I think the whole business with the NSA boils down to this: do we want a society in which limits on government intrusiveness in our private communications are almost entirely self-imposed, with the general understanding that the government can be trusted to handle the information responsibly; or do we want a society in which there are certain legal, categorical restrictions on the type of information that can be collected and analyzed by the government, in order to eliminate (or reduce) the risk that government - acting either officially as a matter of public policy, or unofficially in the form of renegade employees moved by ideological conviction or by purely mercenary considerations – might behave in ways that are inconsistent with, and injurious to, our American traditions of individual liberty(specifically with reference to the rights secured by the fourth amendment)?
George Will has written an interesting article on the issue of trust, shrewdly linking the NSA’s public relations crisis with the machinations of IRS bully Lois Lerner:
The case against the NSA is: Lois Lerner and others of her ilk.As to the level of trust that I, personally, have in the government, this photo summarizes my view neatly.
Government requires trust. Government by progressives, however, demands such inordinate amounts of trust that the demand itself should provoke distrust. Progressivism can be distilled into two words: “Trust us.” The antecedent of the pronoun is: The wise, disinterested experts through whom the vast powers of the regulatory state’s executive branch will deliver progress for our own good, as the executive branch understands this, whether we understand it or not. Lois Lerner is the scowling face of this state, which has earned Americans’ distrust.
And I’m talking a low level of trust in both political parties, particularly in light of what is going on with the immigration bill winding its way through the Senate. The partisan intransigence of Democrats like Chuck Schumer and Harry Reid is a given, as is the increasingly invariable dunderheadedness of Republicans like McCain and Graham. But it has been a bitter disappointment to see Marco Rubio participate in the Gang of Eight, losing no opportunity to display the most contemptible disingenuousness in arguing for this legislative travesty; and now, even Rep. Paul Ryan appears set to soften up the House for a favorable reception of the Senate bill (see Ann Coulter, Jeff Goldstein, and Stacy McCain for important discussions of this vitally important topic).