300 Dollar Men

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New at Reason: Should Uncle Sam be drafting bankers, brokers, and car dealers into the War on Everything? John Berlau consults an expert.

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  1. This is another insidious effect of the Wars on Drugs, Terror, etc. Nominally private businesses are being turned into arms of the state for keeping citizens under surveillance. Your bank, car dealer, etc., who in theory should be grateful for your patronage and view you as the main person to please in order to stay in business, instead acts as an authority figure toward you.

  2. This fertile ground for state expansion was thoroughly plowed by the War on Drugs. Really, to date the War on Terror has not broken much new ground at all in restricting liberty, with the possible exception of treatment of “enemy combatants.”

  3. I just got back from Germany where I used my debit card to pull some Euro’s out of the ATM when I ran out of travelers checks. This is something I never had to do before. I guess I should expect a report being filed on my behavior and sent to the government. I do not like this thought at all.

  4. A friend bought a very pricey luxury car a couple of years ago (pre-Patriot I believe). He claims that because it cost over a hundred grand that the dealer was required by law to report that transaction to (presumably) IRS. This DESPITE the fact that it was not a currency transaction. I have researched this and can’t find applicable regs to back up my guy’s assertion, but I also have no reason not to belive him as he is a straight up guy with no history of BS’ing for poops and giggles. Point being, apparently big ticket vehicle purchases were already tracked before the Patriot Act.

  5. JSM… I don’t suppose you recall handing your ID to a nice clerk at your hotel desk, who then copied it, do you? Germany has had auslaendermeldeamt (foreigner registration office) registration requirements for thirty years or more. Likewise, the German government at one level or another will likely cast an eye on your banking activities while you were in Germany. Yet Germany is really a pretty free place to live – you are much more likely to get away with smoking weed or selling your body, or apparently, eating somebody else’s body. All sorts of student demonstration idiocy is tolerated, in fact probably encouraged; you can chuck petrol bombs at police during a demonstration and in all likelihood will get away with it. (Although there will likely be no legal repercussions unless someone gets hurt, you may get a pretty severe beatdown from the German cops for doing so… which strikes me as a common sense result.)

    Germany is a rather benevolent police state, in large part due to its omnibus Datenschutz, the data protection act, that carefully governs what your personal information can, and can’t be used for.

    I believe you could cite to Germany as proof of the maxim that it’s not how much [data] you have, it’s how you use it that matters.

    The only problem with looking to Germany as an example in this arena is that nobody in this country who cares about information privacy is likely to support a body of regulation to protect it.

  6. joe’s post would make sense if he said “some captains of industry” and “some people in private industry” but that would undermine his main thesis that everyone in big business was at fault for the nazis (and yes they were at fault, but for most no more than the average citizen of Germany).

  7. Don’t see the word “everyone” in my post. But then, that’s probably because I don’t believe anything of the sort.

  8. EMAIL: draime2000@yahoo.com
    IP: 62.213.67.122
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    DATE: 01/25/2004 10:33:14
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