Never has our liberty been more threatened than with the rise of big data companies which track our every movement and collect vast troves of data detailing our every decision in order to build highly accurate models with the ability to predict our behavior better than we can ourselves.
When analyzing political systems, one finds that they all boil down to one of two approaches. Either the political system is organized around the concept of totalitarian control whereby its viability and orderliness is based upon the ability of the state to control and dictate the behavior of its citizens, or it is organized around the concept of liberty whereby its citizens are allowed to control their own decisions and destinies within a limited set of rules designed to maximize their freedom. The totalitarian concept has been tried many times and failed miserably every time to the detriment of those who have been forced to endure such schemes. Whether organized as a monarchy with absolute power vested in a king or around a politburo of bureaucrats, the totalitarian approach fails to consider the natural yearning of people to be free to determine their own course through the myriad decisions they make on a daily basis. This natural inclination to freedom causes people to undermine totalitarian systems which fail to properly value their contributions with equitable compensation.
Under totalitarianism, the government may decide that one must not be allowed to purchase a soda sized over a predetermined amount because government bureaucrats feel that such oversized sodas contribute to the detriment of public health. The circumstances under which the consumer wishes to purchase a soda are discounted and removed from the decision, and the consumer is dictated what he is allowed to purchase by others who have no awareness of the situational context of the purchase. It makes no difference that the consumer might be a thirsty construction worker seeking to quench a massive thirst after working long hours on a hot day or that he might be anticipating working these hours and wishes to procure a drink sized sufficiently large to satisfy his thirst over the course of the day. Some bureaucrat has decided that he is not allowed to make his own decision over which size soda he wishes to purchase because the bureaucrat has decided that people consuming sodas over a certain size can’t control their impulse to overindulge to the potential detriment of their health.
The Founding Fathers took the alternate approach of maximizing liberty with the expectation that citizens would exercise personal responsibility to temper their desire to overindulge. Instead of having government bureaucrats issue draconian laws to micromanage the behavior of Americans, the Founders realized that the ability to micromanage personal behavior was a futile quest which would only end with an American government worse than the British government from which they had fought for independence. To them, one would be free to purchase any size soda they wished as it would be impossible for the government to know the circumstances under which the soda was purchased, and they believed the government had much more important concerns demanding its attention. Besides, the idea of living under a nanny state government treating them as children is antithetical to the attitudes of grown adults everywhere.
This oversimplified example belies a more abstract insight between the two approaches. Under totalitarianism, the government directs economic decisions which contribute to the country’s standard of living instead of allowing individuals the ability to make economic decisions as is the case under an approach geared to independence. We already know that it is impossible for government bureaucrats to be aware of the myriad circumstances under which an economic decision is made because of their distance from the decision. Only the individual making the decision has enough knowledge of the situation to properly determine the correct course of action. This is not to say that individuals will always make the correct decision or that bureaucrats removed from the situation will never make the correct decision, but that it is impossible for those removed from the situation to possess enough knowledge of the circumstances to make the correct decision based solely on the circumstances of the situation. The consumer exercising his liberty to make his own determination is far more likely to make the correct decision, and even if he doesn’t, then the decision was his own to make as he endures the consequences of that incorrect decision.
Purchasing a soda is an example which highlights the absurdity of having bureaucrats dictate such a minor decision as it has few serious consequences other than possibly an upset stomach. The situation takes on new significance when applied to major economic decisions such as determining whether to invest in the construction of a new factory to expand production or whether to risk financial capital on the production of a new consumer product or service. Government has a horrible track record when it comes to picking economic winners and losers as evidenced by the failures of solar companies championed by the Obama administration seeking to force an industry on consumers not ready for the opportunity. Solar panels proved to be too expensive for consumers without massive government subsidies, and the companies producing these solar panels went bankrupt as soon as these subsidies were removed as consumers unable to afford them ceased their purchase.
Government interference in the market has a distorting effect which prevents the market from exercising its natural ability to raise the standard of living over the long term. Billions invested in the failed solar industry were billions unavailable to invest in other more promising technologies which could have contributed to a rising standard of living but are delayed for the lack of available capital. Solar power may one day be a commonplace technology, but that will only come about through natural market forces and will occur even faster without government interference of those natural market forces. Government can’t jump start industries no matter how hard it tries or how much money it throws at them. Government can only help the market by creating the conditions under which it can thrive such as low taxes and less regulation. High taxes thwart the incentive for investing while onerous regulations drive up the costs of business and narrowing the profit margin compensating investors for their risk.
But, you may ask, what does all of this have to do with big data and its threat to our liberty? There are generations of Americans who have been raised under an educational system dominated by the left and its radical worldview of socialism. These young Americans have been indoctrinated by these socialist educators to believe the free enterprise system is evil and that socialism is the only equitable economic system to promote social justice, another nebulous concept promoted by socialist educators bent on the indoctrination of young Americans. The fundamental lack of knowledge exhibited by young Americans concerning basic economic principles bleeds over into their misunderstanding of the Constitution and the concept of liberty.
The Constitution was drafted in the wake of the Revolutionary War when colonial patriots engaged in a hopeless struggle with Great Britain and defeated the world’s lone superpower against the longest of odds. Liberty and independence were precious to these patriots who had fought and died against great odds to secure them, and they took pains to enshrine these concepts in the blueprint for the American government under which we live. There was, of course, no Internet in colonial times, but the idea of unreasonable search and seizure stemmed from the practice of British soldiers arbitrarily bursting into homes to conduct unannounced searches for unlawful caches of arms, incriminating personal papers, or other contraband, along with stopping citizens for no reason to conduct personal searches in an abuse of British authority just because they could.
We now live in an age where the concept of personal papers has given way to personal Internet accounts in which we store all manner of personal data which may be incriminating depending on the circumstances but which is personal and subject to constitutional protection nonetheless. However, young Americans indoctrinated by the socialist educational system have little regard for constitutional protections of liberty and think nothing of agreeing to hand over the most intimate and personal details of their lives to corporations in exchange for receiving goods and services perceived to be of value without ever questioning why these corporations would agree to such an apparently lopsided deal. Hey, I allow you to track my Internet activity in exchange for the latest whiz bang smartphone at no cost to me? Sure, say Americans every day without questioning what these companies are really getting for their perceived generosity.
Well, here’s what companies such as Facebook, Google, and Twitter are getting from you in exchange for free account access – free access to you which they can then market to other companies looking to sell you things, or track your behavior to compile statistical information for sale to other companies looking to sell you things, or manipulate your opinions and behavior to fit their agenda, or all of these things and more. The free games and myriad activities offered by Facebook under the narrative of connecting people belie a sophisticated predictive behavior modeling system able to gather enough information on participants to correctly predict their behavior better than they themselves can. The searches you perform under Google offer the same information collected in a slightly different way, which is why you often see targeted ads related to the search you just performed on Google.
Behavioral manipulation is also at the forefront of the agendas of these big data companies helmed by indoctrinated young Americans wishing to bend others to their radical socialist worldviews. Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey has made no secret that he is a lefty, and despite his denials to the contrary, Twitter targets conservative users with shadow bans to censor their speech from the public square without their knowledge happily allowing these conservative users to continue shouting into a dead phone blissfully unaware they’ve been silenced. Google manipulates public opinion by removing links to conservative websites or pushing them far down the list of links returned in searches to favor those websites expressing ideas sympathetic to the left in the top links. Google executives know that few people bother to search past the first page of returned links and most often select from the first few links believing that Google has prioritized their list of returned links to most closely match their intended search. Again, Google founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page have made no secret of their leftist political leanings or of their belief that they have a responsibility to censor speech for the good of the country.
The leaders of these big data corporations all speak from the same set of talking points when it comes to scrutiny of their censorship efforts. They all emphatically deny targeting conservative websites or conservative ideas despite the overwhelming evidence that conservatives face the brunt of their censorship efforts. In unison, they blame the appearance of censorship aimed at conservatives on flaws in their data algorithms which they then pledge to work harder to correct even though the censorship against conservatives persists. This lame excuse comes from a group of technology companies employing algorithms sophisticated enough to return links precisely targeting the search undertaken with highly accurate precision with the expectation that we deplorable rubes are dumb enough to believe their false narrative. Their fear is that Congress will finally act to correct their censorship by regulating their business models along the same antitrust lines which broke up the Standard Oil monopoly a century ago.
Americans are angry at being treated with such contempt by these corporate leaders and angry at their political leaders for allowing this contempt to persist without government intervention. In true spirit of free enterprise, consumers are walking away from these manipulative companies whose interfaces are designed to suck them into an all-consuming interactive experience to reclaim their lives and their sanity in record numbers just as they have walked away from the manipulative and corrupt media spreading fake news to advance an agenda of radical socialism at odds with American values.
Americans have chaffed at having their voice ignored by politicians beholden to special interests which allow them to retain their grasp on power. Democrats seeing Americans reject their radical socialist agenda realize that their only hope of regaining a majority lies in diluting the voice of Americans through open borders policies allowing millions of illegal immigrants to vote after exposure to Democrat manipulation. Establishment Republicans seek access to corporatist donors desiring to flood the country with cheap labor so they can move their factories back on shore to control their intellectual property and production quality. And so the interests of both parties are aligned in open borders policies which provide new voters and cheap labor despite the protests of Americans screaming for them to stop. Ignored and denigrated for far too long, Americans finally found a champion in Donald Trump who has worked to justify their faith in him as a leader to push back against the madness and root out the Deep State threatening our liberty and way of life.
For his efforts, President Trump has been attacked mercilessly by the Deep State and its big data allies through the Russian collusion witch hunt of the Mueller investigation which has dragged on for the first two years of Trump’s administration with not a shred of evidence indicating that the Trump campaign ever conspired with Russians to manipulate the 2016 election. What the Mueller investigation has found and pointedly ignored is a mountain of evidence indicting Hillary’s campaign with actual Russian conspiracy to manipulate the election through the production of a fake dossier filled with slanderous innuendo intentionally leaked to the corrupt media to smear Donald Trump and destroy his chances at being elected. This conspiracy reaches into the highest levels of government all the way to the White House spreading through the intelligence and law enforcement agencies and touching CIA, FBI, IRS, NSA, and top Obama administration officials up to and including Obama himself.
Attempts to gain access to public records relating to Democrat involvement in this scandal through Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests continue to be slow rolled and denied by Deep State bureaucrats lurking throughout the government as holdovers from the Obama administration. Those requests which have been satisfied through the efforts of Trump administration officials reveal a shadowy and sordid conspiracy of Democrat players all connected to the Clintons and aligned in the effort to get Hillary elected through manipulation of public opinion. Conservative websites exposing various aspects of the Clinton corruption machine through various connections are buried in Google search results, shadow banned by Twitter, and starved of advertising revenue as visits plummet in the wake of these censorship actions.
The Founding Fathers recognized the right of Americans to be secure in their homes and personal papers with the realization that one could not effectively conduct business if one were not free from the fear that his papers could be seized without warning or his home searched without cause. This constraint on personal liberty affected the ability to conduct commerce which was vital in establishment of America as a viable country and in the establishment of a rising standard of living necessary to generate the national wealth which would secure this viability. Americans today think nothing of sacrificing this hard won right for a gain of nominal value imbued as they are with a lack of understanding brought about by decades of indoctrination designed to keep them from the knowledge necessary for this realization.
The motives of these big data corporations are aligned with those of their founders and leaders as evidenced by their own words describing their devotion to lefty socialist ideas as espoused by the Democrat Party. Their motives and agendas are at odds with the rights of ordinary Americans and their ability to exercise their liberty for the benefit of themselves and their families. These big data corporations favor open borders to the detriment of American workers whose wages are depressed by the oversupply of cheap labor imported into the country while their attempts to protest at the ballot box are thwarted by the dilution of their voices by these same cheap labor elements. Attempts to promote awareness of the inequity of the situation are met with the vile censorship of buried search results and shadow bans to silence critique by the same big data corporations in another aspect of their manipulative efforts.
Americans were rightly incensed to learn that their government was conducting an unprecedented spying operation against them under the Patriot Act passed in the wake of the 9/11 Islamic terrorist attacks. Attempts to deny the existence of this spying effort bled into gradual admissions seeking to deny the scope of these efforts until the full truth was eventually exposed to the shock of Americans believing they were constitutionally protected from such intrusive abuse of their liberties. Even then there was an element unconcerned with this spying effort rationalizing it as the price of security despite Benjamin Franklin’s warning that those who would trade their liberty for safety deserved neither liberty nor safety. As Franklin warned, power ceded to the government is power ceded forever as these government spying efforts continue all in the name of safety and security. We Americans are being spied upon by big brother and big data for various reasons which both align and diverge given the circumstances.
We can’t wait for government action to reclaim our freedom to be secure from unreasonable search and seizure, nor should we expect the government to interfere with natural market forces to protect us from our own decisions seeing as how we have the power to close our accounts and walk away from these big data corporations. We have the immediate ability to shut down big data spying by walking away, but we must elect congressional representatives dedicated to restoring and preserving our constitutional liberties to regain our freedom from government spying efforts. This effort is made all the more difficult by the censorship of these big data corporations controlling access to the digital square. It matters not that we have nothing to hide, for the day will surely come when we might have something to hide, and at the very least we do have the right to our privacy whether we choose to exercise it or not, and no one has the right to take that from us for any reason.