t trust?

Of course, our government must keep order and security and American citizens should not betray us in ways that make us vulnerable to  our enemies–but if Americans feel that government itself has overstepped its bounds to rightfully watch and control us… what else can they do?

Modernity is upon us and big data, supper computers, and information technologies are increasingly making it possible for our government to control and punish its citizens–beyond perhaps even the most chilling negative utopias–like 1984.

The conversation has started and we better get busy empowering an educated population …  Social media and technology can also be democratizing forces that give buoyancy to a robust and popular understanding of our public interest–Norman Rockwell’s four freedoms come to mind here…

“THE case of Private Bradley Manning, convicted this week by a military court of leaking secrets to the WikiLeaks website and now facing up to 136 years in jail, looks as if it might be the high-water mark of America’s zealous security culture. It certainly ought to be. After the attacks of September 11th 2001, George Bush tipped the balance too far …”

Freedom of Speech,

Freedom to Worship,

Freedom from Want and

Freedom from Fear. 

via Security v freedom in the United States: Liberty’s lost decade | The Economist.


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