Saturday, September 11, 2010

The Stumble Toward Totalitarianism Continues

The Government Can Use GPS to Track Your Moves:
Government agents can sneak onto your property in the middle of the night, put a GPS device on the bottom of your car and keep track of everywhere you go. This doesn't violate your Fourth Amendment rights, because you do not have any reasonable expectation of privacy in your own driveway — and no reasonable expectation that the government isn't tracking your movements.
That is the bizarre — and scary — rule that now applies in California and eight other Western states. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, which covers this vast jurisdiction, recently decided the government can monitor you in this way virtually anytime it wants — with no need for a search warrant.
It is a dangerous decision — one that, as the dissenting judges warned, could turn America into the sort of totalitarian state imagined by George Orwell. It is particularly offensive because the judges added insult to injury with some shocking class bias: the little personal privacy that still exists, the court suggested, should belong mainly to the rich.
Fortunately, even as it stumbles toward outright totalitarianism, the government continues to destroy its legitimacy.  Baring an outright revolution, which can probably never happen due to the fact that the population is fundamentally divided, its authority will just erode over time as its actions become ever more paranoid.  However, even through the age where classic totalitarianism is over (as governments cannot control information and even their own borders as was once the case), they can still do a lot of damage to those caught in the middle.

Even as they fade way, the mediocre are still dangerous.  It's also not surprising that these judges would rule that such actions of the government are perfectly legal.  As pointed out by the dissenting judge:
Chief Judge Alex Kozinski, who dissented from this month's decision refusing to reconsider the case, pointed out whose homes are not open to strangers: rich people's. The court's ruling, he said, means that people who protect their homes with electric gates, fences and security booths have a large protected zone of privacy around their homes. People who cannot afford such barriers have to put up with the government sneaking around at night.
Judge Kozinski is a leading conservative, appointed by President Ronald Reagan, but in his dissent he came across as a raging liberal. "There's been much talk about diversity on the bench, but there's one kind of diversity that doesn't exist," he wrote. "No truly poor people are appointed as federal judges, or as state judges for that matter." The judges in the majority, he charged, were guilty of "cultural elitism."
At least some people in authority understand the score.  (Although the final result will be far different than Orwell's 1984.)  There may not be a revolution, but in this age Things are much more likely to just Fall Apart.  When (sooner or later) this occurs, those understanding the situation may be able to weather the storm.  The rest won't.

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