by Robert Arvay, Contributing Writer
When discussing freedom, we tend to focus on politics and social issues. In doing so, we are not seeing the whole picture, not by a long shot. Yes, freedom depends very much on the political, economic, military and social issues in the news. We should indeed pay close attention to them.
The future of freedom, however, may very well depend on something we take for granted, but rarely think about. Very few of us understand the inner workings of our cell phones, our laptop computers, and the “check engine” light in our automobiles. These miracles of technology are too complicated for most people to understand. It is no longer possible to simply take things apart and figure out how they work.
Technology has literally transformed our lives in the past few years, both for the better and for the worse. On the bright side, it has placed more and more power in our hands. On the darker side, it has placed vastly more power in the hands of a very few. The future of freedom will be determined by an unforeseeable series of events which will decide whether increased technology will empower the many or the few.
Add to this the fact that technology is not only advancing, it is advancing faster every year than it did the year before. Computing power has doubled every two years for decades now. Technologies still on the drawing board aim to multiply that speed by thousands.
The National Security Agency (NSA) has computers that take up entire multi-story buildings, housed on acres of land. It has been estimated that those computers are able to track every telephone call, every email, and every automobile global positioning device in the nation, and this is only a part of their capabilities. Just those three things alone allow the federal government to track anyone it chooses in extraordinary detail. There is more: the electronics in your cell phone enable the government to hear everything you say, even when the phone is turned off. Your home is a virtual zoo of electronic spying devices, such as for example in or on your television. Spies no longer need to plant “bugs” in your house. You have already done that for them.
It’s not paranoia if they really are eavesdropping on you. Organized criminals are very aware of this, especially the ones who are spending the next decade or more in prison because they thought they could keep secrets from the government. That is a good thing. What is not so good is that the government can easily turn its weapons against loyal citizens who dissent from government policy. Lois Lerner was only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to suppressing the freedoms of those of us who advocate freedom.
Nor is the threat only from within our borders. One official, when asked whether Hillary Clinton’s illegally erased emails are lost forever, quipped that they are not— the Russians and the Chinese assuredly have exact copies of everything that was ever on her server.
Small, hostile nations such as Iran and North Korea are building nuclear weapons. These nations are ruled by certified homicidal maniacs who have not only murdered untolled thousands of their own people, but who actively subsidize terrorist groups that have killed thousands of Americans. They aim to multiply their atrocities by a factor of millions, and to do so by attacking our nation.
Technology has made us strong, but it has also made us weak. An attack on a single, small but critical component of our national power grid can cause a cascading effect that would shut down the entire nation for weeks, even months. The death toll would be in the hundreds of thousands, perhaps millions. This is not hyperbole. We would hope that our surveillance technology could prevent that, but the enemy need find only one weak point for them to wreak havoc on the entire national structure.
Finally, the number of people who can work in the central technology power structures of our nation are only a tiny fraction of the population. Command and control are becoming concentrated in fewer and fewer hands, and none of us may even know who these people are.
What will happen when you need health care, and the doctor looks not only at your medical reports, but at your NSA-generated political report? What happens if your credit card is cancelled because an email you sent is offensive to the government?
What happens when the computer in your automobile malfunctions, and not even the mechanics can start your engine?
The future of freedom is fragile. It comes only at a very high price. Once lost, it may take lifetimes before its lamps are lit again.