Raisin’ a Complaint Against Usda Marketing Orders

Can raisin growers pack and sell all of the raisins they grow? Yes, but only if the USDA permits it. Sometimes the USDA claims the right to take raisins off the market in the effort to keep the price to consumers higher. If a raisin grower doesn’t comply with the USDA’s demands, then the government’s … More Raisin’ a Complaint Against Usda Marketing Orders

Lysander Spooner on Government Surveillance

Put yourself in the 1830s-1840s United States. What was the most disruptive, anti-establishment, anti-authoritarian activity going on at the time? Abolitionist, anti-slavery advocacy, organized nationally through written correspondence. These rabble-rousers threatened to upset the social, cultural, and economic balance of a young nation. Who cares about pesky considerations like the morality of slavery? In that … More Lysander Spooner on Government Surveillance

The Nsa Surveillance Dictionary

I meant to include this wry article in my previous post on surveillance, abuse of power, and abuse of language, but then I decided that it deserves its own post. Rather in the spirit of Ambrose Bierce’s The Devil’s Dictionary, Philip Bump proposes that we bear in mind the NSA Surveillance Dictionary when trying to … More The Nsa Surveillance Dictionary

Language, Deception, and the People Comprising the Surveillance State

Newspeak, anyone? Language has long been a tool for persuasion and in the fight against tyranny and oppression, and in 1984 George Orwell pointed out how important language is when he featured the effects of the state’s attempts to steer and control the content and use of language. This week, more reporters are revealing the … More Language, Deception, and the People Comprising the Surveillance State

Tacit Privilege and Social Order

Nathan Goodman, at the Liberty Minded blog, pulls the Hayekian knowledge problem out of the pricing field and applies it in the field of social relations. Well, technically speaking, Goodman employs just the tacit knowledge elements of Hayek’s “The Use of Knowledge in Society” article, but he uses it to make a good point: some … More Tacit Privilege and Social Order

A “Stop Watching Us” Smorgasbord

If you follow Knowledge Problem on Twitter, you’ve noticed that I’ve been continuing to comment on and re-tweet various of the developments in the federal government’s surveillance of individuals without obtaining warrants, the Star Chamber-like super-secret FISA courts and our inability to oversee and monitor the lawfulness of their rulings, and this week’s House of … More A “Stop Watching Us” Smorgasbord

The Criminal N.S.A.

From law professors Jennifer Stisa Granick and Christopher Jon Sprigman, in today’s New York Times: “We may never know all the details of the mass surveillance programs, but we know this: The administration has justified them through abuse of language, intentional evasion of statutory protections, secret, unreviewable investigative procedures and constitutional arguments that make a … More The Criminal N.S.A.

Algernon Sidney on Absolutism and Political Power

Lynne Kiesling One of my favorite political theorists is Algernon Sidney (1623-1683). Sidney’s most famous work is Discourses Concerning Government (1698, published posthumously because Sidney had been executed for treason by Charles II). In addition to his motivation to write in response to the absolutism and authoritarianism of both Oliver Cromwell (whom he considered a … More Algernon Sidney on Absolutism and Political Power

The Gutless Media

Lynne Kiesling Yesterday I posted a roundup of some of the media’s reporting on the NSA’s collection of domestic communications metadata. I concluded the post thus: But the most striking commentary is from the editors of the New York Times, who state that “the administration has now lost all credibility”. If you follow the link you … More The Gutless Media

America’s Surveillance State: Can You Hear Me Now?

Lynne Kiesling Today has seen a flurry of information in the wake of Glenn Greenwald’s breaking the news in the Guardian last night about the National Security Agency’s (dubbed in the Washington Post the “eavesdropper in chief“) collection of Verizon phone customer metadata on a daily basis. Here’s a roundup of the resources I have … More America’s Surveillance State: Can You Hear Me Now?