By Vox Day
Recently, we’ve learned that the National Security Agency is spying on Americans through everything from their telephones to their network routers and even their thermostats. The fact that this hasn’t upset more people probably has something to do with the fact that between Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook, people aren’t keeping much, if anything, in private anymore.
These days, one often has little choice about learning what someone had for breakfast and one may actually have to block them in order to prevent them from sharing their thoughts about what they might like to have for dinner.
Let’s face it, the sort of people who don’t hesitate to send pictures of their exposed genitalia to each other simply are not a people who are much bothered about the fact that someone might be watching them. I read 1984 as a cautionary tale; it never occurred to me that one might actually feel more than a little bit sorry for Big Brother. All the effort that has gone into building this vast panopticon strikes me as largely wasted, as all the NSA had to do was offer to follow anyone who asked and they’d have been given more than enough to do.
And yet, it’s not a joke. Even if people don’t care about privacy anymore and have no expectation of it, there are some serious problems lurking in the shadows of the NSA. Consider these remonstrations on the White House report on the agency’s shenanigans, which were exposed by their former contractor, Edward Snowden.
(1) Governments should not use surveillance to steal industry secrets to advantage their domestic industry;
(2) Governments should not use their offensive cyber capabilities to change the amounts held in financial accounts or otherwise manipulate the financial systems.
Now, correct me if I’m wrong, but it appears that the White House panel is wagging its finger at the agency for things it has already done. The industrial espionage is not especially problematic; it may be stupid and short-sighted for a country that hopes to export its world-leading software services to the rest of the world, but it’s the sort of thing that nearly all governments everywhere have always done. Industrial espionage is practically a core function of government.
Nor is manipulating the financial systems anything out of the ordinary. Governments have been doing that since they first minted coins and realized that no one would notice right away if some less valuable metal was substituted for the official one. But “to change the amounts held in financial accounts”? Now, that is more than a little worrisome.
Why? Because the federal government is, by any normal accounting standard, bankrupt. It’s not just bankrupt in terms of cash flow, it’s bankrupt in terms of what its expected expenditures are and the expected tax base of the country. At the moment, the Chinese are filling in the gap, holding more than $1 trillion in outstanding Treasury bills. But what happens when – not if – the Chinese stop financing the federal debt?
Well, Congress could stop spending money it doesn’t have. That is technically an option, however absurd it sounds, and if you’re done laughing now, you’ll soon realize that it’s no laughing matter to consider where the money is going to come from. There is, after all, presently $9.3 trillion in American bank deposits.
Vox Day is a national libertarian and the author of “The Return of the Great Depression” and “The Irrational Atheist.” He is a former columnist for WorldNetDaily, Chronicle Features, and Universal Press Syndicate, and is a member of Mensa and IGDA. He also is the first writer in the history of the Science Fiction Writers of America to be expelled from the organization. Visit his blog, Vox Popoli.