Monday, June 10, 2013

Mine This, Chumps!

A warm welcome to all government bean-counters who have come here in order to file this post away in some shadowy, dusty digital government seed bank. I'll be sure to really ratchet up the SEO in order to facilitate your data mining. Don't worry, you've got express permission to do so from Barack Obama, the President of the United States of America, himself:

“It’s important to recognize that you can’t have a hundred percent security and also then have a hundred percent privacy and zero inconvenience,” the president said in response to a question Friday during a health care event in San Jose.

“You know,” he added, “we’re going to have to make some choices as a society.”

Thanks, dad. As a matter of fact, "we" seem to be making the choices "as a society" right this very moment, namely: we're yelling very loudly for you to stay the hell out of our stuff. But that's not what the President's talking about. When he says "we" he means "me," and when he says "society" he means, "Government." But of course the progressive refrain, shouted from the drone-surveyed rooftops, is that "we are the government." So when the President tries to pass off societal choices as some sort of fork-in-the-road moment wherein we must decide how we want to live, don't be fooled: there's no fork, and the road is one-way, and it belongs to Washington.

British emigrant Charles Cooke poses an interesting question over at National Review Online, the special-interest Tea Party Koch-funded anti-government extremist liberty Constitution Citizens United Second Amendment magazine:

When I entered into arrangements with American Express, Google, and AT&T, I took a calculated risk with my privacy. I took that risk with American Express, not with the federal government; with Google, not with President Obama; and with AT&T, not the national-security services. Are we to presume now that all private agreements implicitly involve the state? And if so, where is the limiting principle?

It's interesting because it's rhetorical. Where is the limiting principle? It's nowhere, because it doesn't exist. And I'm afraid that many people very well do presume that every private decision and transaction is fodder for the yen of Leviathan: if we don't allow the Federal government to comb through our phone records, we'll be in an anarchic hell. In other words, we're going to have to make some choices as a society---or rather, society is going to have to deal with the choices that the government has already made. Wait, we are the government.

The nauseating surveillance state has its cheerleaders, of course---those who really like government and brush off its astonishing powers as a mere tradeoff. To wit, E.J. Dionne, the liberal statist political mass media columnist, and government is evil, and Barack Obama should be impeached, and the Tea Party is the greatest thing ever, liberty:

[T]oo many politicians are making decisions on the basis of a grand, utopian theory [libertarianism] that they never can — or will — put into practice. They then use this theory to avoid a candid conversation about the messy choices governance requires.

Okay. We're having "a candid conversation" about government's "messy" choices, and it involves limiting the government's ability to make those choices. But Dionne, of course, has preempted such a conversation on the basis that barring the government from seizing our personal information is a "grand, utopian theory." It just can't be done! Why even bother?

Maybe it can't be done, if only because the pendulum has swung too far. But it's satisfying, in a terrible way, to be so justly vindicated over the past month or so. Leftists and "moderates" are really bent out of shape that the recent revelations of government overreach have justified the suspicions of us utopian libertarians. "This just gives them more ammo," they complain, "and more reason to be paranoid about the government." Well, precisely. Anyone who's not more than a little nervous after the recent scandals is only fooling himself; and any libertarian who doesn't feel a species of satisfaction isn't giving himself enough credit.

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