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Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Is Snowden The Solution?

Edward Snowden will join a growing line of whistleblowers who have been or are being persecuted/prosecuted by the Obama Administration. The irony is that the candidate who promised transparency in government has become the President who has gone after more whistleblowers than all other presidents combined. And what is worse is that the liberals who elected him, for the most part, remain blindly loyal to him.

What Snowden revealed about what the government is doing under Obama's presidency simply added to the long laundry list of power grabs it is making. And conservatives should note that most Republicans elected officials are as anxious to punish whistleblowers like Snowden as Obama and his team. As we reflect on the fact that Obama is simply extending the surveillance and other abuses legalized and practiced by the Bush Administration, we find that extending government power is one subject on which members from both sides of the isle can reach out to each other and work together.

But it is not just government that is growing in power, bills protecting certain corporations from legal action and the government's own refusal to prosecute our largest financial institutions even for money laundering show that a double standard not only exists but is growing between those with power and wealth and the rest of us. Those with power and wealth are gaining more power and immunity from prosecution while the rest of us have more to be accountable for with less protection.

So the question is: Are whistleblowers, like Snowden, the solution to our problem with a more intrusive but less accountable government? The answer is obviously no because Snowden did all he could do by informing us of what is happening. The rest is up to us and that is the problem because of the current relationship between us and our government.

What is the current relationship between our government and the people? It can be best described being like the relationship between a spoiled child and his or her negligent parents who are too busy with their own interests to correct the child. As the child continues to get away with more and more, the child becomes impossible to work with until finally nothing can be done to help the child. So when we consider that voting every x number of years is the extent that people want to be involved with their government, the spoiled child here represents the government while the negligent parents represent the people. What role does Edward Snowden play here? He is simply a concerned neighbor who tells the parents what he just saw the child do.

Of course the analogy breaks down in that a spoiled child can do little to strike back at a tattletale neighbor unlike what the government can do to Snowden. But the real issue here is the dysfunctional relationship between the parents and the child.

Two solutions to this problem have been offered. The Conservative solution is to limit the damage the spoiled child can do by partially grounding him or her. This is what Conservatives propose when they promote "limited" government. It is simply an attempt to limit the expected damage done by the child.

There are two problems with the Conservative approach. The first problem is that because of the continued negligence of the parents, the child never grows up. So that even though some of the rooms of the house have their doors locked, the child remains spoiled because the parents did not provide the discipline needed by the child. The second problem is that because Conservatives put so much weight on defense, our undisciplined child not only has keys to the gun cabinet, he or she has a credit card with which they can purchase new guns. This is what we have allowed our government to become. It is a spoiled child who is armed to the teeth. This reverses some of the parent-child roles where the child becomes the boss and the parent becomes subservient.

The other approach is one that was preached and practiced by the Occupy Movement encampments. That is that people learn to rule themselves in a more participatory democratic system. This system preached repentance to both the 1% and the 99%. The Occupy Movement told the 1% to change by saying they must change the economic system by which they have become rich to one that is based on sharing and cooperation. And the Occupy Movement told the 99% that they can no longer be negligent parents. Rather, they must give up some of the time they spend on their own pursuits and pleasures to study and make the mature decisions that one would expect from adults. Unfortunately, neither the 1% child nor the 99% distant parents were ready to hear these messages.

And that is where we stand today. We should add one other thing, however. The American Conservative Church has, for the most part, contributed to our current state of affairs. How? By using Biblical passages like Romans 13 and I Peter 2 to make people think that they are the children while government is our parent. That means that the people influenced by the American Conservative Church tells people that it is not their place to try to correct the child when the child does something wrong. Thus, though the American Conservative Church is not telling the people to continue to be a negligent parent here, the end game is the same.

Regardless of one's religious views, what is important here is that people gain a sense of what they want government to be and then work toward that. That will mean making sacrifices especially in terms of leisure time. That if we want government to work a certain way, we have to spend the time necessary to effectively let government know what we want. We cannot afford to continue to be either negligent parents or passive servants. At the same time, if we direct government to merely serve our whims and tastes and do not require that government helps those who are most vulnerable, we will have gained nothing.

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