>>"…In the meantime we can all bitch and bellyache on the Internet about any number of ills of government, the only thing it will achieve is that we'll all feel better after doing so."
So what difference does it make if there is someone in Cheltenham or Quantico with *potential* access to shedloads of emails or phone call data?
Unless we have huge numbers of surplus snoopers, aren't they generally going to concentrate on people who most of the population would think were a threat, rather than on people who don't seem to be any threat to the state or the population at large?
Why is now 'more 1984' than 1984 or 1964 or 1934 was?
>>"Every single new law that's enacted by 'The State' further reduces the citizenry's freedom, ipso facto. It has to be so by simple logic--the more law on the statues the less freedom we citizens have."
That's interesting logic there.
Surely, many laws are actually to do with new developments?
In practice, as time goes on, what people can potentially do increases, so even with an increase in regulation, it's perfectly possible for people to be able to do more now than they could in the past.
Before there were telegraphs, there would be no need for laws on wire fraud.
Before we knew about ozone depletion, there would be no need for regulation of CFCs.
What seems important to me is whether any individual law actually makes sense - that is, if it involves some loss of 'freedom', how do the costs and benefits actually stack up in that individual case.
If the law seems justifiable in itself, then arguing against it on principle because it's a restriction of freedom does seem a bit odd.
>>"No proper system of governance, if working correctly, responsibly or in the best interests of the citizenry, should put a citizen into a position where he unknowingly breaks the law [in the knowledge sense as opposed to accidentally]. Nevertheless, this can and does happen all the time."
And what level of intelligence and knowledge qualifies someone to be a 'citizen'?
Should we not have any endangered species legislation because some slack-jawed yokel might not have heard of it, and could end up shooting protected animals?
No pollution controls because someone might not realise that chemical X is on the list of things that aren't allowed to be poured down the drain?
What fraction of criminal convictions come about due to real (rather than merely claimed) and perfectly understandable ignorance?
>>"- Because we have so much law in place, the normal 'law abiding' citizen rarely ever operates to the extent of the law but well within its boundaries. The reason is obvious: not knowing the boundaries of the law and not wanting to get into trouble, citizens regularly refrain from doing things that they want to but which are actually legal."
I'm trying to work out where all the subtlties of complex law affect me as an individual citizen, restricting me from doing things I would have thought were a good idea even in the absence of laws, but I'm not getting a very long list so far. To the extent I can think of the odd grey area, if anything that's where I probably push up against the line or maybe step over it a little, while having a pretty good idea what the laws are.
What kinds of things are you thinking of, regarding citizens regularly refraining from doing perfectly legal things rather than risk getting into trouble?
Presumably you're thinking of cases where a citizen couldn't easily find out what the law allows, yet also has some kind of awareness that a law exists?
There can be situations where a *false* impression of the law has been generated (like police misapplying terrorism law against photography), but the fault there seems to be fairly solidly with the people misapplying the law, rather than the law itself. That is, people who know the law may be equally as cautious as those who don't, and given correct application, problems would be much reduced.
Also, even absent any laws, if there were general social or even individual moral boundaries, I'd probably spend most of my time operating reasonably well within them, rather than always pushing at them.
>>"People who are under surveillance (or even just the threat of it) behave in a much more timid manner, they will not assert themselves to the extent they would when the 'The State' is not looking (even within the extent of the law)"
There's 'threat' as in real and meaningful, and 'threat' as in 'possibly/potential'.
You reckon people in general are much more reserved and timid now than they were in decades past?
That everyone's so scared of general electronic surveillance that they daren't say anything against The System?
Or do things someone could hold against them? (countless internet porn sites might disagree).