Is There an Economic Lesson in the NSA Drama?
“If liberty means anything at all, it means the right to tell people what they do not want to hear” — George Orwell
History has shown that very few people possess the willingness or courage to risk everything in order to expose injustice, even when the most fundamental of human rights are being violated. In the case of Edward Snowden, the now infamous 29-year-old whistle blower who sacrificed not only a promising career and a seemingly pleasant life in paradise but, more notably, put his future as a free man and even his own life on the line.
After years of working in national intelligence directly and, most recently, for a private defense contractor, Snowden gained an intimate knowledge of America’s post-9/11 domestic surveillance initiative that included an unprecedented wiretapping operation and the clandestine PRISM program, which purportedly granted the intelligence agencies “back door” access to the servers of major Internet service companies such Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) and Facebook (NASDAQ:FB).
Compelled by a conviction of not wanting to live in a world where personal privacy is subverted in the name of national security, Snowden made the fateful decision to unveil the NSA’s domestic spying program in hopes that this revelation would ignite a serious discourse on the delicate balancing act of individual privacy and national security.
In the wake of Snowden’s leak, new details have emerged that not only validate Snowden’s assertion of a Big Brother-inspired domestic spying program but also appear to indicate that the rabbit hole goes much deeper.
Big Brother Is Watching
As if using George Orwell’s prophetic 1984 as a blueprint for national security, it is now evident that the government gathers unfathomable amounts of data on phone calls, emails, data transfers, and search queries of everyday citizens. Rather than precisely targeting suspected terrorists, this shotgun-approach to data collection treats anyone and everyone as a possible threat, operating with complete disregard for the rule of law and the Fourth Amendment — a sign of the times that should make all Americans tremble, freedom hawks and liberals alike.
Since first grabbing headlines, the NSA scandal has caught the attention of both supporters and critics. Although it is still too early to tell whether or not any meaningful reforms will come about, it would not be surprising if the issue slowly retreats back into the shadows from where it originated since most Americans will happily acquiesce precious liberties, as long as it does not get in the way of next week’s episode of Dancing with the Stars.
Develop an Internationalization Strategy Today
With it now known that the government differentiates very little between actual potential enemies and its own citizens, the NSA scandal should not be viewed as an isolated incident but rather as a potential harbinger of additional draconian measures on the way, as these are a natural consequence of deeply indebted regimes on the decline.
For the United States and other debt-addicted countries, years of profligate spending have more or less sealed their economic fates. With the stage set, further encroachments of privacy are practically guaranteed. Faced with economic uncertainty, governments will search for new ways to plunder the productive members of society. These may include capital controls, more onerous regulations, or wealth confiscation, either explicitly or by way of the printing press.
Sound like another paranoid rambling? Unfortunately, the developing NSA story along with the crisis in Cyprus prove that desperate governments will stop at nothing to prevent their house of cards from collapsing, no matter how futile of an attempt this may be.
Amid all of the doom and gloom, there are still opportunities to be seized. For one, the government’s assault on civil liberties highlights the importance of internationalization in today’s uncertain economy. Just as it is critical to distribute one’s capital across different asset classes, it is becoming increasingly vital that investors spread their wealth across different political jurisdictions. And for those still clinging to the “that would never happen here” mentality, remember that it’s better to be a year early than a day late.
Originally written for the website of the Hard Assets Alliance, an industry association of trusted economic and investment research firms that fosters a better understanding of prevailing economic trends and offers investing advice. Open a SmartMetals™ investing account from Hard Assets Alliance here.