MCViewPoint

Opinion from a Libertarian ViewPoint

Posts Tagged ‘personal freedom’

Don’t Smile for the Cameras – LewRockwell

Posted by M. C. on September 19, 2019

https://www.lewrockwell.com/2019/09/andrew-p-napolitano/dont-smile-for-the-camera/

By

A trial in Great Britain has just concluded with potentially dangerous implications for personal freedom here.

Great Britain is currently the most watched country in the Western world — watched, that is, by its own police forces. In London alone, the police have erected more than 420,000 surveillance cameras in public places. That amounts to 48 cameras per 1,000 residents. What do the cameras capture? Everything done and seen in public.

The cameras use facial recognition technology that can capture a grimace, a pimple, a freckle, even an eye blink as you walk the streets. Software then compares whatever the camera captures to government databases. By touching the screen showing your image, the police can have at their fingertips instantly a full dossier on you — your medical, financial, law enforcement, educational, personal and employment records. Stated differently, by looking at your face on a computer screen, and without a search warrant or even any suspicion about you, British police can amass in a few seconds all the data that the government has accumulated about you.

These procedures were recently challenged by a privacy advocate named Ed Bridges in a trial in Britain’s High Court. He learned that the police had twice scanned his face into their databases and accessed personal data about him — once while he walked to a restaurant and once while at a political rally. His lawyers argued that the police need a basis in fact — some articulable suspicion — to scan anyone’s face into their database, and that without that suspicion, the police are effectively engaged in a virtual fishing expedition among innocent folks…

One would think that this Orwellian in-your-face invasion of personal freedom would have shocked the conscience of the court. It didn’t. The court sided with the police.

Could the British model happen here?

Today, a half-dozen American police departments, including New York City, Chicago, Detroit and Orlando, Florida, have begun to use facial recognition surveillance, and in none of these places has the elected governing body authorized it. Politicians have looked the other way. Only in San Francisco — where readers of this column will recall the city government infringes upon the freedom of speech — has the governing body voted to prohibit the police from using facial recognition.

Great Britain — where many American-style civil liberties are protected — lacks a written constitution. Instead it has a 600-year-old constitutional tradition, acknowledged in court rulings and reflected in legislation. Yet, as we have seen, court rulings can bend with the political winds. Those winds are often fanned by the intelligence community and by law enforcement, which have succeeded in establishing sufficient fear among the public and sufficient acclimation to surveillance so that folks like Ed Bridges are made to appear as outliers wasting their time rather than patriots defending personal liberty.

Could the British model happen here?

Our federal government’s 60,000-person strong domestic spying apparatus already captures every keystroke — even those which we think we have deleted — on every device used to transmit digital data on fiber optic cable in the United States. That covers every mobile, desktop and mainframe device. The government, of course, will not acknowledge this publicly. Yet some of its officials have told as much to me privately. They have also told me that they believe that they can get away with this so long as the data captured is not used in criminal prosecutions.

Why is that? The last thing the feds and rogue police want is for government agents to be compelled to answer under oath how they acquired the evidence they are attempting to introduce. Yet the admission of spying assumes that the right to privacy, which is guaranteed in Fourth Amendment to the Constitution, is protected from governmental invasion only for criminal prosecution purposes. And dozens of American police departments have accepted this assumption as they have begun to use devices that attract cellphone signals as one walks or drives near them, thus enabling them to follow movements of the innocent without suspicion…

The Fourth Amendment is an intentional obstacle to government, an obstacle shown necessary by history to curtail tyrants.

Could the British model happen here? Digitally, it has. Could the ubiquitous cameras be far behind?

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Des costumes de policier et policière pour petits et grands

 

 

 

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Sometimes you just need to start from scratch | The Daily Bell

Posted by M. C. on July 12, 2019

Bin Laden is winning.

https://www.thedailybell.com/all-articles/news-analysis/sometimes-you-just-need-to-start-from-scratch/

By Joe Jarvis

…Massachusetts is the birthplace of the American Revolution. Its where England got the middle finger at the Boston Tea Party.

Its where colonists said, “You’re not taking our guns,” and started shooting rather than let a tyrannical government rule them.

And now there is a “No Guns,” sign at the Battle Road Visitor Center where that first battle took place.

Sometimes it’s better to start somewhere new, where you actually have a shot at building and maintaining the life you want. We aren’t going to fix the government of Massachusetts anymore than we can stop a house from aging.

There is no shame in abandoning Massachusetts, and bringing those ideals of freedom with you, wherever you go.

I’ve already moved to Florida, where I enjoy much more personal freedom and pay lower taxes compared to Massachusetts. My next stop is probably Puerto Rico, which offers probably the lowest taxes in the world for Americans who use Act 20.

And my final destination may be outside of the USA, in one of the up and coming countries that started from scratch after being mired in socialism or infected by the US drug war.

Better yet, I hope to someday live in a country that doesn’t even exist yet.

It’s not about the physical landmass or the proximity to historical events. But you can always bring new life to the American dream, and American values, even if you have to leave the USA to do it.

My love for freedom will never die. But it may very well spread all across the globe.

You don’t have to play by the rules of the corrupt politicians, manipulative media, and brainwashed peers.

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If the Terrorists “Hated Our Freedom,” then They Won — 5 ...

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What Robert Reich Failed to Say about Marijuana Legalization – The Future of Freedom Foundation

Posted by M. C. on June 22, 2019

https://www.fff.org/explore-freedom/article/what-robert-reich-failed-to-say-about-marijuana-legalization/

by

…But even though Reich is a liberal in every sense of the word, conservatives should be paying attention to what he says about marijuana legalization. And so should liberals, since, after all, drug freedom is not a tenet of liberalism.

A recent post on Reich’s blog titled “Why We Must Legalize Marijuana” also appeared at Salon. He begins,

The federal prohibition on marijuana has been a disaster. For decades, millions of Americans have been locked up and billions of dollars have been wasted. It’s also deepened racial and economic inequality.

We must end this nonsensical prohibition.

The facts are staggering. In 2017, more Americans were arrested for marijuana possession than for murder, rape, aggravated assault, and robbery combined. That’s one marijuana arrest every minute.

The costs associated with enforcing this ban — including arrests, court costs, and incarceration — reach nearly $14 billion a year.

Prohibition also hurts the economy in terms of lost wages. And Americans with criminal records have a harder time finding a job and getting the education they need.

That marijuana prohibition is a colossal waste of money with costs that greatly exceed any of its supposed benefits is reason enough to legalize marijuana. But Reich doesn’t stop there. He also maintains that “legalizing, taxing, and regulating” marijuana “is good for the economy and creates jobs.” He believes that marijuana should be taxed by state and local governments the way cigarettes and alcohol are. Reich points to states such as Colorado and Washington that tax and regulate marijuana and generate “millions of dollars for health care, education, and other public investments.” As a libertarian, I certainly oppose taxes and regulations on marijuana, just as I oppose taxes and regulations on cigarettes and alcohol. But, like it or not, the fact remains that every state that has legalized marijuana has also taxed and regulated it — and reaped a windfall.

But Reich isn’t finished yet. Marijuana legalization is “more than an economic issue” because “it’s also a matter of racial justice and equality.” Reich recounts the racist origins of the federal prohibition on marijuana and asserts that “black and brown Americans are still much more likely to be arrested for marijuana than white Americans, despite using marijuana at similar rates.” He also points out that “more states are taking action to reform their laws and move toward legalization” and “support for marijuana legalization has surged in recent years, with two-thirds of Americans now in favor of it,” although I take issue with his statement that “even a majority of Republicans are in support.” “It’s time to legalize marijuana,” concludes Reich…

So Reich is certainly correct: It’s time to legalize marijuana.

Yet, there are some extremely important things that Robert Reich failed to say about marijuana legalization. And they are, in fact, much more important than anything he says in his article.

Reich has a law degree. He should know that the Constitution says absolutely nothing about marijuana or any other drug. He should know that the Constitution gives no authority to the federal government to have a Controlled Substances Act, a Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), a drug czar, an Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP), or a Domestic Cannabis Eradication/Suppression Program. He should know that the federal government has not only no authority under the Constitution to prohibit marijuana possession, but also that it has no authority whatsoever to have anything to do with marijuana.

So why didn’t Reich say so? They are things that any liberal, progressive, socialist, or Democrat could say. And they are also things that any conservative or Republican could say, and especially those who claim to revere the Constitution and say that the Constitution should be followed.

But that’s not all that Reich failed to say about marijuana legalization.

He failed to say that it is not the proper role of government to be concerned with the medical or recreational habits of Americans.

He failed to say that it is not the business of government bureaucrats to interfere with what Americans want to put in their mouths, noses, veins, or lungs.

He failed to say that it is an illegitimate purpose of government to regulate what Americans desire to eat, drink, smoke, inhale, or inject.

He failed to say that people should be able to do anything that’s peaceful as long as they don’t infringe the personal or property rights of others and are responsible for the consequences of their actions.

He failed to say that every crime should have a tangible and identifiable victim who has suffered measurable harm to his person or measurable damages to his property.

He failed to say that no American should ever be arrested, fined, or imprisoned for possessing a plant his government doesn’t approve of.

He failed to say that the government’s war on marijuana is a war on personal freedom, private property, personal responsibility, individual liberty, personal and financial privacy, and the free market.

But at least he said what he did about marijuana legalization. That is more than most conservatives would ever say.

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Despite Liberalizing Marijuana Laws, the War on Drugs ...

 

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Stupidity, Evil and the Decline of the US – International Man

Posted by M. C. on June 11, 2019

https://internationalman.com/articles/stupidity-evil-and-the-decline-of-the-us/

by Doug Casey

(Today’s article is an adaptation from one of Doug’s speeches.)

It used to be that America was a country of free thinkers.

“Say what you think, and think what you say.” That’s an expression you don’t hear much anymore.

It’s much more like the world of 1984 where everything is “double think.” You need to think twice before you say something in public. You think three times before you say something when you’re standing in an airport line.

Regrettably, the US is no longer the land of the free and the home of the brave. It’s become the land of whipped and whimpering dogs that roll over on their backs and wet themselves when confronted with authority.

Now, why are Americans this way? Let me give you two reasons—though there are many more.

First, there’s a simple absence of virtue. Let’s look at the word virtue. It comes from the Latin vir, which means manly, even heroic. To the Romans, virtues were things like fortitude, nobility and courage. Those virtues are true to the root of the word.

When people think of virtues today they think of faith, hope, charity—which are not related to the word’s root meaning. These may pass as virtues in a religious sense. But, outside a Sunday school, they’re actually actually vices. This deserves a discussion, because I know it will shock many. But I’ll save that for another time.

An absence of virtues and the presence of subtle vices is insinuated throughout society. Worse, overt vices like avarice and especially envy are encouraged. Envy, in particular will become a big vice in the years to come. It’s similar to jealousy, but worse. Jealousy says “You have something I want; I’ll try to take it from you”. Envy says “You have something I want. If I can’t take it from you, I’ll destroy it, and hurt you if I can.” Jealousy and envy seem to motivate most Democratic Party presidential candidates. No wonder America is in rapid decline.

A second reason is unsound philosophy. The reigning philosophy in the US used to be based on individualism and personal freedom. It’s now statism and collectivism. But most people don’t think about philosophy—or even have a consistent worldview. More than ever, they do what seems like a good idea at the time.

The average American has problems. But his rulers are something else again. Most of the people running the US are either knaves or fools. How do we know if we are dealing with a knave or a fool? In other words, are you dealing with somebody who is evil or just stupid? To give a recent, but classic, example, are you dealing with a Dick Cheney or a George W. Bush? Do you prefer the knavish Obama, or the knavish Biden? The foolish Trump, or the foolish Pence. Not much of a real choice anywhere…

At this point, the US resembles the planet Mars, which is circled by two moons, Phobos and Deimos, fear and terror in Greek. The US is also being circled by two moons, Kakos and Chazos, evil and stupidity in Greek. It’s hard to imagine the Founding Fathers having seen that as a possibility.

One of the relatively few laws I believe in is Pareto’s Law. Most people are familiar with it as the 80-20 rule—20% of the people do 80% of the work, 20% commit 80% of the crime, and so forth. It also applies to character and ethics. Most people—80%—are basically decent. What about that other 20%? Let’s call them potential trouble sources because they can go either way. But 20% of that 20%—4%—are the sociopaths; they consistently have bad intentions. They’re usually hiding under rocks. But they like to emerge at election time.

In normal times when everything’s going along well, they can look normal. They’ll deliver the mail, or sell shoes or stocks. They’ll pet the dog, and play softball on weekends. But when circumstances in society get ugly, and reach a certain point, they start evidencing themselves. The rest of the 20% start swinging along with them. That’s the place where we are right now in the US. It’s Pareto’s Law in operation. You can see it in basically all the Democratic Party’s candidates—Bernie, Pocahontas, AOC, and two dozen others.

A lot of people believe in American Exceptionalism. A good argument can be made for America having been exceptional in the past. It’s factually correct that America is the only country founded on the principles of individualism and personal freedom. It was actually different. It was special, even unique. But I don’t think it’s true anymore… Read the rest of this entry »

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