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A modest proposal for the snoops at the NSA

June 06, 2013|By Paul Whitefield
  • We all know we live in a wired world, and now we know that the government knows it too.
We all know we live in a wired world, and now we know that the government knows… (Ben Margot / Associated…)

Does the government really want to read my emails and listen in on my phone calls? If so, I'm going to make it an offer I hope it can't refuse.

Like most Americans, my emails and calls are of the distinctly, well, non-terrorist variety. Mostly stuff like “Can you stop on your way home and pick up some bread, and milk, and maybe some of that yogurt I like, the kind with the fruit on the bottom and not peach because you always forget that I hate peach,” or “Do you know what your son did today?” or “You’ll never believe what the cat just dragged in.”

Now, it’s not always boring. Take this recent call: “There are men with guns in the backyard!” Yikes! Thankfully, the terrorist the armed men were seeking was wearing a fur coat and answered to the name of “California black bear.”

Still, just because we’re all innocent and have nothing to hide, the news that the National Security Agency has been Hoovering up Americans’ data since at least 2006 isn’t exactly, well, welcome. (Though I have to admit that, when the story broke that it was Verizon being targeted, I was, for the first time ever, glad to be an AT&T customer!)

Of course, this isn't the first time the government has trampled on the rights of U.S. citizens in the name of national security. Just ask the Japanese Americans who were interned during World War II. Or the victims of the anti-communist witch hunts of the 1950s.

But this is different. This is all of us, and it strikes at the very core of our modern life -- or at least those rare times we actually speak to one another on the phone.

Can you say Orwell and “1984”? (Oh, stop pretending: Like “Moby-Dick,” you haven’t read it.) For all we know, some government spook is watching us right now on our Web-enabled, Hulu-equipped, Netflix-streaming high-definition big screen TVs -- made in China, no less, and I for one don’t trust the Chinese either!

(Please, someone stop me before I start fashioning one of those tinfoil hats.)

Now, not to be old-fashioned or anything, but I seem to recall that there is something -- the Constitution? yes, that’s it! -- that applies in these situations. (And isn’t it strange that this story broke on the eve of the 69th anniversary of D-day, when a lot of brave young Americans gave their lives defending that document?)

But apparently these days our government -- Republicans and Democrats; hey, bipartisanship at last! -- considers the Constitution to be more of a, oh, I don’t know, a guideline.  

Kinda makes you wish there was an NRA-type group for the 4th Amendment, doesn’t it? Oh, that’s right, there is: the folks at the ACLU. Too bad so many people hate them.

Still, I’m not going to give in to paranoia, even though I now know for certain that someone is watching me. Instead, I’m going to make my government a counteroffer, a kind of anti-terrorism Obamacare:

You can read all my emails, and you can listen in on my phone calls. Heck, you can even check out my Facebook page if you want.

All I ask in return is that you kick in a little something to help me pay my Internet and cellphone and cable bills.

They say you can’t put a price on freedom. But in this case, it’s about 500 bucks a month.


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