Constitutional Rights Amendment Needed

I’d like to propose a preemptive addition to the Constitution that could prevent future erosion of our freedom.  This amendment would prohibit four things from happening to human beings in the future:

Universal marking or tracking of human citizens using implanted devices, mandatory tracking devices on their person or private vehicle,  tattoos,  branding, and/or any other personal marking or tracking technology to be developed would be prohibited.

Universal mandatory video or audio monitoring within private residences would be prohibited.

Embedding or attaching timed or remotely activated devices to humans that are intended to cause pain, suffering, immobilization, or death would be prohibited.

A universal biometric database containing all human citizens’ DNA profiles, fingerprints, retinal scans, facial recognition, and/or other unique markers later discovered would be prohibited.

This would not prevent maintenance of convicted criminal data by law enforcement, use of externally-worn GPS tracking devices as part of a court-ordered sentence or probation requirement, use of Tasers by police, or DNA databases for military personnel entering combat.  It would simply prevent such technology from being used to infringe on the freedom of the population as a whole.

Note: This is a revision to a previous concept.  I’ve added the word “human” to hedge against advances in technology.  While robots may look human and be given ever more sophisticated programming they will never be “human” and are not entitled to any human rights.

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A Privacy Paradigm

The left-wing/liberal/progressive position on individual privacy runs something like this: “If you’re not doing anything wrong what difference does it make if we track you?”.  The flaw in this position is the assumption that Big Brother has a fundamental right to know everything you do.  I can’t find that in my copy of the Constitution, can you?

The real privacy paradigm should be based on “Need to Know“, much as national security information is (supposed to be) controlled.  Suppose “the engineer” works for a defense contractor and has a secret level clearance.  That doesn’t mean that this engineer can go around accessing every secret document in the company because access is limited to the classified information needed to do the engineer’s job.  An engineer working on fighter jet navigation would have no need to access information on submarine nuclear power plants, for example.  Last week I bought a bag of chocolate chips.  Does Big Brother have any need for this information?  If not, leave me alone.

If privacy was based on “need to know” rather than “want to know” we’d all be both freer and more secure.

Repeal the Bill of Rights?

In “The Freedom Triangle” I explained how freedom is defined by three components: democracy, rights, and responsibilities.  Our basic inalienable rights are found in the first ten amendments to the Constitution, commonly known as the Bill of Rights.  Every one of them is important.  Every one was included because the authors of the Constitution, in their wisdom, had seen how authoritarian governments had abused their subjects and sought to protect us.  In fact the Constitution doesn’t talk about “subjects”, it talks about “We the People”.

Now the Constitution can be changed by the deliberately cumbersome process of amendment.  It’s long and tedious and the outcome is uncertain, but in this case that’s a protection, not an inefficiency.  Democrats, socialists, and other progressives, however, have found ways to weaken our rights by DE FACTO means.  That term simply means “that’s how it is”.  If you don’t like a law but can’t easily change it, find ways to circumvent it.  These tactics might be unofficial, like intimidation, or official, through restrictions or taxation.   In this article I’ll look at how several amendments are being attacked.

First Amendment:

Intimidation (aka Bullying):  At this time intimidation is the primary weapon against free speech.  It began with political correctness, a crybaby concept that has grown from a minor nuisance into a state religion.  We see intimidation on college campuses where students complain about “micro-aggression”, demand “safe spaces”, and are even told to call police if they hear something “offensive”.  Now that’s intimidation.  On a larger scale, political correctness stifles communication to a point where serious issues can’t even be discussed.

Intimidation also threatens religious freedom by erasing religious equality.  When Christian churches remove exterior crosses so they don’t “offend” Muslim immigrants they’re not accommodating newcomers, they’re surrendering their right to exist as a public entity; doing exactly what is required in Muslim countries.  From a Christian point of view they’re denying Christ just as Peter did.  When a restaurant owner is bullied into removing a sign advertising bacon for breakfast his free speech is suspended.  Jews don’t eat pork either but they’ve never tried to impose their dietary rules on others.

Legal Action:  Can the USA have laws against free speech beyond the “don’t yell fire in a theater if there isn’t one” and “don’t threaten violence”?  Maybe, because it’s happening in European countries that guarantee free speech.  In Germany a comedian has been arrested for insulting the president of Turkey, and In Sweden people can be arrested for ethnic slurs.  Some in the US are saying that “climate change deniers” should be arrested and oil companies should be sued because they “knew” their products would cause climate change.

Second Amendment:

Propaganda:   No amendment is under heavier public attack than this amendment, even though self defense it a fundamental human right.  It’s in common law because historically only the un-free (prisoners, serfs, slaves) were denied the right to protect themselves and their families.  We hear anti-gun propaganda everywhere, much of it funded by billionaires who are surrounded by armed bodyguards.  Their message: “be rich or be dead”.  They blame the NRA for Chicago violence, not the gang members doing the shooting.  They make their case with bogus logic that anyone who has learned how to think can spot as invalid.  Any criminal act is the act of a person, not an object.

Legal Action:  In addition to funding propaganda campaigns, billionaire Mike Bloomberg spends millions to buy local elections for anti-gun candidates who will then enact restrictive laws.  The result is a confusing patchwork system of laws that turn honest people into criminals while doing nothing to stop crime.  Liberal San Francisco’s laws are so tough that the last legal gun shop had to close, yet they did nothing to stop an illegal immigrant with a stolen gun from murdering an innocent young woman.  Chicago’s tough gun laws can’t stop the endless gang wars that have made it the murder capital of the US. The latest effort to drive gun makers out of business is to attempt to sue them for gun violence.  No company has ever been held liable for criminal use of their products because the company has no control over the consumer.

Taxation:   Everyone has heard Chief Justice Marshall’s statement that “The power to tax is the power to destroy” and liberals know punitive taxes can be used to deny “little people” their rights while preserving “billionaire rights”.  Seattle has a $25 tax on guns, a US territory has a $1000 tax per gun, and Hillary wants a 25% tax on guns (all for more money to squander).  What part of “right” don’t they understand?

Health care:  President Obama and his British-born Surgeon General, Dr. Vivek Murthy want to draft doctors into their war on legal gun ownership.  They have decreed that “gun violence” is a public health problem (but gang violence isn’t) so doctors should question patients about gun ownership, presumably to then evaluate their mental fitness to own a firearm while simultaneously creating a national gun registry in those digitized medical records.  Since doctors don’t get “gun violence” training (they don’t get knife or fist violence training either) they’ll be fed the far left agenda and sent out on a mission to declare as many people “mentally unfit” as possible (it’s already happening at the VA).  That won’t work on doctors who are also hunters but it will on many.  The answer is “no”.

Intimidation:  I discuss the DOJ’s “Operation Choke Point” under the Fifth Amendment.

SCOTUS:  In the case “D.C. vs. Heller” the Supreme Court upheld the right of honest people to own a firearm for self defense.  Progressives would love to get this ruling overturned.  That would effectively repeal the Second Amendment.

Fourth and Fifth Amendments:

Legal Action:  The fourth Amendment protects private property from unreasonable search and seizure without due process.  The fifth Amendment protects individuals from being deprived of “life, liberty, and property” without due process.  Government departments are using often dubious tactics to deprive people of their property without adjudication.  Here are two of them.

The IRS can seize bank assets of individuals or businesses if they suspect small deposits are being “structured” to avoid reporting requirements of amounts in excess of $10,000.  They don’t need any evidence of criminal activity, indictment, trial, or conviction to proceed.  Victims are often small businesses that deposit money regularly just to avoid being a robbery target.  Even innocent people must file an expensive lawsuit to get their money released.

Police can seize property under “civil asset forfeiture” if they suspect criminal activity, and that includes “untainted” assets, i.e., those not associated with the suspected activity.  Again the word is “suspected”; no indictment, trial, or conviction required.  Asset seizure can make it difficult for an accused person to hire attorneys and prepare a defense; a right guaranteed by  the Fifth Amendment.

Eminent Domain:  Eminent domain was included in the Constitution to allow governments at all levels to take private land, with compensation, for public projects that would benefit the community.  The intent was to support construction of roads, bridges, schools, and other public facilities.  That concept has unfortunately been expanded to allow taking of private property for private developments under the guise that they will expand the local tax base.  This “public good ” is nothing but a gift for wealthy developers at the expense of the people.

Intimidation:  The DOJ has initiated a process of intimidation not supported by any law called “Choke Point” to cut off “high risk” businesses from having bank accounts and obtaining credit.  Basically banks are threatened with legal action so they cancel the accounts of many honest businesses that pay taxes and wages.,  High risk businesses include firearms dealers, short term lenders, used car dealers, and adult entertainment.  So, what constitutes “high risk” is determined by politically motivated bureaucrats, not the law.  Congress has been urged to outlaw this practice but liberals support it because it furthers their agenda of control of the people.

Ninth Amendment:

Legal Action:  This amendment protects “unenumerated rights” of the people, i.e., those not specifically guaranteed by the other nine amendments in the Bill of Rights.  The most important right that has been asserted under this amendment is the right of privacy.  As the Federal government demands more an more tracking of peoples’ lives privacy is being lost, often in the name of the “common good”.  That is collectivism, the antithesis of what the Constitution stands for.  To make the situation even worse, neither the government nor various private data collection agencies can adequately secure their data against hacking or insider misuse.

Tenth Amendment:

Congress:  This amendment says that all responsibilities not specifically assigned to the Federal government by the Constitution remain with the states or the people.  Congress has been more than happy to de facto repeal this amendment with “one-size-fits-all” programs.  Nothing in the Constitution allows the Federal government to control public schools yet Congress created the Department of Education and has given it unlimited power over the states and parents.  This has allowed billionaire Bill Gates to fund development of Common Core, his vision of an ideal system, and coax the government to enforce it.  Nothing in the Constitution allows the Federal government to use the IRS to enforce health insurance yet it approved the ACA.  All the promises associated with this program were lies: costs will go down, you can keep your doctor, etc.  Even the insurers are losing money on this one.  Rising health care costs are a problem but the ACA does nothing to solve it.

Intimidation:  The Department of Education uses threats of withholding education money from school districts that refuse to comply with it’s directives.  Simply put, it uses our tax dollars against us.

So, that’s the picture, and it isn’t a good one if you value freedom because without rights you are not free.  Can the Bill of Rights be saved?  Yes, but time is running out.  The 2016 elections will pretty much determine whether your children will stand in freedom or kneel in servitude.

 

If you like your rights you can keep them… NOT.

One Nation On Probation

Here’s a perfect example of unintended consequences.  As vehicle manufacturers have complied with higher gas mileage mandates Federal and state gas tax revenues have fallen.  Federal losses have been exacerbated by the fact that the Feds don’t always use gas tax money for roads and bridges.  I don’t like tax hikes any more than anyone but I don’t want bridges collapsing under me either, so if more highway money is needed let’s discuss how to get it, or more specifically how not to get it.

Some states have shown interest in a tax based on miles driven rather than fuel used.  That’s their business, but when they suggest determining miles driven by equipping cars with GPS tracking devices (as one state is trying) they’re suggesting treating every driver like a criminal.  It’s an unimaginable infringement on privacy and freedom of movement as well a huge expense.  They would not only know how many miles you drove, but where you went, how long you stayed, and how fast you got there, and all that data would be subject to subpoena.  Abuses of the system are obvious.  Once they saw the tax revenue coming in the next step would be to make the GPS system a traffic cop that automatically issued speeding tickets.  If you happened to be near a crime scene you’d automatically be put on a suspect list and might even suffer a wrongful conviction.  Someone with access to the data might use it for stalking another person.  The computer would become the police, and that’s evil that goes beyond Orwellian.  States might mine your location data for profiling or sell your data to companies to mine for targeted advertising.  You could be sure the data would be provided to the NSA as well.

There are two less intrusive options.  The first, simplest, and cheapest option is just to raise the gas tax.  That requires no additional staff to administer a new program.  States that really want to tax miles driven and also require annual safety inspections get mileage reported as part of the inspection, and mileage is reported when a vehicle is bought or sold in every state, so they know miles driven and could base the tax on that information.  Simply charge the tax based on last year’s mileage and let revenue lag by one year.  After the first year it would make little difference.  Where you go is your business, not the states or private companies.

Progressives can’t stop eroding individual privacy in favor of the collective. In this case, say NO.

We Will, We Will Track You.

In the movie “Minority Report” people could be arrested before they commit a crime by the “Precrime Unit”.  The US hasn’t reached that point yet but the government is working to acquire two new powerful profiling tools to increase it’s surveillance of US citizens: biosurveillance and student databases; along with the FBI facial recognition database to support all tracking programs.

Let’s start with what they already know.  Thanks to the IRS they have a complete financial picture of you (unless you’re involved in illegal activities), and they will now know you have health insurance.  They have your military records and criminal records if you have any.  They can track your purchases with credit cards, cell phone activity, internet activity, foreign travel, and driving with toll transponders.  Since the US Post Office photographs all mail they could watch where your mail comes from and goes to.  They also know when you die.  That’s a pretty complete picture of your adult life, but for complete profiling some dots are missing.  Here are the two big dots.

The first is biosurveillance, a plan outlined in a 2012 White House  Memorandum (which has the same authority as an Executive Order with less publicity).  The concept is to give the government access to all medical records (which conveniently must be digitized by 2015) in order to track “health threats”, i.e., disease outbreaks and large scale accidental or deliberate releases of toxins, to a greater extent than is now tracked by the CDC.  While it sounds reasonable, the problems are that the access is unlimited (and therefore subject to abuse) and a “health threat” is whatever the government defines it to be.  Every diagnosis, lab test, and prescription would be available to non-medical people.  With the administration wanting gun ownership to be in medical records, those records would be a form of registry.  Your complete health picture would become part of your profile thanks to biosurveillance.  Oh, he got a pain killer prescription so put him on a list of suspected drug dealers, she got referred for counseling so send a sheriff  to make sure she doesn’t have a gun, etc.  Where does it end?

The second is the national student database (actually interoperable state databases) of  identifiable student information which is seen as an adjunct to Common Core, that will extend individual tracking to a younger age.  There is no educational need for individual student identification including health issues, disciplinary actions, family income, religious affiliation, etc., to statistically evaluate learning trends; this is about cradle-to-grave tracking of citizens and possibly data mining for commercial purposes.  Your kid gets suspended in 3rd grade and it’s part of a lifetime record.  Add to that a couple of high school detentions and your kid might be labeled a “potential troublemaker” for life.

The FBI facial recognition database will support all surveillance programs.  As long as it only contains photos of criminals it is within legitimate law enforcement bounds, but once it adds photos of innocent civilians, as planned, it becomes another tool of “Big Brother”.

The solutions are obvious.  Restrict biosurveillance access to communicable diseases and toxin releases, not anything some bureaucrat decrees.  Also prohibit information obtained through biosurveillance from being used for legal prosecution (to prevent “fishing”) except in cases of terrorism involving WMDs.  Outlaw identifiable student information in any state or nationwide education databases.  Finally, restrict the FBI database to photos of convicted criminals.  This would allow the intended purposes of the programs to continue while protecting individual privacy.

It’s unbelievable that a government that is so concerned with tracking US citizens is so unconcerned about the health or criminal backgrounds of millions of illegal immigrants.

Update:  The FBI facial recognition database now contains over 400 million images.  These aren’t just criminals or suspects, they’re anyone with a passport and, in some states, a driver’s license.

Spoils of War

Has the “War on Drugs” become a secret war on private property?  This “war” is a war with vague rules of engagement and little obvious success in reducing drug use.  It offers the rather perverse incentive that law enforcement can collect “spoils of war” in the form of property confiscation, even if it harms innocent people.  A wife might not know her husband is dealing drugs but she and her children could wind up homeless if the house is raided.  The property might even be destroyed in the raid, and even if property is destroyed during a “wrong address” raid the government has no liability to compensate innocent victims.  You might not know a friend is dealing drugs but if he’s caught in your car you could lose it.  A person traveling with a large amount of cash can find it seized “on suspicion” without other evidence of drug-related activity, and getting it back means hiring a lawyer to file an expensive lawsuit.  Why do laws provide for spoils of war under the name of “Civil Asset Forfeiture”?  Even the military can’t loot captured territory.

Parts of these laws also seek to stop money laundering by requiring banks to report deposits over $10,000.  The law also prohibits “structuring” by making regular deposits of lesser amounts to avoid that reporting rule.  If the IRS sees regular deposits into an account of somewhat lesser amounts it can confiscate the account without due process and without any evidence of criminal activity.  It is then up to the depositor to prove innocence rather than the government to prove guilt.  A simple reality is that small businesses make frequent deposits of lesser amounts just because they don’t want to keep a lot of money around to entice robbers.  Another reality is that, thanks to pervasive drug abuse, a significant portion of our currency is contaminated with drug residue that can be used as evidence against innocent people.  Can’t those high paid desk jockeys figure that out or are they just enjoying a power trip?

A fundamental principle of our legal system is “innocent until proven guilty”. The drug war shouldn’t be exempt from that concept.

Constitutional privacy amendment needed.

I’d like to propose a pre-emptive addition that could prevent future erosion of our freedom.  This amendment would prohibit two things from happening in the future:

Universal marking or tracking of citizens using implanted devices, mandated tracking devices,  tattoos,  branding, and/or any other personal marking technology to be developed would be prohibited.

A universal biometric database containing all citizens’ DNA profiles, fingerprints, retinal scans, facial recognition, and/or other unique markers later discovered would be prohibited.

This would not prevent maintenance of convicted criminal data by law enforcement, use of GPS tracking devices as part of a court-ordered sentence or probation requirement, or DNA databases for military personnel entering combat.  It would simply prevent such technology from being used to infringe on the freedom of the population as a whole.