Thursday, June 01, 2006

George Orwell Was Right

Crazy, old coot-like ranting moment here: Big Brother lives and he’s watching you. Soon you’ll have to answer to the big eye on the wall. Twenty-two years later, 2006, the government is slowly but surely closing in on the American public, turning its back on the Bill of Rights, the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of this country. It started with the government’s ability to spy on our phone calls, and the phone companies have bent over backwards to provide them with that information, who we call, when we call and how long and often we talk. Nothing is private anymore, and I’d be surprised if someone wasn’t reading my email (and regular mail) before I do. And it’s all for National Security, and it doesn’t surprise me when the government over reacts to a situation, typical of big business… but 9/11 was five years ago. If we’re not safe now, we’ll never be (and by some of the things I’ve heard about National Security, we’ll never be safe from the determined forces that hate what this country stands for).

About two weeks ago, I got a letter from our friendly money sucking energy providers that has tarnished the name of Thomas Edison and they offered to save me several hundred dollars, depending on my level of involvement in their money-saving program. Wow, I like to save money, so what do I have to do? Simple, give up my rights to live how I want to by allowing them to hook up a device that controls when and for how long the air conditioning turns on during this summer. Get that? Say on a particularly blisteringly hot day, I want to be able to chip ice off of the ceiling of my bedroom while I make ice cream in my shoes in the closet, so I bury the needle of my thermostat until penguins fall out of my registers. But wait, I’ve got this little device that stays in contact with Mother Edison, and when that thing blinks on (because too many people are make ice cubes in their closets at that particular time) my A/C turns off, without warning, without my control and without my permission. It turns on again when the “threat” of a brown outs falls. Wow… I just can’t say that enough… wow. So, not only are they charging me more money to use electricity during “peak hours,” now they want control over my appliances. What's next, my car will stop running when there's not enough gasoline, or I'm forced to stay home when there are too many people on the road?

The government will slowly chip away our rights until we are no longer allowed to do anything without showing the proper papers, filling out the approval forms or waiting until it is the right time of year for that activity.

I’ve never more wanted to slip off the grid than I do right now, and I wish my house was completely solar powered, then I could tell the electric company where to go. I read in Wired magazine in the last issue that there is now a device you could buy that will purchase electricity during the cheapest time (in the middle of the night) and then store it for you to use during the most expensive periods of time (the rest of the day). The downside is that it is $11,000…nearly the same price as solar paneling, but then I wouldn’t get the satisfaction of telling the electric company to pull that stupid meter off of my house. And I could charge them for any power I give back to the grid... I wonder if I could set my own price, say, during a brown-out?

So, where do we stand with the government? We are completely compliant thanks to the fear bestowed on us by the media, the government and the world environment. How can we say no to a government who demands entry into our private lives when they pass laws like Title 13, Sections 141, 193 and 221 of the U.S. Code? What is that you might ask? It says basically that the Census Bureau is allowed to ask me anything, any question they deem important to the statistics of the subjects of this country and I have to, by law, answer them, regardless of my privacy. In the mail today I received my “American Community Survey,” which is different from the every-decade Census, in that the American Community Survey “discusses housing and population characteristics…” which is what I thought the Census squeezed out of us. So, by law, I’m am forced to answer in this survey: who is living with me, how much my mortgage is, how much I pay for water, how many cars are kept at the house, where I lived a year ago, what language do I speak, if I have a learning disability, what I do for a living, the physical location of my job, when I leave for work and what time I come home, my income…and all of this same information about each of my family members.

When I do genealogical research for my family tree, the only information I can find is name, occupation and age and name of family members and parents’ birth places. That’s all they need to know about me, and I consider the rest to be private, and in supporting my need to privacy, I’m not going to fill it out. The fine is $100, and my privacy is worth more than that.

Why, do you ask, am I being so staunch? Well, let’s take for example a little news item I read in Time last week about a governmental overachiever, working in the Veterans Affairs office, who took his laptop home to do some catch-up work (because his two-hour lunch isn’t enough time to sober up from breakfast) and promptly got it stolen. No big deal, you say, but on that laptop was the personal and financial information for 26 million veterans. If we treat our veterans with such a lackadaisical regard, what about little old me and my Census information. I can only expect that some do-gooder in the U.S. Census will post my salary, the values of my cars and home on his personal website and the times I’ll be at work and away from the house. Might as well leave the door unlocked so the rampaging burglars don’t break any of my windows just to get in.

Okay, so how are we getting closer to totalitarian country? How about little devices we all have decided that will make our lives easier. LoJack, OnStar, GPS and cell phones. These are great, right? LoJack can find your car by a little transponder you put on your car… but they say that only the police can turn it on when your car is reported stolen or involved in a crime of some sort. That sounds great, but what if you are wanted by the police for some reason or another? If they can turn over our phone bills to the government for national security, what is stopping them from deciding it was for “national security” that I’m found. OnStar too. It takes it a step farther, by automatically detecting a car crash, a locked door or a call for help from its passengers. That means, that on any given day, the people at OnStar can find you whenever they want to wherever you are. How about GPS and cell phones? If your cell phone can find a satellite (in the case of a GPS, three satellites), than a satellite can find your cell phone, and presumably your sweaty little hand clamped on to it.

In the name of safety, we even go out of our way as a society to welcome devices that can automatically track our children (and aged dependents) via wireless transponders. Companies like Ulocate, Wherify and Sidsa offer deck-of-cards-sized products that can be located at the click of a mouse, and if that technology can be tracked by Average Joe Parent, it can be hacked by anybody with an IT degree and most certainly accessed by the government. They decided that for your safety, you have to wear seatbelts while in a car, you have to wear a helmet while on a motorcycle, and what is to stop them from saying, for your safety, you have to wear a Sidsa locator when you're not in your house?

I forgot a big one: The Fourth Amendment (that’s one of the Big 10) is slowly being eradicated (let’s not even begin to talk about the Second), as a judge in Florida found it lawful for a police officer to enter your house if he thinks he has probable cause, which is a legal term that means “if he feels it necessary.” And he doesn’t even have to knock, just kick the door down if he has the slightest reason to believe a crime is being committed inside the house. I can understand if he is chasing a suspect who just went into that house, or if someone is destroying evidence of a previous crime or if he sees or hears a crime currently being committed, but just to be able to enter on a hunch is blatant destruction of my rights as an American. Why, just today, the courts in California upheld a ruling that allows a police officer to enter your house without a warrent and arrest you if he feels that you had been driving drunk at any time that day. He didn't have to see you driving, he just has to think that you were... you know how they justified this? By saying that, while the person is inside sleeping it off in his bed, he's sobering up, therefore destroying evidence. Gasp. I'm against drunk driving, but I'm also against this new development.

So, my house is no longer safe from the government, my car isn’t safe, my cell phone isn’t safe and my achievements are mine and mine only.

In a nutshell, what can we do? Nothing, absolutely nothing. If you so much as suggest that you’re against the government’s plan for our safety and support, you might as well decide you’re part of the Taliban and you’ll soon be considered a national threat… or worse, you’re an anti-governmental wacko like David Koresh and you’re treated with swiftly and decisively before you get out of control.

Kind of like those crazy guys named George Washington, Alexander Hamilton and John Jay… that is why they added into the Declaration of Independence the words, "against all enemies, both foriegn and domestic."

Well, I guess I'd better get back to work, so I can make money to pay taxes that will suport people who want to take away my rights.

This is the Old Coot, over and out...and keep your kids off of my porch!


Julie said...

You better believe someone somewhere important is reading this email.

CalGal said...

You too must be in one of the ACS "targeted" counties. I jumped in as a novice blogger to create awareness and activity by searching all blogs for information and comments— doing a little posting and back-linking to my blog Just Say No— The American Community Survey. It's a start, a grain of sand on the Cyberbeach— just a heads up.


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