As has been stated here many times, the Internet is one of the most important tools for individual freedom in the history of humanity. In this regard, we tend to look primarily at the decentralization and communication now possible through the World Wide Web. Another point to be emphasized is the availability of information once limited in scope and access. As the saying goes: knowledge is power.
Until the Internet, we had only mainstream media outlets and state functionaries to supply us with information now readily available. When a neocon descried the slashing of military spending or a progressive claimed that social spending was under assault, for example, there was limited access to data refuting these claims. Now websites like US Government Spending provide the full picture of how Washington spends the money it steals, borrows, and prints. If you want to know current state debt, sites like US National Debt Clock and DebtClocks.eu provide constant estimates.
When Barack Obama conducted a secret drone bombing campaign, knowledge of it was slow to emerge. Today, thanks to the efforts of websites like Antiwar.com, we can keep abreast of just how much his successor has increased the assault on the rest of the world. Of course, no list of information sources would be complete without Wikileaks, the site exposing state malfeasance across the globe. Thanks to the Internet, we can be much better informed of how our rights are trampled as well as the persistent efforts to curtail access to the power inherent in knowledge.
One of the consistent cries of politicians and progressives alike is the ever increasing wealth gap. The beginning of the current trend is most often attributed to the early 1970’s, yet few of these pundits seem to have a clue why this might be the case. At best, dreaded greed is given credit for the widening gap between rich and poor.
It seems convenient that few of these articles notice anything significant during the early 70’s. Much like Keynes’s “animal spirits,” it would appear that the eighth decade of the twentieth century witnessed mysterious and elusive changes to economic activity which have persisted to the present. Either this, or someone did something of significance in the early 1970’s to which few statists are inclined to refer.
Proponents of state power tend also be opposed to hard money. When the gold standard is raised as a necessary component of a sound economy, proponents of hard money are dismissed as “gold bugs” overcome with a fever for the yellowish metal. As a result, the fact that Richard Nixon closed the gold window in August of 1971 is an inconvenient truth most progressive pundits are unwilling to note when discussing the increasing wealth gap.
When Nixon declared the U.S. would no longer redeem dollars for gold, he released the U.S. government from what little commitment it had toward sound money. Since that time, the Federal Reserve has dramatically increased the money supply, particularly since 2007.
Money created by the Fed flows to the wealthy and connected, increasing their ability to borrow, build their businesses, and build their wealth. The absence of a standard restricting money printing leads to the wealthy getting wealthier. Those not having their wealth supplemented by Fed money printing are losing wealth through inflation. With that being said, no mystery remains regarding the primary causes of the increasing wealth gap.
Recent discussions concerning “net neutrality” in the U.S. largely failed to address the elephant in the room: who should control the Internet. Couched as a means of protecting access with wise oversight, the Obama FCC gambit was a veiled attempt to gain control of the most important weapon against centralization and state domination. While this effort took a less direct path, no one should be surprised when other state actors attempt the same in more obvious and devastating ways.
As if on queue, the Iranian government attempted to disrupt access to the Internet to thwart communication and eliminate exposure to their crackdown on dissent. The Arab Spring taught many in power that popular uprisings can be strengthened by communications. As a result, tyrannical as well as popularly elected governments will look for any opportunity to limit unrestricted access to tools like the Internet.
Of course, the Iranian government blames western powers like those in Tel Aviv and Washington for the unrest. While it’s likely that anti-Iranian forces are supportive of these efforts, even to the point of funding, directing, and abetting the proceedings, this does not diminish the point that proponents of state power will increasingly seek methods of limiting access to tools that allow individuals to work together for their own freedom.