Well, now. It seems that my early post commenting/warning about the encroachment of government in our personal lives here in Vermont via "Smart Meters" and the "Smart Grid" technologies has generated a bit of a buzz in certain quarters, after being published in my local paper as a Letter to the Editor. The comments range from "He's got a point" to "He's a right-wing conspiracy nut case". Just what I was going for. Heh. It's particularly illustrative of the deep blueness of my state that the negative comments focused on the hyperbolic endgame argument that the State could shut off a private individuals access to electric power if they failed to adhere to the government program of rationing and conservation. While I wish I had included the alternative (or interim) step of the State levying an increased charge on those who used more than "their fair share" of electricity in the published letter or confiscating power people generated for themselves, I'm astounded that the so-called (and self-regarded) intellectual elites so completely missed the point.
The point of the hyperbole was to illustrate the increased potential for State control and monitoring such systems provide, along with the slowly constricting boundaries of what was once considered inviolate personal privacy. As an aside, I have to wonder what the critics of my cautions would have to say if these same technologies were being imposed by a Republican/Conservative, George W. Busch-type governor? After all, these are some of the same people who were most vocal in opposition to the Patriot Act and almost any piece of legislation proposed/supported by Republicans.
What many fail to see, on the left and the right, is that we have experienced over the past 100 or so years of Progressivism the fulfillment of the warnings of the founders. The warnings that it is in the nature of all governments to grow larger and more intrusive and that it is the primary obligation of free citizens to safeguard themselves against loss of liberty and freedom. Such threats are never openly displayed. They're usually couched in soft-sounding terminologies such as, "It's for the children", "We need to do this for the 'common good'", or "It's the only fair thing to do", and yes, even "It's in the interest of National Security".
If you look objectively at the history of Progressive policies on the country, you will find little, or no, net positive effect for all of the trillions of dollars that have been confiscated for redistributive purposes. The "War on Poverty"? The percentage of Americans officially living in poverty today is virtually the same as when the anti-poverty measures were enacted. The "War on Drugs"? Please. "Social Security"? A well-intentioned plan to provide for the support of widows and orphans, it's been so expanded, bloated and changed to include nearly anyone who applies that it's been unsustainable for decades. Don't even get me started on welfare. You really think that's a compassionate program for the poor? It creates and exacerbates the very problems it was supposedly created to solve! What good has come from a program that enables single-parent households? That has given support and validation to the idea that women "don't need no man" in order to have a "family"? Welfare has done more harm to the traditional family unit (particularly among African-American and Hispanics) than any other single program and has actually increased the poverty count, resulting in greater demand for government handouts, greater dependency on government and a greater sense of hopelessness among the young, who have only the experiences of the poverty of their surroundings and the never-ending mantra that they have no chance to succeed because of some nameless, faceless "Man" holding them down. This desperation leads directly to the increased incidence of crime in communities where there is the greatest reliance on these programs.
All of these programs, as well as the rest of the "Great Society" have created a massive sea change in what was once called "The American Way"; the idea that as an American you could work hard and provide for your, and your family's, success and future free from the overbearing hand of oppressive government; that you would be guaranteed the right to hold what you created/earned by your labors and the sweat of your brow; that you could become anything you imagined (even a millionaire). Instead, we now have raised 2-3 generations of people who have been "educated" to believe that the "deck is stacked against them" and that only the "lucky" or "greedy" attain wealth and have to come to see government, not as a protector of individual rights and freedoms, but as a provider and guarantor of personal wants. These people's ability and incentive to provide for themselves has been intentionally atrophied by reliance on government handouts provided under the guise of "compassion" and "fairness" (there's that word again). Where is the compassion in creating dependency? Where is the compassion in crippling an individual's desire and ability to provide for themselves and their families and in punishing those who dare to succeed "too much"?
We now stand on the precipice. The "point of no return" warned of by the great thinkers and scholars of the past who studied the new phenomena called "The American Experiment". They warned that America would only succeed until the political class discovered that it could bribe the people with their own money; and when the people realized that they could vote themselves unlimited largesse from the national treasury. The determinative point would come when those reliant on government payments exceeded the number of producer.
The current ratio is approximately 51% producers to 49% takers. If the currents trends aren't reversed, and soon, we will enter the world referenced in such works as Orwell's "1984" and Rand's "Atlas Shrugged". Only, with the loss of America, there will be no place left to escape to.