The Surveillance State

Via Bruce Schneier’s blog I came across an excellent, and short, essay regarding the surveillance state. Ian Welsh, the essay’s author, sufficiently sums up the tense relationship between the rulers and the enforcers:

This is one of the biggest problems the current elites face: they want the smallest enforcer class possible, so as to spend surplus on other things. The enforcer class is also insular, primarily concerned with itself (see Dorner) and is paid in large part by practical immunity to many laws and a license to abuse ordinary people. Not being driven primarily by justice or a desire to serve the public and with a code of honor which appears to largely center around self-protection and fraternity within the enforcer class, the enforcers’ reliability is in question: they are blunt tools and their fear for themselves makes them remarkably inefficient.

It’s easy to see the state’s motivation for implementing comprehensive automated surveillance. Paying enforcers to perform surveillance manually is expensive. Why would the rulers want to spend large amounts of money on manual surveillance when they can automate a great deal of the work and pocket the saved wealth? This is also the reason why the state tries to involve everybody, whether they’re an enforcer or not, into its surveillance system. How many times have we seen the phrase, “If you see something, say something?” Hell the phrase has its own Department of Motherland Fatherland Homeland Security (DHS) webpage. Every tattling neighbor increases the state’s watchful eye without incurring additional costs. Fortunately surveillance has a weakness:

The reliance on surveillance is however a weakness, one of many. One of the simplest ways to reduce the power and reach of the oligarchy is to destroy surveillance equipment, much of which is very easy to reach. I have frequently said that we will know that people are becoming more serious when they start destroying surveillance equipment, when it becomes an ethical imperative to do so; ideally when people believe that blanket surveillance is an ethical wrong.

I, am, thus interested to see that the Barefoot Bandit Brigade destroying surveillance cameras. In the US, those who oppose current elites directly seem strongest around Oakland and in the Pacific Northwest.

I touched on the strategy of destroying the state’s surveillance system when Minnesota politicians proposed reinstall red light cameras. Welsh puts forth an interesting idea: one can judge how serious people are about avoiding the state’s watchful eye when they begin openly advocating and participating in the destruction of surveillance equipment. It will be interesting to see if organizations like Camover and the Barefoot Bandit Brigade become more prevalent in the United States as the state becomes even more intrusive.

This Week in Gun Control

This has been a pretty busy week for gun control at both a federal and Minnesota level. On the federal level Feinstein’s legislation that would be black rifles and standard capacity magazines was approved by the Senate Committee:

WASHINGTON — The Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday approved a measure to reinstate a ban on assault weapons, the first major Congressional vote on the issue since the ban expired in 2004.

The vote to approve the measure — now ostensibly headed for the full Senate — went firmly along party lines; the 10 Democrats on the committee voted aye, and the 8 Republicans of the committee rejected it. The legislation would also limit the size of ammunition magazines to 10 rounds.

Now the legislation will move to a floor vote, which could go either way. You can beg your masters for leniency by calling, e-mailing, and writing them but, frankly, I it’s past time for civil disobedience. Begging hasn’t gotten us very far and it doesn’t look like it will be any more effective in the future.

In Minnesota, surprising nobody, the local Senate Judiciary Committee approved legislation that would ban private sales:

DFLers on a Senate committee gave a go-ahead to universal background checks for gun sales Thursday night.

The Senate Judiciary Committee approved a wide-ranging gun-violence bill on a 5-3 party-line vote, with DFLers supporting it and Republicans opposing it. It now goes to the Senate floor
It was the first recorded vote on a gun-violence bill of the Legislative session after weeks of discussion in the House and Senate.
The key issue — extending background checks to private sales — remains a political hot potato at the Capitol.

A companion bill is to be heard next week in the House Public Safety Finance and Policy Committee, where its chances are in doubt.

Once again begging didn’t work out in our favor. While gun rights advocates flooded the hearings the Committee decided it had no reason to listen to the majority. There is a little good news, the alternative bill, which would put more information in government databases, create new criminals, and prohibit you from falsely reporting your “assault weapons” as lost in the event of a confiscation, hasn’t moved yet.

Things aren’t looking good from a political side (they never do) but for an agorist looking to make some major money a new business opportunity in the form of “assault weapon” and standard capacity magazine manufacturing appears could arise.

Bypassing Minnesota’s Alcohol Laws

The history of alcohol laws in Minnesota can best be described as asinine. If you look at the Minnesota Department of Health’s website on alcohol laws you’ll find such gems requiring all alcohol advertisements be approved by the Commissioner of Public Safety and requiring all kegs to be registered. One of the other asinine laws is a prohibition against selling alcohol on Sundays (unless you’re a bar or restaurant). Attempts to repeal the prohibition have been tried numerous times but have continued to fail. Four Firkins, a specialty beer store in Minnetonka, is moving ahead with the latest attempt to strike the prohibition from the books:

Jason Alvey, who runs specialty beer and liquor store The Four Firkens, will try to persuade lawmakers to let he and other liquor stores open on Sundays.

Alvey argues the ban on Sunday sales is outdated and should be repealed.

However, not everyone agrees.

The Minnesota Licensed Beverage Association, along with other liquor store owners, say opening on Sundays would simply pull sales from other days and increase operating costs.

Alvey disagrees and says those who oppose Sunday sales don’t have to open seven days a week if a bill, sponsored by Senator Jeremy Miller, becomes law and repeals the ban. Instead, Alvey says liquor store owners could open on Sundays, reap financial rewards, and close on Mondays when he says sales are generally much slower.

The difficulty of getting the prohibition removed has been Minnesota’s own liquor lobby. As it currently stands most liquor store owners enjoy the prohibition against selling their goods on Sunday because it allows them to reduce their operating costs by not being open one day out of the week without having to suffer consequences of their competition being open on that day.

In addition to this constantly repeating battle another political issue involving alcohol has arrive, a bill that would increase the taxes placed on alcohol sales. Reading the bill will bring to light the fact that the tax increases would be tremendous, which is why I doubt the bill will pass in its current form. In all likelihood the bill is meant to be a “worse option” and a “better option” will be presented after some revisions. By doing this the populace of Minnesota are less likely to resist the increase because they will feel as though they got off lucky.

Being a practical man I wish to present a method that can be used to bypass both laws, along with every other Minnesota law regarding the sale of alcohol. If you’ve been reading this blog for any length of time you’ve likely guessed that the solution I’m going to present is agorist in nature, and you would be correct. The so-called black market can once again provide a solution to tyranny and it only requires producers of desired goods who are willing to ignore the state’s decrees. Are you a person who is willing to brew beer and/or distill liquor illegally? Are you willing to also sell your brewed beer and/or distilled liquor on Sunday? Congratulations, you are the solution! Agorist alcohol stands to be much cheaper since taxes are not applied to the price tag. On top of that agorist brewers and distillers can enjoy the freedom of selling their goods anytime they please. To make things even better no begging the state for permits is required.

Instead of begging the state to allow the sale of alcohol on Sunday or not increase the taxes on alcohol sales as much as they’re currently planning the people of Minnesota can simply start producing alcohol outside of the state’s law. In that way Minnesotans can enjoy cheaper alcohol that is available every day of the week. Furthermore agorist alcohol doesn’t contribute money to the state, which is actively suppressing competition in the alcohol market and making everybody pay a higher price. An added benefit is the fact that alcohol, being a cheap form of entertainment, has traditionally done well during times of economic hardship and therefore stands to make current producers a good amount of profit.

Smashing the Surveillance State

Here in Minnesota the goons commonly referred to as politicians are looking to increase their rate of expropriation by reintroducing red light cameras:

A group of lawmakers is proposing a bill that would allow cities to use cameras to catch drivers who run red lights. The bill, which was introduced yesterday in the House and Senate, would also allow law enforcement personnel to use cameras to catch people who are speeding.

In 2007 the Minnesota Supreme Court ruled that red light cameras are unconstitutional because the tickets were linked to a driver’s license, not to the motorist who committed the violation. Minneapolis city officials were forced to refund millions of dollars after the court ruled the law unconstitutional.

Supporters of the new bill say they think technology will address those concerns because the cameras will capture pictures of both the license plate and the motorist.

Were this to pass the constitutionality of the law would likely come into question again. Unfortunately challenging the constitutionality of a law takes a great deal of time and money and there are no guarantees that the results will be favorable. On the other hand there are extralegal options available. With the rampant use of Closed Circuit Television (CCTV) cameras in the United Kingdom (UK) a new movement has sprung up called Camover:

It started in Berlin: Anarchists, donning black bloc attire, hit the streets at night in pairs, small groups or alone to smash and dismantle the CCTV surveillance cameras adorning the city streets.

Since the use of surveillance technology is becoming widespread throughout the world it’s not surprising that the movement has spread beyond the UK:

The anti-surveillance project quickly spread throughout Germany, to Finland, Greece and hit the U.S. West Coast this month. A group identifying itself as “the Barefoot Bandit Brigade” released a statement claiming to have “removed and destroyed 17 security cameras throughout the Puget Sound region,” with ostensible photo evidence published alongside. “This act is concrete sabotage against the system of surveillance and control,” wrote the group’s statement, adding that the Camover contribution was also intended in solidarity with anarchists in the Pacific Northwest currently in federal custody without charges for refusing to cooperate with a federal grand jury.

While I shun the destruction of property I also don’t believe the state can legitimately acquire property. The state acquires property through taxation and taxation is nothing more than theft. If you don’t pay your taxes you’ll likely be kidnapped and put into a cage or have a portion of your paycheck stolen each pay period. Because of this I believe it’s the right of the state’s victims (tax payers) to do as they please with the state’s property. My feelings regarding this are even stronger when the state’s property is used to further expropriate wealth from the populace, which is what red light cameras do. Were this law to pass I suspect, and hope, Camover would become prevalent in Minnesota. Minnesota, and the United States in general, needs more actively civil disobedience. We’re living with the results of using the political process to preserve liberties and, as you can see, no meaningful increase of liberties has occurred since the founding of this country.

Colorado House Passes Four Gun Control Bills

It appears that gun control is advancing in Colorado:

Limits on the size of ammunition magazines and universal background checks passed the Colorado House on Monday, during a second day of emotional debates that has drawn attention from the White House as lawmakers try to address recent mass shootings.

The bills were among four that the Democratic-controlled House passed amid strong resistance from Republicans, who were joined by a few Democrats to make some of the votes close.

I’m not going to advocate that gun owners in Colorado start betting state Senators to vote against the bills, obviously that tactic hasn’t delivered any goods so far. Instead I’m going to urge gun owners in Colorado to make it known that they will not comply with any new gun control laws. Few things stand to embarrass a politician more than blatant disobedience by the general populace. Such blatant disobedience helps to tear down the illusion that the state enjoys the support of the people and the state needs to keep that illusion alive. Because of this need the state is less likely to pass legislation that it knows will be openly ignored by the general populace. I believe it would be more productive to inform Senators in Colorado that they can pass gun control laws but those laws will be openly disobeyed.