Beware that power corrupts

In light of the recent discovery of National Security Agency surveillance of private computer and phone records, it would be apropos to say that 1984 arrived in 2001 when our telephone calls, emails, texts, social media, blogs and every type of communication began being scrutinized by our government and collected for data.

If we could only trust our government to use these data to combat terrorism that would be one thing, but the recent IRS scandal teaches us that government cannot be trusted to do the right thing. The fear is that political entities will have access to these data to grow their stockpiles of information to use against opponents. If our Founding Fathers were alive, this would be a real life “I told you so.”

The writers of our Constitution had a healthy fear and distrust of government. Their keen observation of human nature revealed to them that power corrupts. If we do not heed their warnings from over 200 years ago, our nation will not survive another 200 years.

Tim Peyton

Deercreek Road

Mount Pleasant

What about China’s spies?

Let me see if I understand this. The National Security Agency (i.e., the government) is “spying” on the American people. No, it’s not listening to the content of our phone calls (Trust me, I’m from the government, and I’m here to help.) but it is tracking who called whom and when.

Likewise, it seems that the NSA is also using the super-sophisticated PRISM system to collect information about our Internet usage by tapping into the servers of some of the main technology firms on the web.

Meanwhile, the Chinese have hacked into a number of U.S. computer systems and stolen defense and corporate technology secrets. No doubt, they are continuing to do so.

This Chinese cyber war on the United States was a main topic of conversation when President Barack Obama met with Chinese President Xi Jinping last week.

To no one’s surprise, however, nothing of any consequence seems to have come out of that meeting.

President Obama told President Xi Jinping to stop doing it, and Xi Jinping said, more or less, “Stop doing what?”

I guess I’m the dumb kid in the class, but could somebody please explain why our government spends billions upon billions of dollars a year collecting information about the phone calls and Internet use of its citizens, but can’t figure out how to prevent China from stealing our technology and defense secrets?

You just can’t make this stuff up.

Bill Bates

Gibbon Street

Daniel Island