Editor’s note: Michael Ackley’s columns may include satire and parody based on current events, and thus mix fact with fiction. He assumes informed readers will be able to tell the difference.
Genesis 11, Verses 2-8 (Ackley Revised Version):
And it came to pass, as they journeyed from the east, that they found a plain in the land of Utah, and they dwelt there.
And some said, Go to, let us build us a tower, whose top may reach unto heaven; but others said, No, we tried that. Let us instead build an edifice that will not offend God, being low-rise, but of sufficient dimension to contain the whole of knowledge under the sun.
And so they began to build a data center, therein to store all that passed among mankind, that all might be known by them.
And the Lord said, Behold, that tower near Shinar was bad enough, but gathering data will be to them as having but one language: and they shall believe nothing will be restrained to them, which they imagine to do.
But the Lord said, I am accustomed to their arrogance, and so I shall not confound them but shall let them confound themselves. For data are not like unto knowledge; moreover, knowledge is not like unto learning; and learning is not like unto wisdom.
Well, that’s enough ersatz “King James.” But it has come to this: Our government truly thinks it is possible to know everything about us – indeed, about virtually every human on the face of the Earth – by collecting everything we communicate to one another.
At least, the archons of intelligence believe they can collect and decode everything that passes electronically, which is close to all communications these days. They believe they can archive data in their supercomputer center in the Utah desert, do a couple of key-word searches and pull out whatever information they need about whomever, for whatever ends they wish.
It’s a reach for omniscience that verges on blasphemy, and if it doesn’t offend you on a religious level, it ought to give you pause on the human level – unless you are ready to have the all-seeing eye on the dollar bill represent government snooping rather than providence.
Arguments for massive government data collection have evolved over the past couple of weeks, but they have not strayed from two, basic assertions:
1) It helps keep us safe in a hostile world; and
2) Have faith that our checks and balances will keep it within reasonable bounds. In other words, we’re looking out for you, and you can trust us.
But trusting government is not the American way, a fact the framers of the Declaration of Independence and our Constitution recognized and incorporated into those founding documents.
As decision-making has become – and continues to become – more and more concentrated in Washington, D.C., and as legislators, administrators and bureaucrats become more and more insulated from the needs and will of the citizenry, government has become – and continues to become – less and less trustworthy.
The Washington establishment feels entitled to the special knowledge of “how things work.” The knowledge is precious, and so it must be concealed from the citizenry. And so you get Fast and Furious, Benghazi, IRS abuses and spying on the news media.
Trust? You have to be kidding.
Meanwhile, in California: The dialog went something like this as state legislators looked for ways to save money. (OK, that’s funny enough, but let us continue.)
Assembly Speaker John Perez, D-Los Angeles: Golly, we’ve tried and tried to balance budget cuts with service. I don’t know what we can do now.
State Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento: How about this line item, “funding for the Public Records Act”?
Perez: Cut that? Great idea!
The News Media (awakening): In a pig’s eye!
Perez: OK, OK! Forget about it.
Steinberg: I’m not so sure. Let’s let the people vote on it – you know, constitutional amendment.
The News Media: In a pig’s eye!
Steinberg: Suppose we agree to put the funding back in if you can show government withholds documents.
The News Media: They already do, and you know it!
And that’s where the matter stood at our deadline.
In the land of pedagogy: The Los Angeles Times reports that the National Council on Teacher Quality has derided California’s teacher training institutions for their focus on “racist attitudes, gender bias and classism …”
Lacking, says the report, is sufficient emphasis on how to teach (a kind of “classism” we all can understand). Add this to earlier reports that our teachers often fail the grasp their assigned subjects and you can see why California’s K-12 education – once tops in the nation – ranks at or near the bottom.
However, our teachers are politically correct, which their teachers clearly believe is more important than classroom management, teaching techniques and subject-matter competence.