Corporate Fascism!

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When Personal no longer means Personal

And Freedom means Big Brother is Watching

YOU!



“… but now we’ll have them on line
twenty-four hours a day …
for the rest of their lives!”





I started programming when I was sixteen years old. In those days computers filled rooms, and you wrote a program out in pencil on sheets of paper with each line numbered. There was no computer science; fledgling programmers got a bachelors degree in anything, then applied to big companies, like UNIVAC or IBM, to be trained as programmers. It was in a summer class at the Franklin Institute, where I signed up for an introductory course in programming for High School students, that I learned the then arcane art of programming.

In those early days programming was a binary world; you loaded registers with binary numbers by flipping switches, and you wrote instructions for the computer with binary variables. The language was one step up from machine language (basically zeros and ones), and there were no input devices like the mouse or the keyboard 1 . The only output devices that enabled you to view the results of your program were large teletype machines that looked like typewriters with invisible typists typing away in a ghostly virtual world of digital spooks!

But programmers were really nice people then. Little did I know what the future would hold!

Later the digital revolution began. I remember building counters and other digital circuits from instructions, and kits in magazines like Popular Electronics and Popular Science.

Then later, I learned other languages like Fortran, but ended up by going into the world of Biology and Medicine for my work in life.

When personal computers came out I was a U.S. Army Officer, and I bought an Interact Computer (with a tape cassette interface), and later, a Macintosh and a Commodore 64 machine. Then I learned Borland Pascal, and Microsoft Basic, along with assembly language for each of the machines. What got me hooked on computers was the fact that they were PERSONAL. No longer did you have to be a worker for some huge company to build and test a program. You could own your own machine, and build virtual worlds that could come to life on that machine. And I even then could imagine that these fledgling machines would one day become the powerful machines that would take the drudgery out of work by automating mundane tasks like writing and bookkeeping chores; and I was right the personal computer did exactly that.

Later when my back started giving out on me, I went back to school to learn what had once been my hobby. So I got a Master’s degree in the now legitimate field of Computer Science, and started out as a programmer in my new profession.

I worked for local government and large corporations, and found out first hand how the world of programming had changed.

Not just the machines had changed, the people had also. The world of nice geeks helping each other, and loving the detective work of solving arcane cyber puzzles was now a world of little cubicles and managers with deadlines. People with dollar signs in their eyes, and backstabbing in their hearts; the entrepreneur had replaced the geek, and greed had replaced the altruism of the “old time” programmers. “Watch your back” was the new slogan of the IT industry. And the personal computers, which had now hitched a ride on the super highway of the Internet, were no longer automation machines to purge the world of repetitive drudgery, but communication machines to herald defamation, libel, slander, bigotry and bullying, and give vicious people the power to hurt anyone at will anonymously. And hucksters in the form of third party “Human Resource” departments pushed their way into the job market for programmers. No longer could the programmer even look for a job, or contact an employer, without going through these “Head Hunters.”

But in time, the job market changed; the bright future for programmers was not very bright anymore. The Internet intruded more and more into the world of programming as the personal began to dissolve into a world where privacy no longer mattered. Scriptors using formatting languages like HTML and JavaScript were trying to oust the operating system programmers. These languages didn’t need the detail and diligence of real programming, and were easy to learn quickly. So suddenly, words like visas, outsourcing and offshoring started to make their way into programming.

And another bubble, like the .COM bubble, had burst: the prospect of a hot new line of employment that would allow unlimited jobs for the Nation's future. Suddenly, the huge prospect of the growth of IT jobs had begun to shrink, as the at first, high wages for the hard courses of study in IT had suddenly become a way to create cheap labor for Big Business by harnessing the third world as their labor force. And a government no longer representing the people at large, but only the pool of international corporations, gave an open door to visa holders to deprive citizens of their jobs. So outsourcing and visa passports began to put the super-geeks out of work.

And then in the midst of all of this, the social networking hangers-on became the new freedom fighters. Now, making money off of other people’s information was not enough, they decided to make money off letting people hang themselves out to dry in public by posting their lives on the web. Yes, there was freedom there, and everything was still mostly free, because we still had those wonderful personal computers, but the last coup was yet to appear.

And in 2010 it happened, Big Business and its parasites had decided that they would remove the personal from personal computers! Not only had the economy harnessed your possessions as their own in selling people their own resources at outrageous prices, and owning all the personal information of their lives in their databases; now they would harness the desktops of your computer for their own, and put every piece of your personal information on their servers. Thousands of secret company social sites would broadcast your every transaction in commerce just as millions of their cameras were stealing your images and making them public; so that now help desk people could use you as the fodder of slander and foul play that you could never trace. It had all come together, by selling the freedom of social networking they could own you, and keep you like a pet dog or cat, in a cyber box they controlled. HTML 5 driven Browsers would replace the operating systems; the "cloud" would replace hard drives and personal data storage; Big Brother owned you!

Orwell’s “Nineteen Eighty-four” had become a looming reality. The “freedom”, in cyber space, would become your prison cell for life (now, don’t you envy the criminals, they only have mortar walls encaging them)!

But there is still hope; they haven’t removed the operating systems as yet. But they hope to replace them with a browser and a permanent WIFI connection soon. So there you are, permanently plugged in, and permanently in that cyber cage; that is what they want. That is how they have redefined freedom for you and me.

Will we allow them to put us on their servers for life? Or will we make them enable us with the REAL FREEDOM to pull the plug when ever we want, and separate us from their hold? Will we literally give them our lives on a silver platter, so they can fatten themselves off of our information, and defame us at will? Or will we cut the cords they want to make permanent, and allow ourselves the real freedom of being able to have a life that is private, secure and PERSONAL?

But even more importantly, shall we confine programming to the realm of a menial unskilled task done by third world slaves; or bring it back to a profession of skilled professionals who will allow our Nation to prosper from the talent, skill and ingenuity of its people, by employing their own, and making us again a Nation dedicated to supporting its society?

Freedom is not the gateway to hurt, yet today there are people who want to open the door to this very thing; and in the very country that created a freedom that was and is nothing like this. Our freedom is at stake; it is imperative that we don’t let them create the ultimate slavery from what was and is one of the greatest gifts mankind received from the fruit of its brains – the PERSONAL computer!




FOOTNOTES

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1 Instead human beings performed these functions; keypunch operators changed your programs into rolls of punch paper tape or stacks of punch cards.





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Originally Published:

September 22, 2011

Revised:

June 26, 2014