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Contractors would gain a database of data on everyday Americans and business rivals -- what could go wrong?

Oh boy, here we go again.  After enduring a speech packed with bewildering doubletalk in which President Barack Obama simultaneously defended and seemingly pledged to reform the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA), we now get his official course of action [press release] that sounds like he's planning to end phone collection via the retasking of the agency's massive databases that store call metadata.
But the saying "the devil is in the details" certainly applies to this plan.
I. Decoding the Doubletalk
To recap, in his last speech President Obama said:

[The NSA "PRISM" program] does not involve the content of phone calls or the names of people making calls.

This has been proven untrue.

He stated:

We cannot prevent terrorist attacks or cyberthreats without some capability to penetrate digital communications.

But so far the administration has been unable to prove that, suggesting the program might have at best helped to stop 1 or 2 terrorist plots in the past several years -- plots which may not even been in the U.S.  By contrast, traditional Constitutionally sound law enforcement strategies have stopped dozens, if not hundreds of terrorist plots in the U.S.  So it is nothing short of ludicrous to suggest that a tool that has proven itself highly ineffective -- if not completely useless -- is essential to national security.

Yes We Scan
[Image Source: Patheos]

And he asserts:

I did not ... stop these programs .... because I felt that they made us more secure... [and] because nothing in that initial review and nothing that I have learned since indicated that our intelligence community has sought to violate the law or is cavalier about the civil liberties of their fellow citizens.

The tricky word here is "community", as agents have certainly sought to violate the law and behaved in a cavalier manner.  Leaked audits have proven that in several instances agents have spied on former or current lovers -- so-called "LOVEINT".  
A sort of cognitive dissonance oft appeared in the speech.  For example, he claimed:

[Agents are] not abusing authorities in order to listen to your private phone calls or read your emails.

(Err... yes they are, at times.)

... and then seemingly acknowledging that abuse did sometimes occur, stating:

When mistakes are made -- which is inevitable in any large and complicated human enterprise, they correct those mistakes...

prayer of serenity
It takes much wisdom to tell the truth, and find the difference between true change and false hopes. [Image SourceL STEOCH]

Perhaps most telling was his statement:

Improved rules were proposed by the government and approved by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court. And we've sought to keep Congress continually updated on these activities.

Note how he uses the word "government" to avoid clueing the public in on the reality that his administration proposed these rules.  And also note that he views effectively warrantless mass searches of Americans -- aka bulk data collection -- as an "improvement". 

So there was cause to be wary when he stated:

I have instructed the intelligence community and the attorney general to use this transition period to develop options for a new approach that can match the capabilities and fill the gaps that the Section 215 program was designed to address, without the government holding this metadata itself. They will report back to me with options for alternative approaches before the program comes up for reauthorization on March 28th.

That takes us to today's announcement, which is basically his plan for the future of bulk data/metadata collection, or -- put in plain English -- the President's plan on spying on law-abiding Americans, our allies, our economic rivals, and the rest of the world.
II. Decoding the Doubletalk -- When Attacking Americans is Okay
The President already made clear that he was rejecting one of the most fundamental pillars of the guidance his own independent panel suggested in December.
The panel suggested that all data from Americans "be purged upon detection" and not stored in NSA databases.  President Obama said no.
Now, had he accepted that proposal it might not have even ended bulk collection, but it would at least strike one key rhetoric game that the administration has been playing, namely claiming that automated inspection of Americans' data is not spying.  Documents have revealed that the NSA has written scripts -- so called "expert systems" -- which NSA documents claim rival the analysis capabilities of the human mind.
These master scripts are capable of not only collecting data, but also launching attacks on autodetected targets.  One of their favorite tactics is to intercept Windows Error Messages in an attempt to identify vulnerabilities on the target's computers and then launching malware attacks against them.  The scripts employ all manner of cybercriminal tactics, including Trojan spam, phishing, and DDOS attacks from hijacked IRC botnets.

NSA malware
The NSA and President Obama view attacking Americans with malware and spam via automated scripts as "okay". [Image Source:]

But to the President and the NSA, it's not okay for an agent to attack a law-abiding American, but it is okay to create a script that falsely identifies Americans and then targets them with criminal attacks.
Likewise, it's okay to sabotage global encryption in the name of "national security" and to use expert system scripts to mine and store Americans' data for up to 15 years.  But, remember, it's not okay for agents to individually store your data.  Are you catching on?
In the NSA mindset imagine if your neighbors got on your nerves and you wanted to kill them -- literally.  It would not be okay to get a gun and shoot them.  But it would be okay to plant land mines all over your neighborhood.  After all, if they happen to step on them and die you didn't technically kill them yourself (by the NSA's logic) -- the tool you activated (the land mine) did!
Clearly this kind of thinking is psychotic and would land you in prison if taken too far.
III. Why the Bill Almost Certainly Calls For Private Sector Storage of Spy Data
So now that we know what the President isn't doing and how to decode the doubletalk, what is he doing?
The plan also does nothing to stop or scale back the sabotage/cybercriminal attacks the NSA is employing against Americans and citizens of ally states.  Nor does it stop the collection of various forms of intercepted -- and at times decrypted -- internet traffic.  It deals solely with the first, and most public kind of NSA data collection -- collection of phone records.
Sources close to the NSA have indicated that the agency captures roughly 99 percent of Americans' telephone metadata on a daily basis.  Under the new plan the administration craftily creates the appearance that the government is ending data storage, while at the same time giving itself and future administrations leeway to sneakily expand it.

NSA surveillance
The new plan solely relates to metadata collection. [Image Source: CBS]

The key to decoding the President's plan lies in how it leaves the door open to voluntary private sector cooperation in spying on Americans.  Under the plan the NSA would "stop" data storage.  And I put "stop" in quotes, because the NSA is not really stopping at all -- it's almost certainly just recruiting a corporate crony to store the data it collects so it can claim it isn't storing it.
This proposal could be very good news for a select few Americans.  If you happen to be a large shareholder of Verizon Communications Inc. (VZ) or AT&T Inc. (T) -- two of the likely leading candidates to privatize the NSA's currently in-house storage -- you are likely salivating at this policy proposal.  
Note the President plan (as elaborated by Congress) carefully says that there are no new data storage "requirements" for carriers.  Note the key word is "requirements".  The President's plan certainly allows the NSA to take the budget allocated to it to be spent on spying (which it is largely allowed to spend as it sees fit) and allocate that money to contracting the carriers to store Americans' metadata.  Carriers aren't "required" to do it, but with the choices "refuse to collect" or "accept a big payday" guess which one the carriers will choose?
The plan hints at, but avoids explicitly mentioning that kind of contractual relationship, which is perfect legal under budget laws and under the PATRIOT Act.  But given the fact that it makes no mention of stopping collection of the metadata, one must ask the natural question -- if you're not stopping collection and you can't store it, who is storing it for you?  The obvious answer is the phone companies.
To say the President's plan "stops storage" is about like saying that a person who hires a hitman didn't kill the victim.  The instigator is the same, there's just now someone else doing your dirty work for you -- someone else you can blame if someone catches wind of the scheme.
IV. Perfect Plan for Corporate Espionage
And the plan creates new dangers.  First it raises the likelihood of more money being spent on likely illegal spying on Americans.  Second, it raises the danger of corporate espionage.
Imagine, being paid billions more to store everyone's metadata, phone call snippets, and other mined data.  And imagine having access to all your competitors’ data, with loose, nebulous restrictions.  Sounds great, right?
You must admit the President does have a gift for irony.  In his previous speech he equivocated:

Challenges to our privacy do not come from government alone. Corporations of all shapes and sizes track what you buy, store and analyze our data and use it for commercial purposes. That’s how those targeted ads pop up on your computer and your smartphone periodically.

He also comments:

We do not collect intelligence to provide a competitive advantage to U.S. companies or U.S. commercial sectors.

Interesting choice of comments, considering the President's new proposal is to hand a massive, mineable set of data to a handful of private corporate contractors -- including data on their competitors.  Remember most corporations are concerned about one thing -- profit.  That's not evil; it's just the nature of the free market.
So naturally they would lobby to get paid more to collect more data, even if that means losing some privacy and freedom.  And in all likelihood at some point one or more of these contractors would mine their data set searching for information on their competitors.
After all, that same central driving commandment (shareholder profit) of the corporate world has frequently led executives to break the law at times.  Sometimes they get caught (see: Enron).  Sometimes they don't.  But if you have the opportunity to learn all of your competitors' secrets and devastate them -- potentially without anyone finding out -- that's deliciously tempting.
The President isn't just proposing giving away a wealth of taxpayer money -- billions of dollars.  He's proposing giving that money so that for-profit corporations can safeguard the data of terrorists, law-abiding foreigners, criminal Americans, law-abiding Americans (great for advertising to if only you had data), and ...oh... both American and foreign businesses (including rivals of the contractors).
And a final note -- by offloading storage to contractors -- the NSA gains the opportunity to expand its storage of other kinds of Americans' data (effectively without warrant), by retasking facilities currently used to store metadata for new types of storage.  So the NSA may stop personally storing your phone records, but now it can store your email.

All seeing eye
The plan offloads metadata stoage responsibilities so the NSA can retask its data centers to increasing spying on other kinds of American data. [Image Source: Business Insider]

You didn't think it was going to tear its fancy data centers that it spent billions on down, did you?

V. Republicans Jump on the President's War Wagon

The President has powerful allies that will look to help put this plan through.  These allies lie on both supposed "sides" of the political spectrum.  Indeed, the plan itself -- which according to The New York Times was crafted closely in unison with the Obama administration -- was sponsored by a bipartisan duo: Representative Michael J. "Mike" Rogers (R-MI) and Representative Charles Albert "Dutch" Ruppersberger III (D-MD).

Rep. Rogers involvement isn't exactly surprising.  While the Republican Congressman has opposed Obama on a handful of talking point issues, he has strongly supported the President on many of the most important ones.  Since day one he attacked Mr. Snowden's credibility, telling the press soon after the leak:

He [Snowden] is lying. It's impossible for him to do what he was saying he could do.  I hope that we don't decide that our national security interests are going to be determined by a high-school dropout who had a whole series of both academic troubles and employment troubles.

Of course now Mr. Snowden has proven that he wasn't lying, so to preserve the spy program that Rep. Rogers and the President both support, the duo has to get creative.

That creative work is entitled The FISA Transparency and Modernization Act of 2014 [PDF].  The bill is backed by a who's who of poorly closeted Obama administration supporters including Rep. Michele Marie Bachmann (R-Minn.) and Rep. Peter Thomas "Pete" King (R-N.Y.).

Recall that Rep. King suggested that the journalists reporting on Edward Snowden's leaked materials should be prosecuted in the tradition of Mother Russia:

I think something on this magnitude, there is an obligation, both moral but also legal, I believe, [to press charges] against a reporter disclosing something which would so severely compromise national security.

Rep. Bachmann, meanwhile, has been increasingly under attack from true conservative publications such as  Columnist Jacob Sullum of Reason points to the representative's questionable record, commenting:

Assuming that the Tea Partiers' preference for Bachmann, who seems not terribly bright and longer on rhetoric than action, is not merely a figment of her imagination, what good are they?

... and that was back in 2010.  Sci-fi writer turned political commentator Glenn Beck  -- while often over the top -- has recently attacked the Minnesota representative for her support of the President's NSA efforts say that she was "almost dead" to him.

Rep. Bachmann has expressed a strong desire to stop "the next Snowden".  And she has made it clear that she views NSA leaker Edward Joseph Snowden as a traitor for revealing to the American people what Congress and the President were spending so much money on.  She states:

It seems to be that the problem here is that an individual who worked within the system … broke laws and chose to declassify highly sensitive classified information.

It seems to me that’s where our focus should be on how there could be a betrayal of trust and how a traitor could do something like this to the American people. It seems to me that’s where our focus must be and how we can prevent something like that from ever happening again.

Ironically the only place the Rep. Bachmann diverges from the President is in feeling whatever scant, nebulous protections his proposals offer to Americans are too much.  In response to the President's Jan. NSA speech, she commented:

I am glad that President Obama acknowledged that the NSA has followed the law, and that they have not intentionally abused the authorities given to them by Congress.  Simply put, our intelligence community is focused on foreign intelligence gathering—not domestic surveillance—and that is what they have done.

The President also rightly explained that under the Section 215 program, the contents of the American people’s phone calls and emails are not being listened to, despite some claims to the contrary.

However, I am troubled by some of President Obama’s proposed changes that could undercut our national security. For instance, establishing a panel of personal advocates before the FISA Court, which is focused on foreign intelligence collection, could mean giving an extra level of protection to suspected terrorists that goes above and beyond the rights of the American people. In addition, the President proposed moving metadata storage outside of the NSA, but did not disclose where and how the records would be impenetrable like they are now. 

In other words, the only way to this Republican is challenging the President's views on unconstitutional mass spying on Americans is by offering up an even more extremist view with even more money spent and even less accountability.  But when it comes down to it, the pair is willing to meet in the middle and come up with a common plan to strength spying on Americans in the form of the FISA Modernization Act.
VI. FISA Modernization Act -- the Good and Bad, in Brief
So what does that act do besides transferring storage responsibilities (at cost to taxpayers) from the federal government to private contractors?  It also requires a new two-step process in which queries must be justified to a FISA judge (basically the same as before), but must also be sufficiently justified afterwards.  
So basically before they had to submit a request and now they have to submit a request and a results report.  Considering that the requests have been basically rubber stamped, it's hard to believe the FISA Court will be keen on carefully screening the results reports.  More than likely they'll be rubber-stamped, making this extra step in all likelihood theater.
Perhaps one of only two beneficial provisions of the bill comes from Rep. Terrycina Andrea "Terri" Sewell (D-AL) "requires a declassification review of every decision, order or opinion issued by the FISC that includes a significant construction or interpretation of the law".  While Rep. Sewell's decision to support the bill is questionable, her addition could make it modestly harder for the executive branch to do very extreme abuses such as using FISA Court orders to spy on Congress.
The other positive provision is the bill's ban on "bulk firearm sales records, library records, medical records, tax returns, educational records, and other sensitive personal records".  Presumably the NSA collects much of this information given that it collects 75 percent of internet traffic.  How exactly it's going to stop doing that is pretty interesting, but it would put pressure on it to at least try to avoid collecting those pieces of data.
VII. Civil Liberties Groups -- This Isn't the Bill You're Looking For
Civil liberty advocates have criticized the FISA Modernization bill, while acknowledging the few good things it has to offer.  Comments Anthony D. Romero, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU):

The president’s plan is a major step in the right direction and a victory for privacy. But this must be the beginning of surveillance reform, not the end. It is gratifying to know that the president has heard the growing bipartisan opposition to the NSA’S mass collection of phone records, and will heed the advice of his own review panel. However, today's announcement leaves in place other surveillance programs with equally troubling implications for civil liberties.

[However] Comprehensive reform should begin with passage of the USA FREEDOM Act, a bill that safeguards privacy while also ensuring that the government has the tools it needs to investigate real threats. We must restore the proper balance between security and our constitutional rights.

United States of Surveillance
The United States needs to act quickly lest it become "the United States of Surveillance".
[Image Source: Occupy]

Likewise the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) has commented:

Both the Obama administration and the Intelligence Committee suggest that mass collection end with no new data retention requirements for telephone companies. This is good news, but we have not seen the details of either and details, as we have learned, are very important in assessing suggested changes to the NSA’s mass spying.

But comparing what we know, it appears that the Obama administration's proposal requires significantly more judicial review—not just reviewing procedures but reviewing actual search requests—so it's preferable to the Intelligence Committee’s approach.

Yet a new legislative proposal isn’t necessary here.  There is already a bill ending bulk collection. It's called the USA FREEDOM Act by Judiciary Committee chairs Sen. Patrick Leahy and Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner. It's a giant step forward and better than either approach floated today since it offers more comprehensive reform, although some changes are still needed.  We urge the administration and the Intelligence Committees to support the USA FREEDOM.

Or better still, we urge the Administration to simply decide that it will stop misusing section 215 of the Patriot Act and section 702 of the FISA Amendments Act and Executive Order 12333 and whatever else it is secretly relying on to stop mass spying.  The executive branch does not need congressional approval to stop the spying; nothing Congress has done compels it to engage in bulk collection.  It could simply issue a new Executive Order requiring the NSA to stop.

Also, the Obama administration does not go beyond the telephone records programs, which are important, but are only a relatively small piece of the NSA's surveillance and, by itself won’t stop mass surveillance.  We continue to believe that comprehensive public review is needed through a new Church Committee to ensure that all of the NSA's mass surveillance is brought within the rule of law and the constitution. Given all the various ways that the NSA has overreached, piecemeal change is not enough.

Both organizations instead back a proposal by "USA Freedom Act of 2013", cosponsored by Sens. Michael Shumway "Mike" Lee (R-Utah) and Patrick Joseph Leahy (D-Verm.) (among others).  
VIII. USA Freedom Act -- Less Doubletalk, More "Hope" and "Change"
Basically the USA Freedom Act does all the good things of the FISA Modernization Act (more judicial oversight, more declassification of FISA decisions, etc.), but critically it also goes a step further and strictly bans NSA collecting data from Americans.
That's a crucial difference.  The FISA Modernization Act seemingly adds new hurdles to data collect, but it also leaves the door open to both collection and querying of Americans' data via bulk warrants.  The USA Freedom Act bans bulk collection.
That difference has triggered a civil war within both parties in Congress.  
It is clear that the FISA Modernization Act -- the side that the President backs -- is the losing proposal for American freedom.  As the ACLU says, in some ways it may make the NSA spying program less abusive, but in some ways it may make it worse.

NSA protest
The ACLU is sending the right message here: can we stop spying on Americans?  Yes we can.  But the President's plan does not do that. [Image Source: AP]

If the USA Freedom Act is passed law enforcement is still absolutely allowed to collect the data of Americans suspected of terrorism.  They simply have to commit due process, going to a judge for a warrant.  This isn't rocket science -- it's the law under the Constitution and it's worked in America for close to two and a half centuries.

The only thing the USA Freedom Act prevents is general searches -- a tactic employed by the imperial British prior to the American Revolution.  That tactic helped incite the Founding Fathers to rebellion.  By contrast the FISA Modernization Act institutionalizes that tactic, and -- with the proper dose of psychotic doubletalk -- paves the wave for the government to tax and spy more than ever before.

Sources: The White House [press release], Rep. Mike Rogers, Congress Bill Text [PDF], The New York Times

Comments     Threshold

This article is over a month old, voting and posting comments is disabled

Doesn't really matter
By FITCamaro on 3/28/2014 7:40:30 AM , Rating: 5
People will keep on electing Democrats and Republicans who care nothing about their rights because they want their government checks, tax credits, etc.

With over half the nation dependent on government, few are going to bite the hand that feeds them.

RE: Doesn't really matter
By brshoemak on 3/28/2014 10:36:15 AM , Rating: 2
People keep electing Democrats and Republican who care nothing about their rights because they don't have any other option - no one in Congress is doing this as a public service, they just want their 'government checks.'

Give Congress term limits, pay them the average living wage for their area, get rid of all the lavish perks, force a non-conflict-of-interest employment agreement (can't blindly support pro-ISP legislation, then get a cushy job with Comcast a month after leaving office).

Do that, and all you will have left will be the politicians who actually care about the people that make up this country and would work for its betterment. Basically, it means D.C. would become a ghost town.

RE: Doesn't really matter
By SeeManRun on 3/28/2014 10:47:03 AM , Rating: 2
No, you cannot pay them the average living wage. While it is a sacrifice to be a public servant, you cannot penalize them so much to be a member of Congress. If you paid the average wage, what incentive would a qualified person have to run? Remember they have families and bills too, and they likely can't put that on hold to realize their dream of running for congress.

No, the entire problem of the whole system is lobbying and campaign donations. The members are constantly fundraising so they can get re-elected. If you can solve this, you will get back to representatives that actually represent their constituents.

How you solve it, I am not sure. One way would be a cap on campaign spending and that spending is provided by the government. To be your candidate for the party, there would be a cap on spending and that would have to come from your own pocket. Perhaps $25,000 dollars. That is not such an insurmountable price for most people, and it would level the playing field.

RE: Doesn't really matter
By FITCamaro on 3/28/2014 11:23:39 AM , Rating: 2
Public service was never meant to be rewarding. It was a sacrifice for the founders. It was that way so no one would ever want to stay too long.

There are valid purposes for lobbying. The problem today is the scope. In a state, lobbying becomes more allowable since most lobbying is in order to get something done for a particular group. Other lobbying is merely to pass a bill that protects a group from outside interference or the government itself. Today though, politicians and people in general think that the government is there to solve people's problems. They think they're allowed to spend everyone else's money to do so. They're not. Congress has strict, limited authority that is broadly ignored today. Obey that, and most lobbying becomes meaningless. At the federal level anyway.

And $25,000 doesn't even buy one radio or TV ad. The problem is not those who are willing to contribute. It is the ignorance of Constitution or downright blatant disregard of it of those who run.

RE: Doesn't really matter
By NellyFromMA on 3/28/2014 11:37:03 AM , Rating: 5
Lobbying is born of a real need for people's voices to be heard when their thoughts are common.

Lobbying in itself is valid. However, the unbelievable corruption and contortion of this process is why America has been steadily declining for at least 3 decades and why American citizens are endlessly being muted out by corporate dollars "lobbying louder".

Private interests can lobby too, as they should. The problem is corporations, by nature of what (or who depending on your belief) they are, tend to have more funds. Welcome to aristocracy.

Truth is, while this is taking place, American's have been being led to the pasture for quite some time. We are "fed" everything we need to be mostly content with ourselves and our lives enough to let the erosion of our rights continue for so long, little-by-little. Each generation forgets more and more about the rights we used to have as a society and it just becomes status quo for them.

The reason why its allowed to happen is simple; American's don't band together and demand otherwise. So, in a twisted sense, who could blame anyone for taking advantage of the whole. We tolerate it.

RE: Doesn't really matter
By SeeManRun on 3/28/2014 4:21:10 PM , Rating: 2
The way lobbying is currently done is the problem. And it would be solved with what I am saying. All election/re-election funds are provided by the tax payers. This would make all lobbying problems disappear because the Congress would not be in the pockets of the lobbyists.

You want to lobby for a new water treatment plant, then you go around to the voters and you convince them that you need a new water treatment plan or they will vote for someone that will give them one. The member would actually serve the constituents instead of their own re-election bid.

RE: Doesn't really matter
By brshoemak on 3/28/2014 11:53:55 AM , Rating: 3
No, you cannot pay them the average living wage. While it is a sacrifice to be a public servant, you cannot penalize them so much to be a member of Congress. If you paid the average wage, what incentive would a qualified person have to run? Remember they have families and bills too, and they likely can't put that on hold to realize their dream of running for congress.

See this right here blows my mind. Do you know how many people in America are paid the average living (or below average in many cases) and may work two or more jobs to pay bills and support their family? The very same people a politician is supposed to represent.

A politician wishing to run should be able to campaign for financial donations (prior to the campaign 'season') to support them while they run as if it were a paid position, but only to a certain reasonable point (not millions of dollars). This would allow them the resources they need to support their family while they run.

What incentive would they have to run? Really?! How about a strong desire to help with the betterment of the country as a whole in order to make a better life for themselves and their children? Police and firefighters go out every day knowing that they could die that day, but they do it in order to help people - and they are paid peanuts when you take that into consideration.

That's the entire point of what I was saying, no one gets into politics anymore to actually do the job they were elected to do, which is to work towards helping their fellow Americans, they do it for money and I'm assuming some love that sense of power. Take those down to normal levels and the only people you will have left will be the people who actually care about the country instead of their position.

RE: Doesn't really matter
By FITCamaro on 3/28/14, Rating: 0
RE: Doesn't really matter
By sgw2n5 on 3/28/2014 3:58:42 PM , Rating: 3
Yeah, screw those poor people. I find it disgusting that people who work 40 hours per week EXPECT to be able to pay rent at a crappy apartment, buy gas for their crappy cars to get to their crappy jobs, AND EAT!!! What a bunch of entitled whinebags!

RE: Doesn't really matter
By KCjoker on 3/28/14, Rating: -1
RE: Doesn't really matter
By SeeManRun on 3/28/2014 6:36:29 PM , Rating: 2
But you still do need some people to do work that doesn't require a lot of skill. Fruit pickers, ditch diggers, Dailytech writers... those people still need to make a living and need to be able to provide for their family and contribute to the economy.

RE: Doesn't really matter
By Reclaimer77 on 3/28/2014 6:59:54 PM , Rating: 2
So pay the fruit pickers $20 per hour and watch in horror as food prices skyrocket.

You guys are nuts. If every job was high paying...I mean wtf, stop trolling seriously. The economy cannot function if that happened.

RE: Doesn't really matter
By SeeManRun on 3/28/2014 7:17:17 PM , Rating: 2
Not every job has to be high paying. There will always be people that have to do the work that requires no skill or education.

Unless you want those people to live in poverty indefinitely, something will have to change.

Also, if raising the minimum wage kills the economy, does lowering it help?

RE: Doesn't really matter
By Reclaimer77 on 3/29/2014 5:57:56 AM , Rating: 2
Unless you want those people to live in poverty indefinitely, something will have to change.

Crazy thought, but they could always get better jobs?

My first job was at an amusement park when I was 16 years old. The pay was crap, but I knew it was only a stepping stone, just a "job" not a career.

There are many jobs such as this. But you guys are claiming they should all pay a sufficient "living wage".

Something is just really wrong with that mentality.

RE: Doesn't really matter
By FITCamaro on 3/29/2014 11:59:46 AM , Rating: 2
Yup. My first job was at Universal Studios making $6.15/hr. Every job I had before I got out of college was just a stepping stone. I never intended to be able to live off that kind of wage for my entire life. If you do, it's because you are lazy or stupid.

People fall on hard times sometimes and have to take jobs below their skill level. But that doesn't mean you should be able to make minimum wage and be able to own a home, brand new cars, take vacations, have the latest electronics, etc.

And let's not even pretend that a lot of those adults making minimum wage with families aren't getting $20-30,000 worth of other government benefits. There is very little incentive to succeed in America anymore. Because right now you can make minimum wage and raise a family thanks to the shoulders of all other tax payers. I paid $21,000 in taxes last year. Not counting sales tax and property tax. So don't anyone dare tell me I don't pay enough in taxes so that others can afford nicer things that I have to work to own myself.

RE: Doesn't really matter
By Reclaimer77 on 3/29/2014 10:09:06 PM , Rating: 2
Liberals don't believe in upward mobility. Then they cry foul when it doesn't magically happen for them.

RE: Doesn't really matter
By FITCamaro on 3/31/2014 8:05:32 AM , Rating: 2
If people don't want to live in poverty, they need to be out there doing something to improve their skills so that they can get out of poverty. If you depend on the government to get you there, you're just going to stay poor because if you're at the bottom of the totem pole, you're always going to technically be in poverty. Because any time wages are forced to drastically increase, no one gets richer or moves out of poverty. Because even for the rare person who maybe has a few extra dollars than before, prices will increase accordingly as a result of that forced wage hike.

I was talking to my fiance who works for a real estate company and she was saying girls who work at some of their apartment complexes always have the best examples of this. Cited an example of them calling a tenant who was sobbing about how she couldn't pay her rent. At the end of the phone call, the employee told the tenant "Oh yeah. And your new HDTV is here at the office so you can come pick it up."

THAT is the "poverty" that largely exists today.

Lowering the minimum wage would absolutely help the economy. Because it would allow people without skills to potentially get them because employers would be able to afford to hire them so they can get those skills. When you tell a small business who needs someone to do data entry that they have to pay them the same as someone flipping a burger or taking out trash, where is the incentive for that?

These days the governments idea of creating jobs seems to be "Make everything so complicated that they have to hire someone just to comply with all the rules and regulations. Oh and then pay them the same as the actually productive people to do it."

RE: Doesn't really matter
By sgw2n5 on 3/31/2014 12:30:46 PM , Rating: 3
You're really missing the point...

Low skill jobs (farm laborer for example) will ALWAYS EXIST because the job itself is fundamental to our society... people like to eat.

There are people who spend their entire lives working their asses off for very little money. I'd argue that these people should at a minimum make enough to support themselves and maybe even make enough money to start a small family.

I was talking to my fiance who works for a real estate company and she was saying girls who work at some of their apartment complexes always have the best examples of this. Cited an example of them calling a tenant who was sobbing about how she couldn't pay her rent. At the end of the phone call, the employee told the tenant "Oh yeah. And your new HDTV is here at the office so you can come pick it up."

THAT is the "poverty" that largely exists today.

Anecdote =/= data.

I absolutely support raising the minimum wage. I don't mind paying a little more for some goods and services if it means that some poor uneducated farm laborer who does back breaking work all day gets to have a little bit better of a life. I actually care about people... I'm not a neocon asshole that was born on third and thinks he hit a triple.

RE: Doesn't really matter
By FITCamaro on 3/29/2014 11:52:46 AM , Rating: 2
The poorest American today doesn't know the meaning of the word poor. Talk to the hundreds of millions of people who struggle to stay alive every day in other parts of the world. Not complain about not having as much stuff as the rich guy across town but still has food on the table, a roof over their heads, and clothes on their backs.

No one put people with minimum wage jobs in them and forces them to stay there. Everyone in America has the opportunity to do more. Robbing people who make a good living so that other people don't have to does absolutely nothing to encourage them to better themselves. Entitlement programs are about one thing. Keeping people enslaved to the government.

If you take away a man's need or desire to work, you have done far more harm than you could ever do from not paying him as much as he'd like.

And you said absolutely nothing to address my point that a child flipping burgers isn't worth as much as an educated accountant in their first job. Or that raising it will benefit absolutely no one. If you want to blame someone for $7.25 an hour not being enough, talk to the federal government and the Federal Reserve. The minimum wage was also never designed for people to live off. It was designed to pay people a reasonable wage for their time. But the very idea of a federal minimum wage is a horrible one. Because it doesn't take into account the different costs of living of different areas of the country. $7.25 an hour isn't a bad wage for someone in an area with cheap costs of living. IF, and a big if, you are going to have a minimum wage it should be at the state level. Or better yet, at the city or county level.

RE: Doesn't really matter
By SeeManRun on 3/28/2014 4:18:34 PM , Rating: 3
Take a look at the percentage of congress that are millionaires. I think you are looking at cause and effect backwards. These people only became members because they were rich already and most likely, could afford the pay cut to serve. I doubt they are in it for the money unless they are naturally corrupt.

If you pay them a living wage, who would serve? You would ONLY get the rich because they are the only ones that could potentially go without income for a while during the campaign and so on. And if you get donations but parties, then you are in their pockets which is exactly what we don't want.

The only way it would be fair would be to have everything provided already, and the salary should be well compensated. Unlike a policeman or fireman these people have to leave their families and disrupt their lives a great deal in order to do the job. You have to compensate for that. I think 150k a year is a reasonable salary. Once you've made everything else equal, it is up to the voters to decide.

Do they want a former policeman who says they are tough on crime, or do they want a business owner who claims they will improve the economy. Maybe they want a lawyer to fight for the areas rights in Washington, or maybe they want a former football player to focus on getting new athletics facilities for the area (likely more of a mayor job, but regardless).

As for the incentive to run, these people have to take care of their families too. If I make 100k a year, I could not possibly take a job that pays me 47.5k a year. My family would suffer greatly. You HAVE to compensate them well.

RE: Doesn't really matter
By TechIsGr8 on 3/28/2014 10:58:34 PM , Rating: 2
Most of them ARE naturally corrupt. If not before entering the system, soon after.

RE: Doesn't really matter
By Jeffk464 on 3/28/2014 2:17:07 PM , Rating: 2
If you paid the average wage, what incentive would a qualified person have to run?

Typically they make their money when they are no longer in congress. They tend to get lobbying jobs or some made up position in the company that was lobbying them when they were in congress.

RE: Doesn't really matter
By Jeffk464 on 3/28/2014 2:13:14 PM , Rating: 2
People keep electing Democrats and Republican who care nothing about their rights

You assume we have any choice, the political machines are very careful choosing that candidates that they put up for the people to vote for. Our system is pretty well controlled by people/companies with influence and in my opinion is a little slim on Democracy.

RE: Doesn't really matter
By Jeffk464 on 3/28/2014 2:08:25 PM , Rating: 2
I think its about time for people of means to move to countries with actual freedom and respect for individual rights. This is definitely not the country we all grew up in.

Political Ploy
By Reclaimer77 on 3/28/2014 9:25:12 AM , Rating: 3
So instead of using Executive Orders, for which this President has a great love of, he's going to kick this to Congress.

This is, predictabl, how it will play out:
Democrats in the Senate will pass this, as they do EVERY radical idea of Obama's.

It's going to go to the House, where Republicans will say "Wait a second, this is crazy, we can't do this."

And the Liberal media will make the headlines;
Republicans Block NSA Spying Reform, Status Quo Maintained

This is engineered to score more political points for the Democrat party, like most of Obama's "plans".

RE: Political Ploy
By tanjali on 3/28/2014 9:48:46 AM , Rating: 2
Stop blaming this on bi-partisan bickering because it isn’t!

Both parties are polishing the same turd from different angles.

You must be really stupid thinking they have systematic differences between them.

They are both just doing charade for public and real players are pissing themselves laughing on stupid sheeple buying into that farce.

RE: Political Ploy
By SeeManRun on 3/28/14, Rating: 0
RE: Political Ploy
By Reclaimer77 on 3/28/2014 11:51:14 AM , Rating: 4
Normally I would agree with you. However this would move oversight from the Government, to which at least some exists, to the private sector. Where much less exists.

This is hardly "spying reform", it's flawed on so many levels. It's really just insulting that this is his idea to "fix" the current situation.

I don't know any Americans who would actually "want" their phone company spying on them FOR the Government. Which is what this basically ammounts to.

By BSMonitor on 3/28/14, Rating: 0
By superflex on 3/28/2014 4:42:23 AM , Rating: 2
Because Obama.

By Amedean on 3/28/14, Rating: -1
By R!TTER on 3/28/2014 5:15:35 AM , Rating: 2
Know what this is really getting out of hand but hey if you can't stop'em then why not join'em right?

Gotta love the entrepreneurial spirit of this country & of course who can forget the American dream(s) made of powderpuff!

The ACA -
By AssBall on 3/28/2014 2:48:57 PM , Rating: 2
- is just a front for a national database of citizens. It certainly isn't a viable health insurance idea.

Spying, metadata, and mud
By RedemptionAD on 3/31/2014 12:59:01 PM , Rating: 2
With all of this online metadata being collected by Google, Facebook and other places that the NSA gets part of their data from has anyone bothered to consider the accuracy of it? Or wouldn't it be possible to muddy the waters and make the entire pool of data on anyone essentially invalid?

Clear things up
By coburn_c on 3/28/14, Rating: -1
RE: Clear things up
By coburn_c on 3/28/14, Rating: -1
RE: Clear things up
By nikon133 on 3/29/2014 5:18:25 AM , Rating: 2
You do know that people who vote/downvote you cannot write response at the same time, right?

"We shipped it on Saturday. Then on Sunday, we rested." -- Steve Jobs on the iPad launch

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