Published: Friday, 26 December 2014 11:48
Congress stands ever ready to threaten the freedom of the internet – if but given half a chance.
Yes, they talk about the need to "level the playing field" when it comes to taxation and wanting to make sure that all businesses function under the same rules, but be assured that that's simply a necessary ruse. It brings short-sighted business organizations on board and offers a more reasonable–sounding excuse than does the ending of free speech, which is the ultimate goal.
Most politicians, especially those with grand agendas, hate the fact that the internet affords commoners such ease of access to information and the ability to communicate so broadly. It makes any efforts of control almost impossible.
Tyrants, the world around, must surely be scratching their heads in puzzlement, at that lack of acumen on the part of any would-be US dictators. The uncontrolled spread of information and unrestrained communication among commoners is undermining the progressives at every turn. They should have taken some notes from Putin in Russia or Kim Jong-un in North Korea. Transparency in government, freedom of the press, freedom of speech, even freedom of expression in all artistic venues, must be brought under control, if not completely eliminated, for any attempts of absolute control to be successful.
Wouldn't it be great, after all, if the failure of the Obamacare website could have been kept under wraps and everyone was walking around in the belief that it had succeeded spectacularly? Of course, there would be individuals who would be facing serious dilemmas, but who would know, if they couldn't take their problems to media or talk about them on-line? Who would care? If no one knew about it, it simply wouldn't be true.
The fiasco of the Benghazi scandal would never have happened. With proper controls in place anyone wanting to go off-script would have had no place to go. How the administration portrayed the story would have been a fact of history. It would probably be no more than a footnote of history that an American ambassador and several soldiers were killed in an unexpected burst of outrage over an American generated video. Well maybe not – how could any kind of video be seen on the internet if it were reserved but for official things. OK, so the story line would have had to be different, but be assured there would have been an unchallenged official story.
Wouldn't being able to squelch the media be even better than taking the Census Bureau under control of the White House, to be able to manipulate economic numbers. It would more efficient to just control the media and to keep political opponents from making comments about such inconvenient realities as the low participation rate in the workforce?
And, who would really care about IRS abuses if they didn't know about it? In fact, if you think about it, keeping the citizens uninformed is actually an act of kindness, protecting them from knowledge that would only upset them. Groups like the Tea Party would silently twist in the wind as a good example of what happens to those who disagree.
If only President Richard Nixon had had such control over information, it would have saved him, and the nation, a lot of unnecessary anguish. In fact, US history would be very different at every turn if it were not for freedom of information – both in terms of what happened and in how the story was told.
It is quite ironic that just prior to a progressive surge to strengthen government in the US and to diminish personal freedom, the kind of media and information controls necessary to sustain a dictatorship, was lost. The Fairness Doctrine was rescinded. Part of that unraveling came because of market pressures and new innovations – most especially the internet. Those forces would have made a regulated media and regulated communication industries, as they existed prior to that time, irrelevant, were they not cut lose to compete. It makes one think that within a free society there are more checks and balances at work than just those spelled out in the Constitution.
It is astounding how greatly our founding fathers were in understanding what is necessary to sustain a free society. Freedom of Speech is the first amendment of the Bill of Rights for a very good reason. Without it, lapsing into tyranny is an absolute certainty for any country. But as visionary as they were, our founding fathers couldn't have imagined something like the internet. If they had, they would have readily understood how incredibly important it could be to assuring individual freedom, forever, not just for the US, but for the world – if and only if, it is left open and free and unfettered.
Actually, one has to have some hope that as a technology, it is beyond the realm of any government to control, every bit as much as it is beyond the realm of government to control the ingenuity of individuals. (We do see the evidence of how well they build a website.)
Any businessperson willing to sell out this freedom for the purpose of gaining some short-lived equity in taxation doesn't deserve either the freedom or the economic success it brings. There is an alternative to their approach, if they believe that unequal taxation is hurting their business. Rather than taking political steps to impose the burden on internet competitors, take political steps to remove the burden on themselves. Of course, that is the much harder battle to fight, since they won't find Congressmen eagerly lining up to help them out, as they do the quest to control the internet. But, because of such dynamics, the fight for freedom has never been easy. That doesn't mean it's not worth the effort – or the lost revenue, if that is what's necessary.
Such business groups ought to take measure of how much the unfettered internet has boosted their success. An entire era of unprecedented growth and wealth generation happened in the US (and the world) through the previous two or three decades because of it. At every turn the internet and improved means of communication has allowed business to do more at less cost. It's created whole new industries and millions of jobs and occupations that didn't exist before. It created a standard of living for all that was previously unimaginable. Such is the power of freedom – freedom of speech, freedom to communicate. Internet freedom is far more relevant to the well-being of the masses than wealth redistribution or entitlements.
So given, just the tiniest of toe-holds — the barest tip of a nose through the tent flap – given that, how quickly will any president, who can say "you didn't build that," shut down all those other avenues of wealth generation, once they have the means of control in their hands?
It is actually not too extreme to say that if everyday citizens lose a free and open internet, we lose the battle for all our freedoms.
Published: Thursday, 04 December 2014 17:21
From the very beginning everyone knew that what they were doing didn't have broad support. From the very beginning they knew it was wrong. From the very beginning they understood that they were ruling against the will of the people.
As they met behind closed doors and voted without allowing anyone to read the legislation, the legislators were declaring to the world that they knew people would not like it. They were admitting that they understood that they were doing wrong.
Nothing could have insulted the American people more, or could have more obviously abandoned the tenets of the Constitution more thoroughly, than to announce "We have to pass the health care bill so that you can find out what is in it." And while they were delivering a destructive blow to the Constitution, they were most starkly revealing the kind of individuals they are.
What the legislation was, is irrelevant.
That what they were doing couldn't bear the light of day would have raised doubts in the mind of an ethical person. For American citizens, the conclusion, about what kind of person each and every one of these legislators are, should have been an easy one, and apparently it was. It is appropriate that 29 of those who voted for Obamacare are no longer members of the august body that is supposed to represent the will of the American people. And, they now stand, unfit to serve any role in which honor, integrity and statesmanship is necessary.
That what they did is a colossal mess and likely to wreak more havoc and pain upon the American populace shouldn't be a surprise to anyone – why else would others have opposed it? Because they thought it would serve them well?
Besides being unethical and untrustworthy, these were people who did not understand the purpose and benefit of full public scrutiny – of open discussion and debate – when crafting legislation. The give and take, the research and scrutiny, involved in a big public discussion is meant to reduce the likelihood of creating of "colossal mess." If these Congressmen actually knew that and pursued the behind-closed-doors approach, anyhow – then whatever their purpose, it had nothing to do with actually helping the citizens they represented.
Any Congressman, whose arrogance, self-interest and/or ignorance supersedes their intended role in a representative democracy, deserves to be ousted at the very first opportunity available to the voters, and they should never again be allowed to serve in any public capacity that requires integrity and character.