Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Elephants, Asses, & Apple

By Shane Kastler

The recent firestorm over Apple being court-ordered to develop a program for the FBI to hack into iPhones serves as a blatant reminder of how close Democrats and Republicans are when it comes to a totalitarian state.  And how far away both groups are from the true ideal of liberty.  The case centers around the phone that was in the possession of the San Bernadino shooters who were responsible for gunning down fourteen people in December 2015.  The controversy is over whether the government should have the power to force a private company to spend time and man hours assisting an investigation.  Of course there is not much of a controversy at all if you ask most Republicans and Democrats; since both those on the far right and far left have united in favor of the government beast.

    Dianne Feinstein, the San Francisco Democratic Senator, has threatened to put forth a new law to force Apple to comply.  It would seem that America already has enough heavy-handed dictates on the books, but the good Senator wants yet another.  Of course those on the right are in lock step with  her on this issue.  Donald Trump called for a boycott of Apple until they choose to comply, while Ted Cruz gave a nod to Apple's concerns before settling on the side of the Feds. How surprising.  Hillary Clinton and Marco Rubio, struck similar tones in saying this was a good opportunity for tech companies and the government to find ways to “partnership” on such issues.  The obvious question is, “What if the tech companies don't wish to partner?”  And the obvious answer is that they'll be court-ordered to “partner” which is more of a shotgun wedding than a true romance.  

    One aspect of this situation is the unmasking of both Democrats and Republicans when it comes to matters of governmental power.  No surprisingly those in the government typically side with the government.  Constitutionally, those in the government are supposed to side with the people, for they are elected “representatives” of their constituents.  We all know that they cannot always side with every person they represent; and issues are sometimes thornier than they might appear.  But the regularity with which government officials side with the government against the people and against the private business sector is alarming.  While the elephants and the asses shout each other down in pithy sound bites, their basic philosophies are eerily similar.  Stick it to the people.  Of course, they will tell you it's for your own good.  It's a matter of safety.  We're talking about terrorism after all!  And therein lies a slippery slope of eroding liberty, coupled with a governmental tendency to use fear to prey on the uninformed.

    I have yet to hear anyone who sides with Apple declare that they are in favor of terrorism.  Yet this is often accused.  The overwhelming knee-jerk reaction for most people is to gladly hand over all liberties in the case of security.  But how secure are you when the government has access to everything you say, write, or text?  Risking the charge of being “paranoid” I must point out that the greatest threat to your security might just be the Federal government itself.  The very ones claiming to protect you, might just as easily come after you if you dare cross them on any variety of issues.

    And then there's the market argument from Apple.  CEO Tim Cook has stated that one of their primary selling points is the security of the device.  And, let's face it, in the police state we live in it's a very appealing feature.  Should they risk losing massive future profits by giving up this advantage?  It's surprising how fast the so-called free market capitalists on the right become strangely silent on this one.  What about Apple's right to a little capitalism?  What about Apple's right to some “free market” profit without government intrusion?  Why is it that some Republican's only defend capitalism when it suits them? While this argument is sure to attract the ire of security hawks, I think the hypocrisy is obvious and should be considered.

    One final note.  Some have said that Apple could just unlock this one phone, then never be forced to again.  First of all, we know this isn't true.  They would be asked to again in the future.  Second, and more importantly, the court order didn't demand help on “one phone” but rather a program the FBI could use to hack into any future phones they deem necessary to an investigation.  The potential for absolute government power on this issue; and the ensuing absolute corruption likely to follow, is downright scary.  Do we really want the government  to have this kind of power?  Do we really need the FBI having the ability to hack all iPhones at will? Does the “warrant” system really protect the citizens against unchecked search and seizure powers?  Do we really want courts to have the power to force private companies to do the bidding of investigators?  Is it not law enforcement's job to build their case?  Rather than a defiant business?  And should such a business be prosecuted for refusing to submit to an overbearing, and potentially costly dictate?  I don't think so.  But I'm in the minority.  Maybe you should join me there?  Apple doesn't owe the government a hack job.  Most of the elephants and asses say I'm wrong.  They side with a dictatorship.  I side with liberty.  

Consider joining me there and leave the elephants and the asses to stomp and kick their way to the next debate claiming to be different, while looking and sounding like the bizarre two-headed behemoth that they are.

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