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Friday, June 14, 2013

The Year of the Libertarian

The political shows that I watch are getting a bit muddled because the liberals' hosts are hearing voices from their libertarian side of the brain. Last night, MSNBC's Chris Hayes spent about 5 minutes explaining why he's agreeing with Representative Louis Gohmert on the NSA issue. He sounded like he was apologizing to his audience. There never has been a right or wrong stance on this issue because it's about a person's tolerance and understanding on where that imaginary line is between security and privacy.

All these discussions take me back 30 years, to a time when I used to go toe- to- toe with libertarians with whom I used to work with. They were all likeable, intelligent human beings who hated government and taxes in general, and they thought that the only role government had was to provide defense. They were literalists in their interpretation of the Constitution, and they all carried that document wherever they went. I put it to the test one day when we were attending the funeral of a fellow coworker. I jokingly asked the friend if he had a copy of the constitution and to my surprise, he said, “As a matter of fact, I do.” Libertarians don’t waver a bit when it comes to defending their ideology.

It was the 1980s, so most of our discussions were about the staggering economy and how they thought that the Fed and government were responsible. I was using quotes from economists, and they were using the theories of Ayn Rand. I soon realized that you can't argue against theories that have not been tried in any country. My adversaries believed in the school of Austrian economics, which don’t rely on economic mathematical models; just theories about human behavior. They used to like to tell me that the markets will self- correct, oh if only I could run into them today; I would ask them “how did that self -correction in the 2008 financial crisis workout for you?” Ron Paul said we should have let Wall Street fall, but that’s easy to say from the position of a congressman who didn’t have to face the American people or other world leaders.

One day our company emailed us to remind us that we all had to make arrangements to attend an offsite seminar about respect in the workplace. When my friend read his e-mail, he got up from his chair, and went straight into the boss’s office to complain. He said it was offensive to be told something that should come naturally. That's true, but like everything else my friend didn’t wait to get all the facts. Management might have been fulfilling their minimum requirements in ensuring a safe workplace.

I remember one segment where the issue was about race. My Libertarian friends were not racists but they were certainly ideologues. Straight out of a Ron Paul newsletter, one of the libertarians said that he agreed with Barry Goldwater’s vote against the Civil Rights Act because it trampled on property rights. This immediately alarmed the lecturer and caused a stir in our small group but he was allowed to make his point. He said while he was against segregation, he didn’t think that the government should be able to tell a property owner what to do. I was more than ready to make my rebuttal. I can’t remember the exact words but I went around the room and pointed to a new female employee, a Hispanic one, and a black employee and said “Do you honestly think that we would all be here together today if not for a nudge by the government?”

I think this is the year of the Libertarian because it’s safe to assume that the Tea Party is coming home to their roots. Rand Paul is now the de-facto leader of the Tea Party because unlike his father, he has won a state-wide election. It shouldn’t be hard for Senator Rand Paul to tie in all the so-called government scandals into a message that government is too big and cannot be trusted. That’s easy pickings for his constituents, but if he goes too far out there (as he is usually inclined to do) he will lose the independents. He will be given ample opportunity to spread his message but will he be able to sell it? I have to admit he did a good job with his filibuster of our drone policy, but we’ll see how he does with the NSA policy. The ball is his court, but as I see it, he will miss the three pointer, when the more makeable layup was available.


born2Bme said...

What gets me is how people believe that the government gives a dang about their phone conversations, emails, or other ways of gathering information on the internet, and how they think the government could ever possibly listen to all of them.
I'm no expert on things like this, but I'd bet that certain words are targeted and those are the only conversations that are paid attention to.

Mike said...

I agree a single phone call is not what interests NSA.

I not an expert but from I read it's not exactly clear how NSA is caring out their digital surveillance.

The Obama campaign made use of software programs to gather the information their voters gave them to match them up with their neighbors.

Companies have been matching your spending habits and financial institutions track as many as 300,000 transactions per second looking for patterns of fraud in real-time because alerts that go off a day later will cost them millions.

I think NSA is looking for patterns and correlations rather than a private conversation.

Can all this technology be misused? Of course it can...I read where burglars are using Google Earth to plan their escape routes to use when they rob upper class neighborhoods.we've all heard about people using their laptops to capture private info in Internet cafes or public WIFI access areas.

born2Bme said...

I was reading where Google gathered more of our personal information than the NSA did by a long ways. Do we hear much about that?

Mike said...

Yes I did ...Go to the browser,type a few letters and your page will start filling....Type in "pancakes" and you will get hits for breakfast places close to your location...Go to Amazon and they will show you things you might like....Facebook and Google say that they don'tnshare your info but I don't believe them.....AT&T already won
a court case saying that your phone number and data belongs to them and not the customer.

born2Bme said...

If it belongs to them, then they have to pay us to provide it to them. Right?

Mike said...

They say we pay for the service not the data.
We pay for the towers,phone,and the use of their servers.
They overcharge so much that they would be than happy to give you a credit....:-) I called one time to complain about the charges for my iMessages ( supposed to be free from I phone to iPhone) and they gave me a $60 credit for a $1.40 overcharge.

Mike said...

The law is vague...From the NYT
"Lacking a clear federal statute, the courts have been unable to reach a consensus. In Texas, a federal appeals court said this year that law enforcement officials did not need a warrant to track suspects through cellphones. In Louisiana, another federal appeals court is considering a similar case. Prosecutors are arguing that location information is part of cellphone carriers’ business records and thus not constitutionally protected.

born2Bme said...

I guess they cannot track me in that way.
I doubt they would be interested in me anyway.

Mike said...

I watched the most interesting NSA surveillance discussion this morning hosted by Steve Kornaki of MSNBC.

I learned that the difference between Google gathering your data and government doing the same.
1.Google does it for money
2.The government has the ability to put you in jail or on a no-fly list

The people (legislators) trying to rein in the intrusive program have an uphill climb. Imagine a defense lawyer having to defend his client without the benefit of seeing what the evidence the prosecutor has. That’s why the panel threw up their hands when the host asked them for ways NSA could be reformed.

NSA is trying to fight a frustrating war against an enemy whose main goal is finding a way to make a bomb that cannot be detected by airport screeners. In the meantime with their sleeper cells in the U.S, our enemies are content with setting off a bomb in Times Square.

On a more dangerous front, they are trying to stay ahead of enemy computer hackers. Let’s not forget that NSA main mission is to spy, so it’s not as if they are not hacking into foreign databases.

It’s funny how some people can support “stop and frisk” but they draw the line at NSA storing their phone number in Utah for future reference. In both cases, Americans are suspects without due process.