Loc: Alexandria, VA
When it comes to abuse of people, my concerns are that: a) by the time something becomes evident to the average Joe it'll be too late or too ingrained ("what's the big deal? This has been going on for years") to roll-back; and b) the incremental erosion of Constitutional rights becomes so subtle -- we can live with a little infringement here and a little erosion there -- that one day we may wake to realize we effectively have very few of them left ...
One of the most interesting and essential aspects about the American Experiment we've been running for the past couple centuries is the balance between freedom and security: what risks we're willing to accept in exchange for the freedoms we enjoy. What's good about these recent various leaks is they have increased awareness, at least a little bit, about how that balance has become skewed, and is continuing to skew, towards a less-free state in favor of a attempt to provide "100% security." (Some would suggest that it's far less about actual security and far more about government amassing power and control, but I'll leave that for another post ;-) ... In the best of all worlds this would lead to a real national discussion on where that balance should truly lie -- in today's low-information/high entertainment distraction environment, I have my doubts as to wether that discussion will really take place ...
Another aspect of the US experiment is the question of how far to trust the government in a system developed pretty much explicitly on the notion that governments cannot be trusted. On a practical level there of course has to be a certain amount of trust or the system won't work at all. But "just trust us, safeguards are in place and everything's fine" is pretty much as anti-American an attitude as you can get.
Are these recent revelations enough to motivate the populace to demand accountability from their government and to demand a restoration of lost liberties and rights? Or are we on an inexorable path where the populace is apathetic enough in their relative comfort and distraction -- or alternatively, in their dealing with the increasing wealth imbalance and just trying to make ends meet -- to not really care?
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