How freedom of Information impacts you and I: The Legacy of Aaron Swartz

Aaron Swartz may not be a name that most of you know. In fact, I wasn’t familiar with his name until after his death. Unfortunately, some of the greatest accomplishments go unnoticed until the person who catalyzes interest in the cause gets notice posthumously. People who have the most impact usually are the ones who work without fanfare, oftentimes bucking systemic limitations on personal freedoms. The government is invested on keeping these people quiet and painting them as criminals and lunatics. With information comes knowledge and knowledge creates the seed of decisive action.

Since the industrial revolution, training for the masses has been centered on the dulling of intellectual development. There is nothing worse than an uppity line worker! So, our schools were modeled to produce the workers to man the factories. We are molded to fit that need. Discussion and debate has been relegated to course activities that have little relevance to the understanding of different viewpoints. We are tested in a multiple choice or true/false format. Essays which provide exercises in articulation of thoughts are discouraged. Originality is penalized. In fact, within this framework, alternate viewpoints pose threats to a purposeful socialization that yields an inability to articulate thoughts.

We have been witness  to some rather insane utterances of some of the political candidates, utterances that fall short of ideology because they lack merit or connection to anything resembling fact at all.  Remember, politicians in power who lack the ability to think and articulate ideas sit as willing pawns for the corporate industrial complex with an agenda. From http://agvnotes.tumblr.com/post/29904483410/the-top-5-quotes-about-rape-from-republican-men
The Top 5 Quotes About Rape from Republican Men

1. Todd Akin: “If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways of shutting that whole thing down” – mid 2012 Senate Campaign

2. Clayton Williams: “If it’s inevitable, just relax and enjoy it” – mid 1990 Gubernatorial race in Texas 

3.  Chuck Winder: “I would hope that when a woman goes in to a physician with a rape issue, that physician will indeed ask her about perhaps her marriage, was this pregnancy caused by normal relations in a marriage or was it truly caused by a rape. I assume that’s part of the counseling that goes on.” – March 2012

4.  Ken Buck: “A jury could very well conclude that this is a case of buyer’s remorse … It appears to me … you invited him over… the appearance is of consent.” – October 2010

5. Rick Santorum: “I think the right approach is to accept this horribly created — in the sense of rape — but nevertheless a gift in a very broken way, the gift of human life, and accept what God has given to you… rape victims should make the best of a bad situation.” – January, 2012

The climate within organizations since WWII has necessitated government intervention to ensure the rights of workers. Roger Eugene Karnes (2008) http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs10551-008-9878-x?LI=true  shared the change in business atmosphere:

Before WWII,  written contracts were unheard of, but rather, the employment agreement was steeped in a tradition that carried the promise sealed with nothing but a handshake. Now employees have little or no rights; and the ones they are given are provided not by the employer, but by government regulation and court precedent. Issues such as time off for illness, sexual harassment, and workers’ compensation are all handled through legal or regulatory means rather than ethical considerations. The research further shows that the distinct lack of leadership within organizations play a significant role in the disintegration of employer–employee relationships. Specifically, how the lack of leadership relates to the emotional intelligence of the leader. Areas such as empathy and social skills are under trained and under developed by organizations.

Karnes (2008) goes on to further consider the complications of overseeing large agencies and corporations, “When an organization is so large and has unlimited resources, they can buy their way out of any predicament”. Corporate entities know several ways to ensure  deregulatory objectives: 1) money to buy off politicians 2) backing government officials who lack the brain power to stand up to BIG business tactics and 3) the actual placement of former BIG business officials in government positions. The aim of corporate entities has become centered on disempowering the government’s ability to effectively shut down or complicate the attainment of maximal corporate profits. We were witness to this tactic within the 2012 presidential campaign when former Governor Mitt Romney rose as a candidate, corporate leader and intellectual knit wit. The fact that he represented BIG business might not have been detrimental to his run, but his lack of intellectual prowess was. As told on http://politicalhumor.about.com/od/mittromney/a/Mitt-Romney-Quotes.htm former Governor Romney was heard making statements like:

1. “There are 47 percent of the people who will vote for the president no matter what. All right, there are 47 percent who are with him, who are dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims, who believe the government has a responsibility to care for them, who believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you-name-it. … My job is not to worry about those people. I’ll never convince them they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives.” -Mitt Romney, in leaked comments from a fundraiser in May 2012

2. “Corporations are people, my friend … of course they are. Everything corporations earn ultimately goes to the people. Where do you think it goes? Whose pockets? Whose pockets? People’s pockets. Human beings, my friend.” —Mitt Romney to a heckler at the Iowa State Fair who suggested that taxes should be raised on corporations as part of balancing the budget (August 2011)

3. “When you have a fire in an aircraft, there’s no place to go, exactly, there’s no — and you can’t find any oxygen from outside the aircraft to get in the aircraft, because the windows don’t open. I don’t know why they don’t do that. It’s a real problem.” –Mitt Romney, suggesting it would be a good idea to crack a window at 35,000 feet, Beverly Hills fundraiser, Sept. 22, 2012

4. “I like being able to fire people who provide services to me.” –Mitt Romney, using an unfortunate choice of words while advocating for consumer choice in health insurance plans (January 2012)

5. “I’m not concerned about the very poor. We have a safety net there.” —Mitt Romney (January 2012)

6.“I went to a number of women’s groups and said ‘Can you help us find folks?’ and they brought us whole binders full of women.” —Mitt Romney, on staffing his cabinet while he was governor of Massachusetts, presidential debate, Oct. 16, 2012

7. “As president, I will create 12 million new jobs.” —Mitt Romney, during the second presidential debate
“Government does not create jobs. Government does not create jobs.” —Mitt Romney, 45 minutes later (Oct. 16, 2012)

8. “My dad, as you probably know, was the governor of Michigan and was the head of a car company. But he was born in Mexico… and had he been born of, uh, Mexican parents, I’d have a better shot at winning this. But he was unfortunately born to Americans living in Mexico. He lived there for a number of years. I mean, I say that jokingly, but it would be helpful to be Latino.” -Mitt Romney, in leaked comments from a Florida fundraiser, May 17 2012

9. “It’s hard to know just how well [the 2012 London Olympics] will turn out. There are a few things that were disconcerting. The stories about the private security firm not having enough people, the supposed strike of the immigration and customs officials, that obviously is not something which is encouraging.” –Mitt Romney, insulting Britain on the eve of the Olympics by suggesting the country is not ready, NBC News interview, July 25, 2012

10. “I believe in an America where millions of Americans believe in an America that’s the America millions of Americans believe in. That’s the America I love.” –Mitt Romney (January 2012)

Governor Romney was a willing participant in a corporate agenda to steal the power of the White House. The fact that he lacked the ability to pull it off is due in fact to the media’s   exposure of the true Romney which negated the effectiveness of the campaign in its entirety. It is clear that the loss highlights an environment of ever increasing corporate greed and the need  for a public and candidates who exhibit a vacancy of thought.

While the Patriot Act and the National Defense Authorization Act ensure the rights of the government over many of the personal civil liberties that we have taken for granted, we cannot allow the further erosion of the freedom of information in the opposite direction. We as a people demand transparency and the right to object to the corporate take-over of our lives for the sake of profit.

Nanaymie Kasmira Godfrey, MS, MAC, LMHC

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