Eightball and Thundercloud's RANT

Our Little Rant by Eightball & Thundercloud
From InfoAve Premium Issue #80 - April 29, 2005
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Freedom and Other Ramblings

Anti-Spyware Laws

California, Arizona and Washington have jumped on board the anti-spyware train; Michigan appears to be next. Perhaps soon the U.S. Congress will be on board too with national anti-spyware legislation. But, the question remains: do these sorts of laws do any good when the enemy is a cross between a Trojan-horse and wily chameleon? Before you can outlaw something you have to define it. As soon as you define it the spyware/adware publishers will change colors and slip under their cloaking devices consisting of long, euphemistic license agreements and privacy policies that ensure:

1. No one will ever dare read the whole thing
2. That they will be able continue to do business as usual despite anti-spyware laws

You remember the "CAN-SPAM" act of 2004, don't you? You don't? How soon we forget. The "CAN-SPAM" act was supposed to be the beginning of end of spam. I don't know about you but my inbox is more "spamful" now than it was a year ago. The "CAN-SPAM" act was a monumental failure and any anti-spyware legislation will be too.

Remember there is a lot of money to be made in spyware/adware; millions, even billions of dollars are at stake. All this money breeds greed and power. Money-hungry, successful anti-spyware/adware companies are not simply going to pack up their bags and fade into the sunset. They'll hire lobbyists, lawyers, and influence peddlers who will do their best to dilute any pending national anti-spyware legislation until it its so watered-down it will have little effect on the adware/spyware industry. But, government will have "done its job" and passed legislation aimed at protecting citizens from adware/spyware applications; but it will fail because the enemy doesn't wear uniforms.

Actually this type of legislation will have a negative effect on the average "netizen". Feeling they're protected from adware/spyware they'll float around the Web freely downloading anything that appeals to them without regard - after all the long-arm of Uncle Sam is coddling them ever step of the way. Not!

It's time to bring back that old "spirit of America" and stand on our own two feet. Do we really need laws to protect us from EVERYTHING? Can't we think for ourselves anymore? The best defense is to be aware, knowledgeable, and look at everything with a critical eye before downloading it. It just makes sense. I'm sure the adware/spyware vendors will continue to flourish in spite of Uncle Sam. I just don't want Uncle Sam giving the less-savvy a false sense of security.

Do you really need Uncle Sam to tell you to lock your doors at night?

Big Money

I read about the changes in the bankruptcy laws that make it harder for those impossibly in debt to ever recover or ever get out of debt. The credit card companies' lobbyists have poured millions of dollars into this law - and no wonder. When you consider they now can legally charge more than 30% in interest and penalties how is a pour soul who is in debt up to his or her eyeballs ever going to overcome the crushing interest and penalties that will be allowed. Legalized usury? It appears so.

Before you think I'm soft on those who intentionally rack-up huge debts with no intention of ever paying them - and with every intention of filing bankruptcy to wipe the slate clean- I'm not. But, those kinds of deadbeats account for only ten percent of the total of those filing for bankruptcy.

Consider the family of four in which the mother and father both work in low-paying jobs without health insurance. They manage to make a combined income of $35,000.00. Health insurance would cost them $400.00 a month and they cannot afford it. The rent, the car payments, food, utilities and gasoline take too big a chunk out of the family budget.

So what happens when the mother is diagnosed with cancer? The medical bills pile up, they run-the-limit on their three credit cards trying to survive and buy medicine. If this family declares bankruptcy does this make them deadbeats. Now, the father will have to try to payback the credit card companies who will heap on twenty-five to thirty-five percent interest and penalties creating a vicious whirlpool of increasing debt from which he will never escape. Now he's fortunate enough to have a gravely ill wife and debts piled so high he can never escape. That's the reward he reaps for being a hard-working, honest, law-abiding citizen. To the credit card companies and the government, he's just another deadbeat. Something's wrong with that, I think.

That "big-money" won this battle is no secret. They seem to always win, don't they? I don't like seeing America turn from a democracy into a plutocracy - but that is what appears to be happening. I love my country and I hate to see these kinds of trends. It makes us look bad to the rest of the world and is not fair to the tens of millions of 'average" citizens of this great country who work hard, pay their taxes, and abide by the law. The rich hide their money with the help of high-priced lawyers - it can never be attached, garnished, or taken away for any reason. Laws written by the wealthy, to protect the wealthy, assure the wealthy never have to suffer the same fates as those who cannot afford tax shelters, trusts, or high-priced counsel.

Where are our lawmakers' hearts? With the people they represent or with the companies and rich folks that line their pockets, campaign accounts, and with whom they hobnob It doesn't take a rocket scientist to answer that question.

Freedom

I sure hate to see congress passing laws that further abridge our freedoms. After all, these are the freedoms hundreds of thousands of brave men and women have fought and died for over the past 229 years. In the name of 'Security" the Patriot Act is in full vigor and you just have to hope that those in power don't abuse the power this nebulous law provides.

And, come to think of it, soon, if I want to go visit my friends in Canada I'm going to need to get a U.S. Passport for around $90.00. I guess that fact I have a valid drivers license and voter's registration card, plus the fact I've lived in the same state I was born in for my entire life means nothing. Now I need a passport to cross over the "Freedom" bridge? Hmm!

Now, let me digress - Every time I send an email its subject to intercept by the FBI. When I talk on my cell phone it's subject to monitoring by someone somewhere. I don't really care if the FBI wants to listen in on my phone calls or read my email. If they're that bored, I'd be glad to provide some entertainment for them. It's just the idea that they can that bothers me. Maybe it bothers you too. I hope so.

It may be a necessary evil given the times in which we live; but it's these kinds of laws that seem to persist long after the conditions for which they were enacted have passed. It's sort of like the law that New England state (I shall not mention) had, until a few years ago, that prohibited eating an ice cream cone on the sidewalk on Sunday. Fortunately, after it gained nationwide attention, it was hurriedly un-enacted or whatever politicians do with outdated laws. However, I don't think the "Patriot Act" is going away any time soon. Even if the conditions that inspired it have long since evaporated, I fear the "Patriot Act" will be around, in some form, even when our great-grandchildren are old and gray. Some of the provisions of the Patriot Act are set to "sunset" later this year, but already there's talk of an even stronger "Patriot II" or "Victory" act in the wind. We'll have to see if that really happens. Maybe, I'm a cynic, but I think the government likes this piece of legislation far too much. Who in a position of authority wouldn't enjoy even more power?

It appears that many agree that the Patriot Act presents a "clear and present danger" to our cherished civil liberties;  for now 152 communities and 3 states have enacted legislation denouncing the Patriot Act as an assault on civil liberties.

Surely there must be a better balance between security and liberty. Has our government gone too far?

Tell us what you think - Please


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Opinions expressed herein are the opinions of the authors as individuals and do not necessarily reflect the official opinion of Cloudeight Internet LLC, its hosts, or sponsors. These Rants are editorials and are,  therefore, opinions. All content is copyright 2005 by Cloudeight Internet LLC (all rights reserved)