On September 11th I wrote a diary where I argued that the American Surveillance State is basically a tool of oppression against the citizenry, at the behest of the ruling class.
In that diary I mentioned Foucault's Panopticon as a methaphor of the American total information awareness Surveillance State, and I argued that the vast amounts of information collected by the NSA illegally, indiscriminately, and unconstitutionally, can then turned into a knowledge base that can be used to control and regulate the actions of the citizenry.
As I've been thinking about the dangers of this illegal surveillance state, I've been trying to come up with ideas about how turn the tables on the watchers and their paymasters. And so I wrote an "Open Letter to NSA Analysts" encouraging them to reveal illegal and unconstitutional activities to the public.
Then tonight I was pleasantly surprised to see another open letter to would-be surveillance state whistle-blowers by Tom Engelhardt (TomDispatch), published at truthdig: "Letter to an Unknown Whistle-Blower."
They have built their system so elaborately, so expansively, and their ambitions have been so grandiose that they have had no choice but to embed you in their developing global security state, deep in the entrails of their secret world—tens of thousands of possible you’s, in fact. You’s galore, all of whom see some part, some corner, of the world that is curtained off from the rest of us. And because they have built using the power of tomorrow, they have created a situation in which the prospective whistle-blower, the leaker of tomorrow, has access not just to a few pieces of paper but to files beyond imagination. They, not you, have prepared the way for future mass document dumps, for staggering releases, of a sort that once upon time in a far more modest system based largely on paper would have been inconceivable.I highly recommend people read the entire letter as it clearly explains why the corporate-controlled surveillance state is so dangerous and must be fully exposed, and taken down.
They have, that is, paved the way for everything that you are one day guaranteed to do. They have created the means by which their mania for secrecy will repeatedly come a cropper. They have created you.
And so I'm very glad there are others thinking along those lines, and reaching out to honest patriotic Americans inside the bowels of the Surveillance State.
But I keep thinking about other ideas, and one thing that comes to mind is the issue of legalized bribery which has engulfed our entire system of government.
There is a really nice website (Money wins Elections) that succinctly illustrates the corruption. Some of the information nuggets include: Of the 435 House elections in 2012, candidates that outspend their opponents won 95% of them; A tiny group of powerful fundraisers give our politicians the money they need to win elections; Less than 1% of Americans contribute 68% of all election funding...
These big funders use their influence to lobby for policies and laws that benefit themselves.And we know the rest...
Shocking New Research Reveals Obama's Legacy Could Be an America of Aristocrats and PeonsThe emphasis is mine
Inequality experts Thomas Piketty and Emmanuel Saez reveal the biggest gap between rich and poor ever recorded by economists.
New research [PDF] from inequality experts Thomas Piketty and Emmanuel Saez has revealed that we now have the biggest gap between the rich and rest of America since economists began tracking data a century ago.
This isn’t supposed to happen following an economic crisis. After the Great Depression, Roosevelt’s New Deal programs worked to prevent wealth from piling back up at the top. And over the past two decades, the percentage of income claimed by the wealthy dropped after each recession. But in the aftermath of the Great Recession, the top 1 percent has gobbled up nearly all of the income gains in the first three years of the “recovery" — a stupifying 95 percent. Economic inequality is even worse than it was before the crash. In fact, last year the rich took home the largest share of income since 1917 with the exception of only one year: 1928.
So here's an idea, and at this point even thought I think that given the circumstances it really is a no-brainer, as far as I know there no group in the entire country doing this. And so I offer this idea as a thought experiment...
Imagine some type of online collective a la Anonymous, but operating totally in the open and legally. I envisioned lots of young people (along older tech guys), researchers, writers, journalists, all working within some sort of loose association in an open source environment.
Their tasks? Make a list of all members of Congress and all members of the executive branch, and their staffs, associates, and immediate family members (as long as the information is public).
Then start mapping out all the relationships these individuals have with corporations and special interests. There are already great tools for keeping track of the bribery, including MapLight and ALEC Exposed. To illustrate the rapacious greed and depravity of these people one has only to read this article: ANALYSIS: When a Congressman Becomes a Lobbyist, He Gets a 1,452% Raise (on Average)
Our research effort uncovered the partial salaries of twelve lawmakers-turned-lobbyists. Republic Report’s investigation found that lawmakers increased their salary by 1452% on average from the last year they were in office to the latest publicly available disclosure.And we know what happens when these public servants (?) are in office: they legislate in favor of their future employers, and of their funders/paymasters, in what is essentially a legalized bribery scheme.
So imagine a group of a few hundred or even a couple of thousand people (or more) working in concert building a very detailed knowledge-base that clearly shows how money flows from wealthy individuals and special interests into the pockets of politicians, their close associates, and family members, and their front groups, and then use that knowledge to mount a relentless shaming campaign against them.
That's key right there... It would not be sufficient to amass and analyze all that information. That would be 50% of the job. The other 50% would be to use that information in the construction of a powerful narrative specifically designed for public consumption with the specific intent of shinning a light on the corruption, with lifting the curtain and showing them taking the money and betraying the country.
Sites like MapLight are already doing a great job building that knowlege base, as I mentioned as a mentioned above:
House Members Voting to Continue NSA's Dragnet Surveillance Received Twice as Much From Defense ContractorsHere's another example of bribery...
As much as 70 percent of the money appropriated to the NSA by Congress is used to pay private defense companies to conduct intelligence operations, though the details of the NSA's budget and contracts with private companies are classified. Federal budget experts estimate the NSA's budget to be somewhere between $10 billion to $20 billion per year.
Representatives voting to continue the NSA's dragnet surveillance programs received on average 122 percent more money ($41,635) from defense contractors and other defense industry interests than did representatives who voted to end the programs (18,765).
Senators Voting Yes on Syria Resolution Received 83% More Money From Defense IndustrySo again, imagine a group of online activists from across the country collaborating on this project; building a very detailed database/knowledge-base about the bribed politicians and their paymasters, and then working on developing a powerful (stirring) narrative about the shameful corruption and bribery, and then hammer these politicians and their paymasters in a relentless, ongoing, non-stop public relations campaign, all the while doing the exact opposite for the tiny handful of clean politicians that are not taking bribes, and supporting a new crop of politicians who pledge not to take one single dollar from corporations.
Senators voting to authorize the use of military force in Syria have received, on average, 83 percent more money from defense contractors and other defense interests than senators voting against the use of military force.
Obviously, in the political arena that would mean that millions and millions of ordinary people would lend support to the honest politicians; we would money-bomb their campaign (flood them with money from individual citizens), and in the meantime keep hammering the corrupt-to-the-core crop in a relentless shaming campaign.
BTW, is anybody doing anything like this? As I indicated above, it seems to be a no-brainer for anti-corruption and social justice activists, but I don't think I've seen any group or organization doing something like this.
What do you think?
P.S. There is a small group of users who regularly engage in disruptive behavior in my diaries' discussion threads. I would like to ask people interested in serious discussion to avoid engaging these few folks in any way. They usually engage in insults, mockery, and fallacies intended to derail discussion, and post several dozens messages each. I know this may be annoying to some readers and may prompt them to engage these folks. I highly recommend that they be ignored so we can focus on intelligent discussion.----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
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