Is the USA becoming as corrupt as Europe or, even worse, Russia?
"When we [grow] we shall become as corrupt as Europe." Thomas JeffersonAn old worry. Is it coming true? Our escalating NSA boondoggle offers one insight into constructing an adequate assessment mechanism.
"You've got [to view] the federal government and the rest of the world to understand what happened. Among experts and journalists, there has been no doubt as regards the operation of the NSA, the Five Eyes and many other intelligence agencies in the field of electronic surveillance. Nevertheless, it makes a difference whether one suspects anything or if you can prove it. And in many places Edward Snowden has revealed a level of supervision [such] that even those who have been working on it [were] taken by surprise. The Internet industry has promised secure encryption standards, but they do not exist. The code will be handed out either under legal threat [to] the industry [from] the NSA and the GCHQ, or they are cracked or stolen. This is the same for other intelligence agencies. I am waiting impatiently for a whistleblower from France, Great Britain, Russia and China."Notably, and quite aside from all the technical theatrics, this whole story reflects a very fundamental change of perspective within the USA. We in the USA didn't formerly think of ourselves as paranoid. For long periods, it was completely obvious that it was more important to build more than any could initially imagine - through the coordination achieved by "a more perfect union" - than it was to regress to trying to constrain & hoard what already exists. That was a given. Not any more. Our national IQ has been reduced.
Our present mood - with our NSA/gov/public all adopting KGB mentality - is clearly a regression, a step back from our founding, very public, purpose.
Why did this happen? It was inevitable.
Is our current mess just a transient growth spurt by the USA, or long term regression into a clumsier state?
That depends on how hard we work on which adjustments.
1) Do we invest in improving the quality (including tempo) of distributed decision-making, i.e., in our Democracy Methods, or ...
2) do we desperately try the NSA/KGB approach, where random variants of Central Planning idiocy seek to constrain the patterns of distributed decision-making?
At heart, this boils down to a question of ensuring stability by investing more in superstructure or foundation.
The Central Planning approach always involves some of us trying to trap all of us into expressing no more Group Intelligence than some subgroup of Central Planners can muster. That is mathematically impossible, and that conclusion was logically clear long before it was described in math equations. It is abjectly embarrassing and frustrating to watch our public agencies, government and electorate straying down this path.
If the NSA, our government, and our electorate has unlimited fiat to invest, surely it can invest in BUILDING the quality of it's own, distributed decision-making, rather than in seeking to constrain what little decision-making is allowed. The winning strategy is to run circles around competitors, by out-deciding them, rather than constraining our group intelligence by trying to reduce the decision-making capabilities of the rest of the world. That path leads to the madness of trying to build more by destroying more - a path that always destroys democracy. The NSA approach is equivalent to a sports team trying to win not by it's own level of practice and innovation, but by trying to disrupt the other teams training facility. Ample experience has proven that the glory always goes to those who find a better way forward, not backwards.
Let's Get Back To Building National Adaptive Rate, Instead Of Constraining the Group Intelligence of ourselves, and others?
That requires investing our unlimited public initiative in the cultural foundations that allow a more resilient and more adaptive nation. We can do that by repurposing the NSA budget to better/faster/leaner methods for educating, training and informing all of our own citizens. With that sort of, smarter effort, we could achieve and maintain a markedly higher level of Situational Awareness across our entire citizenry. Group agility tracks Group Situational Awareness. By building our cultural foundations first, we can also become more secure, knowing that we can always outmaneuver competitors, instead of getting distracted trying to prevent their maneuvers. The highest form of agility is to preclude a fight even starting, and head it off through intelligent, productive coordination.
Such an effort would fulfill the prescient tasks set down by the writers of the US Constitution, as well as heeding their warnings.
"EDUCATE AND INFORM THE WHOLE MASS OF THE PEOPLE... They are the only sure reliance for the preservation of our liberty." Thomas Jefferson
"Knowledge will forever govern ignorance; and a people who mean to be their own governors must arm themselves with the power which knowledge gives." James Madison
"Liberty cannot be preserved without general knowledge among the people." John Adams
"If Tyranny and Oppression come to this land, it will be in the guise of fighting a foreign enemy." James Madison
"Power always thinks... that it is doing God's service when it is violating all his laws." John Adams