You’ve heard it before: “If you don’t vote, you have no right to complain.” But is it true? Chris Campbell debunks this fallacy. In fact, “If you vote,” he says, “you have no right to complain.” Read on…
In times of uncertainty and stress, outlandish claims are a dime a dozen. For example, the accusation that Laissez Faire Today is part of the Illuminati and “suppressing the truth” about Ebola. In response to this charge, Chris Campbell dives down the rabbit hole and gives the conspiracy narrative some limelight. Read on…
There are two things you shouldn’t do this Election Day: one, vote; two, buy gold. Why? Chris Campbell explores this and more in today’s Laissez Faire Today. Read on…
You should be celebrating the coming Syrian war and Ebola. After all, they’re set to stimulate the economy, no? Chris Campbell explores this insane paradigm and uncovers what would happen if the government got out of the way. Read on…
Only a few months before Sept. 11, 2001 a group of security experts got together to conduct one national security exercise. They called it Operation Dark Winter. Their question: What would happen in the event of a bioterrorist attack on the United States? Read on…
Where do great investors come from?I’m not sure what the hurdle rate for greatness is, but Guy Spier has put up impressive results. His Aquamarine Fund has returned 463% since inception in 1997, versus just 167% for the S&P 500 (a broad proxy for the market). Put another way, $1 million invested at inception is […]
The duality is stark. In one hand, we have an energy renaissance underway, in the other, a virus is threatening to wreak havoc on the markets and, potentially, your life. What do you do? Read on…
The Americans who voted for Obama were expecting some big changes. But, six years later, the government he acquired has only spied harder, the drones have flown lower, and the weapons have gotten bigger. But don’t blame Obama. Read on…
Is your government too big? Find out in today’s Laissez Faire Today with six “red flags” to look out for. Chris Campbell covers everything from one ObamaCare whistleblower to the strange case of our new Ebola czar. Read on…
We’re back on the self-publishing beat today…In today’s episode, you’re going to learn about two fantastic services you should consider if you’re self-publishing a book.Even if you’re not writing a book, if you’re an avid reader you’ll love these websites too. They’re how you can find some of the world’s best “hidden” authors in the […]
Next year is the 65th anniversary of the Peanuts comic strip. And Charlie Brown, Snoopy, Lucy and the rest of the gang will appear in their first full-length feature film in 35 years.One small company has the license to the Peanuts brand. The cash flow due to this company could be enormous. In late October, […]
Is Democracy really all its cracked up to be? Does Hong Kong really need it? That’s the question Chris Campbell ponders today as he observes the protests in Hong Kong. Hong Kong has enjoyed low taxes, free business and trade, and high social freedom without our favored system of governing.
The government is on a mad race to create a vaccine for Ebola. What they aren’t telling you is that, in 2003, they may have found a way to beat it naturally. According to one unclassified government document, this little-known plant beat Ebola 90% of the time. Why isn’t the government developing it? Read on…
The mainstream media has been complacent in reporting the truth about Ebola. They’re not telling the truth about how dangerous the Ebola situation really is. Because of this, millions of lives are at risk. Inside today’s Laissez Faire Today, learn what the mainstream should be telling you about how to protect yourself in the case of an outbreak in the United States. Read on…
Writing a book? Chris Campbell shows you three secrets to successfully self-publishing. Secrets including, how to get a professional-looking cover for as little as $5… how to format your book to get people to love it and buy your next one… and how to market your book to hundreds of thousands of people -- absolutely free. Read on…
Who can forget Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treasure Island? That map, marked with an “x,” is the stuff of high adventure.There is a modern-day equivalent of a treasure map, and it is just as coveted by those who seek reservoirs of oil and gas. It’s called seismic data.What are seismic data? In essence, they’re collected from […]
One CIA insider visited our Baltimore HQ yesterday. While here, he leaked 30 potential events to cause the next financial avalanche. Even more, he also gave us several ways everyday Americans can thrive because of these events. Why did he impart so much valuable information? Find out in today’s Laissez Faire Today. Read on…
Instead of letting you choose, the government has found it fit to force one potentially dangerous medication on you and your family. Where is it? In your drinking water. Even more outrageous: While Uncle Sam forces medication down your throat, he also says you have no right to choose your own milk. Chris Campbell has all the details. Read on…
ISIS’ spokesperson is a kid from Calgary who wants to “paint the White House black.” In today’s Laissez Faire Today, Chris Campbell asks one question none of the “officials” seem to care to ask: Why? Why are foreigners flocking to the Middle East to fight alongside ISIS? Why is Saudi Arabia so keen on getting involved? How far does Obama really want to go? Find out inside. Read on…
If you’ve ever wanted to expose some heinous crime against humanity, here’s your chance. In today’s Laissez Faire Today, Chris Campbell shows you how to make sure the world accesses to your leaks, even if something happens to you. Chris also shares why this is probably a terrible idea. Read on…
I bet you use different kinds of money all the time, sometimes without even realizing it.In various online accounts, I currently have: some dollars, some pounds, and some euros. I have some air miles from two different credit card companies. I have some supermarket rewards points from three different companies. And I also have some […]
America has about 4% of the world’s population, yet houses 25% of the world’s incarcerated. What’s going on here? Chris Campbell digs deep into the industry to figure out the truth. While many blame the private prison industry, the real culprit, says Chris, begins right outside your door. Read on…
When Obama first announced U.S. airstrikes in Iraq, most people have no idea that it was to destroy U.S. military equipment in the hands of ISIS. How did ISIS get U.S. weapons? Chris Campbell blows the story wide open in today’s Laissez Faire Today. Read on…
Every 37 seconds, an American is arrested and criminalized because of one racist and ridiculous law. Join Chris Campbell as he takes you back to when marijuana became illegal… why it’s hurting America… and why you should fight to end the prohibition. And it’s not so you can smoke it. Read on…
An ancient guide has been in hiding… until now. As it dusts itself off, some early adopters are calling it “the definitive text on self-discipline, personal ethics, humility, self-actualization and strength.” And, according to Chris Campbell, it could be the only thing you need to thrive in our day-to-day life of modern chaos. Embrace it, and become the hero of your own story. Ignore it, and risk living a whimper of a life on someone else’s terms. Read on…
I’m sure you’ve seen the news. As if recent, past U.S. policy fiascos in Libya, Egypt and Syria were not enough, the wheels are now coming off the proverbial bus in Iraq, site of so much blood and treasure spent in the last decade.Radical Islamist armies are marching toward Baghdad, slicing through Iraqi government troops […]
Think it’s impossible to escape Obamacare? Think again. Laissez Faire Today reader David F. shares how he did it and how you can do it too. Don’t see another doctor, take another pill, or shop around for better medical insurance until you read his story. Read on…
“What… is… that?!”That’s what one colleague asked when she saw this on my desk…My face, according to 3-D printing“My face,” I said. “What does it look like?”“Uh…”OK, sure. It’s a rough depiction. Eh. It’s pretty choppy…And, as you can see, the glasses didn’t really take well… making for an eerie sunken eye look.Didn’t really turn […]
“While I heartily subscribe to your premise of pursuing one’s dream,” one reader, Donald J., wrote, “there are alternate perspectives worth considering.”[We’re listening… go on.]“Some wiseguy once said that life is what happens to you while you’re waiting for something better to come along. Milton put it a little more poetically in one of his […]
“Where were you when it happened?” How many times have we been asked -- and asked -- this question since 2001? Today, Chris Campbell asks us to pose a different question: What can I do today to making Sept. 11 another turning point in my life? And then, of course, taking that first step. Read on…
In 1995, American agriculture underwent a profound, dangerous change.In that year, Monsanto and other companies pushed through approval for a handful of genetically modified (GM) organisms. These included canola oil tweaked to improve its flavor, potatoes modified to resist pesticide dousing, and tomatoes gene-spliced to delay ripening.“About half of all the crops planted on American […]
Chris Campbell got more than he bargained for during Sunday brunch. In a packed restaurant, he learned about a hidden sex boom that’s taking the world by storm. You won’t believe how much money ordinary Americans are making in this boom. It’s so much…you may even consider cashing in yourself.
“Nowadays to be intelligible is to be found out.” — Oscar WildeIn the wacky world of American politics, if you as an employer have a religious objection to paying for your employees’ contraceptives, it is you who is contemptuous of religious freedom.As the New York Times editorial board lectured a judge who thinks otherwise, “the […]
Sometimes, the news of the day causes me to say, “Huh?” The New York Times revelations last month about NSA programs and activities to enhance the agency’s ability to spy on ordinary citizens prompts today’s “Huh?” Who knew that our every phone call, Internet post and tweet is being recorded by the government?
I have operated under the (apparently mistaken) impression that the Constitution of the United States prohibits the random, warrantless surveillance of ordinary citizens. In fact, I’m certain it’s written down somewhere… oh, yes, it’s the Fourth Amendment.
It specifically states:
“The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.”
So what am I missing?
Since Sept. 11, our government has acted as if security and privacy were an either/or proposition. In other words, an increase in one causes a decrease in the other. Like a seesaw, if one side goes up, the other side must go down.
As federal security consultant Ed Giorgio stated several years ago in a widely quoted New Yorker article, “Privacy and security are a zero-sum game.” Apparently, in order to be more “secure,” we must accept less “privacy.” That includes allowing increased warrantless surveillance and scrutiny by the government.
So is the government’s argument sound?
Before we can know whether it is sound, let’s define some terms. In particular, “security” and “privacy.”
Security is generally defined as “freedom from danger, fear, or anxiety.” And privacy is defined as “freedom from undesired outside influence or intrusion.”
But are those the right definitions?
Is “freedom from danger, fear, or anxiety” really the opposite of “freedom from undesired outside influence or intrusion”? In particular, are they mutually exclusive?
On the contrary, these limited definitions are not appropriate in this scenario. Security comprises more than a feeling that one is safe. In a broader sense, it represents tools and methods that you could potentially use to ensure your privacy.
Privacy, on the other hand, is different. It’s something you would want to make secure. Something you want to protect, like your car or home. That sounds a lot more like property to me. Embedded in this notion of property is the idea of ownership. In fact, an owner is defined as someone with “the right to exclusive use, use, or control of property.”
So can privacy, like property, be owned? If so, who controls it?
Current norms do not designate “privacy” as something you possess, but prior to 1890, privacy was not separated from your property.
In the Supreme Court decision Boyd v. United States, the court ruled that constitutional guarantees securing people in their persons, houses, papers, and effects transcend the concrete case. It goes on to say that it “appl[ies] to all invasions on the part of government and its employees of the sanctity of a man’s home and the privacies of life. It is not the breaking of his doors and the rummaging in his drawers that constitutes the essence of the offense; but it is the invasion of his indefeasible right of personal security, personal liberty, and private property.”
If we accept the government’s initial argument, we are really giving up control of our privacy to others, and who then decides how much of it we deserve.
Under this assumption, privacy is meaningless. It holds that someone other than you decides what is or is not private to you.
As security expert Bruce Schneier would say, the debate is not really between security and privacy, but between control and liberty.
The government’s argument does not stand up to even the simplest logical examination. They argue that security and privacy are mutually exclusive without any proof and believe that statements like “Privacy and security are a zero-sum game” are true by default.
The government’s argument takes for granted acceptance of the government’s initial definitions. This implies that surveillance that reduces privacy automatically enhances security. It also takes for granted a complete lack of familiarity with history and our shared common beliefs that are implicit in the telling of that history.
The tension between control and liberty was without a doubt the fundamental concern faced by the Founding Fathers. They established the Constitution as the law to limit government interference in citizens’ affairs.
Recall John Adams’ sentiments on “a government of laws and not of men.” The Founding Fathers established the Constitution with a series of processes and a system of checks and balances. This was meant to restrain and replace the people in power because they feared the human tendency to seek and control one another.
Today, we share their deep-seated belief in limited government.
Although the government promises increased security, its tools of invasive surveillance and cavalier dismissal of rights protected by the Constitution are not in keeping with our common notions or our law. Accordingly, their argument fails on this count too.
The defense the government uses to justify more surveillance is twofold. First, they argue that unlimited observation provides the watchers with the opportunity to step in and prevent dangerous actions and events. (Of course, danger to whom does not appear to be relevant in their reasoning.)
Second, because of the potential for this intervention, individuals’ fear and anxiety about dangerous actions and events should be reduced. Because of this, actual encounters with such events will be reduced.
In support of this, the government regularly informs the media about how its increased surveillance has led to the discovery and neutralization of “terrorist” threats. This confirms its belief that security and privacy are mutually exclusive concepts.
However, unlimited surveillance is by definition incompatible with limited government. According to many security experts, it is also incompatible with enhanced security.
In today’s world, information can be misused or stolen more easily every day. Placing more and more information into gigantic government databases merely means that stealing or abusing information will become easier over time.
Creation of such data platforms merely creates another “one-stop shopping” experience so common in today’s convenience-driven world. And it’s ripe for exploitation. The possibilities for “insecurity” due to this are endless.
Although our grandparents kept their private information in their desks “with their important papers,” today, those records are a cornucopia of data about each of us. And they reside in computer servers and “in the cloud,” available to others without their knowledge or permission.
So how does subjecting yourself to such scrutiny make you safer or more secure?
A real-world example is in order here. Subsequent to the tragic event in Connecticut last year where an individual entered an elementary school and murdered students and teachers, The Journal News published an interactive map showing the names and addresses of all handgun permit holders in New York’s Westchester and Rockland counties.
According to Al Tompkins of the Poynter Institute, a school for journalists, “Publishing gun owners’ names makes them targets for theft or public ridicule. It is journalistic arrogance to abuse public record privilege, just as it is to air 911 calls for no reason or to publish the home addresses of police or judges without cause.”
Exposure to theft of one’s firearm through disclosure most certainly would not “enhance” their security.
The privacy-versus-security dichotomy fostered by government presumes that the government will maintain control of your private information, thereby increasing the government’s security potentially. In that light, the revelations about the NSA’s trillion-dollar expenditures to spy on us make sense.
In the end, it’s really all just a question of whom they are protecting.