Government spying in the national economy is a barometer how slightly the “good people” in Washington esteem us commoners. The news accounts about the National Security Agency’s obtaining “a complete set of phone records” from all Verizon customers shock the usual groups such as the American Civil Liberties Union, which said “it’s analogous to the FBI stationing an agent outside every home *** to track who goes in and who comes out.”
The revelations about Verizon are said to be just a sliver of the U.S. data the agency is scarfing up. Emails and Web browsing habits are part of the federal government’s storage. Your most foolish chat, your niece’s most pointless Facebook post, your wife’s most trivial comment on Twitter, your daughter’s latest Etsy storefront price update — all are swept into Uncle’s cache for future reference. Today I clicked an ad on WND.com and visitedundergroundassaultrifle.com. That fact now waits in the trove to be used as “intelligence” against me as needed and at Uncle’s agents’ discretion to discern my interests, my curiosities, my researches, my pet issues, my seriousness about any one matter, my sins and vulnerabilities.
It matters little that the warrantless search results against me might not be suitable for use in court, not having been obtained with a warrant, and not strong enough as proof of a purported crime. I hear naive people say, “If you have nothing to hide, government surveillance is nothing to worry about.” Well, our presumption of innocence has been lost. In the continuing rise of the unitary nation-state conceived originally as the international agent of 13 and then 50 independent states, the agent seems to have become the master. The states are unwilling to assert their interests as against Washington in defense of their citizens.
The national government is driving toward an attainment of the attributes of God. God, for example, is omniscient. He is all knowing. Total knowledge is part of His providence. Total knowledge works hand in hand with omnipresence — the sovereign God is in every place — and with omnipotence; He does whatever He will; He saves whom He will, He destroys whom He will; He causes floods and famines, and topples Pharaohs and Ahabs.
I expect an eventual end to the American welfare state, a denouement that will decapitalize millions of dependents — but bring opportunity to others. For those who see themselves in the second group, disaster will save us. Bankruptcy will free us. Mass inflation will teach us. Confiscatory penalties under national and municipal bond market collapses will spur us. The collapse ahead, projected vividly in the libertarian and Christian press, will be for us opportunity.
Now, to get back to the question of surveillance. We cannot stop it. Complaining about it does no good. It’s useless to say things such as, “If we don’t bring this to an end we will lose our freedoms.” Sir, political and economic freedoms are long gone. Surveillance is something we have to live with, though it is pernicious. Total surveillance will continue until the series of financial crackups, cyberattacks and violence bring it to an end.
Federal Regulations and ways to defy them
Uncle Sam’s pretended war against terrorism is mere pretext for him; he sees his real enemies as domestic, with the Internet itself being the main one. Because Christianity is the religion of freedom and the free market, it is understandable that his officers constantly are attacking it, and favoring Mohammedanism, a religion of armed imperialism rife with external controls on members of the public. On the Web are those other perceived enemies, freedom-loving constitution-quoting people in the 50 states, and a nascent sense of regional and local identity that the Internet both fosters and limits. His surveillance apparatus will not stop, and will not shrink. Two ways to fight back by not fighting back, by hiding in plain sight:
1. The baffling work of programmer John Kozlowski in Cleveland, Tenn.
Mr. Kozlowski is devising a secure email system as part of a larger one-man effort to let technology — versus policy — control the growth of the Internet. Related to his secure email project is creation of websites that “cannot be taken down by any central authority,” as he puts it. Mr. Kozlowski proposes a rootless domain system. As I am involved in this project as a “patient capital” investor, I have obtained ownership of the top-level-domain nooga. If you run a computer repair shop in Hixson, you can buy from me for F$10 a URL such as Macrepair.nooga or FixyourPC.nooga. The most daring work, still incomplete, is for secure email, ‡ which builds on rootless domains. A big problem: Mr. Kozlowski is badly undercapitalized. If he is right, his work is part of a second Internet technology wave that will sweep away yet other official gatekeepers and monopolists such as Icann and, downstream from it, middlemen such as GoDaddy. Contact Mr. Kozlowski at email@example.com.
Avatar replacement therapy
2. The pleasure of personal dealings. This solution involves thinking more deeply into local economy. It means having more personal relationships, fewer digital ones. More of the natural man, less of the electronic avatar. If we have more conversations in person, we won’t need digital methods of communication as much. Let’s pretend Chattanooga is a town smaller than it is. Bigger than Hooterville in “Green Acres” on TV, bigger than Mitford in the Jan Karon novels, bigger than “our town” in the Thornton Wilder play.
But small enough for us to live out the small-town ideal of local economy. Adhering to a lococentric framework probably won’t reduce your exposure much. The exposure to which I refer is that of federal jurisdiction over interstate commerce and the use of communication wires such as used by telephones. Avoiding the avatar life may may cut your phone use and surveillance exposure by a niggardly 0.5 percent. That’s not much. And that percentage might get even tinier if God prospers your life and relations, your business, and you get busier than you are now on phone, fax, email and Skype.
Well, adherence to principle is always right. Adherence to your own innocence is always right, especially if you are. Your attempts to focus on personal versus telephonic conversations may bring unexpected rewards. What do you suppose these unanticipated blessings might look like? Shall we think more in this direction? Please contact me through my website.
(David Tulis is host of Nooganomics.com from 1 to 3 p.m. weekdays at Copperhead 1240 AM, a show that streams live at copperhead1240.com. He covers local economy and free markets in Chattanooga and beyond.)
‡ “Email encryption hides the ‘what’ but still allows the ‘who’ and ‘when’ to be seen and logged,” Mr. Kozlowski says. “This can be seen by the recent seizure of records from the AP and the UK’s snooper bill. ShofarPortfolio’s Matryoshka Communications (http://ShofarPortfolio.com/Matryoshka
) model uses multiple encryption and hides the when emails are sent and to whom.”