I was in New York City on Friday for some meetings. After my meetings, I went to my hotel room and turned on the television to watch the President’s news conference. I sat at the desk and looked out the window at the construction going on at Ground Zero while the President spoke about NSA surveillance and the Edward Snowden leaks. That audio-visual juxtaposition set off an internal war in my head – keep us safe, versus stay out of my business.
Of course I knew that the government monitored activity online, but like most Americans, I was absolutely shocked to learn of the scope of the surveillance when Snowden leaked the classified information. It was frightening to hear about how much power the government has to gather our personal information. It’s frightening because we know, as recently as this year with the IRS scandal, what happens when the government abuses the power that we give them.
We’ve given the government far to much power over us, and now the government’s reach is getting as personal as our healthcare. Some liberals even want to increase government’s power over us by limiting our 2nd Amendment rights. Just imagine what more they will know about you if “expanded background checks” legislation passes.
I believe that every time our representatives in Washington have expanded the size and scope of government that it’s been for a worthy cause. I don’t think that they have ever given power to government with anything but the best of intentions. Think of all the problems that they have tried to address with more government – terrorism, poverty, healthcare, education, violence, drugs, and many many more issues. Nobody opposes helping to solve any issue facing Americans, but we have to be careful every time we empower the government to do it. That power can be abused – no matter who is in charge. It’s a delicate balance that hasn’t always been found.
So as I sat there thinking about the terrorists and thinking about the NSA knowing who I’m calling and what I’m Googling, I ended up just stumped. I honestly don’t know what the answer is when it comes to government surveillance and terrorism. I know it’s not an easy balance.
The bottom line for me is that we must be more than cautious in any further attempts to increase government’s power. At the end of the day, we have to remember that our freedom is precious and must be protected, and that we all have to assume some personal risks when living in a free society. We can’t always be totally safe if we want to be free.