Welcome to President Obama’s brave new world.
Federal agencies have been directed to hire psychologists to experiment and find ways to better manipulate the American people to the federal government’s will.
“A growing body of evidence demonstrates that behavioral science insights – research findings from fields such as behavioral economics and psychology about how people make decisions and act on them – can be used to design government policies to better serve the American people,” Obama wrote in an executive order released Tuesday on WhiteHouse.gov. The origin of the order can be traced back to a 2013 policy proposal entertained by the White House called “Strengthening Federal Capacity for Behavioral Insights.”
The president’s new order said streamlined applications for federal financial aid and automatic retirement payments are two examples where behavioral-science lessons applied to government programs have been effective.
“[T]o more fully realize the benefits of behavioral insights and deliver better results at a lower cost for the American people, the federal government should design its policies and programs to reflect our best understanding of how people engage with, participate in, use, and respond to those policies and programs,” Obama wrote, the Washington Examiner reported.
Obama has not hidden his interest in using federal resources to employ behavioral science techniques on the public. The White House launched a Social and Behavioral Sciences Team, or SBST, in February 2014 and then celebrated its one-year anniversary on the White House blog.
“SBST had a successful first year, launching a wide variety of evidence-based pilots with objectives ranging from connecting veterans with employment and educational counseling benefits to helping struggling student borrowers understand their loan repayment options,” the Obama administration wrote Feb. 9, 2015.
SBST will now move forward to identify programs that will “most effectively promote public welfare, as appropriate, giving particular consideration to the selection and setting of default options.” The team’s work is done under the purview of the National Science and Technology Council.
Two figures whose research played a key role in bringing the new initiative to fruition were Harvard Law School professor Cass Sunstein (once deemed Obama’s regulatory czar), and Richard Thaler, a University of Chicago economist, the Daily Beast reported Tuesday.
“The two behavioral scientists argued in their 2008 book ‘Nudge’ that government policies can be designed in a way that ‘nudges’ citizens toward certain behaviors and choices,” the Daily Beast reported.
Obama’s executive order requires SBST to issue guidance to federal agencies on how to implement his policy directive within the next 45 days.
SBST will also consider different ways of labeling “benefits, taxes, subsidies, and other incentives” to “more effectively and efficiently promote” the president’s policy goal.
If you can get arrested for hunting or fishing without a license, but not for entering and remaining in the country illegally — you might live in a nation that was founded by geniuses but is run by idiots.
If you have to get your parents’ permission to go on a field trip or to take an aspirin in school, but not to get an abortion — you might live in a nation that was founded by geniuses but is run by idiots.
If you MUST show your identification to board an airplane, cash a check, buy liquor, or check out a library book and rent a video, but not to vote for who runs the government — you might live in a nation that was founded by geniuses but is run by idiots.
If the government wants to prevent stable, law-abiding citizens from owning gun magazines that hold more than ten rounds, but gives twenty F-16 fighter jets to the crazy new leaders in Egypt — you might live in a nation that was founded by geniuses but is run by idiots.
If, in the nation’s largest city, you can buy two 16-ounce sodas, but not one 24-ounce soda, because 24-ounces of a sugary drink might make you fat — you might live in a nation that was founded by geniuses but is run by idiots.
If an 80-year-old woman or a three-year-old girl who is confined to a wheelchair can be strip-searched by the TSA at the airport, but a woman in a burka or a hijab is only subject to having her neck and head searched — you might live in a nation that was founded by geniuses but is run by idiots.
If your government believes that the best way to eradicate trillions of dollars of debt is to spend trillions more — you might live in a nation that was founded by geniuses but is run by idiots.
If a seven-year-old boy can be thrown out of school for saying his teacher is “cute,” but hosting a sexual exploration or diversity class in grade school is perfectly acceptable — you might live in a nation that was founded by geniuses but is run by idiots.
If hard work and success are met with higher taxes and more government regulation and intrusion, while not working is rewarded with Food Stamps, WIC checks, Medicaid benefits, subsidized housing, and free cell phones — you might live in a nation that was founded by geniuses but is run by idiots.
If the government’s plan for getting people back to work is to provide incentives for not working, by granting 99 weeks of unemployment checks, without any requirement to prove that gainful employment was diligently sought, but couldn’t be found — you might live in a nation that was founded by geniuses but is run by idiots.
If you pay your mortgage faithfully, denying yourself the newest big-screen TV, while your neighbor buys iPhones, time shares, a wall-sized do-it-all plasma screen TV and new cars, and the government forgives his debt when he defaults on his mortgage — you might live in a nation that was founded by geniuses but is run by idiots.
If being stripped of your Constitutional right to defend yourself makes you more “safe” according to the government — you might live in a nation that was founded by geniuses but is run by idiots.
What a country!
Obama envies Russia, China and North Korea’s ability to control the internet. Those that think this is ridiculous need only look at how the Department Of Justice, the IRS and other government agencies have been used to target and harass opponents of Obama’s far left policies.
The Federal Communications Commission’s decision Thursday to regulate the Internet as a public utility is a depressing moment for American innovation and economic liberty. The FCC is grabbing political control over a vibrant market that until now has been driven by inventors and consumers. Welcome to the Obamanet.
President Obama demanded this result in a November speech, and FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler and Democrats Mignon Clyburn and Jessica Rosenworcel have now dutifully voted to apply last century’s monopoly telephone rules to Internet service providers. They have in the process made a mockery of the agency’s supposed independence.
The rules are ostensibly to prevent Internet companies from blocking customer access to particular websites or slowing down service. But the FCC has presented no evidence that this is occurring, so the power grab is being justified by some theoretical future harm.
By the way, the FCC hasn’t released the text it has now approved as a final rule, which according to dissenting Republican Commissioner Ajit Pai runs to more than 300 pages. It’s not clear when the public will be permitted to see what Washington has done, and the normal comment period has been bypassed on a plan that is vastly different than what Mr. Wheeler has previously proposed.
Meantime, Mr. Wheeler will exercise what FCC lawyers call “editorial privileges,” allowing him to craft his arguments after reading the two dissents. Taxpayers might prefer that regulators analyze the pros and cons before voting to impose something on the whole country, and we hope judges feel the same way when the rules are challenged in court.
But based on an FCC summary, it’s clear that the agency has done administratively what Congress has always refused to do: make the old telephone and broadcasting overseer the general regulator of the Internet. Providers of broadband services will be barred from employing any “unjust or unreasonable practices,” whatever FCC bureaucrats decide those words mean. The FCC release also makes clear that government attorneys—not engineers—will decide what “reasonable network management” is.
And while “net neutrality,” the fuzzy concept used to justify these rules, was originally sold as a way to ensure that consumers are treated well, the rules will go well beyond those customers. Digital communications networks that exchange Internet traffic will also have to be “just and reasonable” with each other. The bureaucrats will exercise their discretion to define those words case-by-case, always listening to the best-paid lobbyists.
It’s hard to imagine a more just and reasonable market than today’s Internet. According to the website DrPeering, which tracks the agreements among communications companies to move information, the price of moving data across the Internet has been falling roughly 30% a year since the late 1990s. That collapsing cost per bit is a big reason Internet usage has skyrocketed. Consumers downloading huge volumes of video are paying bills not much different than when they were mainly visiting static websites.
Article III, Section 3, of the Constitution
Section 3 – The Text
Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying War against them, or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort. No person shall be convicted of Treason unless on the Testimony of two Witnesses to the same overt Act, or on Confession in open Court.
The Congress shall have Power to declare the Punishment of Treason, but no Attainder of Treason shall work Corruption of Blood, or Forfeiture except during the Life of the Person attainted.
Section 3 – The Meaning
Treason is the only crime specifically defined in the Constitution. According to Article III, Section 3, a person is guilty of treason if he or she goes to war against the United States or gives “aid or comfort” to an enemy. He or she does not have to physically pick up a weapon and fight in combat against U.S. troops. Actively helping the enemy by passing along classified information or supplying weapons, for example, can lead to charges of treason.
Vocal opposition to a U.S. war effort through protest and demonstration, however, is protected by the free speech clause in the First Amendment. A conviction of treason must be based either on an admission of guilt in open court or on the testimony of two witnesses.
Congress may set the punishment, but it must be directed only at the guilty person and not at his or her friends or family if they were not involved in the crime.