Friday, December 29, 2017

Voting Is Not Informed Consent

at least not under the current paradigm


Glowing Auras and ‘Black Money’: The Pentagon’s Mysterious U.F.O. Program

The U.S Government Supports Genocide Against Indigenous Peoples Through Conservation

Federal Programs Fund Secret Stingray Spying

For instance, did you know that the pentagon spent $22M investigating UFO sightings from 2007 until 2012. Most of the money went to aerospace research company run by Harry Reid’s billionaire friend Robert Bigelow, without producing much in the way of results. We aren’t any closer to being certain that UFOs are alien spacecraft than we were in 2007 before the program began. Of course, pentagon officials claim they have stopped funding the program for good, but we wouldn’t know that for sure since it was part of the $52.6B Black budget; things you are forced to pay for but aren’t allowed to know about. The federal government could be scheming against you, but you’d be none the wiser. The use of cell site simulators by state and local police is the most recent example. The funds to purchase this surveillance equipment comes from federal agencies such as DHS and DOJ, and police departments are made to sign non-disclosure agreements upon purchase, which prohibits them from releasing any information about the use and purchase of the equipment itself. For all we know, Uncle Sam could be using the data collected through stingray surveillance to keep tabs on its citizens. Of course, there are more insidious historical examples such as COINTELPRO and MKUltra, both of which in the long run aimed to crackdown on political dissent. The NSA was a secret agency for the first 23 years of its existence, and yet citizens were still forced to pay for it. There are other programs that aren’t kept secret, but which few people know about anyway. For instance, are you aware that USAID funds conservation efforts in the Congo basin by partnering with private NGO’s, like the WWF, and giving them the money to implement their goals? It’s a little known program called the Central Africa Regional Program for the Environment that was created during the Clinton administration. Even fewer people know that the program is used to finance the genocide of traditional hunter-gatherer societies like the Baka tribe. Sure these secret and obscure programs are small potatoes in the grand scheme of the $4 trillion dollars, but they run counter to what we were taught in civics class and what the media frequently tells us: that we are a democracy and the government cannot do anything without the consent of the people.

The notion of ‘government by consent’ blossomed out of the enlightenment, but ever since the widespread adoption of republican forms of government few people have contemplated what it actually means. We are familiar with the idea of consent in our interactions with other private individuals. For instance, the majority of people know and acknowledge that sex with another person without their consent is rape regardless of who perpetrates the offense. Informed consent is required in other interactions too. In psychological and biomedical research, researchers cannot use participants in their experiments without their informed consent. It is considered unethical to do otherwise. It is similarly required for medical procedures in non-emergency situations. Informed consent is also required in your daily transactions. When you go to the grocery store and when you shop online you must authorize payments, giving your consent to exchange a certain amount of money for certain goods or services. Informed consent is required for life changing choices such as who you decide to marry. The Roman Catholic Church, for instance, considers forced marriage and a lack of informed consent as grounds for an annulment. But for some odd reason people throw their ethical standards by the wayside when it comes to the government. When it comes to the government, they are willing to simultaneously accept secrecy and forced compliance, as long as it doesn’t personally inconvenience them. Supposedly we are consenting to be governed as long as we get to select a name with an R or a D in front of it every two years, but it could hardly even be called assent. The theory that elected officials are accountable to their constituents doesn’t hold weight in real life. The truth is that most voters probably don’t even know half of the things their governments do; in fact, I’d say they know even less. Even people who consider themselves politically savvy probably couldn’t name all of the programs run at the federal level, which numbers into the thousands, or even the state level. To complicate matters further, there are thousands of federal criminal statutes and regulations that can be enforced criminally. I’d say it’s safe to assume that voters don’t know all of them, or even half of them, or even a quarter of them. How did we consent to thousands of laws and programs we don’t know about? The current theory of a “social contract” cannot explain this disparity between voter knowledge and acceptance of the status quo. The reality is that it’s impossible to give your consent to a government that has duplicative programs for every problem in society. Information asymmetry is considered a problem in the private sector, but somehow gets a free pass when it comes to government since you know politicians are such altruistic people who only have our good at heart. Apparently, you can trust people with power, but not freedom.

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