Spying On Americans: The Systematic Dismantling of American Liberty
With the accelerated expansion of governmental power that we’ve observed over the past few years, America only slightly resembles the “land of the free and home of the brave” that the nation was founded as, and intended to be. Governmental encroachment on the liberties and privacy of law-abiding citizens has reached totalitarian levels that would make Stalin, Mao, and Hitler envious.
We know now that our emails, internet posts, and online activity are being heavily monitored. We know that our phone call data is being collected, our snail-mail covers are being tracked, and the federal government will be tracking and storing all of our healthcare information.
And we learned this week from Senator Mike Crapo (R-ID), Ranking Member of the U.S. Senate Banking Committee, that the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) is collecting and monitoring citizens’ personal financial accounts. Crapo, in a press release this week, indicated that “credit card, debit card, checking, mortgage, loan and other financial accounts” are all subject to monitoring by the CFPB.
Crapo has been pressing for specifics on “what data is being collected, how many accounts the Bureau is monitoring, how the information is being used, and what safeguards are in place to protect this sensitive information.” This is an independent government agency created by the Dodd-Frank Act that is not accountable to congress, and operates under the Federal Reserve.
Despite assurances from the administration that the private information government agencies are harvesting by spying on us will only be used with a court order, our civil liberties and privacy have been abrogated by such surveillance, and are subject to abuse by a Machiavellian administration that arbitrarily decides which laws it will enforce and which it will not. In short, we are the most heavily monitored and spied-on Americans in history, and likely the most spied-on society in the world today. There is no aspect of our lives that is not subject to governmental scrutiny, and a potential open-book to the government. And the potential for abuse is staggering.
Many will innocently acquiesce to the government spying on us since, as they assert, they have nothing to hide. But current government surveillance goes well beyond that. We’ve always had the assumption of innocence until proven guilty. With the current modus operandi of the federal government we’re assumed guilty of something, and if necessary, they will scour their records and databases for the evidence they need for, if nothing else, political targeting, just as the administration has abused the power of the Internal Revenue Service.
The Fourth Amendment to the Constitution was designed to specifically proscribe such wanton gathering of evidence before a crime has even been committed. All searches and seizures of evidence are to be done based on probable cause by warrant, and the right to such protection “shall not be violated.” These spying programs constitute the most egregious violation of a constitutional right perhaps in American history.
We are witnessing firsthand, on a daily basis, the dismantling of the American ideal. Long gone is free-market capitalism, which was replaced by the cozy crony-capitalistic system that now runs our economy. Also referred to as corporatism, or economic statism, crony capitalism is a merging of government and corporate interests with legislation and tax code written to the benefit of corporate political supporters, and those beneficiaries of government largesse in turn supporting the politicians with campaign contributions.
Now, not only is our economic system fundamentally transformed, but the ideals of individual freedom and liberty as proclaimed in our founding documents are being systematically and methodically erased. Each new piece of legislation that creates new regulation, which authorizes the government to spy on, and monitor the most basic activities of the citizenry, undermines and extirpates the freedoms and liberty ostensibly assured by the Constitution.
The massive overreach of governmental power is symptomatic of a government that has become too large, too unwieldy, and too pervasive into every aspect of our lives. And we have the debt to prove it, with $17 trillion in on-the-books debt, and at least $85 trillion in unfunded liabilities. The reported debt figure translates to $53,000 per citizen, and over $148,000 per taxpayer.
The trampling of our civil liberties by the government spying on us is being perpetrated in the name of security. Over 230 years ago, a very perspicacious and sagacious Benjamin Franklin, wisely observed, “Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary security, deserve neither Liberty nor security.” Apparently we’re getting what we deserve, which arguably is neither.
The freedom promised by our founding documents, which we’re losing in accelerated fashion, is not not only freedom to do, as long as other’s rights are not impinged upon, but a freedom from government, coercion, and tyranny. We once cast off the bounds of a tyrannical King George who attempted to force his governmental will against the colonists. As rapidly as we are advancing toward totalitarian control of America, one cannot help but wonder if there’s a day in the future when another such revolution against our own tyrannical government may ensue.
Thomas Jefferson fully understood the tendency of government to infringe on individual rights and to impose totalitarian control, when he said, “Experience hath shewn, that even under the best forms (of government) those entrusted with power have, in time, and by slow operations, perverted it into tyranny.” He went so far as to declare, “Periodic revolution, was a medicine necessary for the sound health of government,” and “The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants.”
The political pendulum has swung way too far to the left for the good of a country founded on individual freedom and liberty. The revolution Jefferson said was periodically necessary must be a revolution manifested at the ballot box, and in the selection of statesmen who will return us to constitutional governance rather than politicians who vote according to political expediency to ensure their reelection. It must be a groundswell at the grassroots level by the majority of the populace who decides they’ve had enough government intrusion, and vote for real change; the kind that returns the nation to its foundation of liberty.
We surely face a greater tyranny from Washington today than the colonists faced under King George. What remains to be seen, is when Americans decide they’ve had enough, and if they will electorally reverse the present collision course to absolute tyranny. Or have we become such a supine and compliant people that we will simply acquiesce and surrender all of our freedoms to our omniscient and omnipotent government? Only time will tell.
AP award winning columnist Richard Larsen is President of Larsen Financial, a brokerage and financial planning firm in Pocatello, Idaho and is a graduate of Idaho State University with degrees in Political Science and History and former member of the Idaho State Journal Editorial Board. He can be reached at [email protected].