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While we have lost privacy, the government has lost secrecy and trust. We were the watched but now we are becoming the watchers of the watchers. We want to know what the government knows or suspects about us just as we currently do with credit reporting agencies. So if NSA is monitoring my phone calls, I expect the government to find and prosecute those callers violating my Do Not Call List registration, no excuses. Ditto spam.
Quis custodiet ipso custodes? I used to laugh at the conspiracy theorists. Snowden has convinced me that most of them are right. I can't wait for Area 51 to be revealed. I recently applied for a home loan...the amount of personal details now required by the Government for an FHA loan is astounding I found it remarkable because we have no other debt, a healthy income, and FICO scores somewhere above 820. She called yesterday and said, "the auditors want to know about this property you own in western Va that you didn't list on your loan application." It was 5 unimproved acres that my wife inherited free and clear along with her 3 sibs when her mother died in 2010. I didn't list it because frankly, I didn't think about it and it's not being put up for collateral..I remarked to the loan officer that I had my colonoscopy photos ready to send because I was sure they would be asking for them...I was only half joking. I am convinced that the Government knows more about me than I do.
'The government' is essentially a reflection of what 'we' have chosen it to be. It is 'us'. I agree with your characterization to some extent but I have found it to be true elsewhere as well. As a person who has worked in private industry, federal government, and state government...if I had to make a comparison between government levels, I'd have to say that compared to state government, the federal government is a model of competence and efficiency. But overall, I continue to marvel that somehow it has held together for so long and is still clinging to 'life' as it evolves (or devolves). Private industry also has its share of incompetence but eventually the market corrects for that.
Private industry spends an enormous amount of time evaluating it's effectiveness in the open market. It is responsive to changes and adapts or dies. The "government" is under no such mandates.
The best story I ever heard was from my brother who worked 30 years for the "government". A black woman with a disability, (three strikes, your in!), was hired to be the telephone receptionists. Her disability? She was deaf. It might sound like the lead in to a joke, but it wasn't. It took the "government" a month to find her a job filing in the office, a position they didn't need, no problem, the taxpayers can afford two people and after all it was a black woman with a disability. Kinda hard to fire her just because she wasn't qualified to do the job.
One example doesn't provide definitive evidence, but as my brother said, it was just the tip of the iceberg, and he was involved in only one location, he figured if it happened where he was, it had to be rampant elsewhere. Other stories collected from fellow co-workers (all hearsay) seemed to point in the same direction.
Where's Senator William Proxmire when you need him?!
When I was a kid we all knew there wasn't any expectation of privacy on the phone because the other 4 households on your party line could, would, and often did listen in on your conversations and if there was anything juicy it was repeated all over town. Everyone knew there wasn't any privacy if you were using the telephone. Now we freak out because some knows that 555-1212 called 555-1234 at 7:49 PM and it lasted 00:09:36. We have more privacy now than we ever did before.
Once upon a time when I was a kid if you did something in, err, PUBLIC, like attending a city council meeting, eating in a restaurant, walking down 7th Street while a news paper reporter was taking pictures of a Crazy Day Sale, or any other activity in PUBLIC you didn't claim that your privacy was violated because you were in PUBLIC and didn't have a right to privacy because what you were doing was in plain view of everyone else.
People use Facebook and Twitter then scream about privacy being violated, but when we were kids no one would ever dream of posting naked pictures of themselves (or anything that was supposed to be private) in the Newspaper. Facebook, webpages, blogs, Twitter, etcetera ad nauseam, are no different than newspapers . . . they are not Private they are PUBLIC and you do not have a right to privacy when you are displaying things in public.
I don't see how anyone can claim we've lost privacy when people are deliberately making everything they do all day very public.