When the bold Left and the crazy Right converge, one should pay attention. Now Representative Darrell Issa and some Democrats agree the NSA and PRISM should be opened to public scrutiny. Edward J. Snowden should (and could is my guess) get amnesty. Why not? As public trust fades (though not forever), Obama should stop the information bleed not by punishing the information bean-spiller, the whistleblower, but by pulling him in. Indeed, the Obama administration just released a 308 page report on NSA’s excesses.
Folks should be as concerned about the looming information gap as they are about the income-inequality gap. No one can jump across an income-inequality chasm the size of the United States if we continue segregating higher education according to wealth (MOOCs for the underserved, though thankfully Internet-taught higher education is dangerous in a country that already doesn’t think the poor, the working poor, and the middle class have any entitlement to college). The real crisis is what happens when the information gap creates another chasm on top of our already widening unequal-education gap and income-inequality gap. Will the dissemination and acquisition of information get harder and harder the more we all move to encode and encrypt our own information?
I, for one, hope the marriage of Michael Moore and Glenn Beck (both supporting Snowden), compounded now by Issa, indicates that the bold Left and the crazy Right are converging. Maybe there is hope, if not for a direct income-inequality bridge, then at least for an information bridge so that those who can encrypt (buy privacy for search engines by using Tor, or purchase private email rather trading all your personal information to Facebook, Google, or Apple for free — they give you a service you can now pay for and it’s not expensive. Try Tor, and bookmark EFF — know your right to privacy, since now private enterprise and the federal government are not going to provide you with it) will not have yet another advantage over the have-nots.
The Obamacare debacle with HealthCare.gov underscores how important information is not just for national security or these privacy concerns but for your own health and your pocketbook. Tomorrow at noon I’ll be at the 92nd Street Y, explaining how all this is two parts of the same puzzle or paradox of the win-win and lose-lose in Obama’s leadership.