Freedom is FREE-dom

Freedom is FREE-dom

Contribution, Part 111

Are we under Big Brother’s watching eye?

Big Brother from George Orwell’s novel and 1884 movie

BRADES, Montserrat, March 15, 2021 –  The other day, the regional news proudly announced how the very first “secure” d-cash transaction happened in St Lucia as someone bought a meal at a local restaurant. How it could be that knowing that much about who was where, when, and bought what from whom is “secure,” is of course a big question. Similarly, some are proposing that vaccine passports would allow tourism to come back from its death-bed, revitalising our pandemic-shocked economies.  (Apparently, tourism-dependent Caribbean economies shrank by about 9% but the commodities ones by only 0.2%.)

Somehow, an ages-long, grim warning on the dangers of the surveillance state has seemingly escaped our decision-makers, publicists, media, and even many pulpiteers:

Rev. 13:16 Also [the Second Beast, from the land] causes all, both small and great, both rich and poor, both free and slave, to be marked on the right hand or the forehead, 17 so that no one can buy or sell unless he has the mark, that is, the name of the [First] beast [from the sea] or the number of its name. 18 This calls for wisdom: let the one who has understanding calculate the number of the beast, for it is the number of a man, and his number is 666 [= numerical value of the name, Nero Caesar].

It is not mere conspiracy theory scare-mongering to point out that it is exceedingly dangerous to cede centralised control over our day-to-day lives, buying, selling, and economies to any centralised or monopoly body. Worse, to turn submission to that control into an imagined test of loyalty or good citizenship. Even more dangerous, to give such a body monopoly licensing power to determine who can buy or sell. 

For, history has given us many examples of ruthless evil such as a Hitler, or a Stalin or a Mao, or a Robespierre, or a Torquemada, or a Nero Caesar, or a Nimrod.  Beyond doubt, there are ruthless men who — given the opportunity — would rob those who dare to dissent of their daily bread, or the means to earn it.  Worse, some such men did not start out that way, they were corrupted by the power they had.  So, let us note a lesson from history, one bought with blood and tears: we must be ever-vigilant concerning anything that potentially opens the door to iniquitous control over economy and society. (Over 100 million ghosts of those murdered by power-mad states and ideologies since 1917, nod their heads in solemn agreement.)

However, despite such grim history, for many decades, there has been an unmistakable,  persistent push towards a “cashless society.”  Why?

The usual story is that cash is expensive to create, prone to being counterfeited, costly to move about, germ-carrying, provides a platform used by criminals. You name it, there are ever so many disadvantages to cash. Surely, it is outdated and almost barbaric. So, why not replace it with a clean, cheap, secure electronic system?

Likewise, wouldn’t a vaccine passport system stop Covid-19 transmission and allow us to get back to tourism, travel, and trade as usual?

In the name of bloodily bought history, no, and no.

Electronic accounting systems indeed may be convenient, until they are hacked.  Or, until we find ourselves locked out by a surveillance state or its crony capitalist partners who hold monopoly power over the electronic cash network.

Vaccine passports, similarly, are obvious euphemisms for licences to travel, trade, buy and sell. Again, a dangerous centralisation of power.

Repeat: any centralisation of power can and will be eventually abused, regardless of assurances, guarantees, and laws to the contrary. For, power is just too addictive, and “never let a crisis go to waste,” carries a chilling message.

Is there an alternative?

Yes, the obvious.

While credit and debit cards are useful, the power of cash to limit centralised surveillance and control must also be recognised, respected, and acknowledged. So, any “digital cash” card or the like must be freely convertible into cash. Convertible, at sites that are so diverse that they, too, cannot be controlled by some future Orwellian Big Brother who – as the novel 1984 warned — is always watching us.

Similarly, we must not create, implement or accept any system that can become an economic licensing system. This includes, that national identification cards, social insurance numbers, and systems must never become monopolies.  Already, in Jamaica, there was a hot controversy over just such a centralised ID system.

Coming close behind, we should be very concerned about any dominant concentration of media power in any government media house or any private entity. In a day where social media have become the new town square, that means that Big Tech should not be ceded censorship power. If censorship power in the hands of Torquemada et al of the notorious Spanish Inquisition was dangerous, similar censorship power in the hands of the Big Tech CEOs and their cronies is just as dangerous.

For that matter, the concentration of education at any level in state hands is dangerous. This includes, that teachers and lecturers should not be civil servants, especially under the sort of rules we find in the infamous General Orders. While we are at it, state monopoly control of the health care system and health service professionals is also dangerous.

Here in Montserrat, we also need to ponder carefully the following provisions of the 2010 Constitution Order, among others:

22(3) Subject to this Constitution and any law by which any functions are conferred on the Governor, the Governor shall perform all his or her functions (including functions which are expressed by this Constitution to be exercisable in his or her discretion or in his or her judgment) according to such instructions, if any, as may be given to him or her by Her Majesty; but the question whether or not the Governor has in any matter complied with any such instructions shall not be enquired into by any court.

39(6) Where the Governor, acting in his or her discretion, determines that the exercise of any function conferred on any other person or authority (other than the Legislative Assembly) would involve or affect any matter mentioned in subsection (1) [(a) defence;  (b)external affairs; (c)the regulation of international financial services; (d)internal security, including the police service; (e)the functions conferred on the Governor by this Constitution or any other law in relation to the public service], the Governor may, acting in his or her discretion, give directions as to the exercise of that function, and the person or authority concerned shall exercise the function in accordance with those directions . . .

(8) The question of whether a matter falls within the scope of subsection (1) shall be determined by the Governor acting in his or her discretion.

114(2) The Premier, if authorised by resolution of the Legislative Assembly adopted by a two-thirds majority of the elected members of the Assembly, shall request discussion of amendment of this Constitution with Her Majesty’s Government in the United Kingdom.

None of this is rocket science. Freedom is FREE-dom.

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Freedom is FREE-dom

Contribution, Part 111

Are we under Big Brother’s watching eye?

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Big Brother from George Orwell’s novel and 1884 movie

BRADES, Montserrat, March 15, 2021 –  The other day, the regional news proudly announced how the very first “secure” d-cash transaction happened in St Lucia as someone bought a meal at a local restaurant. How it could be that knowing that much about who was where, when, and bought what from whom is “secure,” is of course a big question. Similarly, some are proposing that vaccine passports would allow tourism to come back from its death-bed, revitalising our pandemic-shocked economies.  (Apparently, tourism-dependent Caribbean economies shrank by about 9% but the commodities ones by only 0.2%.)

Somehow, an ages-long, grim warning on the dangers of the surveillance state has seemingly escaped our decision-makers, publicists, media, and even many pulpiteers:

Rev. 13:16 Also [the Second Beast, from the land] causes all, both small and great, both rich and poor, both free and slave, to be marked on the right hand or the forehead, 17 so that no one can buy or sell unless he has the mark, that is, the name of the [First] beast [from the sea] or the number of its name. 18 This calls for wisdom: let the one who has understanding calculate the number of the beast, for it is the number of a man, and his number is 666 [= numerical value of the name, Nero Caesar].

It is not mere conspiracy theory scare-mongering to point out that it is exceedingly dangerous to cede centralised control over our day-to-day lives, buying, selling, and economies to any centralised or monopoly body. Worse, to turn submission to that control into an imagined test of loyalty or good citizenship. Even more dangerous, to give such a body monopoly licensing power to determine who can buy or sell. 

For, history has given us many examples of ruthless evil such as a Hitler, or a Stalin or a Mao, or a Robespierre, or a Torquemada, or a Nero Caesar, or a Nimrod.  Beyond doubt, there are ruthless men who — given the opportunity — would rob those who dare to dissent of their daily bread, or the means to earn it.  Worse, some such men did not start out that way, they were corrupted by the power they had.  So, let us note a lesson from history, one bought with blood and tears: we must be ever-vigilant concerning anything that potentially opens the door to iniquitous control over economy and society. (Over 100 million ghosts of those murdered by power-mad states and ideologies since 1917, nod their heads in solemn agreement.)

However, despite such grim history, for many decades, there has been an unmistakable,  persistent push towards a “cashless society.”  Why?

The usual story is that cash is expensive to create, prone to being counterfeited, costly to move about, germ-carrying, provides a platform used by criminals. You name it, there are ever so many disadvantages to cash. Surely, it is outdated and almost barbaric. So, why not replace it with a clean, cheap, secure electronic system?

Likewise, wouldn’t a vaccine passport system stop Covid-19 transmission and allow us to get back to tourism, travel, and trade as usual?

In the name of bloodily bought history, no, and no.

Electronic accounting systems indeed may be convenient, until they are hacked.  Or, until we find ourselves locked out by a surveillance state or its crony capitalist partners who hold monopoly power over the electronic cash network.

Vaccine passports, similarly, are obvious euphemisms for licences to travel, trade, buy and sell. Again, a dangerous centralisation of power.

Repeat: any centralisation of power can and will be eventually abused, regardless of assurances, guarantees, and laws to the contrary. For, power is just too addictive, and “never let a crisis go to waste,” carries a chilling message.

Is there an alternative?

Yes, the obvious.

While credit and debit cards are useful, the power of cash to limit centralised surveillance and control must also be recognised, respected, and acknowledged. So, any “digital cash” card or the like must be freely convertible into cash. Convertible, at sites that are so diverse that they, too, cannot be controlled by some future Orwellian Big Brother who – as the novel 1984 warned — is always watching us.

Similarly, we must not create, implement or accept any system that can become an economic licensing system. This includes, that national identification cards, social insurance numbers, and systems must never become monopolies.  Already, in Jamaica, there was a hot controversy over just such a centralised ID system.

Coming close behind, we should be very concerned about any dominant concentration of media power in any government media house or any private entity. In a day where social media have become the new town square, that means that Big Tech should not be ceded censorship power. If censorship power in the hands of Torquemada et al of the notorious Spanish Inquisition was dangerous, similar censorship power in the hands of the Big Tech CEOs and their cronies is just as dangerous.

For that matter, the concentration of education at any level in state hands is dangerous. This includes, that teachers and lecturers should not be civil servants, especially under the sort of rules we find in the infamous General Orders. While we are at it, state monopoly control of the health care system and health service professionals is also dangerous.

Here in Montserrat, we also need to ponder carefully the following provisions of the 2010 Constitution Order, among others:

22(3) Subject to this Constitution and any law by which any functions are conferred on the Governor, the Governor shall perform all his or her functions (including functions which are expressed by this Constitution to be exercisable in his or her discretion or in his or her judgment) according to such instructions, if any, as may be given to him or her by Her Majesty; but the question whether or not the Governor has in any matter complied with any such instructions shall not be enquired into by any court.

39(6) Where the Governor, acting in his or her discretion, determines that the exercise of any function conferred on any other person or authority (other than the Legislative Assembly) would involve or affect any matter mentioned in subsection (1) [(a) defence;  (b)external affairs; (c)the regulation of international financial services; (d)internal security, including the police service; (e)the functions conferred on the Governor by this Constitution or any other law in relation to the public service], the Governor may, acting in his or her discretion, give directions as to the exercise of that function, and the person or authority concerned shall exercise the function in accordance with those directions . . .

(8) The question of whether a matter falls within the scope of subsection (1) shall be determined by the Governor acting in his or her discretion.

114(2) The Premier, if authorised by resolution of the Legislative Assembly adopted by a two-thirds majority of the elected members of the Assembly, shall request discussion of amendment of this Constitution with Her Majesty’s Government in the United Kingdom.

None of this is rocket science. Freedom is FREE-dom.