Saturday, June 08, 2013
The same bureaucracy that takes the terror threat so seriously that it needs the phone and Internet records of hundreds of millions of law-abiding persons would never dream of doing a little more pre-screening in its immigration system -- by, say, according a graduate of a Yemeni madrassah a little more scrutiny than a Slovene or Fijian.It is interesting to think about this new addition to the Leviathan state in light of the fact that it is staffed by human beings who admittedly can't process all this allegedly vital information. It plainly isn't achieving its stated purpose, after all -- not that having any of this is the proper business of the government.
Given that this data is wrongfully obtained and is also not suitable for its stated purpose, it is best to consider two things: (1) What is the track record of the Obama administration regarding the use of similar types of information? and (2) What, as Ayn Rand's arch-villain, Ellsworth Toohey might ask, does this folly accomplish?
Terrorists expect the government to be chasing them, but ordinary citizens should not. Unlike terrorists, we thought we were operating with a reasonable expectation of privacy, and so were not busy covering our tracks. (Why would we?) Now, we all know that if we catch the attention of the Obama regime, they can easily dig up dirt -- or something that they might deem to be dirt -- or that they can make look like dirt. This won't necessarily happen to everyone, all the time, but the goal is to threaten anyone who might want to rock the boat. All we need are a few (more?) prominent examples.
"[Government 'scrutiny' of virtual currencies is] the kind of 'scrutiny' that a mobster gives to a rival gang cutting in on his territory." -- Harry Binswanger, in "Don't be Silly, the Entitlement State Won't Allow Bitcoin" at Forbes
"The fatalism spawned by our victim-oriented culture is much more damaging than any disorder." -- Michael Hurd, in "Disorders are not a Free Pass" at The Delaware Coast Press
"If [Chef Robert] Irvine's approach could speak, it would say: 'Think, think, think!'" -- Michael Hurd, in "Food Network's Cognitive Therapist" at The Delaware Wave
My Two Cents
I have always regarded Bitcoin as a sort of virtual "Libertarian island". Binswanger shows here that it will have essentially the same practical result. We can't make an end run around the government. We must change it for the better.
I remember getting partial credit on high school and college math exams for answers that contained such errors. (Perhaps for that reason, I remained prone to them for longer than I should have.)
But the Spanish navy can't so easily blow off the consequences of a misplaced decimal point for the design of its new submarine.