For What it’s Worth

There are serious implications of government gathering private info on citizens. If in the current Prism NSA National Security Agency (No Such Agency?) case it turns out that actual phone conversations, emails etc. were accessed, then we might be talking serious and criminal.  But what is absurd is the shock and dismay being expressed that government would do or attempt to do this contrasted with the reality of how much people today are willing to divulge of their private info in public forums, like Facebook Twitter & other social media. When people post on Facebook or Twitter when & where they’re eating, peeing, who they’re sleeping with, that they’re drunk, high or visiting a museum or theatre why would they care if the government knows it too? It’s Facebook! You just posted it for the whole freaking world to see! (Even if you limit access to “friends” every time you post something it’s ultimately available for worldwide distribution.) I just ate this, here’s a photo of my caprese salad. I just arrived here.. I’m seeing this now..  I have a new grandchild and here’s 35 photos of her wrapped in swaddling cloth. I’m I’m I’m me me me look at me.. I’m important, I’m doing cool things, I’m relevant, I’m part if the world, I’m Special!!! And then when you find out the government is looking at the how Special you are… you are shocked. Shocked!

Cameras on every street corner, donut shop & grocery store. GPS in your car tells that GPS company and the government (government-licensed satellite) where you are & where you’ve been. Get cash from an ATM and you’ve left tracks. Grocery “value” key cards track your eating/drinking preferences. I’ve got 12 such cards on my key ring. The Target store chain admitted last year it could predict buyer purchases based on buyer history & demographics..i.e. stock more maternity items and junk food in low-income areas. If you shop at Lane Bryant with a credit card you might find it harder to buy health insurance. People talk loudly and freely and often purposely on cell phones in public places sharing intimate details of their “important” lives with annoyed and reluctant listening strangers. We live in a world where we are made to believe that sharing our personal information is cool, that privacy is not, that too much info is better than not enough. We say singsongedly “Too much in-for-ma-tion!” But we don’t really believe it.

So, do I trust the government with my personal info? Not any more than I trust my hospital, car dealer, grocery store, toll road agency, or the myriad other businesses and institutions I interact with.

At this point it has not been shown that the government actually listened or transcribed my phone calls or emails. The danger in the government’s Prism program is its potential to collect and store indefinitely our private communications and transactions. And why collect and store if it doesn’t use it.

If paranoia is justified then I must also be afraid of Verizon, ATT, Comcast, Citibank, Google,  Apple, etc. Those companies already have my info. And I don’t get to elect their CEO or directors. Is there really any essential difference between a big corporation and a government  agency besides election day accountability? The U.S.uses private military companies such as KBR (former Halliburton unit) and Blackwater to supply corporate soldiers to fight our wars; Booze Allen tech consulting derives 90% of its income from a government contract with NSA. Verizon provides a special physical fiber-optic pipeline to NSA. We need to unearth a vast supply of paranoia to cover all this.

Maybe we over-share
Can’t have it both ways..
Share it you bear it.

The issue is what will or could government do with your phone calls, email, social media updates?

Ultimately the total paranoid answer is “anything it wants to do to you it could.” Audit your taxes? Check. Restrict your travel.. deny passport, driver license?  Seize your guns? Check. Deny medical care? Form a death panel? Sure. Make your life miserable?  Lock you up? Kill you? Oh yeah!  All this assumes that government is intrinsically evil. Or if not, then it will choose an evil path if given the choice; that we elect leaders who are so flawed, weak, manipulative and willing to ignore the Constitution that we might as well not give a damn about anything and just live our pitiful little lives under the lens of Big Brutha.

“Paranoia strikes deep
Into your life it will creep
It starts when you’re always afraid
Step out of line, the men come and take you away.” Buffalo Springfield

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