[…] Meanwhile, needing to squeeze someone, most emerging-market governments look first to ordinary working folk—at least until the riots grow too large… .
In its depth and suddenness, the U.S. economic and financial crisis is shockingly reminiscent of moments we have recently seen in emerging markets (and only in emerging markets) … .But there’s a deeper and more disturbing similarity: elite business interests—financiers, in the case of the U.S.—played a central role in creating the crisis, making ever-larger gambles, with the implicit backing of the government, until the inevitable collapse. More alarming, they are now using their influence to prevent precisely the sorts of reforms that are needed, and fast, to pull the economy out of its nosedive. The government seems helpless, or unwilling, to act against them. [Simon Johnson, The Quiet Coup]
It’s those two observations in bold that have been at the forefront of my thoughts about the Occupy movement: that oligarchs in a corrupted society will be free from any meaningful checks from the government they own and control, and will continue to pilfer from the rest of the society until resulting social unrest on the part of ordinary citizens becomes too disruptive and threatening to their interests. Put another way, an oligarchical class that operates without any fear in its collective heart of the citizenry will continue to assemble and protect its ill-gotten gains without limits. That is why this protest movement is so vital — so indispensable — because it is precisely that fear in the hearts and minds of the elite classes that has been so destructively lacking.
“Smith’s writing being used by a member of the left is as beautifully ironic as a Christian fundamentalist quoting Ayn Rand. But the central message is as relevant today as it was in 1776, with Occupy protests beginning to gain mainstream attention across the country. Wall Street, where the first occupation began, is indeed a public street and corporations’ profits are the product of countless workers, many of whom benefit from government programs and have never set foot inside a boardroom.”—How Elizabeth Warren Used Adam Smith Against the Right | Truthout
What is the Wall Street extortion scheme? In simple terms, it is a coercion game aimed at threatening Americans with total economic collapse if big corporations do not get exactly what they want. In more specific terms, it takes the form of threatening to move all capital out of the American economy if government does not tip the playing field to the advantage of big corporations on tax policy, labor regulation, wages, and manufacturing.
Do what we say, or…uh–da whole joint goes down in flames.
[Peter] Schiff does a great job parroting the Wall Street extortion scheme. Government initiatives that seek to prevent such past national travesties as: workplace deaths, inhumane manufacturing conditions, fair wages, reasonable working hours, contamination of ground water, illiteracy, etc.–all these initiatives are, in Schiff’s extortionist’s jargon, “outside the Constitution.” Translation: eliminate the EPA, FDA, DOE or–we will move our capital someplace that doesn’t bother us about pollution, poisons, and education– and see what happens to the US economy when we leave.
On the subject of fair wages, Schiff demonstrates perfectly how aggressive Wall Street extortionist scheme can be.
When pressed on low wages at WalMart, Schiff responds with the threats: those jobs do not belong to the people who work them. Translation: Push us on fair wags and we will move our capital someplace that will not bother us–and see what happens to the US economy when we leave.
That is the basic extortion scheme. Give us what want or we’re outta here–push us too hard and we’re outta here.
Sometime in 2012, I will begin the ninth year of my life under an FBI gag order, which began when I received what is known as a national security letter at the small Internet service provider I owned. On that day in 2004 (the exact date is redacted from court papers, so I can’t reveal it), an FBI agent came to my office and handed me a letter. It demanded that I turn over information about one of my clients and forbade me from telling “any person” that the government had approached me.
National security letters are issued by the FBI, not a judge, to obtain phone, computer, and banking information. Instead of complying, I spoke with a lawyer at the American Civil Liberties Union and filed a constitutional challenge against the NSL provision of the Patriot Act, which was signed into law 10 years ago Wednesday.
A decade later, much of the government’s surveillance policy remains shrouded in secrecy, making it impossible for the American public to engage in a meaningful debate on the effectiveness or wisdom of various practices. The government has used NSLs to collect private information on hundreds of thousands of people. I am the only person from the telecommunications industry who received one to ever challenge in court the legality of the warrantless NSL searches and the associated gag order and to be subsequently (partially) un-gagged.
To fully appreciate the social impact of the fast-deepening income inequality, it needs to be seen alongside the equally fast-deepening wealth inequality in the US. If citizens here possess any appreciable wealth, it takes the form of their homes. US housing prices have fallen through the crisis (since 2007). Over the same time, the rising use of home equity as collateral for loans has cut the portion of home values owned by occupiers, while raising the portion owed to banks. The combination of falling home prices and falling owners’ equity in those homes yields another massive upward redistribution of wealth. That is because stock markets “recovered” – thanks to massive infusions of government money into financial institutions. Wealth in the form of stocks and bonds thus rose relative to wealth in the form of home ownership. Stock and bond ownership is highly concentrated in the US, much more so than home values. The result is deepening inequality of wealth distribution alongside greater income inequality.
The claims and promises of US capitalism to be an engine that builds and sustains a vast “middle class” and that constantly “delivers the goods” seem more hollow today than ever. Questions, criticisms and opposition bubble up across the country. The CBO report reflects, as well as documents, the underlying economic realities. However inadvertently, it thereby supports the rising tide of protest.
It’s been dumping snow here in NYC all day, high winds and 3 inches of slush on the ground. With the NYPD and FDNY confiscating six generators on Friday and this unprecedented October snow, those occupying Liberty Plaza in…
The [Congressional Budget Office] numbers[*] teach some basic lessons. First, the last 30 years of ideological preaching about the superiority of private, deregulated, market-driven capitalism served to enable and mask one of the largest and fastest upward redistributions of income in modern history. The gap between the tiny rich minority and everyone else widened dramatically. The CBO report thus documents the actual class war over recent decades: the real winners and losers. The report thereby exposes the absurdity of the recent bleats from the 1% denouncing modest efforts to limit their huge gains as – horror of horrors – “class war”.
Second, the CBO report shows that the US government’s transfer payments (social welfare supports for the poor, social security and Medicare spending, and so on) did not offset the upward redistribution of income to the richest 1%. Nor did the federal tax structure. The 1% used its growing wealth to make government taxing and spending policies aid, rather than constrain, the class war they pursued so systematically. The CBO report concludes that the top 1% was the only portion of the total income-earning US population to experience a sharp rise in its share of the total US income taking into account all federal transfers and taxes. Indeed, the top 1%’s share of income rose further after all transfers and taxes are taken into account than before taking them into account. Federal spending and taxing policies were thus complicit in furthering this last generation’s sharp turn toward greater income inequality.
Third, the CBO report documents that alongside the staggering fact and impact of the current economic crisis – the second major collapse of capitalism in the last 75 years – there was the preceding and equally staggering fact of massive upward redistribution of income. How are these two facts related? The answer is not difficult to discern.
The 99% were falling ever further behind the top 1%. The latter’s exploding luxury consumption shaped tastes and standards defining the “American dream.” With real wages stagnant in the US since the 1970s, the 99% tried to reach or keep the dream by sending more family members out to work more hours, and borrowing ever larger amounts, over the last 25 years. Eventually, their exhaustion and stress from increased work, coupled with unsustainable levels of accumulated household debt (for homes, college expenses, automobiles and credit cards), brought the economy to the brink of crisis.
“Let’s assume the NYPD is super freaked out by OWS having generators. Why wait until the day before first snowfall to seize them? Were these generators not a public safety issue on the first day of the occupation? What was special about October 28, 2011 that suddenly turned generators into Public Enemy Number One? Unless, of course, this has nothing to do with public safety and everything to do with crushing one of the most successful branches of the Occupy movement.”—Allison Kilkenny
The art of politics is also to insist on a particular demand that, while thoroughly “realist”, disturbs the very core of the hegemonic ideology: ie one that, while definitely feasible and legitimate, is de facto impossible (universal healthcare in the US was such a case). In the aftermath of the Wall Street protests, we should definitely mobilise people to make such demands – however, it is no less important to simultaneously remain subtracted from the pragmatic field of negotiations and “realist” proposals.
What one should always bear in mind is that any debate here and now necessarily remains a debate on enemy’s turf; time is needed to deploy the new content. All we say now can be taken from us – everything except our silence. This silence, this rejection of dialogue, of all forms of clinching, is our “terror”, ominous and threatening as it should be.
As a student in New York, it’s been impossible to ignore. The inclusive qualities of Occupy are unprecedented in the history of American social movements, as it attracts both independent workers and organized labor; the radical young and the cynical old; poor liberals and privileged liberals; the statists and the libertarians. For those who can’t remember an age when common sense was common in American politics, Occupy’s message of humanitarian values resonates with a forgotten message articulated by Orwell in 1984: as long as we still understand 2+2 to be 4, they haven’t taken everything away from us. We still have something.
The general assemblies–the gatherings where the movement’s major decisions are made–have rekindled a level of organic political participation in American citizens. This kind of empowerment brings a political dimension to social life. The assemblies send a message: If representative democracy doesn’t seem to be working, take matters into your own hands.
At a time when Americans are at record-setting levels of dissatisfaction with both public and private institutions, a taste of direct democracy feels like heaven. To put the latest polls showing congress’s abysmal popularity (9% / Public Policy Polling) in context, Americans have voted out the majority party in the House of Representatives three times in the past six years. This statistic is about to rise to four times in six years, if the latest indicators of a Democratic resurgence prove correct.
Perhaps the public institutions aren’t satisfying the American people because the representation simply isn’t representing the public interest. Naturally, this can be traced to the tremendous power that private institutions wield in controlling the representatives, but it’s important to actually make this connection. The Occupy movement is doing just that, and regenerating a debate that’s been lost over time in a shroud of ideological warfare coming from the mass media. [++]
After waiting eight hours in near-freezing temperatures for state troopers to arrest them for the third time in so many days for violating curfew, Occupy Nashville protesters were left undisturbed on Legislative Plaza last night.
“We didn’t come here to talk about guaranteed rights about freedom of assembly,” Occupy Nashville activist and organizer Michael Custer said of the movement.
The real message of the movement is to call attention to and rally against “legalized corruption” in American politics. He said protesters plan to return to that message once the group reestablishes a presence on the Plaza. >continue<
An interesting and informative opinion piece provided by Dr David Batstone, co-founder and president of Not For Sale, and professor at the School of Management at the University of San Francisco, detailing how the very real forms of bondage contradicts our “sense of modern history and moral progress”. He examines the issue of slavery after having learnt that slavery very well reaches across the globe to one’s “own backyard”.
Dr Batstone writes this after having established his own agency, Not For Sale, where they undertook the task of creating a consumer tool, Free2Work, that “provides data and transparency to the supply chains of products that sit on the shelves of retain stores we frequent”.
Free2Work assigns a product a grade- A to F- based on the tangible steps that a company has taken to demonstrate that it has zero tolerance to forced labour in its supply chain. The 50 factors that go into evaluating the grade encompass protocols that pertain to transparency in a supply chain, a sold code of conduct, monitoring its implementation, and remediation when violations do occur.
Such technology, available as an app on the Android and iPhone, may allow one to finally learn the story behind the product. Simply said, walk into a store and scan the price tag.
If you would like to learn more about Not For Sale visit their website here.
Activist and blogger Alaa Abd El Fattah and fellow activist Bahaa Saber have both been detained for 15 days, after refusing to be interrogated by the Military Prosecutor, in protest against its legitimacy.
They appeared at the Military Prosecutor today as supporters gathered outside, denouncing military trials. Since January 28, more than 12,000 civilians have been tried by military courts in Egypt.
“Before gas goes into a crowd shield bearers have to be making no progress moving a crowd or crowd must be assaulting the line. Not with sticks and stones but a no bullshit assault. 3 warnings must be given to the crowd in a manner they can hear that force is about to be used. Shield bearers take a knee and CS gas is released in grenade form first to fog out your lines because you have gas masks. You then kick the canisters along in front of your lines. Projectile gas is not used except for longer ranged engagement or trying to steer the crowd ( by steering a crowd I mean firing gas to block a street off ). You also have shotguns with beanbags and various less than lethal rounds for your launchers. These are the rules for a WARZONE!! How did a cop who is supposed to have training on his weapon system accidentally SHOOT someone in the head with a 40mm gas canister? Simple. He was aiming at him.”—Marine Says Oakland Used Crowd Control Methods That Are Prohibited In War Zones (via thepolitics)
[When] there’s money to be made, both workers and the environment are expendable. Just as jobs migrate if labor can be had cheaper overseas, I know workers who were tossed aside when they became ill from the foul air or poisonous chemicals they encountered on the job.
The fact is: we won’t free ourselves from a dysfunctional and unfair economic order until we begin to see ourselves as communities, not commodities. That is one clear message from Zuccotti Park.
Polluters routinely walk away from the ground they poison and expect taxpayers to clean up after them. By “externalizing” such costs, profits are increased. Examples of land abuse and abandonment are too legion to list, but most of us can refer to a familiar “superfund site” in our own backyard. Clearly, Mother Nature is among the disenfranchised, exploited, and struggling.
On the obnoxious tactics of the police state vs. the occupy movement:
[…] What’s so deeply nefarious about this kind of civil rights assassination is that curfew and fire safety laws were created with genuine good intentions. It makes sense to not want individuals walking around in secluded, dark spaces at night, or not allow people to create bonfires in the middle of grounds covered in dry grass. But these well-meaning laws are now being used to crush the First Amendment.
Some readers might be asking themselves: But Allison, how can we tell the difference between when the cops are trying to protect citizens, and when they’re using public safety laws to disguise protest sabotage? Well, it’s quite easy. Here’s an example: Let’s give the OPD some credit and assume they really were concerned protesters were going to start a fire with their fuel. Why not walk in and seize the equipment? Why escalate the enforcement of a public safety regulation into full-blown warfare on the streets of Oakland, including critically injuring a war veteran? Unless, of course, what happened in Oakland was never about public safety, and all about crushing the will of the protesters. It’s not very safe for the public to, say, shoot them with rubber bullets, tear gas them, and explode flash bang grenades in their midsts.
Another example: Let’s assume the NYPD is super freaked out by OWS having generators. Why wait until the day before first snowfall to seize them? Were these generators not a public safety issue on the first day of the occupation? What was special about October 28, 2011 that suddenly turned generators into Public Enemy Number One? Unless, of course, this has nothing to do with public safety and everything to do with crushing one of the most successful branches of the Occupy movement.
The answers to these questions should seem fairly obvious to anyone who is familiar with how law enforcement agencies prefer to handle public dissent. The NYPD, OPD, and Tucson police don’t want a bloody, drawn out war on their hands. It’ll look terrible in the media, and public sentiment is already on the side of the protesters.
What police and city officials prefer is a death by a thousand subtle little cuts. Take the generators, issue tickets, pull down the tents, and make life unbearable for the protesters. Hope they give up and go home when it snows, and if that doesn’t work, try to freeze the bastards out. [++]
Overall, in inflation-adjusted dollars, average after-tax household income grew by 62 percent during the period under study, according to the CBO. This sounds great — but only until you look a little closer.
For those at the bottom — the one-fifth of households with the lowest incomes — the increase was just 18 percent. For the middle three-fifths, the average increase was 40 percent. Spread over nearly 30 years, these gains are modest, not meteoric.
By contrast, look at the top 1 percent of earners. Their after-tax household income increased by an astonishing 275 percent. For those keeping track, this means it nearly quadrupled. Nice work, if you can get it.
“I agree the low angle indicates the shot was aimed at Scott. This is a favorite trick of the Israelis to kill people while pretending it was an accident.”—Former NASA photo analyst Michael Rivero, on whether he thought video of Scott Olsen being “accidentally” shot by Oakland police showed a deliberate act. (via quickhits)
Put another way, true liberals are, or at least should be, intrinsically and fervently skeptical of any authority other than the rule of law.
But as I look around, I see all sort of nominal liberals who are deeply and openly invested (either in the role of wielder or the role of wannabe) in schemas of authority that have nothing whatsoever to do with the rule of law and the pursuit of human dignity.
Indeed, it is no exaggeration to say that many self-identified liberals pay homage to all sorts of hierarchical and fundamentally authoritarian ways of framing reality, practices that admit, without actually coming out and saying it, that might does, in fact, “make right”, that beneath any verbiage we might employ in public the thing that really matters is currying favor with the people at the top, those with effective control of the goodies we feel we deserve.
This why, I suspect, so many of them passively accept Obama’s imperial and often lawless presidency, Hillary Clinton’s daily lectures to sovereign leaders of other countries, spy-and-arrest-first, ask-questions- later “justice”, the idea that US lives are inherently more valuable than the lives of people in other places, the notion that invading Afghanistan and Iraq were “necessary”, that killing Bin Laden or Khadafy in cold blood is something to cheer about, that the US need not be subject to the international laws that bind other “lesser” entities, that money should “naturally” accord the rich more access to political power, that legal process and legal accountability are only really important when it comes to the poor and the unconnected.
About half the Atlanta occupation in Woodruff Park was composed of homeless mostly black men who had been in the park on a daily basis before the occupation. When the mostly white occupiers brought tents and food in, some of the homeless got tents too, and were able to use the portable toilets. The homeless men were fed along with the occupiers, and took part in daily marches to banks, the scenes of police shootings and other activities. Though significant tensions existed within and among the occupiers, homeless and not, the two were beginning to learn how to work together. Headquarters of the occupation, according to some of its leaders, may be moving to the Peachtree-Pine shelter complex at the edge of downtown. In contrast to cities where the mostly white occupations have utterly failed to connect with the ongoing struggles of local residents, Atlanta’s occupiers are being driven into the arms of the homeless community. The next version of Occupy Atlanta will be even less to the liking of city officials and business leaders.
“One definite tactic that Occupy Wall Street can adopt, going forward, is educating people about the perfidy of certain financial institutions and convincing people to do what they did back in the days of apartheid, which is disinvest. If everyone were to start pulling their money out of the worst-offending banks, that would have a profound effect on the markets and may function as a great short-cut to political change.”—Matt Taibbi
[…] The U.S. is involved in a full blown war in Afghanistan for reasons today which are increasingly unclear. High ranking U.S. officials in the defense and intelligence establishments have made known their belief that there are only “a few hundred” Al Qaeda members in total between Afghanistan and Pakistan combined, yet there are hundreds of thousands of U.S. troops stationed in Afghanistan, most of whom fighting for reasons which have only tangential, if any, connection to “fighting terror”. This is apparently insufficient overkill for Ackerman and others who want to expand the war to Pakistan so that the U.S. can continue at all costs to prop up thecorrupt and ineffectual regime of Hamid Karzai in Kabul. Little reflection is done about why the U.S. needs to sacrifice global stability to continue pursuing this path against the wishes of those who actually live in this region, or why regional actors are reacting the way they are to their continued presence there.
Far from being needlessly provocative, a dispassionate analysis would show that there are in fact extremely compelling reasons for Pakistan to continue to support the Afghan Taliban, Haqqani Network et al; a better question might be what good reason is there not to? The U.S. is planning their exit strategy from Afghanistan, however Pakistan will never be able to “exit” from the region and as such has to live with whatever government is in power in Kabul and with whatever non-state actors are operating on its territory and beyond. The Pakistani military could go to war with the Haqqani Network, further destabilizing its own country in order to continue to assist with a deeply unpopular U.S. war which is widely viewed as a pointless and nihilistic exercise, or they can simply continue operating as they have been and wait out the clock until the U.S. inevitably leaves. Over 32,000 Pakistanis have lost their lives as a result of the War on Terror and the civil war triggered by U.S. escalation in Afghanistan; but despite this enormous sacrifice U.S-Pakistani relations are worse than they have ever been. [Spencer] Ackerman points out that Pakistan has been the beneficiary of huge sums of U.S. largesse, failing to acknowledge that both the economic and human costs of continuing what is now a war of choice have hugely outweighed any monetary remuneration which has been provided to the Pakistani government. From the perspective of the average Pakistani zitizen their country has already been grievously destabilized by an unwelcome and largely needless war across the border, not to mention regular extra-judicial bombings and murders carried out by Americans on Pakistani soil, so what possible reason is there to further tear apart the country as a parting gift to the U.S. on its way out of the door?
Here is the crux of Ackerman’s anguished argument, its time to give Pakistan a reason to want to continue going along with U.S. policy by threatening it with full-blown war. Never mind that it cannot be articulated why propping up Hamid Karzai is more important than not launching a third world war; since Pakistan has displayed the utterly surprising decision to protect its interests in the region against the American pet-project in Kabul it is time to sacrifice global stability and shove the U.S. empire further towards the brink in order to protect the integrity of its elective military operations. Many Pakistani actions have been deeply provocative towards the U.S, but they are arguably far less provocative (and far less significant) than what U.S. actions in Central Asia have wrought for Pakistan.
Pakistan has very predictably pursued actions which are at cross-purposes with the U.S. mission in the region because their interests as a foreign power and local one inevitably conflict. When fighting war for its own sake, this would naturally mean that the U.S. war should now expand to Pakistan. When viewed in the context of the foreign policy priority maintaining of U.S. security, this is an insane and possibly suicidal course of action. None of this is to say U.S. policy vis-à-vis Pakistan has not been a dismal failure over the past several years and should not be changed. America is under no compunction to continue funding parties whose interests run counter to its own, though it will be ultimately forced to as long as it continues fighting its war in Afghanistan. Those who see foreign policy primarily as a vehicle for warfare would be well served to realize that there is a lot of space between, “giving you billions of dollars” and “fighting you to the death”. Perhaps Ackerman and others would like explore that space for policy prescriptions before demanding the U.S. engage in another war, the consequences of which would dwarf anything occurring in the world today.
…just after midnight some 20 Occupy Nashville protesters linked arms, awaiting arrest in violation of the Capitol’s newly enacted curfew. A 10-minute warning was issued at approximately midnight, and some 60 to 75 Tennessee state troopers stood ready to enforce it.
Among those under arrest is evidently Scene reporter Jonathan Meador, who has been covering the protests. A fellow reporter asked the trooper arresting Meador if he really intended to lock up a journalist there to cover the events. According to the reporter, the trooper replied, “You want to be next?” >Nashville Scene<
The Tennessean also kept running updates throughout the night after a second round of arrests:
Early Saturday morning, Magistrate Tom Nelson told troopers delivering the protesters to jail that he could “find no authority anywhere for anyone to authorize a curfew anywhere on Legislative Plaza.” >continue< | >video<
[… The] primary regulator of the banking industry [the Fed] is encouraging a functionally insolvent megabank to respond to a credit downgrade by pushing its most explosively risky holdings onto the laps of the taxpayer. This is lunacy…. Remember that story about the Chinese man who had a world-record 33-pound tumor removed from his face? This would be like treating that patient by removing the tumor and surgically attaching it to the face of a new patient, in this case the U.S. taxpayer.
A series of lawmakers on the Hill, including most notably Sherrod Brown, Carl Levin, and Bernie Sanders, are trying to figure out if there’s any way to stop this transaction, but of course there is not. Upstate NY congressman Maurice Hinchey put it best. “What Bank of America is doing is perfectly legal – and that’s the problem,” he said.
This is exactly why the Glass-Steagall Act needs to be reinstated: without a separation of Investment Banks and Commercial Banks, what we end up getting is taxpayer-guaranteed gambling. Instead of encouraging prudence and savings by insuring deposits in commercial banks, the FDIC is now being turned into a vehicle for socializing speculative losses.
So our government is not only no longer encouraging fiscal conservatism, it is doing exactly the opposite, i.e. encouraging speculation and risk-taking. That this is happening in the fever of the OWS movement, and at a time when top politicians from Barack Obama on down are paying lip service to public complaints against Wall Street, should tell you everything you need to know about whether or not we can expect this government to voluntarily enact real changes, and stop making the taxpayer eat Wall Street’s pain.
“Underneath any faux “war” is the lure of unregulated tax dollars. Building a force to counteract an undefinable foe is an open-ended “goal”. In addition, this sort of thing gives government entities more of what they really want: power, money and control. A rough Beltway consensus has emerged that the United States is facing a grave and immediate threat that can only be addressed by more public spending and tighter controls on private network security practices. It’s a war alright. A war on civil liberties. It’s a million (or more accurately, 7.9 billion) reasons to regulate and track internet usage and criminalize yet another section of the U.S. population. Tactical operations will now be mobilized against people who bring a laptop to a gunfight. And much like any other war, once it’s underway, it’s nearly impossible to stop.”—Tim Cushing
Ever since Vietnam, the U.S. government has shown an odd propensity for dragging us into unpopular (and unwinnable) wars. Between the protracted Iraq “War” (nearly a decade at this point), our involvement in Afghanistan and our intervention in Libya , Americans are finding that the old concept of “war” doesn’t really fit what’s going on here. Back on the home front, various unwinnable wars continue to suck down tax dollars and erode civil rights. The War on Drugs. The War on Terror. The political system is no longer interested in mere skirmishes or “police actions.” Everything is a capital-W “War.” A multitude of problems arise from couching these situations in catastrophic and adversarial terms. Declaring “war” on drugs has brought the battle to the home front and turned our law enforcement into an ad hoc military force. The slightest of violations is met with excessive force. […] Declaring the nation to be in the midst of a “cyberwar” allows law enforcement and government security agencies to escalate their response to perceived threats. Every reaction becomes an overreaction. No matter what your opinion of Anonymous and like-minded hackers might be, it’s pretty safe to say that most of us do not consider them to be a violent threat.
All previous indications point to this being handled just as badly as any previous “war.” The point will come when people are overrun in their own homes by armed tactical units in response to actions like DDoS attacks which […] are usually “undirected protests” with “no tactical objective.” Truly innocent citizens will be swept up in this as well, considering the number of computers out there that have been “zombified” and pressed into service as part of a botnet. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has already demonstrated that it needs nothing more than an IP address to mobilize.
In times of war, corners are cut and rights are treated as privileges. When the enemy is invisible and the list of possible suspects grows exponentially with each broadening of the definition of “hacking,” the “war” becomes a convenient excuse for law enforcement fishing expeditions and violent tactical reactions. California has already decided police can search your phone without a warrant and the list of municipalities willing to expand police power with warrantless searches and abuse of “probable cause” continues to grow. [++]
“The [income] share of financial professionals almost doubled from 1979 to 2005…employees in the financial and legal professions made up a larger share of the highest earners than people in those other groups…the compensation differential between the financial sector and the rest of the economy appears inexplicably large from 1990 onward.”—From a Congressional Budget Office report released this week