Feedback loops of erosion of privacy and civil rights

At the RNC las week, Nikki Haley said the following:

We said in South Carolina that if you have to show a picture ID to buy Sudafed, if you have to show picture ID to set foot on an airplane, then you should have to show picture ID to protect one of the most valuable, most central sacred rights we’re blessed with in America, the right to vote

The detail aside that there’s no constitutional right to pseudoephedrine and airtravel, this is actually an example of a pattern I’ve seen where erosion of privacy rights (both of customers and especially workers) in private business settings is then used to normalize this break of privacy to the point where it becomes acceptable for government to do the same, despite the fact that in many cases, the government would not really have a right to do so due to the restrictions the US constitution has placed on it. For example, a few months back when I was out protesting the installation of surveillance cameras by the Police throughout the downtown area, a common argument I heard (both before and during the protest) was that stores have surveillance cameras watching customers and workers, so why was it suddenly a problem when the city decided to also protect against criminals by watching people? Another example is the fact that a lot of Americans will argue for drug-testing of welfare recipients based on the fact that businesses like Walmart already demand drug-tests from prospective employees.

I think this normalization of invasion into customers’ and workers’ privacy is potentially dangerous and corrosive to a society, if it can really lead to this kind of acceptance of government invasion of privacy (as well as, of course, on its own terms. drug testing employees in jobs where it’s entirely fucking irrelevant is fucked up, and really just a manifestation of classism, a means of debasing poor people further). It’s another reason why pretending that government is the only power capable of limiting people’s freedom while completely ignoring the business sector is stupid and dangerous. Businesses, too, should have limits on just what they should be allowed to do to their customers; and especially their workers, since abuse of workers by businesses seems to be followed shortly by an expansion of that abuse to all poor people by the government.

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