Friday, December 28, 2012

Watching freedom evaporate

No, this is NOT a post about gun control--it's about the constant wars on American civil liberties (with a brief nod toward China).

Here are the quick hits in our losing battle for human freedom.

1.  Congress doesn't have the time or the intestinal fortitude to avoid the fiscal cliff, but it apparently has plenty of time and feral willingness to hold nearly secret floor debates on re-authorizing FISA and unconstitutional warrantless wiretaps. [h/t kavips and NCSDad]  UPDATE:  the Senate has defeated Senator Rand Paul's amendment to equate emails with telephone calls in terms of privacy protection 79-12, as well as another amendment [based on that useless old Bill of Rights] to require the Attorney General to report periodically on certain types of surveillance decisions, 54-37.  Unsurprisingly, the ferocious defender of the state's right to know EVERYTHING is Senator Diane Feinstein--the same lawmaker who is introducing legislation to make virtually all semi-automatic pistols illegal and to require Federal registration of damn near all legally acquired weapons in the US.

2.  According to Reporters without Borders, the US has now slipped down from 35th to 47th place in terms of freedom of the press.  We are now behind such free societies as Uruguay, Niger, Botswana, and El Salvador.  But the good news is that we're still tied with Romania in terms of press freedoms!  We're number 47!  We're number 47! [h/t to Homesick Billy]

3.  A possible glimpse of our future from China (#174 on the press freedoms list--if we keep trying, we'll get there!):  the Chinese government is now moving to force all internet users to log their real names as a condition of access.  Of course, you can trust the government when it tells you that this is all about protecting you from spam.


Delaware Watch said...

Allow me to point out how well many of the Scandinavian social democracies scored in press freedoms in spite of their so–called bloated national governments.

Steven H. Newton said...


I agree with this comment completely. I think there are different kinds of government "bloat." While I am obviously not favor of scandinavian style socialism, these countries are remarkably free from the crushing military and domestic security expenditures that lead to political repression of the press and to massive government intrusion into our private lives.

Those lessons we can certainly learn, especially from the Finns.

However, there is another complicating factor in such analysis--I think that the general ethnic homgeneity that has marked these nations until about the last ten years also has a lot to do with press freedom. I note that as the first waves of immigrants into Scandinavia from the Middle East and North Africa have arrived, the system (and the native population) are having the same problems absorbing them as the rest of Europe or the US are having, albeit at a much reduced scale.