Saturday, July 27, 2013

Living Through Your Society Becoming a Police State

I don't like the USA government hiding its actions from the citizens of the USA. I don't believe claims that most of what is hidden is for national security reasons. It is hidden for the simple reason that it is politically unacceptable to admit what they are doing and so they seek to hide what they are doing. Doing so is extremely damaging as it will force us to distrust the government's claims on national security. When you abuse national security for political expediency it is exactly like the children's story of crying wolf. When you hide your politically unpopular decisions behind a fake cry of wolf eventually people won't believe your claims - even when they are true. If you care about national security you cannot allow it to be sacrificed for political expediency.

Governing is hard. When you give in to political expediency instead of dealing with the hard challenges you sacrifice the future of the country so you can avoid having to confront the challenges. It is easy to see why people would make this choice. But it does great damage to the country.

I fear we are entering a phase where the government will move to more and more McCarthyist tactics to hide their actions: using threats against those seeking to hold the government accountable, deploying the police powers of the state against those who find their policies unconstitutional but for which the government has no right to investigate (until you accept the police state arguments that we can do whatever we want because we have police state powers that we granted ourselves secretly and no one is allowed to talk about it, character assassination of those that question the powers that be, granting powers to those that will support the policies...).

We don't have a great track record in the last 100 years. So most likely we will once again allow government to do horrendous stuff that a few decades later we say "oh boy that was bad, but it was a long time ago" (look at all the people we used the FBI to spy on and intimidate in the last 100 years including the only person we named a national holiday in honor of in the last 100 years - Martin Luther King). I always wondered how those people could sit by and watch Japanese Internment, McCarthyism, massive FBI abuses...

Now I am living through it and I see how easy it is for those with power to seize control of a society and make it into something anyone looking back on would be thinking "how could they allow such things to happen."

Related: Society is being shaped for us while we are busy making other plans - NSA and the Pandora’s box of surveillance by Jack Shafer - Security Theatre Thinking is Damaging the USA - The TSA doesn’t give a hoot about security

Saturday, July 20, 2013

SWAT Culture

Too Many Cops Are Told They’re Soldiers Fighting a War. How Did We Get Here?
The numbers are staggering. In the early 1980s, there were about 3,000 SWAT "call-outs" per year across the entire country. By 2005, there were an estimated 50,000. In New York City alone, there were 1,447 drug raids 1994. By 2002, eight years later, there were 5,117 -- a 350 percent increase. In 1984, about a fourth of towns between 25,000-50,000 people had a SWAT team. By 2005, it was 80 percent.

Today, the use of this sort of force is in too many jurisdictions the first option for serving search warrants instead of the last. SWAT teams today are used to break up poker games and massage parlors, for immigration enforcement, even to perform regulatory inspections.
This is a very sad state of affairs. Our police departments have lost a view of themselves as members of society aimed at promoting peace and liberty. The SWAT militarization is one outcome of this cultural mindset. Infringing on photographers rights (even violently at times) and destroying evidence of criminal action in doing so is all too common. There are still a majority of police that have not adopted the burnt earth mentality of enforcement but the overwhelming reliance on militaristic thinking has damaged the good will that good efforts provide. This cultural change is extreme and very damaging to society.

We need police to return to the thinking that makes them an important aid to society. The best work in this area that I know of is: Improving Police by the former police chief of Madison, Wisconsin.

Related: The System is Broken: SWAT Raids - Failure to Address Systemic SWAT Raid Failures - More SWAT Failures - Tired of Incompetent Government Harassment - Police Failing to Enforce Law If Lawbreaker is a Police Officer - Security Theatre Thinking is Damaging the USA

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

USA Universities Are Poorly Managed - Due to a Failure to Focus on the Value Stream

The cost of education in the USA has exploded over the last few decades. Has this been due to spending on improving the quality of education? No. Huge expenditures go to trophy buildings, huge paychecks to administrators, football coaches and other non-educators. Most large schools pay more to multiple assistant football coaches than anyone involved in educating students.

The ballooning expenses are extremely poor management of the value chain. The schools are spending millions because administrators like the boondoggles and couldn't care less about education (actions matter far more to me that words, I don't' care that you say you care about education if you spend money of non-education and pile that burden on those seeking education you are anti-education).

What's Really 'Immoral' About Student Loans
According to a recent study by Mark Perry, a professor of economics and finance at the University of Michigan at Flint, between 1978 and 2011 college tuition in the U.S. increased at an annual rate of 7.45%, vastly exceeding the rate of inflation and the almost-stagnant rate of growth in family incomes.

Colleges have responded to the availability of easy federal money by doing what subsidized industries generally do: Raising prices to capture the subsidy.

If we want to solve the very real problem of excessive student-loan debt, college costs need to be brought under control. A 2010 study by the Goldwater Institute identified "administrative bloat" as a leading reason for higher costs. The study found that many American universities now have more salaried administrators than teaching faculty.
Related: The Poor Paying for Vocational High School Education - Looking at the Value of Different College Degrees - Penn State Scandal is Horrendous and Points to the Very Deep Corruption of Our Leaders - Ackoff: Schools Are Not Led By Those Most Concerned with Education (they are led by those most concerned with themselves.

Sunday, July 07, 2013

Thursday, July 04, 2013

I Can Spy on You, But You Can't Spy on Me

It seems to me there are numerous essentially vassal states of the USA that adopt largely whatever measures the USA really presses them on - for security or enforcing extremely long and counterproductive copyrights (the system doesn't do what it was suppose to do - instead has been turned into a system to help a few big business copyright cartel companies that give USA politicians lots of cash) but he USA has pretty much dictated legislation to numerous other nations that have capitulated.

I don't have much info but my impression is that states like Canada, UK, Germany and Australia are pretty much going to let the USA have whatever it wants. If they seek to avoid being vassal states to the USA it seems to me you have to chose a legal system and government that have shown some ability to stand up to USA pressure. I have thought this would be a smart thing for some countries to do for years but I haven't noticed any countries interested in taking on this role.

Germans accuse U.S. of Stasi tactics before Obama visit. My guess is Germany does nothing, other than making a few harmless noises. Pretty much Europe has been limited to voicing a bit of displeasure occasionally but for anything that requires action they act like a vassal state and go along with the USA (which often means big USA campaign contributors). Maybe Germany, or others, will want to step out from the shadow they have been in basically since the end of World War II, but I doubt it. There just haven't been any significant examples.

My guess is eventually some nations will, but my guess it will be nations that are not so tied to the USA and that can play the USA and China against each other to refuse to be a vassal to either one (but that is just a wild guess). How much longer it will take is the question. Or maybe people will just end up choosing between which police state policies they want to accept USA, China or some other one. Maybe countries like Canada will be like flavors of Linux so Canada is USA vassal but actually refuses to go along with a couple minor points here or there (and if you care most about those minor points you chose Canada).

It will be interesting to see if any nation stands up to the USA spying on their citizens. It doesn't seem too likely - other than a few oddballs that don't expect the USA the USA could do anything more to them, short to attacking the country militarily, and figure that isn't likely. It is odd to hear the USA talk about China tech companies facilitating Chinese government spying and then give secret order that the USA tech companies (or librarians) are not allowed to disclose that result in spying on citizens of other countries (and citizens of the USA).

Other than might makes right I don't exactly understand the philosophical system the idea that "you can't spy on us but we of spy on whoever we want"?

Here is one example of the perniciousness of the spying: U.S. officials sent back to German Facebook-mails. If you want to argue that we have to ignore Jefferson, Franklin, Patrick Henry, etc. due to big huge scary risks you must not abuse the spying for trivial matters. Yes, government agencies get caught up in their own fear mongering and grabs for power (which is one reason most sensible people and bright people don't trust government to gain absolute power to spy on citizens) and start to believe silly things like their security theatre is related to what they said the constitution needed to be abandoned to protect us from big scary things. If you use the abdication of liberty to block people from violating minor rules (such as working without a permit - the link above) in my mind you forfeit the right to claim your constitution defying actions are needed for a more important purpose.

Related: Governments Shouldn't Prevent Citizens from Having Secure Software Solutions - Freedom Increasingly at Risk - Liberty Again Denied, It is Sad How Little We Seem to Care - Security Theatre Thinking is Damaging the USA (May 2013)