The ugly fact: our government is capturing all of our phone records. It reportedly is grabbing our credit card information, as well tracking us online. The latest “defense” of this practice? Such mined data’s no worse than the information we voluntarily provide Google or Facebook or other big, bad corporations.
This after-the-fact rationalization comes up short, however, missing that crucial “voluntary” aspect, whereby we get to choose what information we give to a corporation, including providing none at all. That’s not how the National Security Agency works. The NSA just grabs our information without our consent.
What other possible differences might there be?
There’s the crucial matter of degree, too. “The government possesses the ultimate executive power,” argued The Atlantic’s Marc Ambinder, author of Deep State, appearing on “All In with Chris Hayes” on MSNBC. “I mean, it can jail you, it can detain you, it can kill you.”
“Even though the Obama campaign and Apple . . . know more about me than perhaps members of my family, and probably the government,” Ambinder added, “what the government can do with that information is much different than what a corporation can do. They can make me buy something or vote for someone; the government can imprison me.”
Mr. Ambinder is absolutely correct . . . except for his ridiculous statement that campaigns can “make” you vote for their candidate or that corporations can “make” you buy their products. The crucial difference is between the arts of persuasion (including tempting, cajoling, nudging) on the one hand, and sheer homicidal force coupled with kleptomaniacal thievery on the other.
This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.