The world is fair. It is just not centered on you. There are serious threats out there, many by governments. I recently posted about deliberate US government malware, brought to you by the NSA. But there are additional government attacks on your personal information and privacy.
If you want a reason why the government should not take over healthcare, consider the Obamacare website. With more than three years to create it, the government sole-sources the development to a Canadian company, CGI Federal, coincidentally with a senior vice president who was Mrs. Obama’s classmate at Princeton. The government continually provided changes in the requirements, and there seems to have been no one actually in charge. There were about 55 subcontractors responsible for different pieces and interfaces, but no system testing. That was left to the American people when the site went live in October. OK, “live” is not the right word. I’m guessing that no government official who was responsible for the system even tried to use the web site before thrusting it on the public. The minor issue of accurately communicating the policy you bought to the insurance company was left for later, as was payment receipt and the ability to get an actual policy in either paper or electronic form. People were forced to sign up for a policy without ever seeing the policy.
Had this been in the private sector, the web site would have been up in one year and would have performed under load. There would probably have been some problems, but on day one you could have bought insurance and had confidence that the company whose insurance you bought actually knew that you had purchased a specific plan. As of December, HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius was bragging that the site was up 90% of the time and would work for 80% of the people who signed on. Those kinds of numbers in the private sector would cause a large number of heads to roll; there would certainly not be any celebrations.
Data security seems to be one of the things missing from Obamacare. Back in November, Los Angeles-based security researcher Kristian Erik Hermansen found security flaws with the California site. The California site has seen the most registrations for healthcare in the country. Two months later the flaws still exist. The latest admission from the government is that some of the Obamacare website developers were working for the Belarus government. US intelligence agencies advised the Obama administration to check the software for malware that could be used for cyber terrorism. Considering that the Obamacare website connects to the IRS database plus more than 300 medical institutions and healthcare providers, this is a huge privacy issue. Last year, Belarus controlled networks attacked the U.S., rerouting a massive amount of U.S. Internet traffic to Belarus. Belarus is dictatorship located between Russia, Poland and the Ukraine, and not a friend of the U.S. Last summer, Valery Tsepkalo, director of the Belarus government-backed High-Technology Park (HTP) in Minsk, bragged on Russian radio that the US HHS is one of their clients, and that “we are helping Obama complete his insurance reform.”
My advice: avoid healthcare.gov. At most, click on the “See plans before I apply” button. That information seems to not actually go anywhere while giving you the names of some providers in your area. Then contact the healthcare providers directly.
If you do use the web site and then discover that you or the website made a mistake, you can’t fix it. Roughly 22,000 people have filed appeals with the government to try to get mistakes corrected. You can easily file the appeal. However, the appeals get filed inside a government server. No one is looking at them, because there is no software to process or even allow someone to look at the appeal information. If you get frustrated and call the government health-care marketplace to speak to a person, nothing happens. Federal workers can’t get into the enrollment records and change them – that part isn’t quite ready yet either.
Planning a trip to Sochi? Do not turn on your laptop, tablet, or smart phone when you get there. According to NBC, all visitors to the Olympics are immediately hacked by the Russian government. The malware installed steals all of the information on your phone (contacts, calendar, documents, pictures, ….) and enables the hackers to tap and record all of your phone calls, even after you leave Russia.
When you come back into the US as a US citizen, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is quite willing to detain you, keep you in cold room for hours, no food, no water, confiscate your laptops, tablets and smart phone, and copy their contents. No warrant. No reason. Check out some recent NPR On the Media articles. There is not much you can do, but do complain to your congressman. You do have rights, but the DHS (which includes the TSA) are not concerned with those rights. He or she probably won’t do anything, but if enough people contact them they may wake up to these violations of the Fourth Amendment.
The last word:
The trouble with political jokes is that they often get elected. The current Obama administration has gone far beyond any previous administration in ignoring the Constitution in general and the Bill of Rights in particular. In some cases it is due to incredible incompetence, but a lot of it seems to be quite deliberate. Congress is powerless, ignorant, or just afraid to do anything.
There is a congressional election this year. Contact your representative. If one of your senators is up for reelection, also contact him or her. Tell them that the Constitution and Bill of Rights are important to you, and that you vote. Ask what they intend to do to reverse the abuses of power from the NSA, TSA, FBI, and EOP (Executive Office of the President which includes the cabinet officials). Help make sure the Senate is not a rubber stamp for President Obama’s awful judicial appointments.
If you watched the January 28, 2014, State of the Union Address, you probably noticed that many members of the House and Senate were standing and applauding President Obama as he told them they were irrelevant and he was going to continue to go around or over them through executive orders. I’m fairly sure there is no baby in the bath water of Congress.
Keep your sense of humor.