Waiting for Dystopia

I’m bemused and a bit bewildered at the furor over how the NSA is spying on American citizens. As a long-time faithful fan of NCIS, Law & Order and so many other cop shows, I’ve become familiar with how easy it is for government agents to get our phone and computer records. Our photos are easy to find on traffic cameras and security footage. It’s the meat and potatoes of television crime shows, so I can’t believe there’s anyone over the age of 5 who doesn’t know when someone is compromising evidence or has forgotten to wear his or her gloves at the crime scene.

Portrait of FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover. (no ...

Feared FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover – Rumor has it he wore a dress when he wasn’t accusing Americans of being Communists.

We know there are cameras trained on us everywhere we go. It’s even more intense in Great Britain and most parts of Europe, so this isn’t just an American aberration. It’s everywhere.

It must have been 20 years since we first learned about the trap door in Windows. You remember. That’s the security hole designed to let the government peek into our computers. All operating systems have holes in them. Any 14-year old hacker can find them, so surely the FBI can do almost as well. Did anyone think that the holes in our operating systems have gone away? Been patched up? Really?

Blaming one political party or the other, one president or another for extending and expanding the surveillance that’s been ongoing  for decades is pointless. It’s not going to stop no matter what they say or who is in the White House. The agencies that run the surveillance will merely improve their ability to camouflage their activities. Our governments are not going to stop monitoring our computers, telephones, bank accounts, or anything else. We can’t even stop Google and Facebook from having their way with us, so what makes you think we can stop the FBI or Scotland Yard?

It is wrong that governments spy on their citizens? Isn’t that a gross violation of our privacy? In theory I agree. They shouldn’t listen to our boring phone calls. I think it’s possible the cruelest punishment of all would be monitoring the phone calls of adolescent girls, but I digress.

My opinion is (a) it’s not up to me or you, and (b) we can’t have it both ways. We can’t demand more and better security yet expect the government to accomplish it without compromising our privacy.

So, we are faced with a theoretical (but not real) choice. Do we want security or privacy? As for the theoretical but not real aspect of the choice: it’s not up to us. In the United States, agencies of the government are in charge of national security. It’s their job. This didn’t start with Obama , Bush or even Regan. It goes back a long way, at least as far back as when J. Edgar Hoover was The Man and probably long before that too.

This is not an area on which we get to vote. It has been this way since before any of us were born and will continue to be this way after all of us are dead and gone.

Continuing to whine and bitch about it isn’t going to change anything. If you don’t want to be monitored, stop using the Internet. Give up your cell phones. Keep your money under the mattress. Live on a farm in the middle of nowhere. Grow your own food and generate your own electricity. Don’t have a mortgage. Pay all your bills in cash. Better yet, don’t have bills.

Don’t work a regular job and move frequently. Don’t collect social security, Medicare or for that matter, file an income tax return. Don’t register a car and don’t vote. Should you have kids, home school them. Even if you do all these things, if THEY want to find you, they will. Because sooner or later you have to interact with other people and people talk.

75-FireAndIcePoem

I have friends who are awaiting the end the civilization, if not the world. They are planning against the day when they will live in the Dystopia of their nightmares. They want to make sure they have enough guns.

Personally, I think lots of bottled water and canned goods would be more useful. And blankets, first aid supplies, and warm clothing. But I’m not expecting the world to end, and if it does, I figure it will just wither away. Not with a bang, nope, uh-uh. I’m leaning toward the long, tired whimper.

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Categories: #American-history, #News, #Writing, Computers, Crime and Cops, Government, Life, Software, Technology

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

8 replies

  1. I don’t understand the political environment in this country and the stupidity of elected officials, pick either/all parties.
    Our printers encode all printed papers and its been that way since day one. The government is not sitting around listening to us, and if they did so what. Maybe learn my new recipe or help me find my lost keys.

    Recently at a dinner where I mentioned the atom splitting accelerator that was built in Sweden, I think. A couple of men knew what I was talking about better than I did and continued the conversation. It ended with one
    man saying the days of the United States leading in science or innovation are gone. We have become a fear based nation,
    So sad so true.

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    • We are so busy worrying about stupid stuff. I’m not sure the days of the U.S leading in the sciences ever started. We’ve been behind since the 1950s at least. We’ve had our share of good scientists, but many of them were actually from other places … like Einstein … not exactly born in the U.S.A.

      As for the rest of it, every country spies on its citizens. They ALL do it. They did it in Rome, in the middle ages, and they all do it now. Technology changes, but the basic concept doesn’t. More to the point, human nature doesn’t change even though our tools do. Everyone gets all outraged, like we ever had anything to say about it at any point in the past. Has everyone forgotten Richard Nixon? J. Edgar Hoover? Do people really think the tens of thousands of traffic cams are all there to monitor cars and trucks? The entire GPS system offers a convenience (people like me don’t get lost as often), but it’s primarily a military tracking system and surely everyone knows that.

      We are not REALLY that stupid, are we?

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  2. My question, is so what’s new about all this? Seems like it’s more of the same old same old but the info is just getting out there and the blame game continues. Perhaps the intensity is upped because of the economy and stakes at hand, desperation, but really… I think I’m with you on this one. Very well written. Paulette

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    • When have governments NOT spied on their citizens?

      As far as I can tell, never. The technology changes, but as long as there have been government, there are have secret police and spying. Rome, Greece, Egypt … and they aren’t going to stop. So, it seems to me that unless we all want to make ourselves crazy, we need to just get on with our lives. But of course, that’s just me, you, and a few other same people.

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      • You made me laugh and I just went into a very silly thought process. Here it is: it’s all a conspiracy being exercised by the motion picture industry… what would we do without all the spy films, including boy meets girl, girl breaks into boy’s computer… Okay, enough silliness from me. I don’t know what the hell about yours got me laughing. I suppose that might be the only sane response and this may be the first time in my life I can boast of such. Thanks!

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      • I’m SHOCKED at the government spying on us in this day and age. Positively SHOCKED!! I think our Dogs have micro-chips hidden in their necks and are being used as moles. Those wailing chorales they serenade us with may be code messages sent back to their director. Absolutely SHOCKING!!

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        • Yes, in all our history, nothing like this has EVER happened before! I’ll have to send a strongly worded letter to somebody. I wonder who?

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