Corruption Niche: III

Editorial note: This post was written before recent “unexpected” scandals about NSA surveilance of American’s phones and internet. I decided to post the text as it was writtten.

You’ll note that I listed cell phones as “a miraculously unexploited corruption niche” and was “puzzled” why it hadn’t been exploited. Apparently the deed was already done. Puzzlement solved!

You’ll also note that I listed internet privacy as a “mixed bag” instead of “your actions are being monitored by the NSA right now”. Silly me!

All this broke thanks to an active press.  Not our press of course. Since the 2008 election cycle the mainstream press has been nothing but Democratic fluffers.  Thank goodness the British press filled the role our domestic press abdicated. Eventually America’s mainstream news will stop being presidential cheerleaders or finish going broke. Since they dropped the ball (and buried it) I’m hoping the latter will go down quickly and open up opportunities for actual journalism again.  I miss reading newspapers!

Earlier I mentioned my theory that when a situation is ripe for corruption, someone will step into that role. Today I though I’d list a few random corruption niches. They’re in no particular order and not related to any particular axe I’m grinding. They’re just part of a game I play called “how long before someone does predictable evil and everyone acts shocked”.

Misused niches:

  • Abu Garab: I’m not going to discuss this one further.
  • Red Light Cameras: Studies show they cause more harm than good. In a corruption free world that would be enough to eliminate them.
  • State Sales of Alcohol: The 21st amendment repealed prohibition in 1933. Eighty years later some states still maintain monopolies on liquor sales.  Al Capone would have been proud to seize power and keep it in a stranglehold like that!
  • BATFE “Walking” Guns To Mexico: Illegally routing guns to criminals in another nation isn’t a good idea. That’s why it’s illegal! It takes a lifetime of smelling your own farts to somehow justify being the guy in charge of enforcing a law while deliberately breaking it. Not that anybody in power cares, but several people wound up dead.
  • Strategic Oil Reserve: America wisely stashes oil for times of emergency; like war. Not long ago high prices were sold as sufficiently tragic to dip into the reserve. Thus a prudent idea became a political squeak toy.
  • Japanese Internment During World War II: American citizens were hauled from their houses and imprisoned en masse. This travesty was implemented by people who presumably slept soundly after what they’d done. Remember this, Americans can and have hauled Americans into internment camps. The question is never “can the unimaginable happen in free America”; it has happened before and it can always happen again.

Miraculously unexploited niches:

  • TSA “perv-scans”: TSA’s scanners take millions of “nude” images. Could there be a greater temptation to a pervert? I expected some of those images to show up on the Internet. I still do. The TSA has delayed the inevitable longer than I expected.
  • Black boxes in cars: Modern cars collect data as you drive. As fas as I know this hasn’t been harvested too often for misused too deviously. Give it time.
  • Cell phones: Cell phones (as required by law) are equipped with a GPS. Your phone knows where you are, is never off, and reports its location to cell towers without your knowledge. If you’re like most Americans you’re stupid enough to carry it around the way an anemic supermodel totes a Chihuahua. It also knows everyone you talk to, when, for how long, and how frequently. Even Orwell didn’t imagine everyone carrying around a tracking device that writes down your every move. I’m not sure why law enforcement hasn’t gone nuts with this juicy prize? This puzzles me.

Mixed bags:

  • Drones in America: In 1984 the Terminator was a silly movie. By 2001 armed Predator drones were killing people in Pakistan and Uzbekistan. On March 6th Rand Paul filibustered the Senate just to answer the following question; “Is it legal to kill an American in America with a drone?” Talk about an easy question!  The answer should have been “No” and sane people could have answered within minutes. The slow and murky response to Paul’s simple question tells me more than I want to know.
  • Internet Privacy: Google, Facebook, Amazon, Microsoft, credit card companies, etc… They’ve been aggregating personal data like it’s their religion. So far the worst they’ve done is gradually upgrade “v1agra” spam to “targeted advertising” that’s laughably inaccurate. Privacy hazards are terrible and ubiquitous but so far the dial hasn’t been turned to eleven.
  • Public Schools: Our public schools cost a fortune and many truly suck. They often employ spectacularly incompetent people under the management of equally incompetent administrations. They seem intent on (and successful at) creating the next generation of illiterate dolts. There’s no doubt some teachers are lazy, others are morons, many are bullies, and a few truly rotten apples are pedophiles (a pox on them!). Then again it’s not universal misery. Some teachers actually teach, a few do so very well, and not every administration is a disaster. Some kids even reach adulthood without being pummeled into intellectual mush. Good for them! On the spectrum from “excellent” to “hell with ample funding” schools could be vastly better or they could drift a little farther into the depths to which they’re prone. I call it a mixed bag and am thankful I’m neither a student nor a teacher.

About AdaptiveCurmudgeon

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3 Responses to Corruption Niche: III

  1. MaxDamage says:

    Speaking of internet privacy, unless you pay with cash and refuse to give a telephone number or other identifying item, you’re being tracked. You’re being marketed to. This is not news, and it is not new. Computers are just making it easier to store and correlate the data.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2012/02/19/magazine/shopping-habits.html?pagewanted=all

    I have to applaud Target for how they’ve beaten the other retailers at this game, and I give them my business. I just do it with cash.

    – Max

  2. evan price says:

    Progressive Insurance (And the name should quickly tell you what the politics they share are…) has a device called “Snapshot” that monitors your driving habits- hard braking, amount of driving, etc. and it is uploaded to Progressive’s computers…in theory if they like your data- you don’t drive much, drive slowly and without much G-loading, etc- then they give you a discount rate on your auto insurance.
    Doesn’t take much to extrapolate this to more aggressive monitoring, and when the advanced air-bag system data is included (the newer ‘advanced’ airbag systems keep a running monitor of what the car is doing- speeds, brake application, weight of passenger, etc to in theory deploy the airbags in a crash with only enough force to restrain the seat’s occupant and not full power unless needed…) and you cross-link it to the OnStar system which has total access to every bit of data and electrical equipment in the vehicle- including activating the hands-free microphone without notice or awareness of the driver, AND having remote door lock/unlock, remote engine disable, etc, and GPS tracking…. Orwell would be proud.
    Now smash that all together, and you come up with an annual electronic log that each car would be mandated to have installed. Perhaps each licensed driver has one- electronic drivers’ license perhaps? Like the logbooks for commercial truckers- and this has to be stuck in a slot to allow the car to run, replacing the ignition key. A GPS and time referenced log is kept of the vehicle’s activities including speed, if you came to a full stop at stop signs, etc. and this log would then be turned over for inspection on demand at checkpoints or when the license would need to be renewed…and tickets and fines assigned based on how the driver had been doing during the previous period, maybe even not renewing and re-activating the electronic license if you are a really bad boy. Cars would be made to not run if the electronic license is not slotted in place. Adding RFID technology to this, traffic cops wouldn’t need a radar gun- just an RFID interrogator, as you drive past your own car would tattle on you to the waiting traffic officer who pulls you over and issues a citation on the spot. Maybe there’s a police password or key that gets entered to flag this event as already having been issued a citation and you don’t get double whammied at renewal time.

    Sounds like science fiction, but it is all 100% possible with existing technology and a swing of the court system just a little more towards totalitarian dystopia.

    • MaxDamage says:

      To tie into a previous thread, that stuff is awfully difficult to do when you drive a ’74 Gremlin or an ’83 El Camino or even an ’89 F-150 or 2003 Accord. There is also hope to be found that electronics fail, and at some point one might help certain modules and components to fail in that slightly used car. The American spirit of bypassing what’s thrust upon us for our own good will not be denied.
      – Max

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