June 8, 2013

Because you can do it does not mean you should do it

Do your job.
The United States government has long had the technical ability to electronically gather phone and internet records of anyone they felt the need to monitor.  They didn't always do it though.   The government under the Patriot Act expanded it's ability to monitor communications, electronic or telecommunications. It was intended to focus on threats, not on everyone in the country.

The problem with monitoring everyone, besides collecting too much data to handle, is that you go from intelligent national security to a real existential threat to privacy and by association, liberty. While president Obama says that he welcomes that debate, the point rings hollow.  The effort to expand the intrusive nature of this spying went ahead without the debate.  He's not apologizing for that, he's trying to throw out a two word rationalization ("national security") and then act as if it was always a part of his plan to scale it back as he won the war on terror (which he clearly HAS NOT).  By saying he welcomes this debate (and really, it should be a discussion, not a debate), he's trying to convince the electorate that this is healthy.  The truth is if this had not been exposed he would be expanding his efforts still.  Caught out, he's trying to cover himself and his administration.

The truth is that there are a number of things that can be done but aren't done.  Or if they are done, they are rife with problems.  For example some things that are inadvisable or at least require more debate before proceeding, include (NOTE: I am not taking positions either way on these items in this post, just pointing out examples);
  • stem cell research
  • abortion
  • animal cloning
  • human cloning
  • mandatory organ harvesting
  • Eugenics
  • running up insurmountable national debt
  • accepting bribes
  • pork barrel politics
  • drone strikes of Americans abroad
  • legalizing drugs
  • plastic surgery
  • using child labor and sweatshops in production
  • disregarding safety concerns in construction
  • protesting homosexuality and the military at the funerals of fallen soldiers
  • violent video games
Just because we can do any of those examples, doesn't mean we should.  Some of them may end up being perfectly acceptable but significant debate should be required first.  I think we all know that mass scale espionage on Americans belongs on that list far ahead of most of those items.

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