Monday, December 28, 2015

The All-Knowing State Is the All-Abusing State

I'm a ninth-generation Pennsylvanian. I haven't lived there in nearly 35 years, but I would like to move back, if I could just get my crap together. (That's an awfully big "if," I know.)

Here's an article about what's going on in Pennsylvania these days. And it turns out most of what's going on is inappropriate e-mail chains. The state attorney general, Kathleen Kane, has politicized the police power of the state government to an incredible degree.

In The Roosevelt Myth, John T. Flynn writes about Franklin Roosevelt's political use of New Deal relief programs. In Power to Destroy, John A. Andrew III writes about Kennedy, Johnson, and Nixon using the IRS to target political enemies. Barack Obama met with his IRS commissioner over 150 times while multiple field offices targeted conservative tax-exempt groups before the 2010 and 2012 elections (meanwhile, Barack's half-brother Malik got his tax-exempt group approved with the approval backdated to cover previously-received donations).

The more information available to the state, the more state power becomes attractive to authoritarians. Pennsylvania state employees are now experiencing what the rest of us will experience when tech companies become fully integrated into the NSA. But the headlines will be about the inappropriate subject lines of your messages to your friends, not the totalitarian use of the access to that information.

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