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So, What Exactly Does the Government Know About You?

If knowledge if power, then knowledge about your personal life is very powerful in the hands of those who know it. Most people assume that their daily interactions are anything but public – but this is not the case – at least not anymore. I thought I’d take a post and go through the information that is considered “public” or “lawful” for the government to know about you. If, at the end of this, you’re not unsettled, then you’re not normal – or you don’t value individual liberties the way I do. So, let’s get going.

First, through your tax returns, here is what they know (not an exhaustive list):

  1. Your SSN (heck – they created it and forced you to take it)
  2. Your income
  3. Your employer
  4. Your tax preparer
  5. Your address
  6. Your signature
  7. Your dependents (not the same as the number of children that you have)
  8. Your immediate family members
  9. Where you have invested your monies and how much you have invested
  10. Companies in which you own stock
  11. Bonds that you hold
  12. People you hired (if you paid them over $600)
  13. Organizations you give money to (if over a certain amount)

Now, the NSA and their PRISM program, we learn that they know:

  1. Who we call and when
  2. Who we email and when
  3. Who we chat with and when
  4. File transfers we make
  5. VoiP calls that we make
  6. Where and when we login to major providers

Literally, all of your personal information that you post online is known (or can be known) by the government.

If you travel by air, they know your flight schedule, cities you most often visit, etc…                

Through your driver’s license, they also know:

  1. Your weight
  2. Your height
  3. Eye color
  4. Your picture

     

    If you have applied for security clearances or certain types of licenses, such as permit to carry a pistol licenses, then they probably have your finger prints. They also know what guns you own and based on your credit card purchases, they know what ammunition you have purchased. And, of course, they have your arrest and conviction record, if you have had trouble with the law.

Now, *any* government services you use or payments you receive are known as well. So, from books you’ve checked out at the library to health care you’ve received that the government paid for is known. Since your entire health care history is known by the insurance companies, it’s not inconceivable that the government can swiftly learn all of your health care history.

So, think about it.

What if they decide that a group you belong to or a cause you support is a threat to national security? How easy would it be for them to round up and imprison those they declare are a threat to national security? Not hard at all. Don’t think your rights will matter. They won’t. If they are willing to violate the 4th amendment in gathering this information, then the 4th Amendment won’t matter when they decide you’re a threat. Am I paranoid? According to Obama – I am. I’m told to trust the government and not fear those in power.

Sorry, I’m not buying it. I have a healthy fear of my government. I have a health distrust of my government abusing its’ power and the information it has on me and my family. I know, I know….it’s only to fight terrorism. But what if they decide I’m a terroritst? Where then? What if they decide to ignore the 2nd amendment and go house to house, taking away our guns? What if they decide that the Bible is hate speech because of its’ intolerance of the gay lifestyle? I could go on. Each of us have core beliefs, values, causes and/or activities that give purpose, meaning and focus to our lives. If the government decides that your belief is a threat to national security, what recourse do you have? None.

Their knowledge of our personal lives *IS* a threat to our individual liberties. Knowledge is power. Money is power. The government has both – plus the best military in the world. They have most of the power. Limiting their power and what they can do against the normal citizen is not crazy – it’s prudent.

Bill English

Email Management

Just a quick note on emails – I propose that if you one of these five things with every email you receive, you’ll be more productive:

  1. Read then delete
  2. Read then file for future reference
  3. Convert to a meeting
  4. Convert to a task
  5. Forward/delegate to someone else, then delete or convert to task that is assigned to the delegate

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Bill English, CEO
Mindsharp

The Rich Rule over the Poor

In my personal time with the Lord this morning, I was reading from Proverbs 22. I’ve often quoted the latter part of verse 7, but have not paid that much attention to the first part:

“The rich rule over the poor,

    And the borrower is servant to the lender.”

Hmmm…….the rich rule over the poor. Since the Scriptures are infallible and inspired, then this is true: not just because we can observe it from our experiences, but also because God has given us this truth in the Scriptures.

Juxtaposed with verse 6 (“Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old, he will not turn from it.”), one can see how training children about the bondage of debt is so very important: “the placement of Proverbs 22:7 makes clear that proper upbringing in wisdom and righteousness is crucial if a child is to avoid the bondage and poverty indicated in this verse.” It was interesting that the Lord laid out one of the blessings for following Him would be freedom from debt: “You will lend to many nations but not borrow” (Deut. 15:6; Deut. 28:12) In Deut.15.6, they are told that they will rule over many nations and that none will rule over them. Perhaps Proverbs 22.7 is echoing 15.6?

The rich do rule over the poor and their rule becomes especially dangerous and prone to corruption when they collude with the government. Some call it crony capitalism. But what you’ll find, regardless of which party is in power, is that the rich in this country give generously to their campaigns so that they have access to political power. The combination of money and political power will result, over time, in the building of extractive institutions, which will lead to a system whereby very few have nearly all the wealth and they use the force of government to extract as much wealth as possible from the masses who are made to be slaves for them. They can achieve this because they have sufficient military power and the willingness to use it to their advantage. This line of thinking is argued (compellingly, IMHO) in the book Why Nations Fail.

This is why, IMHO, it is right to fight for individual liberties and restraint on the exercise of corporate and government power over the masses. Political power must be kept distributed to the point where it is difficult for those who wish to consolidate power to do so. Economic power must be distributed through the lowering of barriers of entry to new markets. Economic power is also distributed when private property rights are respected and enforced, contracts are enforced and justice is served without prejudice to one’s station in life.

At this time, in our country, we are witnessing the coalescing of power between the rich and those in government. It has been going on for some time, but its’ pace is accelerating:

  • Billionaire owners and millionaire players demand the public pay for their offices, fields, courts and locations at which they play their games
  • Unions worth tens of millions of dollars consistently funnel the large majority of their monies to the same political party
  • Actors and entertainers worth hundreds of millions of dollars consistently give large donations to the same political party
  • Corporations give millions to the party in power just so they can have a seat at the power table and influence legislation to be more advantageous for them

I own a small business and could use $100,000 to help my cash flow by consolidating my company’s debts. I went to the Small Business Administration and was turned down – flatly, I might add. Yet those close to the Obama administration find they are able to get hundreds of millions of dollars from the government to spend on green business ventures that are sure to fail. But I, as a small business owner, who has no connection to the President whatsoever, can’t get a loan (not a gift, mind you) for an ongoing business venture that is not sure to fail.

This is the essence of the rich ruling over the poor. Those who have money have power. When Christ commands us in Matthew 5 to “give to him who asks of you and do not turn away from him who wants to borrow from you”, He’s not just asking us to give some money to the poor, He’s also asking us to give up some power that we have through the ownership of that money. We are not to rule over anyone, since it is the Lord who rules over all creation and owns “the cattle on a thousand hills”. We are not to seek power or riches, since we know that this is a passing world and the real reality is found in heaven. I’ve observed that most of those who walk closely with the Lord tend to be economically poor mainly, because, they are free from the bondage of loving and needing material things. Being poor, in and of itself, is not a sign of maturity in the Lord. But it is often a by-product.

The rich rule over the poor. This is a true statement. If you happen to be rich and have read this far, I would encourage you to go the Lord and find out how you are to steward that which the Lord has given you. Your ability to product wealth has come directly from God Himself (Deut. 8), so you really have no reason to think that your money is yours. It’s not. It belongs to the Lord and He has entrusted it to you. But in your exercise of your wealth, do not use your power to further your own wealth. Instead, use it as a means of serving God and then your fellow man.

Bill English, CEO
Mindsharp

What is the Purpose of Business?

I was speaking with a mentor about 2 weeks ago. He reminded me that the sole purpose of business is to create profits. This goes against those who believe the sole purpose of business is social rather than economic. But I find that profits are a social good. They are an economic good. They produce a stabilizing influence in society and make us stronger – not weaker.

I had to remind myself this weekend of this basic principle: business is meant to produce wealth. The activity of business can be repeated, so wealth is a renewable resource. In every decision I make now, I ask myself: will this increase or decrease profits? If the answer is the latter, then we don’t do it.

Bill English, CEO
Mindsharp

A Penetrating Question

My pastor today took his sermon from Genesis 39. Here is a portion of it:

        Now his master saw that the Lord was with him and how the Lord caused all that he did to prosper in his hand.

    4    So Joseph found favor in his sight and became his personal servant; and he made him overseer over his house, and all that he owned he put in his charge.

    5    It came about that from the time he made him overseer in his house and over all that he owned, the Lord blessed the Egyptian’s house on account of Joseph; thus the Lord’s blessing was upon all that he owned, in the house and in the field.

    6    So he left everything he owned in Joseph’s charge; and with him there he did not concern himself with anything except the food which he ate.

 

He then asked the most obvious question possible: at work, does your employer have 100% trust in what you do?

 

Good question.

 

Bill English, CEO

Mindsharp